Cheapest options for A/V distribution - under $2-3k - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 08-27-2009, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Here is my requirement -

I have 4 video sources (media server, dish HD, OTA, DVD), and 1 audio source (media server) in a closet, that I need to distribute to 3 rooms.

Room 1 is a HT room which has local receivers & speakers, so I only need video sources (along with audio track) distributed here

Room 2 and 3 have TVs, with a separate pair of speakers for audio sources only. I need video sources to be distributed to each of these rooms.I do not have any amplification to the speakers in these 2 rooms.

My wiring guy recommends going with a A/V matrix switcher for the video over multiple RG6 cables, and a Nuvo Simplese system with amplified keypads for the audio.

I was looking at the ATON HDR44 and DH44 combination in kit form, see http://www.atonhome.com/xTras/Downlo...lustration.pdf. However, this seems to be overkill and also is $3500.

My primary concerns are the ability to

a. select the video sources on the keypad/remote and use the remote for controlling the sources once it is selected, independently in each room.
b. select/choose music tracks from the media server to be played over the speaker pairs in the 2 rooms and also the dedicated HT setup.

At this point, the wiring for the speakers in the 2 rooms is through a keypad/vol control (brand not decided yet), with 4-conductor to the media closet and 2-conductor the speakers. I am open to going with cat6/RG6 for the A/V distribution and controls.

What are my alternatives for switcher, amplification, IR/vol control, and remotes?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 25 Old 08-28-2009, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Cmon guys... help me out here.
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post #3 of 25 Old 08-28-2009, 07:02 AM
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It sounds like you just need a 4x4 HD switcher and a 4 zone amp with keypads. All video would be controlled with IR and the speakers would only need a volume control since there is only one audio source. Did I understand that right? Video sound will only be played through the TVs except in the HT room?
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post #4 of 25 Old 08-28-2009, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brettvdi View Post

It sounds like you just need a 4x4 HD switcher and a 4 zone amp with keypads. All video would be controlled with IR and the speakers would only need a volume control since there is only one audio source. Did I understand that right? Video sound will only be played through the TVs except in the HT room?

That's exactly right. In fact, I only need 3 zones for amplification, and 3 zones for HD video.
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post #5 of 25 Old 08-28-2009, 10:09 AM
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I've been looking a lot at Xantech stuff so that's all I can give for options but...

This amplifier with this switcher will work and is close to your budget. It would all be IR controlled.

Looking at smarthome.com it seems your original aton stuff is the same price. ~$2000 and can be cotrolled via ir too or am I missing something?

But now I see that it requires the keypads for receiving.
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post #6 of 25 Old 08-28-2009, 12:48 PM
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6 zones, 6 sources
http://www.htd.com/whole-house-audio...le-house-audio

Oop's....misread the question - this is an "audio only" solution
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post #7 of 25 Old 08-28-2009, 09:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by m_vanmeter View Post

6 zones, 6 sources
http://www.htd.com/whole-house-audio...le-house-audio

That's only for audio sources if I understand correctly? As I mentioned, I have only one audio source, but 4 video sources.
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post #8 of 25 Old 08-29-2009, 01:01 AM
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4 video sources and 1 audio source. I see the media server listed twice. Is this because you have 2 of them? If you only have 1 then you have 4 sources.

I dislike systems that have audio separate from video. The TV speakers will suck compared to the stereo speakers. This is my attempt at a budget approach to your system. Hopefully i got it right .

If you only have 4 sources you could use a 4X4 component matrix switch like this : $699.95 http://www.hdtvsupply.com/4x4covimasw.html

All 4 source into the matrix switch, then video out to each of the 3 rooms.

Take audio out switch to the surround receiver in room 1.

Take audio out of switch to input 1 on marantz ZS5300.

Take audio out of switch to input 2 on marantz ZS5300.

