The Phoenix Theater Build Thread - Page 32 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #931 of 1010 Old 12-15-2015, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by granroth View Post
White Matte Milliskin over a layer of Silver Matte Milliskin. Yes, with the AE8000.

I had to hunt that info down, myself. I thought I added the screen build to my signature, but apparently not. Will do so now!
Thanks granroth, oh good my memory isn't as bad as I thought . I keep going back and forth on the white over grey or black with the Epson 5030 I just got

One day I will start the new theater....... one day..... THAT DAY HAS ARRIVED
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post #932 of 1010 Old 12-31-2015, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Update - December 31, 2015

One last status update before the new year!

Atmos?

I almost never go to commercial movie theaters anymore, other than for very special occasions (typically "team building" outings at work). One such special occasion was Star Wars : The Force Awakens! I've been looking forward to that movie for a very long time and there's no way I was going to wait until it came out on Blu Ray to watch it. My short review -- LOVED IT!!

I decided that if I was going to force myself into a commercial theater, then I might as well pick an Atmos theater to get the best possible experience. Plus this particular theater had a 70 ft screen... but I was mostly interested in the Atmos mix.

This was my first Atmos experience and I'll have to say that I was underwhelmed. Even the Atmos intro scene in the beginning was just okay. For some reason I was expecting something a bit more dramatic.

I'm still committed to an Atmos solution in the final version of my theater (the ceiling speakers are already installed!) but maybe I need to readjust my expectations on what that'll sound like. Hrm.

Viral

I did a post and video on how to sharpen shovels that apparently went mildly viral. It was kind of nuts.

First, an imgur gallery garnered almost 700,000 views plus earned me a "trophy" for being one of the top viral posts of the day. Okay...

Then a post to the reddit DIY forum became the top post of the day with almost 1200 comments and 5400 upvotes/likes.

And to cap it off, Popular Mechanics wrote an article based off of the YouTube video which caused my subscriber roles to double overnight and to bring 7300 views to the video itself.

Here's the video:


And all for instructions on how to sharpen a SHOVEL of all things. A shovel!!

Apparently there was a void out there related to shovel sharpening that I happened to fill at the right time. Who knew?

Hehe.

HTPC

My ongoing theater project is an HTPC. I'm going to do that in three steps:

Step 1: The physical build
Step 2: Installing the software
Step 3: Configuring the software

I already did the build so now I just need to do a write up and a video... hopefully by this weekend.

Primed

I also got some Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 for a random project. I figured that with that I can now do a comparison of various ways of sealing MDF. That comes up a lot when building speakers and subs and such, so is appropriate here. Specifically, I'm going to do a comparison of the following:

1. No priming -- just paint
2. A mix of glue and water
3. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3
4. Zinsser B-I-N

Anything else I should test?

Not sure when I'll do that. Hopefully soon.

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
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post #933 of 1010 Old 01-01-2016, 05:36 AM
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Hi, Granroth! I just wanted to say thanks for everything you've posted, and particularly the screen frame and material parts. I'm trying to scrape together my own home theatre, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to follow your pattern for making an AT screen. Cheers!
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post #934 of 1010 Old 01-01-2016, 06:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by granroth View Post

Primed

I also got some Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 for a random project. I figured that with that I can now do a comparison of various ways of sealing MDF. That comes up a lot when building speakers and subs and such, so is appropriate here. Specifically, I'm going to do a comparison of the following:

1. No priming -- just paint
2. A mix of glue and water
3. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3
4. Zinsser B-I-N

Anything else I should test?

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
I would also add Minwax sanding sealer to the list as this is one of the more common MDF sealants.

I'd also clarify if you are looking at water-based or oil-based Zinser primer products. Oil base are recommended for MDF because they are not water based. :roll eyes: But I can see a lot of people making the mistake of trying to use a water-based primer. It's not the end of the world, but it does raise the "grain" more than you'd probably like.

If you'd like to add one more to the list I would suggest a rattle can primer intended for wood. Sometimes the blowing agents used inside these cans can have a mild effect, sometimes not. YMMV.

By the way, I watched your shovel sharpening video and am inspired to do it, though I haven't picked up a shovel in years. I then started to watch a couple of your other videos, specifically your column making video. You had a really nifty device for lifting that heavy MDF panel at shoulder height with one hand. One of those things that uses the weight of what you are carrying as extra clamping pressure. Do you happen to have a link for this product? Thanks!

AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU, SIR!!!!!

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post #935 of 1010 Old 01-01-2016, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I would also add Minwax sanding sealer to the list as this is one of the more common MDF sealants.

I'd also clarify if you are looking at water-based or oil-based Zinser primer products. Oil base are recommended for MDF because they are not water based. :roll eyes: But I can see a lot of people making the mistake of trying to use a water-based primer. It's not the end of the world, but it does raise the "grain" more than you'd probably like.

If you'd like to add one more to the list I would suggest a rattle can primer intended for wood. Sometimes the blowing agents used inside these cans can have a mild effect, sometimes not. YMMV.
Okay, I'll add the Minwax Sanding Sealer (totally forgot about that!) and a spray can primer to the list.

Yeah, the difference between water-based and not will be a big part of the comparison. Between the two Zinsser products, we have 1-2-3 which is water based and B-I-N which is in alcohol (it's essentially shellac). It looks like the Minwax is water based as well... at least in the sense that it cleans up in water. It'll be interesting to see what kind of results they all have.

