Sound/Speaker Automation?

Does SmartThings support speakers and music, etc? I’m building a house (halfway- sheetrock stage) and have speakers installed in various rooms throughout, wired to main media closet. Soon I will need to choose system for the speakers but would prefer to tie it in with SmartThings! Will I need to buy a specific type of system? Or will there be an add on to SmartThings

There are no current solutions unfortunately. It’s something we want to do, but not a priority at the moment. When it happens though it will happen at a cloud level. Meaning SmartThings will talk to another service online and send commands out. So its a mix of where is all your music stored and how do you currently play it.

As far as what system you should get there are plenty of options. Heck, most TV’s nowadays come with some sort of online radio built in.

What about Sonos? Smart things wont even work with that? I know Micasaverde  has a plugin for Sonos. Maybe just an app needs to be built…


So I should get one that works independently (will definitely stay away from stuff like Control4 where you can only use their stuff) and then in the future there will be an app to make things like sound systems work with SmartThings? I’m thinking we will do something basic like two dual units - giving us 4 zones, and can be controlled through an iPhone app or universal remote.

I was thinking about Sonos. We have one in the office, but we need to be approved to use their API. As far as the speaker system goes, I think its more important that you have the hardware down (amp, speaker, tv etc etc) and add something later. The device that actually streams the music can change easily.

Control4 is massively expensive. Also anytime you want to change something, a contractor has to come out and do it for you.

I would also recommend Sonos.  One CONNECT:AMP per zone.  It will certainly be more expensive than two dual-zone receivers but I think the experience and usability would be well worth it.

Sonos / SmartThings integration would be fabulous, but if the API approval never came you would still be happy with the system.

If you wanted to keep the amp separate as Andrew has suggested, you could use a Dayton MA1240a (or comparable) multi-zone amp and feed each zone with a Sonos CONNECT or Apple Airport.  That leaves you flexible in the future.

This is a pretty complicated subject but simple AFFORDABLE multizone audio is kind of like a Holy Grail. There doesn’t seem to be a great solution. I did the exact same thing as you when I built my house a few years ago (also hope you are running plenty of Cat6 which can be used for sensors and PoE). If you are looking to integrate it into a large HA system you are going to have to look at some control software first and of course at this point Smartthings would be something you would integrate INTO a control system, not BE the control system. Maybe at some point it will get to that but since it hasn’t even been released yet there is obviously a ways to go on that front. If you want something open you’d want to look at Homeseer (which I use), Elve, CQC, etc.  Those programs will be able to handle input from Smartthings at some point.

For the audio you can go expensive like Russound with their multi zone amps. I don’t think I’d consider Sonos cheap if you start going above a couple zones but it is a solution. If you want cheap you can go like many of us do that works fine. Get a bunch of cheap USB sound cards for a few bucks a piece and get a matching mini amp for each one. So hardware wise you are looking at about $300 for 6 zones of hardware (minus the speakers you already have). Then go with JRiver Media Center which will let you set up each sound card as a zone.

Remember, don’t think just music - think TTS as well. Now you’ll use your home automation software to pipe your TTS announcements to specific zones. I have morning wakeup announcements with the current temp, the day’s weather forecast, appointments, birthday reminders, etc. Then you have evening announcements (go to bed, tomorrow is trash day, etc.). National weather service warnings for storms, tornadoes all day/night. Then basically any event that your Smartthings generates you may want to attach an announcement to that. The possibilities are endless.

You can do it all and right now you are going to have to piece together solutions, but it can be done.  You’ve planned well with the speakers themselves. Once you get TTS going (which you’ll use more than the music), you’ll wonder how you got along without it.

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That is pretty much exactly what I was thinking. I dont really care so much about the music but I do plan to have some type of speaker system through the house (probably sonos) and I would really like something that gives audible alerts like “front door open”,  “back door open”, etc…  so you instantly know what is going on.  Some alarm systems have this built in and its a really convenient feature and great for security.

I contacted Sonos Support and I didn’t get much except for a link:

Some unrelated but interesting stuff in there, plus the last comment about Mi Casa Verde.

It looks like The UBI  has “home speaker sound piping” and already works with Smartthings for voice control…

This is what i’m planning on using. But I’m sure it will need an app developed to give us full control of the sound piping from within smartthings right…


Wow that sounds awesome GatroEye! I didn’t even think about the announcements. Yes, I have run Cat6 everywhere and have speakers in most rooms except kids bedrooms but can easily add there later if needed because of location. So the JRiver Media Center does both music and the announcements/reminders and will work independently or maybe in future will work with SmartThings? I was thinking SmartThings was going to be the main HA System. So if I go with something like Homeseer, JRiver and SmartThings will work within it and it will be the main system?

Thanks everyone for all the info!!

Being Sonos still hasn’t even added Google music support…I wouldn’t hold your breath for them to notice Smartthings.