($799.99 http://us.marantz.com/Products/611.asp#)


Video is routed directly to each display via the matrix switch and audio is routed via the matrix switch into the surround receiver in room 1 and into the marantz multizone controller for rooms 2 and 3.

This allows you to listen to all sources over the stereo speakers.

Controlling this will be tricky. All sources, the switch, the marantz ZS5300 and your surround receiver should be located in the same area. A URC MSC-400 & 3 compatible remotes should work.


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post #9 of 25 Old 08-29-2009, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
4 video sources and 1 audio source. I see the media server listed twice. Is this because you have 2 of them? If you only have 1 then you have 4 sources.

No, I will have one media server for both audio (music) and video (movies).


Quote:
I dislike systems that have audio separate from video. The TV speakers will suck compared to the stereo speakers. .

I like your idea, but the stereo speakers are not placed adjacent to the TV. They are more like surround speakers. Is there a way I can send all audio to both TV and speakers, and select only the speakers when listening to music?

Quote:
Controlling this will be tricky. All sources, the switch, the marantz ZS5300 and your surround receiver should be located in the same area.

I agree. This is where it gets a little complicated.

1. The receiver will be in room 1 along with my dedicated 5-ch setup (amps/speakers/subs). The display device will be a projector mounted mid-way between the media closet and the receiver (total 30ft distance).

So for room 1, I will need video from sources in closet, and from sources local to receiver (only Wii at present) routed to the projector.

2. I have OTA tuners in the HDTVs, but not in the projector in room 1. Not sure if I can use Dish HD DVR's ATSC tuner to distribute OTA to projector, and use a direct feed from antenna to the 2 TVs via RG6, via a splitter/diplexer.

3. The Dish HD DVR that I am planning to get is a 2-tuner model (with 1 HD and 1 SD to two locations). I am planning to share the HD output between room 1 and bdrm1 based on usage, and use the SD output to bdrm 2.

4. For my single audio source, I was planning on adding another Squeezebox for sharing between the 2 bdrms through the audio switcher (marantz or similar). I already have a squeezebox which will connect directly to the surround receiver in room 1.

Quote:
A URC MSC-400 & 3 compatible remotes should work.

So, this means there are no keypads to install/control?
I already have an MX-500 remote available, but not sure if this will work with the MSC-400.
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post #10 of 25 Old 08-29-2009, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsranga View Post

No, I will have one media server for both audio (music) and video (movies).

Sounds like you have 4 sources to distribute.

Quote:


I like your idea, but the stereo speakers are not placed adjacent to the TV. They are more like surround speakers. Is there a way I can send all audio to both TV and speakers, and select only the speakers when listening to music?

You could use an audio distribution amp to 'split' stereo but all this will do is further complicate things when attempting to control it. Since the stereo speakers in room 2 and 3 are not where they should be we need to nix the idea of using them for TV watching.

Quote:


2. I have OTA tuners in the HDTVs, but not in the projector in room 1. Not sure if I can use Dish HD DVR's ATSC tuner to distribute OTA to projector, and use a direct feed from antenna to the 2 TVs via RG6, via a splitter/diplexer.

OTA being built into the TV means you dont have to consider it as a source. Its native to the TV so that means you only have 3 sources you need to distribute. DVD, Dish, Media Server. If you want OTA at the projector you should get a set top box and locate it with the surround receiver.

Quote:



3. The Dish HD DVR that I am planning to get is a 2-tuner model (with 1 HD and 1 SD to two locations). I am planning to share the HD output between room 1 and bdrm1 based on usage, and use the SD output to bdrm 2.

Now you lost me. Are you saying you want to distribute the dish receiver between room 1, room 2, room 3 and now Bedroom 1 and Bedroom 2?

You realize that all 5 rooms have to watch the same channel right?

Quote:


4. For my single audio source, I was planning on adding another Squeezebox for sharing between the 2 bdrms through the audio switcher (marantz or similar). I already have a squeezebox which will connect directly to the surround receiver in room 1.

