The Evolution of our Whole Home Audio System

Mid century media console in neutral living room // How to keep media console organized // via Yellow Brick Home
credenza | clock | entryway light

The options for seamless (and even wireless!) home audio have never been more plentiful or more beautifully designed. We’ve been adding to our audio system since we first moved into our Chicago home and love the fact that we’ve been able to build upon our existing setup each step of the way. Some of the technology that we’ve added recently didn’t even exist when we got started, and our home audio system is even partially integrated into our home automation system. (And you ​​​​​​​know we love that.) The future is here and it sounds fantastic!

Our whole home audio system | via Yellow Brick Home

So, what’s new since our last whole home audio system update? Most notably, Apple’s updated Airplay 2 system now allows us to stream from one device to multiple rooms at the same time. Yesssss! The volume levels in each room can be adjusted independently to fine-tune the sound, which we especially love when we’re gathered around the kitchen island (quieter) but want to fill the first floor with sound, into the living room (louder). The user experience when streaming via Spotify is very intuitive and the sound is fantastic, since Airplay 2 operates over wifi as opposed to Bluetooth. (Oh, and speaking of Spotify, have you started following along yet? )

Our whole home audio system | via Yellow Brick Home
linen bedding | brass sconce | bunny clock | headboard | sonos

We’ve also dipped a toe into the Sonos universe recently. Now that the Sonos One features Airplay 2 and Alexa functionality built in, it was the natural choice for our master bedroom. We paired the black Sonos One with this sleek wall mount and a cable cover kit (painted to match our walls) for an almost invisible look, but it comes in white, too! Can you see it up there, tucked next to the window? We’re absoluetly blown away by the punch that this little smart speaker packs. We also love that we can use Alexa voice commands through the Sonos One to operate blinds, lights and thermostats throughout the house. If this model, with these features, was available when we started building our system, we have would have likely built our system from the ground up with Sonos. It’s that good.

Our whole home audio system | via Yellow Brick Home
raised garden box | outdoor speaker

We’ve also made a few changes in the back yard that keep our Definitive Technology AW6500 speakers hidden slightly from view. A row of Emerald Green arborvitae now fill the planter box along the staircase down to the garden unit. You might even notice that we had the main backyard stairs painted and stained since our last audio update! The white support posts help the speakers blend in further and new visitors to our patio often have a hard time telling where the music is coming from.

Our whole home audio system | via Yellow Brick Home

Back inside in the living room, our cream sectional is much wider than our former navy sofa. This change in width prompted us to move our subwoofer (newer model) to the opposite corner of the room, where it’s mostly hidden by our those thick, fringe-y curtains. The move also happened to center the listener below the in-ceiling surround speakers (installed during the first wave of renovation almost 6 years ago!) in a happy accident that improved sound throughout the living room. We love it when a change results in unexpected benefits!

While we’re thrilled with all of the audio choices we’ve made here in Chicago, if we were starting from scratch today, we’d probably build a system completely based around Sonos. The sound is seriously impressive and newer models like the Beam are much more affordable than the older options that were largely cost-prohibitive for us. Regardless of brand and model, whole home audio is now a simple reality that no longer requires hidden wires inside the walls of a home. With a relatively small investment, surround sound and whole-home audio are now within the reach of anyone with a smart phone. Now, about the sound system at Tree House

Now, about the audio system at Tree House, I may have some ideas to build some sound into the banquette…!

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  • AP5.6.19 - 11:06 AM

    I finally bit the bullet and switched over to Sonos after doing some piecemeal stuff using Chromecast Audio. A big plus was a may to merge my music system with my TV system by using the Beam (which also allowed us to get rid of the separate remote for the receiver). 
    I’m trying to decide whether to bring my record collection into the Sonos system too by hooking up my turntable to the Sonos AMP. Its currently driven by a tube amp and a couple bookshelf speakers in our front room. It’s a nice intimate analog setup, but the idea of playing records whole house or outside is super appealing too. Have you thought about doing this? ReplyCancel

    • Scott5.6.19 - 11:29 AM

      Since our current system is set up with a full 5.1 surround system in the living room, the Amp isn’t an option for our Chicago home. We do, however, hope to use the Amp, Sub and new Sonos in-wall speakers for a stealthy 2.1 system at our Michigan Tree House! Since the Amp is so compact, we’re hoping to integrate it (and the Sub) inside our built-in banquette so it’ll be nearly invisible. We’re really excited to configure it!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer5.6.19 - 11:30 PM

    Can you play different things in different rooms at the same time?  Often my husband and I will want different music/podcasts/etc in different rooms of the house but I’m technologically less inclined unless it’s pretty straightforward.ReplyCancel

  • Callum Palmer6.24.20 - 4:22 PM

    Wow this is a great renovation you’ve pulled off with your room here. I particularly like the implementation of the different stereos/speakers and their locations. The one that’s hidden behind the curtains seems especially nice since ti can still products some great sound without being too visible or obstructive. ReplyCancel


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