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Multi-Room Audio/Video: The Ultimate MP3 Accessory

A multi-room audio/video solution will transform the way you experience your digital music at home.

You have an iPod, Zune or other MP3 player. You buy and download tunes online. You've ripped your entire collection of CDs. You create playlists of your favorite tracks. You sync it all to your portable player. It's seamless and convenient and all in one place, ready to go wherever you go. At the gym, in the car, on a plane – it's perfect. Well, except when it comes to listening at home.

Out of the box, an MP3 player isn't equipped to keep up with your lifestyle at home. Since your home has many rooms, you don't want your music confined to just one. Yet most audio systems—especially the speaker systems made for portable players—are designed for listening in just one room. This just isn't ideal for most homes and lifestyles. Let's say you're entertaining or doing weekend chores and you want to play your favorite playlist upstairs, in the kitchen and on the patio all at once. What are your options? An MP3 boom box or iPod speaker system isn't going to fill your home with music. Even if you have audio systems in a few rooms, you still have no way of playing the same playlist or album on all of them in sync. But today's multi-room audio/video systems can, and that's what makes them the ultimate digital music accessory.

Multi-room audio/video delivers just what its name suggests—the ability to play your music in multiple rooms. But multi-room has so much more to offer. Think: independent zones. A typical setup creates multiple listening "zones" based around your lifestyle. Your master bedroom, your family room, your kitchen and your patio, for example, would be your zones. Each would have a pair of speakers and a keypad or touch screen for controlling power, volume, music playback and source (iPod, satellite radio, CD, etc.), among other things. You can operate just one zone at a time or all of them at once. And even though the zones are independent, with the touch of a button they can operate in concert to play the same music throughout your home. "Party mode" is great not only for entertaining, as its name suggests, but also working and relaxing around the house.

Just like on your portable player, operating a multi-room system is easy and intuitive. You use keypads or touch screen controllers in each room to turn on the music, adjust the volume and browse songs and playlists. Unlike typical remotes, these controllers can operate the music and in any room, from any room. More sophisticated keypads and touch screens not only provide full system control, but can also display song title, artist and cover art just like your portable player does. Thanks to intuitive menus and customizable screens, even children can operate the system with ease.

Multi-room solutions offer big performance with a small footprint. Unlike the stacks and racks of electronics that make up the traditional home entertainment system, multi-room systems are nearly invisible. Professionally installed systems centralize all of your audio and home theater gear, often out of sight in a dedicated equipment rack. In addition to freeing up space, this eliminates the added costs of multiple subscriptions and redundant components for each of your living spaces. You'll enjoy high-performance sound from in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, which mount virtually out of sight. Likewise, keypads and touch screens can be mounted flush into walls or countertops for an ultra-sleek, custom look.

Unlike most MP3 player accessories, multi-room entertainment is not generally a do-it-yourself project. Most multi-room A/V systems require professional planning and installation. Working with a professional installer, like a Tech Home Integrator, will yield the best results and give you the option of incorporating video and home control functionality into the system as well. Since multi-room systems are scalable and can be fully retrofitted to existing homes, you can design a system to fit nearly any residence and budget. This is great if you need to build a system over time or expand your system down the road to meet your needs.

Multi-room audio/video is the ultimate accessory for your portable player. It's time to sync your home and your music with a multi-room audio/video solution.

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