The more you try and split/share things without choosing a centralized location.. the more difficult this will be to wire up and control later. You should have a central closet or localized sources. The moment you want to do both is the moment you have to triple your 2-3k budget based on all of the cable you will need to pull everywhere and the level of programming required to make it all operate properly.

If you want to matrix switch your sources you will need to pull enough cable so that every source wires back to the switch then from the switch out to each TV & amp-speakers.

Quote:


So, this means there are no keypads to install/control?
I already have an MX-500 remote available, but not sure if this will work with the MSC-400.

My drawing shows no keypads. Full control of the zone would happen with the hand held remote. I dont think the MX-500 will work but i could be wrong.

If you decide not to centralize the sources i would advise that you scratch the idea of a matrix switch and use distribution amps at each source and output audio/video to the output devices (TV & speakers). This would mean that the output from every source is always live to every TV and speakers. You would use the TV, the surround receiver and the marantz (or whatever) unit to switch between sources.

http://www.ramelectronics.net/audio-...AV400COMP.html

This diagram shows only 1 source. You would just mimic that for each source. Using the distribution amp to 'spli' the output to each zone. For audio only sources like squeezebox you can use an audio only distribution amp. They are about half the cost.

http://www.ramelectronics.net/audio-...prodAV400.html


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post #11 of 25 Old 08-29-2009, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

Now you lost me. Are you saying you want to distribute the dish receiver between room 1, room 2, room 3 and now Bedroom 1 and Bedroom 2?

You realize that all 5 rooms have to watch the same channel right?

No, room 2 and 3 are the bedrooms, so it is still 3 rooms total. The DISH DVR has 2 tuners - and I was thinking of using 1 tuner (SD) for room 3, and sharing HD between room 1 and 2 with the component switching. So, I do get independent viewing in 2 locations.
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post #12 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 01:04 AM
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What is your budget exactly? I think you could build a nice cheap AV distribution system. Here is what I would do. Like 39 suggested, you really need to centralize ALL your equipment in the closet. Even the wii can be put there if you want, just homerun the sensorbar wire to the closet. Your information about OTA is very confusing. I have a DISH network vip722 and I get OTA High Def channels perfectly. How many people live in your house? If you have more than one person in your house, and want to watch Dish TV simultaneously then get an additional Dish box. The vip722 tuner #2 is handicapped to output Standard Definition (not High Def). It stinks. If it is just you in the house, your single VIP722 dish box will work great.


Here is what you need:



-=Central Closet=-
1 Dish VIP722
1 Media Server
1 Wii
1 DVD player

1 surround sound receiver #1 (dedicated to Room #1)
1 surround sound receiver #2 (dedicated to Room #2)
1 surround sound receiver #3 (dedicated to HT Room)

1 4x4 Shinybow Component Video/Digital&Analog Audio matrix ($599)

1 URC MSC-400 Master Controller to control all closet equipment.


-=HT ROOM=-
1 projector
5.1 speakers


-=ROOM 1=-
1 TV
2 speakers

-=ROOM 2=-
1 TV
2 speakers


-=Wiring=-
Wire all of your speakers DIRECTLY to the centralized closet.

The Room #1 speakers will wire directly to the Surround Receiver #1 in closet.

The Room #2 speakers will wire directly to the Surround Receiver #2 in closet.

The HT Room speakers will wire directly to the Surround Receiver #3 in closet.


The Dish VIP722 connects to matrix Input1 via component video cables and digital coax.

The Media Server connects to matrix Input2 via whatever a/v cables it has.

The Wii connects to matrix Input 3 via wii component vid cable and 2 RCA for audio

The DVD player connects to matrix Input 4 via component vid cables and digital audio coax spdif cable.

The matrix output #1 component video connects to the projector inputs via long distance component video cable. The matrix output #1 audio connects to the Surround Receiver #3 audio input using digital audio spdif coax cable.

