Gone are the days when listening to music at home meant playing a vinyl record on a gramophone. Today, we can access millions of songs with just a tap on a device. But have you ever wondered how we got here? The journey was incredible!
From the birth of gramophones to the latest wireless speakers, let’s look at how far music audio has evolved to bring us the best quality and height of convenience!
You might’ve seen the terms phonograph and gramophone used interchangeably, but they are two separate devices. The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 while he was designing telephone transmitters and used tinfoil cylinders to capture sounds and engrave movements. The first recorded sound was Edison’s rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” which he sang to his young children at the time!
The phonograph had a hand crank to move the cylinders and produce sound through the acoustic horn, but the sound quality was poor and could only be played back once. The intention behind the phonograph was more to record and playback business-related diction and not music.
After the success of the phonograph, other inventors challenged themselves to improve the technology further. Alexander Graham Bell had minor success with the graphophone, which used wax cylinders to record sound, but it was meant more for recording telephone conversations. It wasn’t until 1887 when Emile Berlinger made the gramophone, the first recording device to use grooved, flat disks instead of cylinders (the earliest version of the record player!).
The gramophone itself used a turntable needle and a direct drive system to play music through the grooves on the flat 78s discs! By 1895, the first record players were mass-produced and paved the way for the introduction of popular music people could enjoy from the comfort of their own homes!
Did You Know? The 78s records played at a speed of 78 revolutions per minute and could only hold up to three minutes’ worth of music!
Vinyl Record Player
Gramophones were the norm until they produced the first vinyl records in 1948. At this time, the first 12-inch Long Playing (LP) 33 ½ RPM and 7-inch 45 RPM singles came on the scene, creating an affordable solution for the middle classes after the war. From then on, record players had three speeds available: 33RPM, 45RPM, and 78RPM; some were portable, battery-powered, and featured a built-in amplifier and speaker!
But it wasn’t until the 60s and 70s that new and improved record players took the world by storm. These were the first turntables to provide stereo playback and reproduce high-fidelity sound, which made the 20 minutes worth of audio on either side of the LP worth listening to!
Did You Know? Record players are making a comeback as they’re still one of the best ways to hear music as the artists intended and recorded in the studio!
The birth of radios in the home was in direct competition for record players, especially since radio programs gave access to sports scores, voting results, soap operas, lectures, weather reports, comedians, political commentaries, and stores (like early podcasts!).
But by the 50s, these all-service stations gradually changed to the top 40 stations since it required less equipment to devote the program solely to music, which eventually led to popular music as we know it today! And since the invention of the transistor allowed for radios to be made smaller, it made portable music a reality by the 60s and 70s!
One-Piece Hi-Fi Audio System
Even though portable audio was becoming necessary for consumers, one-piece Hi-Fi audio systems were still popular. These devices came as a result of the booming suburbs happening post-WWII. They featured wooden-built consoles featuring amplifier-powered stereo speakers with a turntable and radio hidden under a lid in the center. The fancier ones even had full bars and TV sets implemented— think of your home entertainment center and home bar in one, and you’ll get close to what these were.
But it wasn’t until 1968, when Harman Kardon developed the first stereo receiver featuring a radio tuner with wider FM bandwidth, an amplifier, and a preamplifier, all in a complete chassis, that the Golden Age of Hi-Fi audio started!
Component Stereo System
By the 70s, technology improved on the one-piece audio system with a component stereo system. Instead of an all-in-one setup you couldn’t control, these component stereo systems had multiple pieces, including an amplifier, speakers, radio, turntable, and a tape (or CD player in later years) player. The ability to customize your sound took audio enthusiasts by storm, as they could assemble high-end audio better than any pre-packaged item.
Not to mention, these stereo systems made it easier for families to enjoy music without having to switch from one system to another.
From the 50s to the 80s, most music was recorded on tape. In fact, the first home use machine to use tap was the reel-to-reel player, which offered the most fidelity and improved analog audio playback. But the more popular 8-track tape and compact cassette tapes became the norm.
- 8-Track Tapes was the first viable portable tape player that was also included in many classic-era muscle cars like the ’66 Mustang and Thunderbird.
- Compact Cassettes were introduced simultaneously as 8-track and gained popularity with their improved technology, better high-fidelity, and hyper-portable audio players!
While tapes were an authentic way to reproduce sound, the introduction of digital audio through Compact Discs (CDs) revolutionized home audio. The first commercial CD was produced in 1982 and quickly made digital music more portable at a larger scale for the first time. And CDs let people choose what music they wanted and allowed skipping through to preferred tracks at the click of a button — which was a first at the time!
