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post #1 of 7 Old 07-27-2014, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Switching/Mixing 6 Audio Inputs

I'm working on a project where I'd like to take audio from 6 DirecTV boxes into a Windows PC, and be able to change the volume of each programatically from an app I'm writing in Visual Studio and output the resulting mix to a receiver.

Is anyone here able to make a recommendation for hardware to buy, with the following requirements?
  • Need 6 inputs into the PC
  • Need an API that I can call from my app to change volumes or some other way to mix the 6 streams programatically

The concept is to have a wall with 6 TVs showing 6 different sports games, and be able to switch the surround sound in the room from game to game or even multiple games at once. I'm sure this would be trivial with a hardware mixer, but I need to be able to do it from within my Windows app.
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-27-2014, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
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After further research, I think the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820 might work, as long as it can accept 6 stereo inputs and I can control them through an API. Does anyone know if it will meet my needs?
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-27-2014, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aron7awol View Post
After further research, I think the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820 might work, as long as it can accept 6 stereo inputs and I can control them through an API. Does anyone know if it will meet my needs?
That won't really do what you want it to - that's for getting audio in/out of a computer for recording.
Edit: you don't really want to take the audio into the computer, you want an outboard device that processes the audio, and allows you to control it from the computer.

You said above you wanted to do surround sound - if that's a requirement, it gets much tougher - probably best to just use a receiver and switch inputs at that point.

Switching the sources and mixing the sources would take different hardware (well, switching would be cheaper hardware). If you're just looking to switch, check out some extron switchers on eBay. Most also switch video, but you can just not use that. Look for an older composite video or RGBHV switcher (although any video switcher with analog audio would work).

The newer ones come with network ports - you essentially telnet in and send specific commands to switch inputs. The older, cheaper ones have serial ports, but they work the same way. Just run a cable to the serial port of your PC, and send the commands to the com port.

If you're looking to mix the sources (so you can hear multiple ones at once, or program a nice crossfade between two boxes when you switch), you're going to need something more powerful, best bet would be a pro audio DSP. There are several options here, but your best bet will probably be a used ClearOne, Getner, or Biamp Nexia unit. Just be sure it has 12 inputs for all your sources. Depending on the model you get, there may be some programming/configuring required, but I'm guessing you could handle that, maybe with a little direction. Controlling it is very similar to the switch above - either telnet in or use a serial port. Since these units are very powerful (can do mixing, gating, eq, and a host of other features), the control is a slightly more difficult protocol, but it's not bad and probably well documented.

If your computer doesn't have a serial port, there are USB to serial adapters, with varying degrees of reliability, and also IP serial port servers, which you basically just telnet into, and it connects to the serial port on the device.

Good luck!

Last edited by cntp; 07-27-2014 at 06:25 PM.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-27-2014, 06:21 PM
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Also - I'm not sure what your application is exactly, but with a DSP unit, you will likely have more outputs than you need. You can also skip the receiver, and connect those outputs directly to an amplifier. If you're trying to have multiple zones in a restaurant, for instance, you could separate out the speaker zones, and have some zones get TV, and some zones getting another source, like background music. There are lots of possibilities with a full on DSP unit.
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-27-2014, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
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First of all, thank you very much for your response and great advice. Let me elaborate on the project so you can see what I’m shooting for…

This is a project for my home, something I’ve wanted to build for a while, and have been waiting for the technology to do it. Namely, the Kinect v2 sensor, which I received a couple of weeks ago. The current plan is to put a 70” 4K TV directly above a 70” 1080p TV in the center of the viewer’s field of view. To either side, 2 55” 1080p TVs will be mounted, angled in on wing walls. For normal viewing I will use the 70” 4K and leave the others powered off, but on Sundays during the NFL season I will utilize them all. Each will have a DirecTV box tuned to a particular game, and the viewer simply has to point to one of the screens to change the audio in the room to that game. It’s interesting you mentioned crossfading and being able to hear multiple at once, because that was always my intention, but I am willing to sacrifice that functionality if necessary. The same goes for surround sound; while it would be great to have, it appears I have to choose between it and the advanced audio processing such as fading/mixing.

I also plan to utilize the speech recognition capabilities of the Kinect to allow the viewer to point to a particular TV and speak a command like “Kinect, put the Cowboys game on here”. I really think this project can be expanded to be better and better in ways like this once the framework is set up. I’m trying to start simple to get it going while planning ahead to avoid crippling myself for future plans.

After hearing all this, perhaps you have some other ideas, but I think all of the advice you gave is still 100% valid. I am seeing some reasonably priced used Biamp Nexia PM DSPs on eBay and they appear to have 6 stereo inputs so maybe that is my best bet. Since I intend in any case to have a surround receiver hooked up to the 4K TV for regular TV/movie viewing, I am thinking maybe a good starting point would be to use the receiver and switch inputs as you suggested if I wanted surround, then eventually buy a DSP and move to advanced audio processing later, but I’m not sure if a receiver will let me switch audio while leaving the same video output.

I have to go to sleep now, but again, thank you for help.
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-28-2014, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I decided that the ability to fade in and out and mix multiple sources was more important than surround sound capability and bought a used Biamp Nexia PM on eBay.

My plan is to have 5 of the DirecTV boxes plugged directly into the 5 1080p TVs, with the 6th DirecTV box as an input into a receiver. The receiver will output to the 70" 4K TV and will have all other sources plugged into it (e.g. Bluray, consoles). I'm hoping I can get a receiver with a stereo line out to plug into the 6th input on the Nexia so I don't have to swap any wires when switching between watching 6 TVs and watching the single 4K TV through surround sound.
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-28-2014, 07:39 PM
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Wow, that sounds like a really cool project! Good luck with it, and please take pictures and video and share with us!!

Good luck with the Nexia - feel free to PM me (or make a post on here) if you need any help with it. For what you need, it should be more than enough power. Also - it has 6 stereo inputs, and 2 mic/line inputs, so you can connect a 7th stereo source to it as well. And is has 6 outputs, so you could run 3 stereo zones from it as well - like a patio or outdoor area, or other areas in your home.
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