The matrix output #2 component video connects to the Room 1 TV using long distance component video cable. The matrix output #2 audio connects to the Surround #2 audio via digital audio spdif coax cable.

The matrix output #3 component video connects to the Room 2 TV using long distance component video cable. The matrix output #2 audio connects to the Surround #2 audio via digital audio spdif coax cable.

The matirx output #4 is unused. Your could add an additional room (kitchen) to the distribution system with this output.

-=Control=-
Forget the keypad controls, you do not need them. All you need is 3 handheld remotes. These handheld remotes will talk to a master controller located in the centralized headend closet. Get the URC MSC-400 & 3 compatible remotes should work. Hire a pro to progam the URC MSC400 and 3 handheld remotes.



-=Summary=-
Piece of cake compared to what I am doing for my personal system! Using my design, you can watch DVD in all your rooms, listen to music in all your rooms, play wii in all your rooms, and watch Dish TV in all your rooms. Your speakers will be fully used for all these activities!

Using the 4x4 matrix switch that 39 and I suggested, it gives you the ability to mirror the source to all 4 outputs. So, you could watch a DVD in all 4 rooms simultaneously. If you pressed pause button in Room #1, it will pause it in all rooms. Basically I just want you to realize the capabilities of a matrix switch, it is awesome, especially for distributed music in all 3 rooms!

You could easily buy 2 used surround receivers off craigslist in SF for $50 apiece.

I am doing a similar system to yours and have been researching the hell out of this stuff. It is a blast. Have fun.
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post #13 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 01:30 AM
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I think i may have found a boxed product that will work for you. There appear to be keypads that will work with it and it has IR receive capability so i think you will be able to use any universal remote control system.

http://www.atonhome.com/HDR44.html



EDIT.. I dont think the keypads will work with this system. Contact a dealer for more information.

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post #14 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 01:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsranga View Post

No, room 2 and 3 are the bedrooms, so it is still 3 rooms total. The DISH DVR has 2 tuners - and I was thinking of using 1 tuner (SD) for room 3, and sharing HD between room 1 and 2 with the component switching. So, I do get independent viewing in 2 locations.

Are you sure about this? How would you control independent viewing in the 2 rooms with a single remote (in a normal situation)?

I only have one client with Dish Network so maybe im missing something but as far as i am aware each box gives you 1 tuner that you can view meaning whatever channel is selected for one room is selected for the other rooms.

You can share that audio/video output with multiple rooms but your all watching the same thing.

The other tuner is for recording.... right? We dont do satellite installs anymore and we specifically do centralized systems so maybe things have changed.

EDIT.. Your right.. i found this right on their website....... "supports 2 independent viewing tvs - a remote control for each tv"

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post #15 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 07:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasamiller View Post

What is your budget exactly? I think you could build a nice cheap AV distribution system. Here is what I would do. Like 39 suggested, you really need to centralize ALL your equipment in the closet. Even the wii can be put there if you want, just homerun the sensorbar wire to the closet. Your information about OTA is very confusing. I have a DISH network vip722 and I get OTA High Def channels perfectly. How many people live in your house? If you have more than one person in your house, and want to watch Dish TV simultaneously then get an additional Dish box. The vip722 tuner #2 is handicapped to output Standard Definition (not High Def). It stinks. If it is just you in the house, your single VIP722 dish box will work great.

There will be 4 people in the house, but viewing is staggered. At the most 2 watching different channels simultaneously from the same source at any time. The folks who watch in SD do not care about video quality .
Are you getting the OTA into the 722 or 722k (2 tuner)?

I am deciding between spending on distribution eqpt vs a media server/extender combo and simplifying the wiring. The media server is an epicenter like device with hauppage PVR support (for recording all dish/OTA fed into it in HD mode with full audio support). So, I could route all sources through the media server, record it, and view it simultaneously over IP in any TV location via a media extender/PC. Then I would only need to worry about amplification to the 2-3pairs of speakers and playing audio through it.