Soon CD players were incorporated into all the latest component stereo systems!
Did You Know? The first commercially released CD was Billy Joel’s sixth album, 52nd Street, on Oct. 1, 1982!
Speaker of portable audio, when MP3 players came on the scene, they quickly changed the music scene. The MPEG III audio codec that allowed digital audio compression from CD quality was standardized in the 90s, making storing and playing audio files easier!
And while the devices were portable, they could easily be adapted to a stereo system with an iPod dock or a 3.5mm aux input. So, you had even more control over your music through curated playlists and the benefits of no more skipping from scratched CDs!
With the rise of smartphones and streaming in the early 2000s came the need for wireless speakers. More and more manufacturers started making internet-connected speakers so you could connect to your favorite content on a streaming platform while at home.
Today, more wireless speakers have Bluetooth, making connecting several speakers much more manageable. And with multi-room audio, you can have built-in wireless speakers in any room and have them play the same playlist simultaneously with no lag or completely separate playlists. You can even apply this to your outdoor music setup!
Rock All Night!
As you can see, home audio has come a long way from the first gramophone. Now we have more Hi-Fi audio options you can integrate into any part of your home! Of course, you don’t have to create or plan your audio system yourself — leave it to the experts at [store name]!
We’ll create a home audio or theater system that’ll leave your ears singing for more! So, don’t wait to get started; contact our team today!
If you want to listen to music in every room of your house, whole-house audio is the way to go. It’s incredibly popular, but many people don’t know how to set it up. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know what “whole-house audio” is.
Our guide to whole house audio will walk you through the process of setting up this type of audio system in your home and help you decide which options are best for you.
Whole House Audio Explained
What is whole-house audio? It is the best way to play music throughout your house without having to buy a sound system for every room. You can play music and other audio sources such as movies, sports games, or the morning news through your whole house with just one audio system.
If you’ve heard of whole house audio before, you may have heard it referred to as multi-room or multi-zone audio. All of these terms refer to the same thing, which is basically a system that plays music (or other audio) through multiple rooms, or zones in your house. A multi-zone system lets you play one audio source through numerous speakers in your home. But, if you want to play different music in each room, your system will also need to be multi-source.
With a whole house audio system, you can play different audio sources through your home all at the same time. For example, you might play your favorite music in the living room and dining room, while playing the ball game in the hallway and bedrooms.
A whole house audio system can be installed professionally, or by using DIY methods. We don’t recommend DIY, but you can set up your own multi-zone audio system by using multiple audio components and speakers to play music throughout your home.
We’re going to explain how to set up a whole house audio system in your home. We’ll start by looking at the DIY methods and then explain why a professional installation is generally the best option.
Planning Your Whole House Audio System
Before you start planning out your audio system, you first need to decide how many audio sources you want to connect to your system. Do you just want to be able to play music through your system, or would you like it to connect to your TV and streaming devices as well?
Once you’ve figured out how many audio sources you want to connect to your audio system, then you must decide how many zones you want to have. A zone can be a room or any area of your home that you want to be able to play music in. A multi-zone/multi-source system allows you to connect to several audio sources and then send these sources to speakers in different areas of your home.
DIY Whole House Audio Systems
If you want to do it yourself, there are a few ways to do it. Some options are more difficult than others, but most require a solid understanding of audio components and wiring. If you have a small budget and aren’t a pro, you may want to go the DIY route.
The easiest and most affordable option is to purchase smart speakers. There are tons of smart speakers to choose from. This won’t give you the sound quality or features of a professional system, but you can simply purchase smart speakers and connect them to your wifi. Then, you should be able to play music through all the connected speakers in your home.
Wireless multi-room audio system
You can purchase a wireless multi-room audio system. There are many brands selling multi-room systems. Sonos is one of the more well-known and respected brands of wireless multi-room audio systems. These systems are easy to use and include everything you need in one complete system.
Keep in mind if you go with this option, you may not be able to upgrade your setup down the road. They usually come with a set of speakers that only work as part of their system. So, if you want to add speakers to it later, they may not work with it.
Multi-zone/multi-source receiver and speakers
If you already have a receiver, you can simply add more speakers to it. This won’t give you the functionality of a whole house audio system, but it will allow you to play music in several areas of your home.
Another option is to buy a multi-zone/multi-source receiver. This may be difficult to set up and not recommended for beginners. You will need to be sure the receiver is multi-zone and supports multiple sources. You will also need to buy compatible speakers. If you want your system to play in more than 2 or 3 areas of your home, however, this option won’t work.
