Multi Room Multi Channel Audio Using Multiple Sound Cards for My New Home!

Hi Guys,
I am building my house and I want to set up multi room multi channel 7.1 sound system. I am dedicating a small room with a floor standing rack for my setup so that I will run all audio cables from here to the rooms. I am hell bent on using a PC for this purpose and also cost factor is important. I would not consider myself an audiophile but wanting to be one!.. lol! Since my house is just taking shape and wiring is yet to be started, I wanted to do a wiring which is sort of “future proof” at least for audio as I know and believe that Hi-res Multichannel is gaining momentum and it is the future! Multii Room Multi Channel setup is very rarely done or maybe non-existent so I have to come up with this myself. I have made a sketch diagram for what I am intending to implement.

I will also use patch panel with banana keystone jacks for easy wiring and patching and customization at the rack level.

Once the structured wiring is done to all the three rooms, Only the speakers will be fixed/installed in each room. Here, Bi-amp wiring can be done from the patch panel and further more if I decide to use individual amp or receiver is each room, I can also bypass at rack level or in each room. I am showing only the audio diagram. I will also be be wiring for HDMI and other Local Area Network, Security Cameras, Sensors etc from the same rack room.

Any feedback advice will be much appreciated at this time as I am ready to start the wiring of my Home.


Looks very impressive. One suggestion though, if you are going to be putting wiring throughout the house, I think you should also give serious consideration to running ethernet Cat6 cables as well.


hi Geoff,
I will be running Cat6/Cat7 for networking only and not for audio signal. The diagram shows only the audio part. I have the networking plan in place though.

Hi Marc,

very impressive. Whilst I have never had the luxury of doing something like this I have over the years, as rooms are redecorated, buried Cat 5 and Co-ax in the walls. One thing I did learn is that Ethernet interferes with TV RF signals (fed from the aerial, not raw video signals). So my advice is to keep them separated physically as much as you can if you are planning something like that. It is not an issue for me now as I have cable TV and it is routed via a different path.

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Thanks and I will keep that in mind!

Another strategy is to just run network cables everywhere, and that’s it. Then you put endpoints in each room matching the performance level required for that room.

For example, your kids rooms might be fine with $149 Apple TV or even $500 ELAC Z3 wireless speakers, whereas your listening room could use the ~$16k multichannel NADACPLAYER.

This technique wouldn’t require any rack of amps and massive amounts of speaker cable wiring, and flexible to growth and change.


Amen. This is what I would recommend. Note that sending amplified (speaker-level) signals over long cables with multiple interconnections is fraught with loss and losing a random channel negates the whole MCH experience. Better to run pairs of network cables everywhere as Danny suggests.

I will also pull 2 cat6a/Cat7 cables for each room. These can be utilized anytime for using endpoints but I have not found any low cost multi channel networked audio with amplifier integrated! Since my goal is multi channel, I wanted to pull the wires so that I don’t regret later. If I don’t use them that will be ok with me but later if I want to pull wires then I will surely regret if I did not pull! Moreover I plan to do the wiring so I can use systems in-situ or from a room away. At the most I am going to waste is the wiring of 8 pair wires for the three rooms. This setup will help me keep minimum wire clutter in the rooms too. If I could do in wall speakers, then that will be the ultimate space saver! As mitr Kal Rubinson mentioned in the comments here, I need to take extreme care for the wiring so that the signals don’t degrade. My house is not very large and the cable run will be about 15 ft max. My kids rooms are on the first floor which are almost directly above the rack room. The living room is about 15 ft which is the farthest room. The rack room is centrally located so I have the advantage. If I take proper precautions, I am sure I will not have any signal loss problems for the distance I mentioned. I plan to use 12 AWG speaker wires in wall in all the runs.

I think what some of us are waiting for is a multichannel Raspberry Pi HAT…


I’ve done, in essence, what you are discussing above on a few occasions. My wife is a saint when it comes to putting up with this stuff, especially since she doesn’t enjoy loud music.

A few suggestions, although nothing looks erroneous in your overall approach:

—I love the flexibility of your approach - I use patch panels for RCA, XLR (balanced), and banana plug (speaker) connections. It can be a lot of fun to switch stuff around without even having to go behind the rack or the speakers. However, keystone connectors are not really the most durable, and you may have some sound quality loss if you run things through too many intermediate connections. You may want to consider skipping the patch panel bridging at the local room. Wire straight from the server room to the speaker location - you can still rearrange signals in that room. Better yet, don’t even use the keystones on the wall in the server room and run the speaker cable directly to the patch panel on the rack. You have the wiring broken into too many segments and that is going to make trouble-shooting more difficult and possibly impact sound quality.