Quote:
By the way, I watched your shovel sharpening video and am inspired to do it, though I haven't picked up a shovel in years. I then started to watch a couple of your other videos, specifically your column making video. You had a really nifty device for lifting that heavy MDF panel at shoulder height with one hand. One of those things that uses the weight of what you are carrying as extra clamping pressure. Do you happen to have a link for this product?
That's a Gorilla Gripper. It's extremely handy for carrying heavy panels short distances, especially if those panels are sitting on the floor.

I have an earlier post in this thread comparing the three panel carriers I use __HERE__. I do use all three because each is very good at certain aspects of panel carrying and terrible at others. Hmm... I think that's going to be a future Granworks entry.
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post #936 of 1010 Old 01-04-2016, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by granroth View Post
One last status update before the new year!

Atmos?

I almost never go to commercial movie theaters anymore, other than for very special occasions (typically "team building" outings at work). One such special occasion was Star Wars : The Force Awakens! I've been looking forward to that movie for a very long time and there's no way I was going to wait until it came out on Blu Ray to watch it. My short review -- LOVED IT!!

I decided that if I was going to force myself into a commercial theater, then I might as well pick an Atmos theater to get the best possible experience. Plus this particular theater had a 70 ft screen... but I was mostly interested in the Atmos mix.

This was my first Atmos experience and I'll have to say that I was underwhelmed. Even the Atmos intro scene in the beginning was just okay. For some reason I was expecting something a bit more dramatic.

I'm still committed to an Atmos solution in the final version of my theater (the ceiling speakers are already installed!) but maybe I need to readjust my expectations on what that'll sound like. Hrm.
granroth,

My attitude about commercial theaters is similar (although I do get to one about twice/yr.). I was really pumped up about seeing The Force Awakens in a "special theater" so I searched and we went to an AMC / Dolby Prime theater in Vernon Hills, IL. Before the lights dimmed I was in awe checking out 20 overhead speakers, and what appeared to be a side-surround/line-array for almost every row.

The Force Awakens movie was very good (perhaps a bit over-hyped), and PQ quality was terrific, however I was really expecting ATMOS to be the star of our outing - it was not. In fact if I hadn't visually noted the extra speakers; I would have never guessed this to be an ATMOS expereince .

Not sure why I was under-whelmed; maybe the mix, maybe my expectations were to high, or perhaps this particular theater was not properly setup? I am no longer "chomping at the bit" to upgrade my system to ATMOS, will likely wait until I move in a few years and start HT version 2.0
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post #937 of 1010 Old 01-04-2016, 03:36 PM
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I three have been underwhelmed with Atmos at the new Star Wars. I was wondering if the ceiling speakers are too far away to be effective?


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post #938 of 1010 Old 01-04-2016, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Not sure why I was under-whelmed; maybe the mix, maybe my expectations were to high, or perhaps this particular theater was not properly setup? I am no longer "chomping at the bit" to upgrade my system to ATMOS, will likely wait until I move in a few years and start HT version 2.0
Maybe all three! I definitely have high expectations after all of the glowing reviews starting at CEDIA last year (or year before?). The scuttlebut is that it's the next big thing after 5.1. That's huge.

Maybe, though, Star Wars was just a poor Atmos mix? I honestly haven't heard any glowing soundtrack reviews of it, like we did with Gravity and the like.

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I three have been underwhelmed with Atmos at the new Star Wars. I was wondering if the ceiling speakers are too far away to be effective?
And yeah, this might be the third option -- the theater I watched it at was one of the few Atmos theaters in my area, but it's NOT one of those that are listed on the Dolby site with VISION and the rest of the tricks. Maybe they just don't implement it right unless the theater is somehow perfectly suited for it.

Oh... and a fourth option -- maybe the "sweet spot" matters more than ever and by sitting just outside of it you won't hear much of the overhead effects.
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post #939 of 1010 Old 01-05-2016, 02:20 AM
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I'm always of the opinion that the end-goal should be a natural 3 dimensional sound field first and foremost. If there happens to be an object passing through this 3D soundstage, then so be it.

Why do Atmos speakers have to be 'in your face' and blaring content to be happy with the effect? I am sure you would notice the lack of the effect if the system was suddenly collapsed to traditional 7.1 or stereo. I am also sure the Atmos sound designers looked at every scene with a critical ear to recreate the environments on screen without feeling the need to artificially introduce sound into the overhead speakers. Or should directors line up every shot so that *something* passes overhead or from front-to-back just to satisfy some theater audio fanboys? If that's the case, maybe they can throw in a bit of constant 15Hz LFE in every scene as well so the subs have something to do.

It's natural for the Atmos demo material to overcook the ceiling speakers because they are trying to get customers to spend money on technology they hear working. Out of all the Atmos, DTS-X and Auro3D demonstrations I have heard, the ones that really get my attention are the ones where you can close your eyes, listen, and feel as though you are really in the environment being presented.
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post #940 of 1010 Old 01-05-2016, 04:53 AM
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I hear what your saying and certainly don't mean to argue. In my local Atmos theater I could probably count on one hand the times I could pick out overhead sounds through Atmos. I certainly don't have ears as good as some, so I'm sure there are some I missed.

Are there some movies that have more overhead sound, probably. I would just think with a movie like Star Wars there could be a lot more overhead sound.

