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-   -   Cat 5 or rewire - Matrix and distribution questions (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/36-home-v-distribution/1296475-cat-5-rewire-matrix-distribution-questions.html)

Frostykev 12-08-2010 08:56 AM

Hello All,

I finally got the OK to build a HT in the basement, so that means more planning and consideration for existing solutions. Before I move to far ahead on the basement solution I wanted to get some ideas on how to deal with the video distribution within the house. Currently I distribute standard Definition cable, HTPC via SageTV and the HD extender boxes, and a HD Tivo at the main TV in the living-room. The entire house is cabled with multiple coax and multiple Cat5 (not 5e) to various locations. Unfortunately when I did the Cat5 not 5e or 6 at the time, about 10 years ago. So before I finish the basement, thus cutting off all of the access points and cable runs I wanted to get some information.

What I want to do someday is a HDMI matrixed distribution system utilizing the Cat5 in the walls today. I would like to "share" the Tivo, Future BlueRay, HTPC and other input via HDMI 4x4 matrix (or more) and distribute that rooms HDMI signal via Cat5. Currently I do not have a 1080P source or TV, but plan one day to do so. Most of the main floor runs will be less than 75 feet. I'm guessing the upstairs to be roughly 125, but there are no TV's there now.

As I understand it I probably would be better off going with a component 4x4 vs a HDMI 4x4 initially. I read the thread on the Aton HDR44KT, but since I only have 2-3 displays right now I was wondering if there are other suggestions. I do want to use Cat5 to distribute Audio/Video. I'm also considering adding whole house audio, but thats a stretch at this point.

Questions:
Are there any HDMI switch matrixes are recommended, are there any good reviews on the boards that I have missed?
Can I do this with Cat5 or do I need to pull new Cat6 before the construction starts?
For component or HDMI, are single CatX runs better than the dual run devices? I've seen a few comments to that effect but have had trouble finding good reviews and information so far. (price ranges from 60/pair to 600/pair leave me confused)
For component/audio matrix, do most people use digital audio to distribute and have the TV's or receivers decode as needed?

Frostykev 12-17-2010 05:30 AM

Did I ask these questions the wrong way? I am open to links for me to read more. Any help would be appreciated. . .

jautor 12-17-2010 07:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frostykev View Post

Are there any HDMI switch matrixes are recommended, are there any good reviews on the boards that I have missed?

Not at a price you'd like (if you're debating the Aton as 'more than you need').

Quote:


Can I do this with Cat5 or do I need to pull new Cat6 before the construction starts?

Component over cat5 probably won't care about cat5 vs. cat5e. But the real answer to your question is YES, you should run more wire while you can. It will never be so cheap or easy. Especially for a theater, run flex conduit as well so you DO have access years from now.

Quote:


For component or HDMI, are single CatX runs better than the dual run devices?

Solutions using two cables are generally much cheaper (like 50%), and many offer more features (IR repeating, etc.). The new HDBaseT silicon should change this (single chip, single wire HDMI will all the options), but pricing on those is still not inexpensive ($500+), but in a year or so, probably will be...

Quote:


For component/audio matrix, do most people use digital audio to distribute and have the TV's or receivers decode as needed?

To TV's, no, very few accept digital audio on their inputs (other than HDMI). Generally analog audio to the TV, and digital audio to the surround receiver if there's one in that room.

If the Aton price scares you, take a look at the CELabs CAT5TX / CAT5RX, which supports two rooms per unit (one transmitter will support two receivers), and a 2-room system can be had for ~$300-350. It supports expanding that with a loop output of all the signals, and has a passive IR repeating system, so you can hook up some external Xantech gear and then you're cooking with gas...

http://www.buy.com/prod/ce-labs-cat5...202827692.html

http://www.buy.com/prod/ce-labs-comp...202827691.html

I used this system for several years before moving to a new house (that was wired for all of this) and plunking down for the Aton... Now, this only gets you one source at a time in the remote rooms, though. If you put a Monoprice 4-way component switch in front of it, you can at least remotely select a source (but both rooms will see the same thing).

Jeff

Frostykev 12-17-2010 09:21 AM

I originally posted this before finding the Aton review. But now I'm seriously considering that (Aton HDR44) for my 1-3 year solution, while trying to future proof the house for HDMI etc later.

My main concern was what to do with the other viewing areas, Master Bedroom, Living Room, Office. Those are areas where I might be able to re-pull the Cat 6, not sure how easy/hard or worthwhile to pull flex conduit, haven't tried that before.

Now in the basement, theater etc, there will be flex conduit plus main runs.

On digital audio to TVs, do most sources output both digital audio and stereo? That way you can send digital to the receiver rooms and L/R to the non receiver rooms, without having to switch the source? I can see that being a problem, but I haven't set up my system that way before. . .

I'll have to think about single source vs matrix, and see if my wife gives me the thumbs up.

jautor 12-17-2010 09:52 AM

Yes, any* (*there's probably one out there that breaks the rule...) source device that has analog audio outputs will have stereo output regardless of what's coming out the digital audio output. So yes, you run analog/digital audio in parallel from the source(s) to your distribution system, and the zones use either or both.

Retro-fitting flex conduit is really difficult. You're usually lucky to get a small wire to pull through, let alone a 'useful-sized' conduit. I wouldn't worry about it for areas that don't have the walls open.

And remember, with flex conduit, you run those EMPTY with all your wire runs outside of them. The conduit is for the future, not the present...

Jeff


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