New house A/V setup- matrix switch help - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 02-23-2009, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks in advance, been reading alot of posts and think I have a general idea for a new ranch home A/V distribution with a matrix switcher. Am running cat5e x4 to each room; plan for TV's in great room, hearth room, master bed, and in the future the study. No multi-zone audio, just doing multi-room for now. Have to go through the builder low-voltage subcontractor, so these are his recs. Please take a look and tell me what you think. Thanks:

Media Closet: (in basement)
Marantz SR-6003 A/V receiver for multi-room audio
Speakercraft BB-1235 for surround sound (in great room)
Intelix DIGI-HDMI 4x4 matrix switcher
Speakercraft IR receiver x2
2 satellite receivers with DVR
Blue-Ray DVD player
CD player/tuner
ipod dock

Great room:
Speakercraft AIM7 two in-ceiling speakers x 5
Speakercraft bassX-10 10" subwoofer
Intelix DIGI-HDMI-IR-R balun
Speakercraft IR receiver
Harmony one remote

Hearth room:
Speakercraft CRS-8 one 8" ceiling speaker x 2
Speakcraft VSL60-IR wall plate
Intelix DIGI-HDMI-IR-R balun

Master Bedroom:
Speakercraft CRS-8 one 8" ceiling speaker x 2
Speakcraft VSL60-IR wall plate
Intelix DIGI-HDMI-IR-R balun
Harmony One Remote

Study:
Speakercraft CRS-8 one 8" ceiling speaker x 2
Speakcraft VSL60-IR wall plate
Intelix DIGI-HDMI-IR-R balun
*have home PC in this room, plan to run it back to basement to matrix as source

Kitchen:
Speakercraft CRS-8 one 8" ceiling speaker x 2
Speakcraft VSL60-IR wall plate

Master Bath:
Speakercraft CRS-6 one 6.5" ceiling speaker x 2
Speakcraft VSL60-IR wall plate

Patio:
Speakercraft OE5 5.25" speaker x 2
Speakcraft VSL60-IR wall plate


Specific questions:
1) This particular 4x4 matrix switcher seems expensive to me ($2100) relative to others I've seen. Is it worth the money or should I ask if they can go cheaper?
2) The Intelix baluns come with an IR transmitter and receiver. Do I still need the speakercraft IR receivers in the great room and media closet, or are these needed for audio? What about the volume control plate in the hearth room?
3) The total for this with installation charges comes to about $16K. Ridiculous estimate for this basic set-up, but I am not an A/V DIY'er and could not afford this without being able to roll it into a mortgage. Are there any obvious areas that I might be able to cut or save a little money on?

Thanks again for any help. See attached pathetic diagram.
LL
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post #2 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sports fan View Post

Specific questions:
1) This particular 4x4 matrix switcher seems expensive to me ($2100) relative to others I've seen. Is it worth the money or should I ask if they can go cheaper?
2) The Intelix baluns come with an IR transmitter and receiver. Do I still need the speakercraft IR receivers in the great room and media closet, or are these needed for audio? What about the volume control plate in the hearth room?
3) The total for this with installation charges comes to about $16K. Ridiculous estimate for this basic set-up, but I am not an A/V DIY'er and could not afford this without being able to roll it into a mortgage. Are there any obvious areas that I might be able to cut or save a little money on?

Thanks again for any help. See attached pathetic diagram.

Just my opinions.....

1) Does $2100 include the 4 receivers? If so, then not a bad price at all for that particular unit. I've seen them online for just the head-end unit only in the $1700 price range. As for going cheaper, I'd be careful with HDMI switching. It's problematic enough without going cheap. If you want to go cheaper, you could dispense with HDMI distribution and go with Component distribution then. A 4x4 Video-Storm switcher is roughly $700 + 4 CELabs Baluns at $700 is $1400 vs the $2100.

2) The Intellix unit does pass through IR, so no you don't necessarily need the Speakercraft IR sensor. The only benefit I could see is if you have a rather large great room, then you might want multiple pickup points to extend the range of the remote.

3) $16K for a complete turn key system, including wiring, is not out of the norm from a CI. It doesn't sound out of line. Could YOU do it cheaper? Certainly. Do YOU want to? Only you can decide. Since you have no crestron, AMX or any other high end controller behind the scenes, most of the above equipment is plug and play. The only custom setup involved really is the Harmony remote, and Harmony's website walks you through that. Sooo, if you were so inclined, you get the LV contractor to just install the wires for you and then you could shop and buy the equipment online and save some $. It all depends on whether the piece of mind of a turnkey system and warranty support is worth the extra $ you'll pay. As an example, HDMI switchers are notoriously finicky. You could run the risk of the switcher just not working with your various HDMI sources. Part of that 16K you are paying is a guarantee that the CI will make his/her system work. Part of the savings you would have doing it own your on is dealing with an unbehaving switcher and possibly seeking other alternatives if it doesn't work.