For me to spend the kind of money it would take to do Atmos correctly there needs to be stellar content. I mean, your talking what 1,500-2,000$ min to get a receiver and more speakers? For me and what I've heard, i'll wait.


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post #941 of 1010 Old 01-05-2016, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
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Why do Atmos speakers have to be 'in your face' and blaring content to be happy with the effect? I am sure you would notice the lack of the effect if the system was suddenly collapsed to traditional 7.1 or stereo. I am also sure the Atmos sound designers looked at every scene with a critical ear to recreate the environments on screen without feeling the need to artificially introduce sound into the overhead speakers. Or should directors line up every shot so that *something* passes overhead or from front-to-back just to satisfy some theater audio fanboys? If that's the case, maybe they can throw in a bit of constant 15Hz LFE in every scene as well so the subs have something to do.

It's natural for the Atmos demo material to overcook the ceiling speakers because they are trying to get customers to spend money on technology they hear working. Out of all the Atmos, DTS-X and Auro3D demonstrations I have heard, the ones that really get my attention are the ones where you can close your eyes, listen, and feel as though you are really in the environment being presented.
I went into this being wary of ATMOS being overdone. However; in this case I do not recall ANY overhead sounds at all, and a movie with action scenes like this one, should have had something audible overhead at some point in the movie, just saying......

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post #942 of 1010 Old 01-05-2016, 11:59 AM
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If that's the case, maybe they can throw in a bit of constant 15Hz LFE in every scene as well so the subs have something to do..
I love this idea.

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I went into this being wary of ATMOS being overdone. However; in this case I do not recall ANY overhead sounds at all, and a movie with action scenes like this one, should have had something audible overhead at some point in the movie, just saying......
There are some demos that really pinpoint the benefits of atmos but in general, the height channels just aide in creating the 3 dimensional space. Even though auro is not the same thing, their demo disc does a good job of displaying demos with, and then without the height channels engaged and it does give you an appreciation for what that entire layer accomplishes. There was likely a good amount of usage of the height channels in TFA, they were just used in conjunction with the corresponding bed channels to create the effect you were hearing. The fact that the "Bed" channels were also well above your head, the effect would not be as noticeable. When transitioning atmos to home environments, we have the ability to move the bed channels down closer to ear level, thus separating the effects between them and the height layer much more than commercial applications, therefore creating an even more immersive experience and "Bubble."

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post #943 of 1010 Old 01-05-2016, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm always of the opinion that the end-goal should be a natural 3 dimensional sound field first and foremost. If there happens to be an object passing through this 3D soundstage, then so be it.

Why do Atmos speakers have to be 'in your face' and blaring content to be happy with the effect? I am sure you would notice the lack of the effect if the system was suddenly collapsed to traditional 7.1 or stereo.
I wouldn't require that Atmos be obviously overhead or anything but more obviously better, in order to match my expectations.

So moving from just 2.1 or 3.1 to 5.1 is a massive improvement. You don't need anybody to even tell you that you now have surround sound since it's obviously worlds better.

The next levels up might be 7.1 up to maybe 11.1. I'm going to have the 7.x setup because why not but from what I'm told, the difference isn't always incredibly obvious. That is, the frequent question of "should I upgrade from 5.1 to 7.1?" is nearly always answered along the lines that it's probably not worth it if you're expecting a big change. It's a subtle improvement.

Atmos, though, has been billed as being a change akin to the original 5.1 addition. Put another way, it should be so dramatically better that you won't need to be told that there are overhead speakers -- you'd just know it sounded much better.

I've watched a number of movies in that particular theater chain, if not that specific room. I didn't feel like I was enveloped in the sound any more than any of those non-Atmos movies.

If it is the case that I would have noticed a difference had the soundtrack abruptly changed to a non-Atmos variant mind way through the movie... well, then that implies that it's my expectations that need to be changed. As in, my expectations were that I'd be wowed without any direct comparison at all and not require an A-B test to ascertain a difference. Maybe that's completely unrealistic!

I'm very curious to see how it'll all sound when I finally do have all 11 speakers active in my theater, in any case
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post #944 of 1010 Old 01-05-2016, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh, and I did a more in depth comparison of three panel carriers, including the Gorilla Gripper in both video and blog form.

Video:


And the blog entry which is more detailed but doesn't show the mechanics as well:

http://granworks.com/which-panel-carrier-is-best/
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post #945 of 1010 Old 01-06-2016, 11:05 AM
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Nice video, Kurt. Looks like you got quite the little workout that day.

I have two of the Stanley panel carriers just in case I'm lucky enough to have (trick) a friend into helping me. Since the plastic is a bit rough on the hands after a while, I have 3 small things I did to make things a bit more pleasant. First, I wrapped the handle with rubber pipe wrap (not the foam pipe wrap) and secured it with a quality electrical tape. I will also wear my leather work glove to cushion the fingers a bit more and improve grip friction. And on the day I had to carry 135 sheets of 5/8" drywall and 3/4" plywood in one afternoon, I used one ratchet tie-down as an over-the-shoulder sling on my opposite shoulder (cross body) to help take up a good bit of the load. I ran it through the slot just under the flat middle piece. It worked GREAT and I wished I had done it hours earlier. My hand still had some of the load, but it was soooo much nicer to have most of the load hanging from my makeshift sling. I even taped some of the left over rubber pipe wrap to part of the strap to use as a shoulder cushion and the other to cover the ratchet tie down itself which was in the middle of my chest. I'm sure it looked absolutely ridiculous but not a single F was given that afternoon.
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post #946 of 1010 Old 01-06-2016, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Nice video, Kurt. Looks like you got quite the little workout that day.

