How to Send Audio Over Existing Home Wiring

Using Powerline Carrier Technology to Get Multiroom Audio

Powerline Audio System from IO Gear
Powerline Audio System from IO Gear.

Have you dreamed of using your home's existing wiring for network or audio distribution? Powerline Carrier Technology (PLC), also known by its trade name HomePlug, can distribute stereo music and control signals throughout your home via your home's existing electrical wiring.

PLC promised to make it easy to have a multiroom audio system without installing any new wiring in your home. However, the early entrants into the field have moved on. While Ethernet networking can take advantage of PLC, dedicated multi-room stereo distributing systems are hard to find.

You can find many brands of powerline network adapters from companies such as Netgear, Linksys, Trendnet, Actiontec. They are sold in pairs, with one being plugged into a wall receptacle near your router, and the other at a wall receptacle in the room where you want the network or audio connection. For homes where Wi-Fi coverage isn't good and you don't want to re-wire for audio or network, it is a way to distribute connectivity.

IO Gear offered the now-discontinued do-it-yourself Powerline Audio Station, a base station with a built-in iPod dock and a Powerline Stereo Audio Adapter. The Audio Station is placed in the main room and the Audio Adapter in any other room in your home where you want music.

HomePlug AV, AV2, AV MIMO

Adapters are certified by the HomePlug Alliance and carry a HomePlug Certified logo. HomePlug AV and AV2 are SISO (single input/single output) and use two wires in your home electrical wiring (hot and neutral). The AV2 MIMO (multiple in/multiple out) standard with beamforming uses those two wires and also the ground, which improves the reliability of high-bandwidth transmission.

The HomePlug Alliance sponsors the nVoy Program to develop the software layer that integrates HomePlus and Wi-Fi working together. The aim is that HomePlug technology is built into components to offer plug-and-play connectivity.

If your stereo system utilizes Ethernet components, you would be able to use HomePlug technology and/or Wi-Fi to distribute it throughout your house.

Advanced Systems With Powerline Carrier Technology

More advanced systems and components were offered by Russound with the Collage Powerline Media and Intercom System. It consisted of an amplified in-wall keypad for each room with 30-watts of power (15-watts x 2) and a small full-color display. Each control keypad had an FM tuner and a Media Manager that connected the system to a home's Ethernet network for sharing content between zones. A pair of in-wall speakers would be installed in each room. 

NuVo Technologies developed the Renovia, a 6-source multiroom system for as many as eight zones or rooms. Audio sources connect to a Renovia Source Hub, which includes built-in AM/FM tuners and satellite radio tuners. Additional sources, such as a CD player can also be connected to the Source Hub, for a total of six sources.

The Collage and Renovia systems were aimed at the retrofit installation market — homes where installing room-to-room wiring is not feasible or too expensive. Both systems need to be professionally installed.