Home » Blog » How-To » Designing a Multi-Room or Whole House Audio System Using a Bose Lifestyle® System
March 3rd, 2008
Bose® Lifestyle® Home Theater Systems are best known for having excellent sound quality while blending seamlessly into any home decor. Bose products are well known for being extremely user friendly and simple to hook-up. What most people don't know however, is how a Bose Lifestyle® System can be used as the media hub for a multi-room or whole house audio system. Bose is constantly finding innovative ways to simplify installation and to create the most user friendly systems available. By using a patented technology called Bose Link®, Bose has given customers great tools to create a professional looking home theater setup that can also control sound in other rooms of the home. There are several products that can be used to complete a whole house audio system. The best feature of the Bose Lifestyle® whole house audio system is it's capability of controlling two different music streams from up to 14 different rooms of your house. This means that a person can be listening to one audio source in one room, and someone else can be listening to a second audio source from another room.

It Starts with the Lifestyle® System

The Media Center of the Bose Lifestyle® System has two specific functions. First and foremost it is the main controller for an exceptional home theater surround sound system. Controlling five speakers and a subwoofer to fill the theater room with exquisite sound from either the built in single disc DVD/CD player or any one of the other five audio sources including stored uMusic® (not available on all systems). The Lifestyle® Media Center also incorporates a progressive scan DVD player with exceptional picture quality, an AdaptIQ® feature that automatically tunes and adjusts the sound to the acoustics of the room, as well as a feature called Bose Link for incorporation of distributed audio throughout the home. When the Bose Link feature of the Lifestyle® System is used, the media center functions not only as a home theater controller but also as the main control unit of the whole house audio system. A Bose system has the ability to allow two different audio streams simultaneously in two different areas of the house. This is done with Bose Link technology using Bose SA-2® or SA-3® amplifiers and a Bose second zone remote compatible with each particular Lifestyle® system.

Expanding Your Bose Lifestyle® System

With the Bose Link Technology it makes it very easy to expand your system into other rooms of the house and even outside. Let's take a look at the specific products necessary to set up a Bose Link controlled theater and whole house audio system.

The Main System Control

Your Bose Lifestyle® System Media Center will control the audio in all the other rooms of your house from one centralized location. Choose from one of the following:
  • Bose Lifetyle® 48 The Bose Lifestyle 48 is Bose's premier Lifestyle system and features premium Jewel Cube speaker arrays and 340 hours of uMusic storage.
  • Bose Lifestyle® 38 The Bose Lifestyle 38 has Bose's standard cube speaker arrays and 200 hours of uMusic storage.
  • Bose Lifestyle® 35 The Bose Lifestyle 35 features jewel cube speakers but does not have uMusic.
  • Bose Lifestyle® 28 The Bose Lifestyle 28 is the entry level Lifestyle System with standard cube speaker arrays.

Second Zone Remote Control

Each room, or zone, will need it's own specialized remote to control what happens in that particular room. The remotes function on a Radio Frequency signal so it is not necessary to point them in a specific direction. The second zone remotes options for the different systems are:
  • Personal® Music Center II (PMCII) - Recommended for Lifestyle® owners with uMusic (Lifestyle® 38 & 48) - Gives full access to the uMusic Library with on screen menus
  • RC-38S - Provides access and control of your Lifestyle® 38 or 48 DVD home entertainment system from many locations around your house, even outdoors.
  • RC-18S - Gives you access to and control of your Lifestyle® 28 Series II system and most audio/video sources attached to it, such as TV, VCR and Satellite or Cable box.

Bose Lifestyle Second Zone Amplifier

A Bose Link amplifier works in direct correlation with the Bose Lifestyle® Media Center to bring great Bose sound anywhere in the home. The multiple amps are connected directly to the Media Center and are controlled by the second zone remote controls. The remotes control the audio source and the volume level in each room independently. An amplifier is needed for each additional room of the house that sound is wanted. (The Bose Roommate Speaker has a built in amplifier and does not need an external amplifier) There are two different external amplifiers that are available:
  • Bose Lifestyle® SA-3 100 Watt Amplifier recommended for AM5, 251, Free Space 51, or any room with a local source. A local source would be a television or any other audio source that you would want to play through your integrated speakers in the additional room.
  • Bose Lifestyle® SA-2 40 Watt Amplifier recommended for the 161®, 201®, 151®, and 191® speakers and any room without a local source