I have two of the Stanley panel carriers just in case I'm lucky enough to have (trick) a friend into helping me. Since the plastic is a bit rough on the hands after a while, I have 3 small things I did to make things a bit more pleasant. First, I wrapped the handle with rubber pipe wrap (not the foam pipe wrap) and secured it with a quality electrical tape. I will also wear my leather work glove to cushion the fingers a bit more and improve grip friction. And on the day I had to carry 135 sheets of 5/8" drywall and 3/4" plywood in one afternoon, I used one ratchet tie-down as an over-the-shoulder sling on my opposite shoulder (cross body) to help take up a good bit of the load. I ran it through the slot just under the flat middle piece. It worked GREAT and I wished I had done it hours earlier. My hand still had some of the load, but it was soooo much nicer to have most of the load hanging from my makeshift sling. I even taped some of the left over rubber pipe wrap to part of the strap to use as a shoulder cushion and the other to cover the ratchet tie down itself which was in the middle of my chest. I'm sure it looked absolutely ridiculous but not a single F was given that afternoon.
That's ingenious!

I do already wear leather gloves when I have to haul a lot... mostly because I wear gloves when working with panels regardless. The idea to wrap the handle with rubber is inspired! I'm going to do that for sure.

And a cross-body sling using a tie-down?! Gah! I bow to your vastly superior imagination and insights in improvisation.
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post #947 of 1010 Old 01-15-2016, 01:50 PM
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I second TMcG's comment on the video. Another excellent resource you've provided us Granroth.
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post #948 of 1010 Old 02-14-2016, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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In Search of a Remote That Doesn't Suck

I'm researching remotes now and it's very very frustrating. They are all terrible in one way or another. I have no idea what extreme compromises I will be willing to make in order to choose one of the options.

Okay, here's what I'm seeing:

Option 1: Individual Remotes Per Device

That's what I'm doing now. I have an IR remote for my Panny, the Denon iPhone app for my AVR, a Roku Bluetooth remote (or iPhone app), and a Kodi iPhone app.

Pros: Doesn't cost me anything. Everything does work.

Cons: Juggling remotes is so '90s -- I've been using a universal remote (Harmony One) for 10-15 years and going separate feels like a step back. None of the iPhone apps support gestures so they're a pain to use in real time. I had a touchscreen remote back in 2003 or so and hated it. The iPhone apps are no different in that respect. I really want either a remote with physical buttons or one that supports gestures. Everything is separate so there's no real "automation" to speak of.

Option 2: IR Everywhere

I could forget about the home automation; install Flirc for Kodi; run an IR extender/blaster through my conduit to connect up my devices in my equipment closet to the theater; and run it all with my beloved Harmony One.

Pros: I love the Harmony One remote. The hardware (Flirc and the IR blasters) is relatively inexpensive.

Cons: IR is moderately flakey. Worse, IR is a one-way protocol, so there's no feedback -- feels like a step backwards. Line if sight even to the extender is critical. I can't count how many times I had to manually switch everything on and off with my Harmony when it just happened to be facing in slightly the wrong direction during the necessary step. I really wanted to automate my theater and then my entire house -- this is not that solution.

Option 3: Logitech Harmony w/ Hub

Logitech now makes a "smart home" hub that works with their new remotes. They do look pretty slick. Price ranges from $150 to $350.

Pros: Physical buttons for what matters, but touch screen or iPhone app for extended stuff. Can control a full home automation solution using a physical remote -- that really appeals to me

Cons: Doesn't support Kodi and likely never will (other than via IR). I mean, I could stop right there. Not supporting Kodi is a fatal flaw. This reduces this platform to being identical to the "IR Everywhere" option, only costing hundreds of dollars more. There might be more, but I stopped looking as soon as I got there.

Option 4: iRule

iPhone app that allows you to build custom "virtual" remotes to control anything and everything. Very powerful and very flexible.

Pros: Controls everything in one place. Has gestures for no-look control. No asinine subscription required. I would definitely be able to do everything that I needed to do with it.

Cons: Requires a hardware box to do anything at all; even IP controls (why?!). Everything costs extra -- it's not obvious to me how much my system would even cost. Maybe a lot? Clearly doesn't have any UX designer on staff since it's the ugliest interface imaginable -- just terrible looking. No meaningful feedback from Kodi, like media guide or elapsed time or anything else. As such, it seems like they are competing with the Pronto remotes from well over a decade ago.

Option 5: Simple Control (was Roomie)

iPhone app that controls everything. Gorgeous interface. Very powerful and is the only solution that feels even a little like a modern product.

Pros: Controls everything in one place. Has gestures for no-look control. Lots of two-way feedback so it feels like a first class citizen with Kodi. Wonderful interface

Cons: REQUIRES A SUBSCRIPTION TO USE!!!! Are you kidding me?!?! A subscription?! WTF! I want to buy my remote control solution; not rent it! This is a complete deal breaker for me. I would be more than willing to pay per device (for a reasonable amount) but there's no way I'm going to be okay with any ongoing annual extortion just to use my remote.

