Need help designing whole house audio/video distribution system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 06:02 AM - Thread Starter
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[See post #12 for update]

I have a new house under construction and need to design an audio/video distribution system for it. I need to have video going to 6 zones (4 bedrooms, an exercise room and a living room). I need to have audio going to 8 zones (the above, plus kitchen and dining room).

Our electrician has run structured cable to all the video zones (all home runs). This cable contains 2 coax, 2 cat 5e and 2 fiberoptic wires. Additionally, he ran speaker wire to ceiling locations in all the audio zones. The electrician doesn't do video distribution, so the rest is up to me. All of the wiring runs to the (unfinished) basement to a natural closet space under the stairs. I could easily enclose this should we wish to finish the basement in the future.

I have talked to three of the local CIs and I don't have a very good comfort level with any of them. They are all nice guys, but they are talking about really big bucks, and aren't able to clearly articulate the strengths and weaknesses of the systems they are recommending/discussing.

That leaves me with the idea of putting this thing together myself. I am an accomplished DIYer, but haven't tackled AV yet, so this is all pretty new to me. I've been reading up on it, and it doesn't seem impossibly hard given the tremendous amount of info on the net.

For inputs, I will have cable TV, music (source undetermined as of yet), Netflix Roku, Sirius radio, and DVD.

All our TVs are fairly recent HD models (two LCDs, two plasmas). I have some questions about how to handle some aspects of the sytems. For example, I see the elegance of central DVD distribution, but wouldn't it be a PITA to have to go to the basement to pop-in a DVD. We have two players (one for the kids' room and one for the living room. Do we put one player in the basement and the other in the LR or kids' room?

Will I be able to (affordably) get HD signal to all our TVs?

How do you incorporate DVRs into the mix? We can't really watch live TV anymore, if you know what I mean.

Is there a time lag in controlling the TVs from a central location? IOW, can you still channel surf?

Any suggestions or advice you have would greatly appreciated! TIA

Phil
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post #2 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 02:27 PM
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You can transmit HDMI from both the DVR and DVD player over CAT5 with a matrix switch such as http://www.opentip.com/Electronics-C...-p-975459.html or http://www.ramelectronics.net/audio-...dGEF00191.html but I don't know if you consider those "affordable".

A cheaper approach would be to use an HDMI matrix switch such as http://www.firefold.com/Vanco-281244...ble-P1919.aspx and use the outputs to drive HDMI-to-CAT5 converters such as http://www.google.com/products/catal...m=2#ps-sellers.

Do you have an A/V receiver with surround sound for a Home Theater?

There would be no significant lag in remotely controlling the TV or DVR using some type of IR blaster connection.

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post #3 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crutschow View Post

You can transmit HDMI from both the DVR and DVD player over CAT5 with a matrix switch such as (had to delete url) or (had to delete url) but I don't know if you consider those "affordable".

A cheaper approach would be to use an HDMI matrix switch such as (had to delete url) use the outputs to drive HDMI-to-CAT5 converters such as (had to delete url).

Do you have an A/V receiver with surround sound for a Home Theater?

There would be no significant lag in remotely controlling the TV or DVR using some type of IR blaster connection.

I'm not averse to spending a few thousand to get a complete and reasonably robust solution, but I wouldn't mind doing this more affordably, either. Is it safe to assume that the cheaper option you offer above would result in poorer image quality?

How does one accomplish audio distribution from these configurations?

I do have an A/V receiver with surround sound. It's not high end at all, but it does a reasonable job.

Thanks for your post!

Phil
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post #4 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

Is it safe to assume that the cheaper option you offer above would result in poorer image quality?

How does one accomplish audio distribution from these configurations?

HDMI is digital so it either works perfectly or very badly. So either option, assuming it works, should give you the same image quality.

Audio distribution is usually done separately. If you want different audio in each room, then you need a multi-zone system such as from Nuvo, Russound or others. Also do you have music on a computer that you want to listen to or you want to listen to internet audio sources such as Pandora Radio or Rhapsody? And do you want to access the music wirelessly or using room keypads?

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post #5 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crutschow View Post

Also do you have music on a computer that you want to listen to or you want to listen to internet audio sources such as Pandora Radio or Rhapsody? And do you want to access the music wirelessly or using room keypads?

I'd have to check with my electrician, but I think the speaker runs were done so that we could easily add a keypad in each room.