The HT system in the living room will be dedicated - so I only need the video directly fed into the projector and audio into receiver. The reason I can't have it centralized is that it combines with a stereo setup which is not standard. The other 2 rooms do not have anything local other than TV and speakers.

Quote:


-=Control=-
Forget the keypad controls, you do not need them. All you need is 3 handheld remotes. These handheld remotes will talk to a master controller located in the centralized headend closet.

I realised that I do not need keypad control - simple volume control will be sufficient.

Quote:


Get the URC MSC-400 & 3 compatible remotes should work. Hire a pro to progam the URC MSC400 and 3 handheld remotes.

Will this allow me to select files/movies/music off the media server or only the source?
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post #16 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 12:59 PM
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If you centralize everything you can control it easily wit any control system. You can do anything you want without limits at all. Think about my design. It will make sense.
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post #17 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsranga View Post

There will be 4 people in the house, but viewing is staggered. At the most 2 watching different channels simultaneously from the same source at any time. The folks who watch in SD do not care about video quality .
Are you getting the OTA into the 722 or 722k (2 tuner)?

I am deciding between spending on distribution eqpt vs a media server/extender combo and simplifying the wiring. The media server is an epicenter like device with hauppage PVR support (for recording all dish/OTA fed into it in HD mode with full audio support). So, I could route all sources through the media server, record it, and view it simultaneously over IP in any TV location via a media extender/PC. Then I would only need to worry about amplification to the 2-3pairs of speakers and playing audio through it.

The HT system in the living room will be dedicated - so I only need the video directly fed into the projector and audio into receiver. The reason I can't have it centralized is that it combines with a stereo setup which is not standard. The other 2 rooms do not have anything local other than TV and speakers.



I realised that I do not need keypad control - simple volume control will be sufficient.



Will this allow me to select files/movies/music off the media server or only the source?

A centralized distribution system would cost much less than any other way. You only need one dvd player, one dish pvr, one music server. Using extenders you will be crippled severly... you will always be limited by the capabilities of the media server. In the long run, if you want to add a source, just add it to your central closet and enjoy it at all your destination locations.

For your OTA dish network issues, call Dish and tell them you want your Local Channels. They will hook you up. It is $2 per month or something. Forget OTA tuner headache. I though I was cheap but wow you have me beat haha.
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post #18 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 06:09 PM
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Quote:


Will this allow me to select files/movies/music off the media server or only the source?

As long as your media server can be controlled via IR or RS-232... YES. Do you currently have the ability to use a remote control to select files/movies/music off the media server?

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post #19 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 06:31 PM
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Also, of all the equipment you mentioned in your post, what of it do you actually own so far? If you are like me, you simplify your postings by stating that you already own XYZ. It is actually easier to design an AV distribution system if you state exactly what you own (including model numbers) and state your end goals.

I would not consider extenders as AV distribution... they are just extending a single box. Nowhere near the benefits of an AV distribution system.

as 39 said, if you put your music server in a centralized closet the UMC master controller can easily control it using Infrared or rs232. Thus saving you the cost of the extenders! That is why centralized distribution in the long run is cheaper, and the wiring is much more simple. You only need to run 1 component wire from the closet to each "dumb TV", and speaker wires directly from the closet to the speakers. You never need to switch inputs on your TVs. They are dumb and just display whatever the matrix switcher feeds them. This greatly simplifies the control of your AV Distribution system... because the UMC master controller simply needs to control each Source, Surround Receiver, and the matrix switch.

Since you only have 2 speakers in some of your rooms, you will run the Surround Receiver in "Stereo" mode and it will downmix any 5.1 audio into 2 channel audio automagically.
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post #20 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

As long as your media server can be controlled via IR or RS-232... YES. Do you currently have the ability to use a remote control to select files/movies/music off the media server?