—I would use HDMI audio outputs from the computer(s) to AVRs rather than analog audio from sound cards through minijack connectors. In my experience, the multiple minijack connectors aren’t the cleanest and they make a mess back there, again with just too many analog connections strung together. I think you will be happier doing this all through HDMI - output PCM to the AVRs and let the DACs in the AVRs decode to analog. You’ll get better sound than relying on most sound card DACs unless you have some serious prosumer multichannel sound cards. If you need to run multiple HDMI outs from a single computer, there are ways to do that.

—Consider running some line-level RCA terminated wiring as a backup in case you want to have a preamp in the playback room. To do so, you will want to use RG6Q 75 Ohm Coaxial Quad Shield with bonded foil, braided shield, solid copper center conductor - that stuff is very tough to work with and terminate but it’s good for line level RCA connections between gear.

—Using a single PC configuration isn’t Roon recommended best practice - you probably want the PC in your rack that has the audio outputs to be an endpoint (or multiple endpoint) only, and not the Roon core. A lot of multichannel processing could dirty your audio signal. Consider building something that is a low wattage processor, fanless heat sinks instead of fans, low power fanless power supply, SSD drive only - no moving parts essentially, as that PC. Then build a PC that has more muscle for the Roon Core.

—Get a good wire/signal tracer. You’re going to need it!

Fun hobby! Good Luck!

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Hi James,
I believe you are more experienced than me.I am taking your expert advice seriously. Right now I am at a stage where I can decide what to include and what not to for my house project. I will try to minimize wire termination as much as possible. I would be using banana wall breakout plates only in the rooms and not in the server room. In the server room I will try to follow your advice.
It had also crossed my mind about HDMI… would it be advisable if I use atom based silent PCs or raspberry Pis as endpoints and output the Multi Channel audio via AVRs or are there any ways where I can use 3 HDMI outputs from the same PC for audio as you hinted? Should I use USB based HDMI adapters? Please let me know.Thanks

I think it depends on what you plan to do with the PCs otherwise. If the sole use is as multichannel audio endpoints, that may be a great way to do it. I use Atom PCs as endpoints in both my Roon setups. If you also need them to do video decoding or other processing, then they may not have the horsepower. But if they are strictly Roon endpoints, I like it.

My point is mostly that I think a DAC in the AVR (depending on the AVR) is going to be better than the DAC in a PC; So using HDMI will probably get you better sound and certainly MANY more processing and DSP options in an AVR.

(There are good quality sound cards - don’t get me wrong - but I have not found that the multichannel implementations are that great except in prosumer cards that are quite expensive; plus the hassle of switching multichannel audio in analog is not trivial).

On many motherboards, you get one HDMI audio/video output. There are video cards that have HDMI that include audio you can add. And then there are HDMI sound cards - I am aware of at least 2 that were on the market a few years ago and some can still be found used. And you could try a USB multichannel option; I think soundblaster makes one. It may not work to plug in like 5 HDMI sources into one low-powered PC, but I think it would be possible to have a PC run 3; I have never tried it simultaneously but theoretically I’m thinking it should work.

I love the overall design - my friends would seriously believe it is something I put together.

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Hi James, Thanks for the advice. I think I will try the Creative option.

I solved the multi-room sound problem by having radios in the kitchen, bedroom, and workshop. That way I can change the channel, plug in my iPhone or an Airport Express, turn it on and off, and adjust volume easily. I like the Tivoli radios, but I use others. My office desktop has the Roon Core, and uses the small Audioengines. I have a Mac mini as a wireless Roon endpoint feeding my main hi-fi system in the listening room.

While the mac mini works great feeding my DAC, it often requires attention that requires plugging in a keyboard and mouse, and sitting on the floor while I upgrade this or that or attend to security and maintenance issues. I find it incredibly annoying when all I want to do is sit down and listen to some music. Any kind of PC that has an open architecture its going to behave like this. If I could afford a proprietary system that I could control from my iPhone, I would do that. It gets so irritating that most of the time I have the Mac Mini off and just stream to my DAC with an Apple TV or AirExpress. Limited to Redbook sampling rate and bit depth (44,100/16) but sounds excellent through my modest DACMagic>Odyssey Candela>Odyssey Khartego>Harbeth P3esr system.

I find I don’t want or need perfectionist hi-fi in all my rooms. And I like controlling the source in the room I’m listening from. I don’t “wear” my iPhone (most of the time it is in"Do not disturb" mode and sitting on my desk). If I’m walking around and doing stuff, I just want music in the background - if at all.

In short: wireless networking and room specific audio systems work for me. The system you are proposing looks impressive, and if messing with wires is your thing, go for it. My guess is that you will have better sound quality when you want it and appropriate sound quality where you want it by simply using a wireless network.

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Hi Kevin_Collins, For casual listening via wireless and for my kids who are aged 13 and 11, Amazon Echo will suffice and the multi zone works seamlessly! For Hi-res multichannel tracks, I have not found any suitable or cheaper products. So, I thought spending a little more on the wiring is a sure shot way to “future proof” my house! I would really hate pulling wires and drilling holes later on when I have spent a fortune building the house the way I want it.