Sources would be Sirius radio, some sort of music storage device and perhaps an iPod.
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post #6 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 09:27 PM
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B&K HD6: six zone HD video distribution, component over cat5. This will give you the ability to watch any of the 9 input sources to any of the 6 televisions, individually or one-to-all distribution. A B&K CT600 and CT300 should be paired for the audio end of things along with any keypads and remotes needed. I can go over the details about this system in-depth tomorrow as more time allows me to. If you are not familiar with B&K Components .. they make some of the fines a/v equipment in the world.. designed and assembled in NY. Google the website, you will be impressed! The bottom line.. there are cheaper systems like the Nuvo, Russound, Niles etc but the quality of amplifiers is non-existent and the money saved (prob 25% less) is no where near worth the difference in performance. I have designed, sold and installed some pretty complex AMX and Crestron whole-home systems and have used B&K products with AMAZING results every time!
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post #7 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

I have a new house under construction and need to design an audio/video distribution system for it. I need to have video going to 6 zones (4 bedrooms, an exercise room and a living room). I need to have audio going to 8 zones (the above, plus kitchen and dining room).

This can be accomplished with many systems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

Our electrician has run structured cable to all the video zones (all home runs). This cable contains 2 coax, 2 cat 5e and 2 fiberoptic wires. Additionally, he ran speaker wire to ceiling locations in all the audio zones. The electrician doesn't do video distribution, so the rest is up to me. All of the wiring runs to the (unfinished) basement to a natural closet space under the stairs. I could easily enclose this should we wish to finish the basement in the future.

Can you get anymore wire pulled? I would try and get 2 cat6 ran to each TV. You need component and/or HDMI to each TV + a cat5 for control. I said cat6 because some of the HDMI distribution companies recommend it and require 2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

I have talked to three of the local CIs and I don't have a very good comfort level with any of them. They are all nice guys, but they are talking about really big bucks, and aren't able to clearly articulate the strengths and weaknesses of the systems they are recommending/discussing.

"Really Big Bucks" is a realative term . The CI's have overhead and accumulated knowledge about the products your interested in. There is an obvious and sometimes substantial difference in the amount it costs you to do it yourself vs. hiring a CI. Its a bit like cutting your own hair though. If your good at it then go for it. If your not good at it you have to walk around looking like you have a 1980's science project on your head for a while

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

That leaves me with the idea of putting this thing together myself. I am an accomplished DIYer, but haven't tackled AV yet, so this is all pretty new to me. I've been reading up on it, and it doesn't seem impossibly hard given the tremendous amount of info on the net.

If you plan the system properly, choose compatible CE products & a good control system you will have some fun putting it together & have a great system at the end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

For inputs, I will have cable TV, music (source undetermined as of yet), Netflix Roku, Sirius radio, and DVD.

All our TVs are fairly recent HD models (two LCDs, two plasmas). I have some questions about how to handle some aspects of the sytems. For example, I see the elegance of central DVD distribution, but wouldn't it be a PITA to have to go to the basement to pop-in a DVD. We have two players (one for the kids' room and one for the living room. Do we put one player in the basement and the other in the LR or kids' room?

You can put the DVD players in the kids room and the living room (or anywhere) then wire them back to the central area and distribute them to the displays. You would need cable that goes from where you would like to put the dvd player, all the way back to the central area. If your not going to have any surround zones. You need atleast 2 cat5's for use with baluns to send component & audio to the rack.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

Will I be able to (affordably) get HD signal to all our TVs?

How do you incorporate DVRs into the mix? We can't really watch live TV anymore, if you know what I mean.

Yes its affordable. Get HD DVR's from your cable or satellite provider. This integrated approach will make your life much easier while wiring & programming the system. If you have 4 people in the house you should get 4 HD DVR's and name them after each person. These can be watched in any room in the house. Each person can choose what they want to record and there wont ever be any fighting over what show to watch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

Is there a time lag in controlling the TVs from a central location? IOW, can you still channel surf?

Im sure someone out there has an expensive test intrument that will show a delay but its nothing you will notice. As far as anyone will know.. the components are sitting right under the TV.. Except the arent They are hidden in the basement and available @ any TV in the home.

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post #8 of 17 Old 05-17-2009, 11:41 PM
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If you do component to each TV using a system like B&K (CVickers suggestion) you wont need any additional wiring. 1 cat5 for component and 1 for control.

