Ed. note: It can be pretty expensive (and a big pain) to install a wired, whole-house speaker system, but reader Tom O'Brien writes in with his low-tech solution: Route your speakers through the phone lines already installed in your house.
Here's Tom's set-up:
Using existing telephone wire and powered speakers, it's fairly simple to connect speakers throughout the house via existing phone lines. This will work only if the lines have 3 extra wires, such as when no land line is in use, or if the house has 6 (very common) or 8 strand telephone wire. Cat 3 wire is 8 strand.
Each audio jack in the setup can connect to any source or supply output to speakers. All power is supplied by the input and output components. This is just a big complicated extension cable.
I live in an old 3 level house. This permits the same audio to be played throughout. Off/on and volume controls are on the remote speakers, as with any powered speaker. This will possibly violate the sensibilities of audiophiles, but the sound is fine for me.
- 3.5 mm headphone jacks from Radio Shack
- Repurposed Cat 5 or Cat 3 junction boxes drilled out for audio jacks. Home Depot's are cheapest.
- Soldering iron
All audio files, podcasts, etc are saved on netbook PC at "Home Base" (pictured above).
Note 2 cords plugged into panel. One is output from computer, other is to the speakers on shelf.
A CD player, portable mp3 player or any other source can be plugged in as well, hence so many jacks at home base.
The good speakers in living room.
3.5 mm headphone jacks from Radio Shack.
This is a cover panel for an in-wall junction baox. The example has both speaker jacks and a phone jack and uses cat 3 (8 strand) wire. It would have been easier to just wire in a second box for the speaker jacks.
This is suitable for an in wall junction box.
The 3 screws at the top are for the audio jacks, the 4 screws at the bottom connect a 2 line phone via the cat 3 phone jack in the centre.
External box wired in to existing phone system.
Double sided tape works well to secure wood to the box.
Thanks for the great suggestion, Ron!