Originally Posted by robertmee
Most of your questions have been answered in detail in various threads. I'm not saying that to chastise you, just saying that you should use a more exhaustive search. Some keywords to search on: Matrix switch, Baluns, mini coax, etc.
In general, you will need:
A) an Audio/Video matrix switch to route HD video and Analog Audio to each TV
B) IR distribution so that each TV location can control your various sources
C) Transmission media to get the signals from your matrix switch to each TV
In general, HDMI distribution is still very problematic. There are matrix switches that WILL switch HDMI, but because of HDCP, often times, source and destination equipment don't share well. You also have distance issues to contend with, issues of pulling the large HDMI connector through walls, etc. For that reason, most still focus on component distribution. With that said, you'll specifically need to purchase:
A) Component Video/ Analog Audio (or digital audio if you plan on having 5.1 in zones) matrix switch. You can buy used ones on ebay (search for Extron 100, Extron 200 or Extron Crosspoint), or you can buy new (Neothings Borrego, Audio Authority AVatrix, Video Storm, etc.)
B/C) IR distribution and Transmission media. You have two choices here. Send the signal in its native format, or convert it to balanced signals and use cat5 cables. There are pros/cons to each:
Native: You'll need 5 Coax cables. Don't use RG6. CHeaper to use RG59 or mini-coax. Just make sure you have 100% copper center (not clad steel), 100% foil, 95% tinned braid. The 5 coax cables will carry the Component signals and L/R analog audio OR digital audio. You will then need a way to distribute IR, so pull a Cat5 cable for that.
Balanced: You'll need two Cat5 cables. Then you'll need component/audio/IR baluns that send Video/audio/IR across the two cat5 cables. You'll have a sender and receiver unit for each zone. The Matrix switch will feed each sender, and there will be a receiver at each TV. If you buy something like the AVatrix unit, the baluns are built into the wallplates which makes for a nice clean install.
Funny. I came back to this thread and re-read this post. I have read a lot of your posts lately, Robert.
I'm have a subfloor opened for the next couple of weeks, and I've been trying to figure out what wires/cables to run: coax, minicoax, cat5e/cat6 and how many of them for a modest AV distribution system of somewhere between 4 and 8 sources to 3 HDTV locations and maybe another 3 audio only locations.
I was going to ask you which of the methods: native or balanced you recommend. But I realize that they are so very different in terms of cost and additional DIY involvement that your answer would be: "It depends."
Lower cost, like your setup with Extron 100/200, CELabs Rx/Tx baluns over cat5e, controlled by CQC probably costs less than half of what an AvaTrix box alone costs. But it involves a huge commitment of time to get everything working together just right. So total cost is less $$ but much more time.
AvaTrix is more of a turnkey product, costing much more $$$ but much less time.
So, it depends. I have to decide whether to spend more $$ or more time.
Have I got this about right?
A question for you or anybody, off topic. When talking about 'digital audio' in these distribution threads, I realize that means that the ability to distribute 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, but does this include the newer, high-end audio codecs also?