In Conclusion

They all suck as options. The Logitech hub idea would work if it supported Kodi, but it likely never will. Roomie/Simple Control would be ideal but their yearly extortion racket infuriates me. iRule would also work but I recoil at paying so much money for software that looks like it was developed for Windows 95.

sigh
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post #949 of 1010 Old 02-14-2016, 07:11 PM
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Granroth,

Good summary on remotes. I went from H1 to the Hub, OK - but not exactly bulletproof. Briefly considered "I rule", but wasn't quite ready for a science project.

Maybe one more generation of advancements will make the difference ??
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post #950 of 1010 Old 02-14-2016, 09:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Granroth,

Good summary on remotes. I went from H1 to the Hub, OK - but not exactly bulletproof. Briefly considered "I rule", but wasn't quite ready for a science project.

Maybe one more generation of advancements will make the difference ??
That's what I wonder. Logitech could have my money if they just added support for Kodi. iRule could compete with Simple Control/Roomie if they just hired a UX designer from this century and added "pull" features from Kodi. Simple Control is darn near ideal if they just allowed me to buy what I need rather than submit to their protection racket ("That's a nice remote you have there. Would be a shame if it all of sudden stopped working, wouldn't it?".

So yeah, those could all be one tiny generational step and all three would be worthy of my money. The big question is if any of them actually will do what's necessary!
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post #951 of 1010 Old 02-14-2016, 09:37 PM
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Maybe one more generation of advancements will make the difference ??
This mantra is what the whole consumer A/V industry is based off of!
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post #952 of 1010 Old 02-14-2016, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by granroth View Post
I'm researching remotes now and it's very very frustrating. They are all terrible in one way or another. I have no idea what extreme compromises I will be willing to make in order to choose one of the options.

Okay, here's what I'm seeing:

Option 1: Individual Remotes Per Device

That's what I'm doing now. I have an IR remote for my Panny, the Denon iPhone app for my AVR, a Roku Bluetooth remote (or iPhone app), and a Kodi iPhone app.

Pros: Doesn't cost me anything. Everything does work.

Cons: Juggling remotes is so '90s -- I've been using a universal remote (Harmony One) for 10-15 years and going separate feels like a step back. None of the iPhone apps support gestures so they're a pain to use in real time. I had a touchscreen remote back in 2003 or so and hated it. The iPhone apps are no different in that respect. I really want either a remote with physical buttons or one that supports gestures. Everything is separate so there's no real "automation" to speak of.

Option 2: IR Everywhere

I could forget about the home automation; install Flirc for Kodi; run an IR extender/blaster through my conduit to connect up my devices in my equipment closet to the theater; and run it all with my beloved Harmony One.

Pros: I love the Harmony One remote. The hardware (Flirc and the IR blasters) is relatively inexpensive.

Cons: IR is moderately flakey. Worse, IR is a one-way protocol, so there's no feedback -- feels like a step backwards. Line if sight even to the extender is critical. I can't count how many times I had to manually switch everything on and off with my Harmony when it just happened to be facing in slightly the wrong direction during the necessary step. I really wanted to automate my theater and then my entire house -- this is not that solution.

Option 3: Logitech Harmony w/ Hub

Logitech now makes a "smart home" hub that works with their new remotes. They do look pretty slick. Price ranges from $150 to $350.

Pros: Physical buttons for what matters, but touch screen or iPhone app for extended stuff. Can control a full home automation solution using a physical remote -- that really appeals to me

Cons: Doesn't support Kodi and likely never will (other than via IR). I mean, I could stop right there. Not supporting Kodi is a fatal flaw. This reduces this platform to being identical to the "IR Everywhere" option, only costing hundreds of dollars more. There might be more, but I stopped looking as soon as I got there.

Option 4: iRule

iPhone app that allows you to build custom "virtual" remotes to control anything and everything. Very powerful and very flexible.

Pros: Controls everything in one place. Has gestures for no-look control. No asinine subscription required. I would definitely be able to do everything that I needed to do with it.

Cons: Requires a hardware box to do anything at all; even IP controls (why?!). Everything costs extra -- it's not obvious to me how much my system would even cost. Maybe a lot? Clearly doesn't have any UX designer on staff since it's the ugliest interface imaginable -- just terrible looking. No meaningful feedback from Kodi, like media guide or elapsed time or anything else. As such, it seems like they are competing with the Pronto remotes from well over a decade ago.

Option 5: Simple Control (was Roomie)

iPhone app that controls everything. Gorgeous interface. Very powerful and is the only solution that feels even a little like a modern product.

Pros: Controls everything in one place. Has gestures for no-look control. Lots of two-way feedback so it feels like a first class citizen with Kodi. Wonderful interface

Cons: REQUIRES A SUBSCRIPTION TO USE!!!! Are you kidding me?!?! A subscription?! WTF! I want to buy my remote control solution; not rent it! This is a complete deal breaker for me. I would be more than willing to pay per device (for a reasonable amount) but there's no way I'm going to be okay with any ongoing annual extortion just to use my remote.

In Conclusion

They all suck as options. The Logitech hub idea would work if it supported Kodi, but it likely never will. Roomie/Simple Control would be ideal but their yearly extortion racket infuriates me. iRule would also work but I recoil at paying so much money for software that looks like it was developed for Windows 95.

sigh
I don't get the inherent aversion to a subscription. For $50/year, you get as many devices as you could possibly use. You'd probably easily pay $150-300 for a decent but basic non-subscription based solution. So, for 3-6 years (a lifetime in technology), you are break even.