Right now, I do not have one as I am just finishing a huge remodel. I was using an old PC to stream music to a squeezebox connected to my preamp.
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post #21 of 25 Old 08-31-2009, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasamiller View Post

Also, of all the equipment you mentioned in your post, what of it do you actually own so far? If you are like me, you simplify your postings by stating that you already own XYZ. It is actually easier to design an AV distribution system if you state exactly what you own (including model numbers) and state your end goals.

My system is pretty much non-existent at this point as I am just finishing a large remodel while living in an apt.

Here is what I have -

1. A dedicated 5.1 system with a 5ch amp/preamp from Myryad, JMR speakers and an ACI Force Sub. The preamp does not do any processing so I feed analog 5.1 audio into the preamp and use a external DAC connected to a squeezebox output to the preamp to play music from the PC. This system cannot be controlled easily by any remote, hence needs to be local to the room, not to mention the the $250/pair speaker cables for the fronts.

I used this system primarily for music (stereo/SACD), and to play some DVDs once in a while. I haven't watched Dish in more than a year, or any TV for that matter, even though I had a Dish 622 (cancelled 6 months ago).

I am getting into video primarily because the rest of the family has been on my back to get some TV viewing.

The key for the video is to be able to watch
1. international programming either through Dish (which is not in HDTV) or via an internet video stream,
2. live sports (tennis, soccer, cricket) primarily through OTA or internet (H264)
3. rented DVDs/Movies from media server. - which will be in Blu-ray/widescreen with 5.1 audio.

For audio, the speakers in the two bedrooms (room 2 and 3) and the HT system will be primarily playing music loaded in the media server in FLAC format. In addition the HT system will have an SACD player local to it.

The only other addition would be a Wii as it has several nice versions of sports, and it would be nice to have the ability to play this in more than one room, esp when I don't want my 3 year old bothering us in the living room.

I plan to add a receiver to the 5-ch setup, primarily for decoding the audio stream (which is easier than running 6-7 analog cables to the preamp).

I haven't decided on my new media server, but there's a local whiz who builds these systems which are reasonable - 4.5TB Raid systems with a kaleidascape like interface, support for Hauppage for about $3k.
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post #22 of 25 Old 11-03-2009, 08:58 PM
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I'm trying to do something real similar to this but have got a little confused about this. My setup is hoping to have a 5.1 theater, gym with tv and audio, bar area with tv and audio. So far I own nothin, so I'm trying to plan it out! I like the idea of using the 4x4 to distribute the video but how can I tie in the audio with those as well? Also could I just send 1 hdmi to each tv from the source?

If I hooked up a switcher, I would just plug all sources into that and then run a 7.1 (multi-zone receiver) plus an extra 2 channel receiver with a centralized IR remote right? BTW...it will all be in a a/v closet. Also how can they be controlled in their room (which is not by the cabinet)?

Thanks
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post #23 of 25 Old 11-04-2009, 11:04 AM
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I used the Aton HDR44 mentioned earlier in the thread for the video switching, and a NuVo Grand Concerto for audio. Many of the 'zones' between the two overlap, so the audio from many of the video sources is split and routed to both the Aton and the GC. So in the game room, for instance, you can have the TV on and the ceiling speakers playing either the football game, or background music.

For any TV location you want 5.1, you route the analog audio L/R to the TV, and the digital audio output to the receiver in that zone.

Definitely easier to centralize all the sources if you're trying to do both A/V switching and whole-house audio. And in my case, since both the NuVo and the Aton products have IR routing capabilities (and some careful use of the right IR output jacks), I'm able to point a remote most anywhere and have it do what I need.

-Jeff

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post #24 of 25 Old 11-04-2009, 05:32 PM
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I like that setup but not sure if its in my price range. How much are those two setups?
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post #25 of 25 Old 11-04-2009, 10:04 PM
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The Aton can be had for $1k, and there are cheaper audio solutions - the NuVo Essentia or Simplese, and actually Aton has a nice setup, too...

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