You could always use one of the RG6 for IR if you have to. I would still pull a couple of cat6's to the TV's if the walls are still open incase you ever want to upgrade to HDMI. Theres no such thing as future proof but so far cat5 & 6 have saved me many times.

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post #9 of 17 Old 05-19-2009, 08:29 AM - Thread Starter
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So I'm getting a little clearer about some of this. One of the questions I have is what format to use for video distirbution. HDMI over cat5 sounds good but scares me a little from what I'm hearing. Component appears to be more reliable and cheaper, but I'm not sure what the downsides are (not HDCP compliant?). Actually, I'm not entirely clear on the pros/cons on each format.

The audio side seems clearer/easier. The Breathe Audio stuff seems to fill the bill pretty well, as does the Nuvo stuff, albeit more expensively. How does one choose among the many products out there? While price is a big concern overall and we aren't a family of audiophiles, but we would like it to sound clean.
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post #10 of 17 Old 05-19-2009, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Anything wrong with this whole house audio system from HTD?

http://www.htd.com/whole-house-audio...Setup-Packages
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post #11 of 17 Old 05-20-2009, 06:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

Anything wrong with this whole house audio system from HTD?

http://www.htd.com/whole-house-audio...Setup-Packages

I am also going to purchase a package from them within a month. I am steering away from their advanced package and will probably get the intermediate package and run my own source lines (cheaper).
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post #12 of 17 Old 05-23-2009, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay I've spent a ton of time reading about this, and here's what I think I want to do. Please jump in with any thoughts, criticisms or suggestions.

I want have at least 5 inputs connected to 6 TVs. I'm thinking that an 8x8 component AV matrix switcher will do what I want. This one looks pretty good to me:

http://www.hdtvsupply.com/88shcovidiau.html

I'm going to use AV baluns to carry signals over cat5e. At this point, I can't figure out whether active baluns will provide any advantage over passive ones. My longest run will be about 70'. I plan to use wall plate baluns like these near the TVs:

http://www.cs1.net/img/intelix/AVO-V...tback_1024.jpg

And something like this in the media closet:

http://www.avovercat5.com/images/AVOV3AD_450p.gif

I'm still reading up on IR controls, emitters, etc, so I'm not sure how I'm going to control this.

I'm wondering if I am making any big mistakes here. Will the quality of the distributed video be good? Is the gear I've choosen good? bad? mediocre? Are their cheaper/better ways to do this?

Any input will be greatly appreciated.
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post #13 of 17 Old 05-25-2009, 08:21 AM
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Glad to hear you're leaning towards a component matrix rather than HDMI. If I were running Cat 5 for component baluns, I would be looking at a matrix with female RJ-45 outputs instead of RCA outputs for component video. In other words, you would plug your Cat5 runs to the TVs directly into the matrix, saving you the cost and the clutter of 6 baluns at the headend. The only baluns you would need would be at the TV side. Several pieces that do this are available. Check out NeoPro, Audio Authority, Key Digital, and Sony even makes one.
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post #14 of 17 Old 05-25-2009, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cshepard View Post

Glad to hear you're leaning towards a component matrix rather than HDMI. If I were running Cat 5 for component baluns, I would be looking at a matrix with female RJ-45 outputs instead of RCA outputs for component video. In other words, you would plug your Cat5 runs to the TVs directly into the matrix, saving you the cost and the clutter of 6 baluns at the headend. The only baluns you would need would be at the TV side. Several pieces that do this are available. Check out NeoPro, Audio Authority, Key Digital, and Sony even makes one.

I spent some time looking at these units yesterday. They are definitely the way to go for me. I also think some wall plate baluns would keep things clean on the other end.

What I really need to do next is get smarter about how to control all this gear.
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post #15 of 17 Old 06-17-2009, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philler View Post

I spent some time looking at these units yesterday. They are definitely the way to go for me. I also think some wall plate baluns would keep things clean on the other end.

What I really need to do next is get smarter about how to control all this gear.

Did you get your house done yet? If so, I would love to hear what you did!

KD0MOF

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post #16 of 17 Old 06-17-2009, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
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House is done, but we're not moving in for a couple weeks. I will be phasing things in as I can afford them. Audio and home automation first, then the video part. I will post as I move forward.
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post #17 of 17 Old 07-23-2012, 05:58 PM
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everyone needs a house or at least some place to live. doesnt have to be a house, could be an apartment. i prefer houses only because im afraid that apartment neighbors, whom i may not know or even know, could burn the entire complex down.
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