I went month to month at approx. $5/month to see if I really liked Simple Control. I like giving them an incentive to continue to wow me, if I'm not happy with their updates and new features, I can simply cancel the subscription. FWIW, I am just a relatively happy customer. I get no kickbacks and am not 100% satisfied (but more satisfied with them than other solutions out on the market).
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post #953 of 1010 Old 02-14-2016, 10:12 PM - Thread Starter
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This mantra is what the whole consumer A/V industry is based off of!
Perfection is always just one year away and has been for the past 50 years!

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Originally Posted by ChadA View Post
I don't get the inherent aversion to a subscription. For $50/year, you get as many devices as you could possibly use. You'd probably easily pay $150-300 for a decent but basic non-subscription based solution. So, for 3-6 years (a lifetime in technology), you are break even.

I went month to month at approx. $5/month to see if I really liked Simple Control. I like giving them an incentive to continue to wow me, if I'm not happy with their updates and new features, I can simply cancel the subscription. FWIW, I am just a relatively happy customer. I get no kickbacks and am not 100% satisfied (but more satisfied with them than other solutions out on the market).
I do realize that I'm in the shrinking minority of people with a strong revulsion to revenue-building subscriptions (rather than "new content" subscriptions). That does appear to be the way things are going these days -- we're moving from an ownership society to a rental society... and dragging me kicking and screaming the entire time.

See, I'm okay with subscriptions that actually result in a continuing new content. Magazine subscriptions, for instance, or my Netflix Blu-Ray subscription. With these, I get something new on some regular basis that I would have otherwise had to buy separately (because it's new). The subscription just makes it more convenient for me and reduces my cost since I'm going to be "buying in bulk".

My problem is with subscriptions that exist exclusively as a form of continuing revenue. I get zero benefit from them as a consumer and am forced to pay just to keep "my" device working. I stop paying the protection money and my device stops working! At no point did I get anything new. That is, Simple Control doesn't have any ongoing costs towards allowing me to control more than 3 devices -- their development costs can be trivially paid for with an upfront payment, just like software used to work (and how iRule still does). There's nothing in their "Simple Service" that I care about that in any way that resembles something new that I'm getting.

The ongoing costs also make for disingenuous comparisons. Simple Control has a "simple comparison" on their website, comparing their product to iRule and Logitech: https://www.simplecontrol.com/the-simple-comparison/

To do an apples-to-apples comparison, they selected a bunch of optional bits and then compared the prices. They were $225 for SC, $231 for iRule, and $350 for Logitech. Alas, that's incredibly misleading. It's more like this:

Year 1: $225 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 2: $275 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 3: $325 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 4: $375 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 5: $425 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech

And so on. They're trying to pretend that they are cheaper when they are actually substantially more expensive than the competition.

I'm not one of those that just discards technology on a whim, either. I do tend to keep things that work well for me for extended periods of time. My Harmony Remote has to be at least 10 years old at this point and it's still going strong, for instance. What if that had some subscription that required an annual payment just for it to keep working? That would have been a very expensive purchase!

FINALLY (and I know I'm getting long winded), what happens when a company goes out of business or just decides to stop supporting a device? If you own the device, then no big deal. If it's a subscription (or "cloud") model, then your device simply stops working. That has happened already and will start happening on a fairly regular basis as time goes on and this type of service becomes the norm.

So yeah, I realize I'm fighting a losing war, but I am still going to resist the pointless subscription model for as long as I can.
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post #954 of 1010 Old 02-14-2016, 10:23 PM
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Perfection is always just one year away and has been for the past 50 years!



I do realize that I'm in the shrinking minority of people with a strong revulsion to revenue-building subscriptions (rather than "new content" subscriptions). That does appear to be the way things are going these days -- we're moving from an ownership society to a rental society... and dragging me kicking and screaming the entire time.

See, I'm okay with subscriptions that actually result in a continuing new content. Magazine subscriptions, for instance, or my Netflix Blu-Ray subscription. With these, I get something new on some regular basis that I would have otherwise had to buy separately (because it's new). The subscription just makes it more convenient for me and reduces my cost since I'm going to be "buying in bulk".

My problem is with subscriptions that exist exclusively as a form of continuing revenue. I get zero benefit from them as a consumer and am forced to pay just to keep "my" device working. I stop paying the protection money and my device stops working! At no point did I get anything new. That is, Simple Control doesn't have any ongoing costs towards allowing me to control more than 3 devices -- their development costs can be trivially paid for with an upfront payment, just like software used to work (and how iRule still does). There's nothing in their "Simple Service" that I care about that in any way that resembles something new that I'm getting.

The ongoing costs also make for disingenuous comparisons. Simple Control has a "simple comparison" on their website, comparing their product to iRule and Logitech: https://www.simplecontrol.com/the-simple-comparison/

To do an apples-to-apples comparison, they selected a bunch of optional bits and then compared the prices. They were $225 for SC, $231 for iRule, and $350 for Logitech. Alas, that's incredibly misleading. It's more like this:

Year 1: $225 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 2: $275 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 3: $325 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 4: $375 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech
Year 5: $425 SC -- $231 iRule -- $350 Logitech

And so on. They're trying to pretend that they are cheaper when they are actually substantially more expensive than the competition.