Speaker Options

Tabletop Speaker with integrated Amplifier
  • Bose Roommate® - This counter top speaker solution is the easiest Lifestyle® Expansion option. It has a built in amplifier, comes with the PMCII remote control and can be paired with the AL8 wireless package, for an easy, wireless setup.
In Wall / In Ceiling Speakers
  • 191® - The Bose 191 is a very versatile speaker that can be used as either an in-wall or an in-ceiling speaker. A rectangular speaker grill cover comes in the box for the in-wall application use as well as a round grill cover to use with in-ceiling placement. The speaker itself has its own back box that acts as an acoustic chamber to help deliver good crisp mid-range and low end frequencies. This is a great speaker that can be used in many different applications.
Outdoor Speakers
  • 251® - The Bose 251 Environmental Speaker is the largest of the outdoor speaker family. These speakers have a unique design that allows the speaker to reproduce extreme lows and good clean highs. It is designed with its own mounting bracket that gives the speaker the capabilities of tilting up and down once mounted.
  • FreeSpace 51 - Ground speakers that offer exceptionally broad, even coverage due to a radial design that enables 360-degree sound dispersion. The FreeSpace 51 has a weather-resistant casing that can withstand even extreme weather conditions. They deliver uncompromising sound that can be completely hidden in the landscaping.
  • 151® - These entry level outdoor speakers from Bose give good overall sound from a small, wall mounted speaker. This speaker would be recommended for smaller coverage areas.
Bookshelf Speakers
  • 161® - These are great for background music playing at low to moderate levels. These speakers are sold with a wall bracket so the speaker can be mounted or just set on a shelf.
  • 201® - These speakers offer a 6-1/2 inch driver with a 1 inch tweeter to deliver full range of music. Designed as a traditional bookshelf speaker the 201's incorporate a moderately small cabinet but deliver a great sound.
  • 301® - The Bose 301 offers an 8 inch driver with two 1 inch tweeters - one firing to the front of the speaker and the other firing out of the side rear to use Bose's patented Direct Reflecting technology. These speakers like to get loud and deliver at any volume level.
On Wall Speakers
  • Bose Acoustimass® 5 - Also know as the AM5, these speakers take from the same design as the Lifestyle 28 and 38 speakers incorporating an Acoustimass bass module with a cross-over point specified for the cube speakers. The single cube speaker can be mounted on the wall via an optional wall bracket (UB-20), however, the speakers must be wired through the Acoustimass module to work properly.
Secondary Home Theater Systems
  • Bose 321® GS - Just two visible Gemstone speaker arrays make up Bose's smallest, most powerful 2 speaker system available. An Acoustimass® module is also included to deliver enhanced sound performance from almost anything you watch. Setup is simple: No center or rear speakers means no wiring to the back of your room. An elegant media center features a progressive scan DVD/CD player with AM/FM tuner.
  • Bose 321® GSX - For those of you who love music and movies but would rather have the simplicity of less speakers and wires. The 3·2·1® GSX® system is the Bose® premium selection in the 3·2·1 system family offering the benefit of music storage. It delivers much of the performance of a five-speaker home theater solution, with an intelligent approach to music.

Wireless Expansion Options

The example we use below uses a hard wired connection for each room, but for ease of installation, the Bose AL8® Homewide Wireless Audio Link can be used in conjunction to a wired solution to provide sound wirelessly in up to 8 rooms. The transmitter in the AL8 needs to be connected to the Bose Lifestyle® system, then the amplifier for the room's speakers is plugged in to the receiver of the AL8. Up to 7 additional receivers (Bose AL-1® ) can be purchased for a total of 8 wireless rooms.

Bose Whole House Wiring Example

Here is a diagram of how a Bose Link whole house solution would work. This is an example of a house completely wired with Bose sound.

The Pre-Wire

When building a new home, it is essential to have all of the wiring down before the dry-wall is hung. As shown above, there are a number of cables needed to properly wire for a Bose whole house audio system. The first step is to decide where the amplifiers are going to be housed for the different rooms of audio. The most common place in a new construction home would be the control room, or an unfinished part of a basement. Once the location is determined Bose System Cable II must be ran to that location from the room that will house the Bose Lifestyle® Media Center, this will typically be the theater room. This cable is how the Media Center will communicate with the amplifiers. Once this cable is in place it is now time to figure out where the speakers are going to be placed in the specific rooms. Speaker wire must be pulled to these locations from the control room. If there are to be Roommates or additional 321 systems used in some rooms, those particular rooms will require system cable to be pulled instead of speaker wire, as shown in the diagram for rooms E and F. Don't forget about the theater room. Speaker wire must be pulled to each of the five speaker locations within that room from the location of the Lifestyle® Bass Module. Now that we have all of our wires in place, let's take a look at the equipment and hook-up in every room.

Structured Wiring Panel

Parts Used: Bose System Cable II (1), Bose System Cable II Exapansion Hub (2), Bose Link A-Source Cable (3), 3 Bose SA-3 Amplifiers (4,5,6), 2 Bose Link Extension/Expansion Cables (7,8), Bose Local Source Input/Output Cable (9), Bose Single Source/Destination Plate (10), Bose System Cable II (11)

In our example we are running two of the rooms with non-traditional speaker applications. Therefore we ran system cable from the control room to each of those rooms. Because of that we will have to wire in a System Cable Expansion Hub to distribute that signal. The System Cable that is coming from the theater room is wired directly into the input on the hub. The two runs of system cable that are going to room E and room F are then wired into two of the outputs on the hub. A Bose Link A-Source cable is then connected from the output on the hub to the input on the first SA-3 amplifier. The other two SA-3 amplifiers are then connected to one another via the Bose Link Expansion Cables. Lastly, the speaker wires are connected to the amplifiers for the remaining rooms. The equipment installed in the structured wiring panel will be the foundation to your whole house audio solution. Next we will walk through each room on our diagram to explain what equipment is being used and how it is connected to the system. Refer to the diagram with each step to give yourself a visual aid of the connections.