Lastly, I understand about rolling into your mortgage for affordability, but you'll end up paying 2 to 2.5x the cost over the life of the mortgage. So, your 16K system becomes a 35K system. If you just paid a few K for the wiring, you could then save the payment difference and put towards buying your equipment over time. Just another thought.
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post #3 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Robert; reading your posts has been very helpful in learning about all of this. As Clark Griswold would say, "You taught me everything I know about interior HD-distribution."
Your point about the HDMI switcher is a good one, but the thing is, I don't think the CI plans on distributing anything via HDMI cables. The media closet will be in the basement, and he is sending 4 cat5e cables to each TV and having the receiver baluns at each one. (and no, the reciever baluns are not included in the matrix price; $236 each). The matrix has 4 "twisted pair" outputs which I assume would be cat5 direct to the wall. When I asked him about the need for an HDMI switcher, he told me I would need this matrix switcher if I wanted 1080p signal from my Blu-Ray. This may be opening up a new can of worms, but is it possible to send 1080p from the Blu-Ray over cat5? (I've read mixed opinions.) And if so would I need this particular matrix?
Also, he told me the Intelix IR receivers/transmitters that come with the baluns would not be able to control my Blu Ray, or any stereo components. So I would have to have another IR receiver at least in the great room.
I appreciate your suggestions on buying some equipment myself. I don't think I feel that confident in installing speakers or volume controls, and once you take that out of the equation I'd only be saving $5-6K on overpriced equipment & install/programming charges, part of which I'd have to spend myself later on ebay. Not to mention I don't think I could get everything as nice & neat in my media closet as you have in your pics. We did get a signficant amount of free upgrade $ in our home contract, and I made sure the A/V was included in that. So while this install isn't "free", it's not quite as costly as it could be.
Unfortunately, I'm getting the impression the CI is in over his head.
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sports fan View Post

When I asked him about the need for an HDMI switcher, he told me I would need this matrix switcher if I wanted 1080p signal from my Blu-Ray. This may be opening up a new can of worms, but is it possible to send 1080p from the Blu-Ray over cat5? (I've read mixed opinions.) And if so would I need this particular matrix?

You don't necessarily need this switcher but it has the added benefit of carrying IR in addition to the HDMI so it is an OK solution. As for 1080p over cat5, yes it is possible. However, the larger question is whether 1080p over component is possible, or only HDMI. It is by the fact that the component video standard is capable. It is not by the fact that Hollywood (AACS) enforces a max of 1080i over component for their movies. You can in fact use a PS3 and play games at 1080p over component to a TV that accepts 1080p signals over component. Now, the underlying question is can you really tell the difference in 1080i, 720p and 1080p. Some say they can. Some say they can't. Perception is everything.... Some reading:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=675595

Quote:


Also, he told me the Intelix IR receivers/transmitters that come with the baluns would not be able to control my Blu Ray, or any stereo components. So I would have to have another IR receiver at least in the great room.

I believe he is wrong. From the Intellix website: "In addition, the DIGI-HDMI-4X4 features four pass-through IR channels which distribute remote IR commands from in-room controllers, through compatible Intelix twisted pair extenders, up to 150 feet over twisted pair cable, and out of the matrix, allowing complete control of remote sources from the destination."

Quote:


Unfortunately, I'm getting the impression the CI is in over his head.

Jury still out.....
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post #5 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
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You're right Robert, I just looked at the instruction manual and they have a good diagram of the IR setup on pg. 15.:
(see next post for link)

My next question is, would that mean I would have to run my stereo through the matrix switcher to control it via remote? If so, that would be disappointing as it would use up one of my four sources (I had planned on 2 HD DVR's, Sony PS3, and my PC).
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post #6 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
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post #7 of 21 Old 02-24-2009, 11:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry for responding to myself, but I think I've decided to forgo the HDMI switcher in favor of component. (especially after reading this thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=999545)
I might consider keeping a dedicated HDMI for the Blu-Ray up to the great room TV, but that's it.
That being said, I think I can come up with additional sources: HD-DVRx2, PS3, desktop PC for sure...and in the future perhaps a DVD changer, Wii, camcorder, maybe apple TV. Still not clear if the stereo receiver would need to go through the matrix as well.
What would you recommend for the best value 4x4 component switcher (video-storm?) and 8x4 component switcher? Thanks.
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post #8 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 05:32 AM
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You do not need to attach the receiver audio to the matrix unit to control it with IR. The IR is a dummy pass through system. It is simply routing IR signals from your rooms down to the equipment area so it doesn't care if anything is attached to the matrix switch as a source. However, it appears the unit only has four IR outputs, so you may have to use a connecting block to route the IR to multiple pieces of equipment.