I'm not one of those that just discards technology on a whim, either. I do tend to keep things that work well for me for extended periods of time. My Harmony Remote has to be at least 10 years old at this point and it's still going strong, for instance. What if that had some subscription that required an annual payment just for it to keep working? That would have been a very expensive purchase!

FINALLY (and I know I'm getting long winded), what happens when a company goes out of business or just decides to stop supporting a device? If you own the device, then no big deal. If it's a subscription (or "cloud") model, then your device simply stops working. That has happened already and will start happening on a fairly regular basis as time goes on and this type of service becomes the norm.

So yeah, I realize I'm fighting a losing war, but I am still going to resist the pointless subscription model for as long as I can.
I know it's a bit of a losing argument with DIYers, but this seems to be an case where a little bit of extra cost (over the long run) == dramatic time savings (that I desperately need to finish my theater!). I've had 3 Logitech remotes thought they were fine until I used Simple Control. My research suggests that iRule can get you to a similar position to Roomie / Simple Control, albeit with a lot more time investment required. However, I couldn't get iRule to work after a few hours of tinkering. And, I don't believe they have the integrated guide. If you watch any cable/satellite, the integrated guide is a game changer.

If/when Simple Control goes out of business, I'm hoping that there will be other options available on the market.
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post #955 of 1010 Old 02-15-2016, 07:34 AM
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First time I've been back on the Forum in a while and thought I could chime in and help you clear the air. I am TOTALLY with you on the subscription-based services for remotes - I hate it and would never do it. It's a product that I want to buy, get firmware updates from time-to-time and use until it dies or time to sell it onward.

I would somewhat disagree with your assessment of IR in that it is "moderately flakey". It's not, you just have to set it up properly to make sure all the equipment is line-of-sight, including KODI. Believe me, I suffered through the early days of home automation systems where you had to track and monitor the status state of various pieces of equipment with Boolean variables (software) or direct signal sensors (hardware) because of the lack of discrete codes. Today, most manufacturers provide discreet codes for virtually everything and nobody uses the goofy alternative IR frequencies that Sony and a few others used to use which no automation system could replicate.

For a single room system, a Logitech Harmony One remote is the sweet spot on price vs. features @ about $175 on the refurb market and about $210 new. It works off your wireless network and can do IP control. Also has a fairly useful free app for other devices. IP control of KODI is a heavily requested feature and is on product management's radar according to all the official blogs, but no concrete release date yet. For now it will control KODI via IR which is no big deal in my opinion. But given that you'd like to expand into a more comprehensive automation system, I'd recommend you look to a real automation company for that....and I am not talking Control4. Look at AMX, Crestron or Savant....particularly Savant.

Savant is releasing a new remote + master control hub for $499: https://www.savant.com/product/remote-host Additional remotes are $399 each. Setup is performed by the user and can be done within minutes. The biggest advantage is that you have now stepped up to a big boy automation system that can easily handle ANYTHING that can be controlled, including contact closures, RS-232, IP, IR etc. And the price is unheard of. I played around with the remote at CEDIA and it is very, very cool. Just the right mix between hard buttons and a functional touch screen. The Sonos integration is especially good.

Something to think about as you move forward. With the exception of iRule, I didn't see any other approach that could logically and easily let you expand beyond single-room control. Most are replications of the complete control system which do not 'talk' to one another.
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post #956 of 1010 Old 02-15-2016, 08:49 AM
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Savant is releasing a new remote + master control hub for $499: https://www.savant.com/product/remote-host Additional remotes are $399 each. Setup is performed by the user and can be done within minutes. The biggest advantage is that you have now stepped up to a big boy automation system that can easily handle ANYTHING that can be controlled, including contact closures, RS-232, IP, IR etc. And the price is unheard of. I played around with the remote at CEDIA and it is very, very cool. Just the right mix between hard buttons and a functional touch screen. The Sonos integration is especially good.

Wow that's nice. Looks similar to the Neeo remote.
https://neeo.com/
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post #957 of 1010 Old 02-15-2016, 05:04 PM
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I gave up on my Harmony Remote years ago and put it back in the box.
Harmony was great at moving between a few simple states, but the moment I did something manually it got lost -- and since I'm frequently closer to the components than I am to the remotes I do a lot manually.


http://www.crestron.com/
Always looked interesting, if expensive. Controls a bunch of stuff, including lighting, curtains, temperature, oh and the movie. It was recommended that programming it be customized by a professional, for even more dollars.

An amateur built the Ark. Titanic was built by professionals. Of course Noah took a little advice.
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post #958 of 1010 Old 02-15-2016, 06:13 PM
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I gave up on my Harmony Remote years ago and put it back in the box.
Harmony was great at moving between a few simple states, but the moment I did something manually it got lost -- and since I'm frequently closer to the components than I am to the remotes I do a lot manually.


http://www.crestron.com/
Always looked interesting, if expensive. Controls a bunch of stuff, including lighting, curtains, temperature, oh and the movie. It was recommended that programming it be customized by a professional, for even more dollars.
I agree that the early ones were *OK*, but they have come a long, long way. They use all the discrete codes, multiple flashes, find networked AV components automatically (including AppleTV), and a host of other really nice features. For a single room system I have yet to see an issue and I have set up at least a dozen for my neighbors who are - on the whole - technically inept. Even visiting family uses the remote with zero issues. Maybe not the advanced features, but certainly enough to turn on and run an unknown system.