Stephanie - I left out some details (as I said it’s complicated) but let me go into a little more detail. First, I’d definitely run speaker wire to all the rooms, but you can just install the speakers later. That’s what I ended up doing. It gives you more flexibility on the upside. The downside is that you have more zones you have to worry about so you may want to think about that.  For example I ran speaker wire into each of the kids bedrooms which are almost right across the hall from each other, but I also ran one in the hallway.  I then only installed the speaker in the hallway. I found it was loud enough for them to hear the announcements in the morning and send the music all around that area.  So I can get away with one zone and one DVC speaker.  If I did one in each bedroom, I’d need two speakers and the music/announcements wouldn’t travel around the area as well because it would be limited to the rooms (our bedrooms are on the second floor). I’d need two amps for each channel for more zone control (or if I wanted to keep them on the same zone - wire them both together into a little more powerful amp).  So in that case the hallway was a better solution than one for each room. Of course we have one in our master bedroom that is a separate zone.

JRiver Media Center is just that - a media server that serves up audio and video and is nice in that it can handle zones.  It doesn’t do announcements. It works standalone. There is also a plugin that lets you control it through Homeseer.  Homeseer is the control software that generates the announcements and has a speaker client which is a separate app that runs on whatever machine you want to “speak” through.  You can run multiple speaker clients and map them to the sound cards on the server running Homeseer so you can send the announcements to the proper speaker client and thus the proper zone.

You probably just read that and your head was spinning. Which is exactly why I said easy, affordable, multizone audio doesn’t really exist!!! No one has nailed it yet which really stinks because just the announcements has made life easier for our family.

BTW - I don’t want to turn this forum into a discussion for Homeseer so I’d head over to their site and check out their forums. My ideas and setup pale in comparison to what’s going on over there. However - if you are interested in their software I’d wait.  It’s currently at least 7 years old and they are FINALLY beta testing their new version which is a complete rewrite and should be infinitely better (and include support for web services which will make integration with Smartthings easier). Wait until you see HS3 released, then grab it if you are so inclined. They also have software that runs on touchscreens. I’d run at least one CAT6 cable by each doorway that you think you may want a touchscreen in the future since you can run it over PoE.  Cable is cheap at the stage of your build compared to trying to do it later (despite how crazy my wife thought I was when she saw how much I ran). :slight_smile:

If you have more questions about the Homeseeer setup you can DM over there. There will be plenty of people including myself anxious to get things integrated so everything works together. I’m looking forward to integrating Smartthings into HS. Please hurry up guys!


In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a home automation guy by profession.  We do Crestron, Savant, RTI, and I have Sonos in my own house, and have for six years.  I used the JRiver option many years ago, I should look at it again.   I love the Sonos, but the interesting thing, when you start looking at other mulitzone house music systems, is that Sonos is not really cheaper.  If you go with the Play:3, maybe but otherwise, the only real savings is labor.  Since it sounds like most everyone is DIY, not much of a savings.  That being said, the genius and beauty of Sonos is ease of setup, ease of use, and rock solid reliability.  Oh, and also, really really easy to expand later.  If you guys are interested, look up Epiphany in kickstarter, it looks like they have some good ideas.

I’ve looked at Sonos, but it irked me their simple junction box to connect to my own system cost more than their Play-3, it’s kind of insulting in a way.

At the risk of sounding like a Sonos salesman…wait, I am!  The bridge is only $49.  Alternately, you only need to connect one Sonos piece to the network, the rest communicate wirelessly.

Formix- I think Cory is talking about adding a CONNECT to his existing audio system.  I also thought it was strange the CONNECT cost more than a PLAY:3, considering the PLAY:3 added speakers and an amp.  In the CONNECT’s defense, it adds RCA line in/out and digital coax & optical outputs.  It also adds an ethernet port for daisy-chaining (built-in switch).

Yeah, the ins and outs being expensive and the DACs is the only way the connect price makes sense vs. Play:3.  I’m interested if anyone had any input on the epiphanykickstarter, it looks like they have a great idea for this arena.


I was thinking about this the other day. I have no experience with structured home audio but would like to do something that would work with SmartThings. I was planning to run my system off off my Mac Mini and put in-ceiling speaker pairs in several rooms of my house. I plan to control the audio output to iTunes via my iPhone’s built in remote, but that only controls master volume and wouldn’t provide a way to select zones or change volume.

Here’s my idea. Get one of these for each zone, remove the rotary potentiometer and replace with a digital potentiometer, with each one hooked up to a Arduino. I can also power each one through a transistor controlled by a different pin on the Arduino, providing a way for the Arduino to turn on and off zones and also tweak volume. The overall cost would be quite low.

This is, however, where my knowledge runs thin. How difficult would it be to create a smartapp to control the each amp’s power and volume potentiometer?

@tcn its very possible to do it that way, and though I thought I’d never say this, using an Arduino is not the way to go. It’s way too invasive for people to add this functionality. I’d rather push Sonos for access to their API so add control from the mobile app.