Room B - Bedroom

Parts Used: TV, Speaker Wire, Bose Single Source/Destination Plate (12), Bose Local Source Input/Output Cable (13) Bose 191 Speakers (14), PMC® II Remote (15) The setup in Room B allows you to both listen to music from the Lifestyle® System in your home theater room or get audio from the TV in Room B. For this setup to work, both the speakers and the TV have to be connected to the Room B SA-3 amplifier. The TV audio is connected to the SA-3 amplifier(6) by running the Bose Local Source Input/Output cable(13) from the TV's audio output to the Single Source Destination Plate (12). This connects the TV audio to the Room B amplifier(6) using the Bose System Cable II(11). Next the speaker wire is run from the 191 speakers(14) to the SA-3 amplifier. Now that Room B is connected to the home theater room, the PMC® II remote is used to let the user either listen to the TV's audio or listen to the radio, auxiliary input, CD/DVD or U-Music from the Lifestyle® System in the Home Theater Room.

Room C - Dining Room

Parts Used: Speaker Wire, Bose 191 Speakers (16), Bose PMC® II Remote (17) Room C is a pretty straight forward setup, the 191 speakers are connected by speaker wire to the Room C SA-3 amplifier in the structured wiring panel. This allows the user to listen to audio from the Lifestyle System in the home theater room by utilizing the PMC®-II remote. *Even though the diagram shows the speakers connected to an SA-3 amp, we suggest an SA-2 amp. The difference between the SA-2 and SA-3 is the SA-3 has an auxiliary input and 100 watts of power while the SA-2 has no auxiliary input and has 40 watts of power. For a room inside the house that is just using speakers the SA-2 will be the more practical option and will also cost less.

Room D - Patio

Parts Used: Speaker Wire, Bose Freespace 51 speakers(18), Bose PMC®-II Remote (19) Room D (Patio) has practically the same setup as Room C, the tricky part is getting your speaker wire from the inside of your house to the outside and burying it underneath the ground to attach to the speakers. Other than the basic installation of the speaker wire, the only thing you have to do is connect the Freespace 51 speakers to the SA-3 amp with speaker wire. Even though this is the same type of setup as Room C, an SA-3 Amp is used to give extra power to the speakers that will be located furthest away from the Lifestyle®. The PMC®-II remote will allow you to control the music coming from the Lifestyle® System. *Although the diagram uses Freespace 51 speakers which rest on the ground, Bose also has the 151 and 251 outdoor speaker models which can mount to the side of the house.

Room E - Playroom

Parts Used: Bose System Cable II (20), Bose Single Source/Destination Plate (21), Bose Link B Source Connection Cable (22), Bose Lifestyle® 321 GS or 321 GSX (23), Bose PMC® II Remote (24) Since Room E has a Bose 321 System in it, the main functionality of Bose Link in this room will be to use the U-music from the Lifestyle® System in the other room. The installation in this room is very simple, attach a Bose System Cable II from the expansion hub (2) to the Single Source/Destination Plate (21). From there a Bose Link B Source Connection Cable is needed to connect the 321 System to the wall plate. Although the Bose 321 GS and 321 GSX both come with a remote, we recommend using a PMC® II Remote in order to easily use the U-Music from the Lifestyle® System in the Home Theater Room.

Room F - Kitchen

Parts Used: Bose System Cable II (25), Bose Single Source/Destination Plate (26), Bose Link B Source Connection Cable(27), Bose Roommate Speaker (28), Bose PMC®-II Remote (29) Room F has identical connections to Room E, the only thing different is that Room F uses a Bose Roommate Speaker to play audio from the Lifestyle System in the Home Theater Room. The Bose System Cable II(25) wires into the expansion hub(2) which connects it to the Single Source/Destination plate (26), a Bose Link B Source Connection Cable (27) connects the Roommate Speaker (28) to the rest of the Bose Link System. Once again you can control which audio source you want to use by selecting it on the Bose PMC-II remote. Note: Each Bose Remote in the house can (and should) be set to control its respective zone so it doesn't interfere with others in the house.


This diagram is an example of an entire house filled with Bose sound. Understand that as long as you have a Lifestyle®® System you can choose one, or all of these options for Bose Link Expansion. Although this seems like a very complex installation project, it is much easier than mixing and matching parts to form a similar system. Bose Link is both the easiest and cleanest way to achieve whole house audio solutions.

Questions - Free Design Service

If you still have questions, or would like free design assistance from one of our custom installation specialists, give us a call at 1-866-224-6171.








Bose Internet Authorized Dealer   Monster Internet Authorized Dealer   Beats Internet Authorized Dealer   Niles Audio Internet Authorized Dealer   Yamaha Internet Authorized Dealer   Boston Acoustics Internet Authorized Dealer   Shure Internet Authorized Dealer   Sennheiser Internet Authorized Dealer   More...
Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American Express, PayPal McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams BizRate Customer Certified (GOLD) Site
My Cart: 0 Items Checkout Back to Top ↑