Zoelen Media Center v3 part 1

ZMC v3 For a few years now I have a home made whole house audio system called ZMC. Two months back I fried my ZMC v2.0 due to an electrical discharge. Six of the 12 amps where burned out including two power supplies. This mischief gave me the opportunity to improve the system and implement lessons learned from the two previous systems. I have ZMC v3.0 up and running for a month now and it is working like a charm.

If you want to have whole house audio you have to ask yourself a few questions first like.

What do you expect from the system?
My goals where far, far too high when I started with this. After two versions I noticed that I didn't use most of the functionality I had built in and a few of them I really never used at all. What my wife and I want is music in the background, not to loud, not to annoying. Something like a portable radio on the shelve in the kitchen but then a bit more sophisticated.

How important is stereo for you?
I had stereo at four locations but never really noticed the benefits of that. I had stereo in the kitchen but mono sounds just as good. And I see no point in having stereo anymore inside the fridge.. (Yes, I had that.)

How loud must the music be?
I don't want the music so loud that you can't have a conversation. Because of this I can just drive the speaker directly from the box without any extra amplifier.

Do you need instant volume control?
This could be a maybe. The sound levels in all my rooms are tuned to a pleasant level. There isn't hardly a moment that you want to change that but some means to raise or lower the level would be nice.

How much time would you like to spend in controlling this all.
For me this is none. I just want that the music goes on when I enter the room and off when there isn't movement in the room for some time. Another thing I wanted is to raise the volume automatically in the bathroom when I turn on the fan and take a shower. All can be automated.

It will tell here in detail how I did my whole house audio ZMC v3.0 in a few articles and I will include also a few nice to have features that are rather neat to implement. So if you are reading this up to here then you really want to know what is possible and what I use for it

The hardware.

  • One XAP800 (eBay).
  • Wires (CAT5 cable is always good).
  • Speakers (see note below).
  • Serial cable with all wires connected one on one.
  • Optional TelCom unit (TH2).
  • Optional microphones.

  • The software.
  • G-Ware (XAP800 software)
  • HomeSeer plus a control script.
  • Or any other way to send serial commands.

  • Note :
    For speakers I use a few cheap ceiling speakers and old speaker boxes from old stereo systems bought from a second hand store (kringloop winkel) for Euro 5,- a set. You really don't need high end speakers if you put then under the kitchen cupboard in to the dust and spider webs.

    What you will get due to the XAP800
  • Up to 12 output channels per XAP800
    (You can stack up to 8 of them to a max. of 96 outputs per stack)
  • Up to 12 inputs
    (You can stack up to 8 of them to a max. of 96 inputs per stack)
  • 8 of those inputs are high end mic inputs that also can be used as line inputs
  • A matrix mixer. Connect one or any input to any one or any output like you want it.
  • Filters, dynamic compression, full control over your audio.
  • Microphone gating detection.
  • An industry grade system.

  • But what did I do with it?
  • I have audio in 9 rooms, including the garden.
  • Automatic volume control depending on the situation.
  • Announcements in any or all the rooms without disturbing the music in others.
  • Killing those annoying commercials that sound louder then the normal music.
  • Four rooms are equipped with microphones for VR control.
  • Only VR communications to the room where the question is asked.
  • VR control of the whole HA system.
  • Baby phone functionality with any number of rooms equipped with a microphone.
  • Intercom functionality with any number of rooms.
  • Security monitoring due the use of microphones.
  • Answering the phone through the audio system and making phone calls through out the house.
  • Switching in other room(s) into the phone call.
  • High WAF. (this is the best reason)

  • In the next article I will describe how to setup things the preferred way for audio distribution, ZMC v3 Part 2