To Have the Best Experience in Whole House Audio Work with the Pros at Intuitive AV
We are experts in home audio systems and we’re also fully licensed and insured. Wiring an audio system is complicated and can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
A professionally installed system is really the best option for whole house audio. Although you can set up a basic audio system using some of the DIY methods above, if you want your system to play music through your entire home and not just one or two rooms, you will need a professional to help you.
We understand that the aesthetics of your home is as important as the sound quality of your system. We can install your whole house audio system, and incorporate hidden in-wall speakers or ceiling speakers to make sure your home looks and sounds amazing when we’re done. We can even integrate it with a home automation system if you’re ready to have the best experience in luxury, convenience, and immersive sound.
If you’re ready to experience whole house audio in your home, contact us today at (770) 317-7016 to get started.
Hidden speakers are a must-have for homeowners that love minimalism. Nowadays, overdone electronic systems are not a sign of a high-tech home. It used to be cool to show off your amazing sound system, with all your subwoofers, speakers, and all that equipment with the flashy lights. Now, nobody wants to see all the wires, power cords, and speakers cluttering up their beautiful home.
Hidden speakers and sound systems give homeowners the perks of a smart home while maintaining an aesthetically appealing and minimalist atmosphere. We know that many of our clients are looking for a minimalist approach. We know what they desire, but the question becomes how minimalist? The answer comes down to hiding as many components as possible, even down to the speakers.
The Minimalist Design Trend
With technology inundating every area of our lives, we are constantly surrounded by it. Interestingly, this is the driving force for the minimalist design trend. People want the convenience and luxury of a smart home, without having to see it.
The minimalist trend is everywhere, even our websites and product packaging are getting simpler. The old saying “less is more” is true, especially when it comes to home design. People want fewer cords, less visible technology, and more space in their homes.
If you have a gorgeous home, you don’t want to take away from its clean, stylish look by placing large speakers all around your room. Hidden speakers are a wonderful way to add high-quality sound to any room, without losing the beauty of your space. It’s a popular home design trend that’s here to stay.
Why Hidden Speakers?
When you think of a traditional sound system, you probably picture large speakers placed around your living room or another entertaining area. While this will deliver the all-around sound you love, it doesn’t look pretty. If you are interested in minimalism or having a modern home, old-fashioned speakers just won’t cut it.
The fact is, a great sound system is an investment, so why not make it one that also adds elegance and value to your home. You can hide speakers in your ceilings, walls, and even outside.
Ceiling speakers are a great choice for adding surround sound to your room. Do you know how it sounds when you are in a movie theater? The sound comes from all over, including the ceilings. You can have this same experience in your home, but the sound is totally hidden. These speakers are the perfect addition to any smart home.
Entertaining guests? Dim the smart lights, and turn on some music all with the touch of your smartphone. Your visitors will be amazed by the immersive sound and they may not even realize where all the incredible sound is coming from.
In-wall speakers are great and are certainly more discrete than floor standing or traditional bookshelf models. There are plenty of in-wall speaker styles and sizes to choose from, but truly hidden in-wall speakers are a level up and can provide great sound quality with no speaker visible whatsoever.
Moving your speakers off the ground, and installing them in your walls, reduces the sound reflection and in many cases, this allows for even better positioning of the speakers. The sound is not bouncing off the wall, but instead, it’s coming directly out of the wall. This results in a clearer sound, with less interference as the sound waves aren’t bouncing from the floor to the wall.
Adding in-wall speakers with accompanying ceiling speakers, will deliver sound to your home that can’t beat. Your home will be the coolest house in your neighborhood, with discrete, nearly invisible speakers. It’s not just a smart move in home design, if you are going to invest in a surround system, why not add hidden speakers instead?
To conceal more of your electronics, you can also hide your TV. Television is great for watching movies, sports, or shows, but not everyone wants the TV set to be center stage in their home. This is especially true if you have a large home theater room. Several popular options exist for concealing your flat panel TV including Samsung art frame TV, Mirror TV hide, Traditional artwork TV hide, and motorized projector screens. With a motorized flat screen, your TV can be tucked away when not in use.
Even your outside can be filled with music. Did you know they have outdoor speakers that can be concealed right in your patio, landscaping, or walkways? Speakers are no longer what they used to be. You can add speakers that look like rocks, or other natural elements to your backyard and listen to music no matter what area you are spending time in.
Add value to your home with hidden speakers
Hidden speakers are a great investment in your home. If you are just starting to move towards a smart home, speakers are a great place to start. They don’t just add cool sound to your home, they add value to your home. Talk to an Intuitive AV professional to find out how you can add hidden speakers to your home.