Video-Storm's units are pretty reasonable in price and performance. You can also look at Audio Authority, Gefen, HDTVsupply and Neothings. The Video Storm 8x4 has an optional 6x1 HDMI add on for an extra $199 that would allow you to attach 6 HDMI sources and send it to your great room. If you figure the above unit + add-on at around $1200, plus 3 Component baluns at $450 total, plus a HDMI balun for the great room at $200, you'll be at around $1850 vs the $2100 + 4x$240 or $3300 for the other method. Also, don't forget the cost of the IR targets in each room and an IR connecting block. You know, now that I re-look at your equipment list, perhaps that's what your CI had in mind for the speakercraft IR targets. The HDMI baluns he quoted you only carries the IR signal from the receiver unit back to the headend, but you still have to get the IR into the receiver unit. The unit itself doesn't have an IR eye/target on it.
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post #9 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Good stuff there. Thank you, I will price that out with him.
For my next roadblock, I am trying to figure out the best way to get my desktop PC in the study onto the matrix. The reason would be to be able to do anything from control itunes from any TV, look at picture slideshows, and to watch youtube, hulu, or surf the net in the bedroom (all rooms should be with in remote keyboard/mouse range). I know I can use apple TV or a WMC extender to do some of this, but the main thing I would like would be to see internet on my TV's. I have read to connect the PC to HDTV the best way for video is a DVI to HDMI or component output. For audio I've seen recommended to use the digital optical connection. Would these be what you would recommend, and would they run to the floor below to the matrix switch? Would I be able to use the cat5 cable at all in this instance? Thanks.
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post #10 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Maybe this would do it?:
http://www.iogear.com/product/GVE600W6/
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post #11 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sports fan View Post

Good stuff there. Thank you, I will price that out with him.
For my next roadblock, I am trying to figure out the best way to get my desktop PC in the study onto the matrix. The reason would be to be able to do anything from control itunes from any TV, look at picture slideshows, and to watch youtube, hulu, or surf the net in the bedroom (all rooms should be with in remote keyboard/mouse range). I know I can use apple TV or a WMC extender to do some of this, but the main thing I would like would be to see internet on my TV's. I have read to connect the PC to HDTV the best way for video is a DVI to HDMI or component output. For audio I've seen recommended to use the digital optical connection. Would these be what you would recommend, and would they run to the floor below to the matrix switch? Would I be able to use the cat5 cable at all in this instance? Thanks.

Just use the same Component Baluns only this time your PC is the source and one input of the matrix switch is the destination. And yes, still cat5e cable.
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post #12 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sports fan View Post

Maybe this would do it?:
http://www.iogear.com/product/GVE600W6/

It would extend DVI from your PC, but then you still have to get from DVI to Component at the head end. Unless you went all HDMI then you'd need a DVI-HDMI adapter.
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post #13 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Would the DVI-to-component balun output send audio too?
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post #14 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sports fan View Post

Would the DVI-to-component balun output send audio too?

I would just use a component video card and go with the component baluns. The CELabs baluns have component, analog audio, digital audio and IR on the two Cat5e cables.
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post #15 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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post #16 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 03:06 PM
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I would use these instead...They carry component, analog and digital audio and IR. It's what I personally use and they work flawlessly.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=720744
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post #17 of 21 Old 02-25-2009, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Great robert, thank you very much.

One last question for you: I noticed in some of your posts you mention a keypad in your kitchen. What exactly does this control, and would you recommend I run some cat5e to the kitchen even if I'm not putting one in right now?
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post #18 of 21 Old 02-26-2009, 11:36 AM
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I have a touchscreen in the Kitchen for controlling all my home automation stuff. I have keypads in most other rooms for controlling multi-zone audio. If you don't anticipate the need for multizone audio, then you wouldn't need it. If you do want to be safe, install a LV gang box at a keypad location in each room and run a cat5 cable to it. Also, route your speaker wires from the head-end to each speaker through these boxes. Then just put a blank plate on the box 'till you're ready to use it.
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post #19 of 21 Old 02-26-2009, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sports fan View Post

Good stuff there. Thank you, I will price that out with him.
For my next roadblock, I am trying to figure out the best way to get my desktop PC in the study onto the matrix. The reason would be to be able to do anything from control itunes from any TV, look at picture slideshows, and to watch youtube, hulu, or surf the net in the bedroom (all rooms should be with in remote keyboard/mouse range). I know I can use apple TV or a WMC extender to do some of this, but the main thing I would like would be to see internet on my TV's. I have read to connect the PC to HDTV the best way for video is a DVI to HDMI or component output. For audio I've seen recommended to use the digital optical connection. Would these be what you would recommend, and would they run to the floor below to the matrix switch? Would I be able to use the cat5 cable at all in this instance? Thanks.

Why not put an AppleTV in your equipment location and sync it with your home PC? It has a great TV interface and can do most or all of what you listed.
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post #20 of 21 Old 02-26-2009, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I was planning on putting in an apple tv actually- I didn't realize it could bring up internet on the TV. I thought it was just itunes. I'll look into it tonight- Thanks.
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post #21 of 21 Old 02-27-2009, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddave12000 View Post

Why not put an AppleTV in your equipment location and sync it with your home PC? It has a great TV interface and can do most or all of what you listed.

+1
and it can do it wirelessly if you have a G or N network

I have AppleTV and it's amazing. I never thought of distribution of the AppleTV's output, though.
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