A bit of personal history....I had a full-on AMX control system for many years until I transitioned to Crestron in 2004. Both are top-notch automation systems, but so is their pricing and the need for outside programming and annual license fees in many cases. To avoid this buffoonery I started to evaluate ALL other automation systems. Savant clearly stood out head and shoulders above the rest, especially with its native Apple integration. As a side note, AMX, Crestron and Savant can all control anything and are the most robust of all the available automation systems.

This new Savant remote allows an end user to purchase set up and program a very high-end remote while still allowing a platform to build into a whole home automation system. To me it is worth the extra $300 over the cost of the Logitech for @granroth to buy. It will do everything he wants now and down the road.
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post #959 of 1010 Old 02-15-2016, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
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First time I've been back on the Forum in a while and thought I could chime in and help you clear the air. I am TOTALLY with you on the subscription-based services for remotes - I hate it and would never do it. It's a product that I want to buy, get firmware updates from time-to-time and use until it dies or time to sell it onward.

I would somewhat disagree with your assessment of IR in that it is "moderately flakey". It's not, you just have to set it up properly to make sure all the equipment is line-of-sight, including KODI. Believe me, I suffered through the early days of home automation systems where you had to track and monitor the status state of various pieces of equipment with Boolean variables (software) or direct signal sensors (hardware) because of the lack of discrete codes. Today, most manufacturers provide discreet codes for virtually everything and nobody uses the goofy alternative IR frequencies that Sony and a few others used to use which no automation system could replicate.

For a single room system, a Logitech Harmony One remote is the sweet spot on price vs. features @ about $175 on the refurb market and about $210 new. It works off your wireless network and can do IP control. Also has a fairly useful free app for other devices. IP control of KODI is a heavily requested feature and is on product management's radar according to all the official blogs, but no concrete release date yet. For now it will control KODI via IR which is no big deal in my opinion. But given that you'd like to expand into a more comprehensive automation system, I'd recommend you look to a real automation company for that....and I am not talking Control4. Look at AMX, Crestron or Savant....particularly Savant.

Savant is releasing a new remote + master control hub for $499: https://www.savant.com/product/remote-host Additional remotes are $399 each. Setup is performed by the user and can be done within minutes. The biggest advantage is that you have now stepped up to a big boy automation system that can easily handle ANYTHING that can be controlled, including contact closures, RS-232, IP, IR etc. And the price is unheard of. I played around with the remote at CEDIA and it is very, very cool. Just the right mix between hard buttons and a functional touch screen. The Sonos integration is especially good.

Something to think about as you move forward. With the exception of iRule, I didn't see any other approach that could logically and easily let you expand beyond single-room control. Most are replications of the complete control system which do not 'talk' to one another.
The IR flakiness is more from my experience where you need to keep the remote lined up with the receiver until everything is done and far too many times I find that the remote shifted just enough to skip one or two steps. It still happens in my living room with just two devices to control! But yeah, my main complaint about IR is the lack of two-way communication.

Kodi support for Logitech has been on the roadmap since the XBMC days.. and absolutely nothing has happened. It's one of their longest running support requests and they clearly have determined that the market just isn't big enough. Very frustrating.

I kind of disagree that only iRule can control multi-room systems. Logitech w/ Hub, Simple Control, and iRule all have whole-house automation in their sights. The Logitech limitation of 15 devices almost cripples it, except that I believe it can communicate with various smarthome hubs (zwave and Insteon) so that might not be a deal-breaker.

Savant Does look interesting... in theory. Their website is horrid, though. It's a "lifestyle" site that tries to set a "luxurious" mood (count how many times they say the word "luxury" on the site) but at the expense of any information that I could use. They support 38,000 devices. How? Z-wave support? Insteon support? Their own proprietary protocol? What does the remote and app actually DO, other than look pretty? How do I set everything up? Is it scriptable? Does it support Kodi out of the box and, if not, can it be added by me? The site answers no questions at all!

So yeah, it's theoretically interesting but it has a looooong way to go before I could seriously consider it. Maybe more info will be forthcoming as it matures as a platform. I'll keep track of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolow View Post
Wow that's nice. Looks similar to the Neeo remote.
https://neeo.com/
Another interesting future possibility! I at least like the fact that they directly mention the z-wave support. No mention at all of subscriptions or cloud-tied services but that doesn't mean there won't be any. I'm going to keep tabs on that one to see how it rolls out when it becomes a real product.

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I gave up on my Harmony Remote years ago and put it back in the box.
Harmony was great at moving between a few simple states, but the moment I did something manually it got lost -- and since I'm frequently closer to the components than I am to the remotes I do a lot manually.

http://www.crestron.com/
Always looked interesting, if expensive. Controls a bunch of stuff, including lighting, curtains, temperature, oh and the movie. It was recommended that programming it be customized by a professional, for even more dollars.
Crestron and the like are undoubtedly slick and at least in the case of Crestron it does appear to be possible to control Kodi with it... but other than that, those solutions are the antithesis of who I am. Those are all integrated solutions where you pay somebody a large stack of bills to do the work for you. They cannot possibly be more anti-DIY if they tried.
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post #960 of 1010 Old 02-15-2016, 08:16 PM
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I agree that the early ones were *OK*, but they have come a long, long way.

I went rummaging through the cupboard and found the box. It says my Harmony was 2005.
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