Xantech D5RHK - Installation & Photos - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 02-10-2011, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey all, long time lurker, but first post here. I'm an HTPC/WMC7 enthusiast and enjoy PC/media integration with my daily living. I'm no high-end audiophile, but just outfitted my new apartment with a Xantech DIGI-5 4-source, 4-zone distributed audio system, and thought I'd share the progress and photos with this forum.

I purchased the Xantech D5RHK, which includes a 4-source, 4-zone rack mount receiver, four keypads, four mini IR remotes, and four IR blasters for your centrally-located components.

As with some of the others from NuVo and Russound, the hub connects to each of the zone keypads via cat5/cat6, providing power and audio, while also relaying IR commands. Keypads then connect to the speakers with standard 16/2 speaker wire. The back of the hub has connections for four sources. There's digital optical and coax for all four, and analog (RCA left and right) for sources 3 and 4. Jumper switches beneath each source allow you select between analog and the two digital.

Unboxing:


Components (IR remotes and blaster cables are in the pink bag)


Keypad laying on top


Two mini IR remotes and two IR blaster cables (four of each are included with the kit)


Nice colorful quick-reference instructions


Back of page - other components for purchase


The keypad unit (Xantech D5KP) itself is about 2.5 inches deep, with an available cavity to stash cable slack:


Front


Side


Back, with speaker connector detached (makes it nice and easy to get into the wall!)

I had a friend come over and help with the rough-in for three of my rooms (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom). For each, I wanted to set up the single-gang keypads alongside existing decora light switches to achieve more of a "stock" look. To keep with code, we installed a plastic divider between the low-voltage Xantech keypad and the high-voltage switches and outlets that shared the same gang box.

Keypad installation in kitchen:


Double-gang box in kitchen - if you have access, better to use the punch-in from the back so cables don't snag/bunch as you insert the keypad.

Before proceeding to the other locations, I started an audio source, connected the cat6 at both ends, and plugged in the speaker connector to the back of the keypad.


Quick test - WORKS!

For reference, normally, I'd have gone with in-wall speakers, but with plaster walls, I decided to go for a set of Orb Mod-1's. I opted for the brushed aluminum finish for a polished look (no pun intended)

The keypad has two setup menus - one is accessible from the front by holding the center "X" key for three seconds (bass/treble/balance, etc.). The other contains more advanced options (source names/backlight brightness & time out settings/zone lockout (kids rooms)/etc.) and that's accessible by pressing a button on the side of the keypad unit. You have to remove the faceplate to access that side button for latter menu.

Here's photos of the keypads in kitchen and bathroom:


Source - HTPC, brightness level - 8 (of 8)


After user-defined timeout (mine's set at the default 30 seconds) only the power button illuminates. Brightness here is set at 2 (of 8). This is the lowest setting and emits about the same amount of light as my Leviton GFCI outlets (except those are green and this one's blue)

Color change kits are available (and on their way to me). The kit includes black, ivory, and almond to match your decor.

Bathroom

Bathroom - Quad gang box, with plastic divider between the three hi-voltage switches&outlet and the Xantech. Look up for the Orb speaker!

I'm still troubleshooting the bedroom connection. I had new floors put in, and flat cable run underneath the floor for this room (the others went behind baseboards). I troubleshooted (changed keypads,cables, multiple sources, etc.) and will probably re-crimp the cable when I can (the wires inside these flat cat6 cables are VERY hard for me to line up).

For now, I'm using analog just for testing, but have some coax cables on their way. I have three sound cards in my HTPC and have configured STP MP3 Player to load on Windows startup, playing a defined playlist out of "sound card 2." Pandoras Box outputs my station to "sound card 3". Both apps start up quietly and just sit in the system tray - you'd never know they're working unless you select sources 2 or 3 from the keypads. My primary sound card is reserved for WMC7, system sounds, and anything I'm actively doing on the computer. That sound card will be split to both my living room receiver and source one of the Xantech system.

Audio quality is fine for my needs - I have a single speaker mounted in the kitchen and one mounted in the bathroom. The keypad drives these things pretty loud, so I can easily hear streaming talk radio or my playlist while showering and getting ready in the morning.

So, that's it for now. I had to remove product/software URLs since this is my first post. If I left anything out, or if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask away. Hope this helps since there seem to be a lack of reviews/installation photos anywhere on the internet...
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-09-2011, 10:39 AM
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Were you able to complete the rest of the install. What kind of speakers (specs?) are you using in all the areas? Are you able to crank it up pretty loud without much distortion?
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-09-2011, 12:58 PM
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Very cool of you to write that up, FiSKARZ.

Can you just add a divider to a regular junction box, and still pass code? I would expect a dedicated box that comes with a divider. But, I'm guessing you researched it.

Sorry for the noobish Q.

I like the Decora look - did you consider screwless Decora wallplates?



Edit - Ah, I see you put in new boxes ('rough in').

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post #4 of 19 Old 10-07-2011, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback and sorry for the (really) late replies to questions:

@Neurorad - From what I've read and people I've spoken to (I'm in NYC), you CAN install high/low voltage in the same junction box so long as there is a physical divider in-between. My electrician rigged a plastic divider, ironically using pieces from a new-construction plastic junction box and some zippy screws to fasten them to the back wall. I've seen some other applications where people have butted a double-gang box next to a single-gang plastic box and the decora plate still lines up, but plastic boxes are not permitted in wall in NYC, so I believe I took the safer road doing it the way I did.

Also, I haven't totally settled on the decora faceplates yet - the ones you see pictured are $0.90 "placeholders" for now. I may go screwless but also might consider stainless in certain areas. Furthermore, I have more work to do elsewhere around the house, so if I update the faceplates, I'll probably do them all at once.

@tahoejunk - I'm using the OrbAudio MOD-1's listed here: orbaudio.com/quickpack.aspx . I'm not a huge audiophile, but cranked up the sound with no distortion whatsoever. Each control plate has built-in EQ settings so you can tweak individual rooms based on the size, acoustics, etc.
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post #5 of 19 Old 10-07-2011, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiSKARZ View Post

Thanks for the feedback and sorry for the (really) late replies to questions:

@Neurorad - From what I've read and people I've spoken to (I'm in NYC), you CAN install high/low voltage in the same junction box so long as there is a physical divider in-between. My electrician rigged a plastic divider, ironically using pieces from a new-construction plastic junction box and some zippy screws to fasten them to the back wall. I've seen some other applications where people have butted a double-gang box next to a single-gang plastic box and the decora plate still lines up, but plastic boxes are not permitted in wall in NYC, so I believe I took the safer road doing it the way I did.

I was under the impression you can't put high/low in same junction box no matter what (in NYC). Also, plastic boxes are allowed to be in wall if the voltage is low enough..I forget the threshold but 40 sticks out to me.

I recently did a retro remodel in my house and that is what my electrician told me. These rules do not apply in LI but NYC has strict codes.

I will ask again, maybe I am mistaken.
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post #6 of 19 Old 10-07-2011, 09:07 PM
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The easiest way, if you want the install to be 'to code,' is to call the AHJ with specific questions.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #7 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 09:37 AM
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I installed the Xantech Digi5 last week and not sure why the sound quality is not that good . I mean , I tested the speakers when installed by playing songs from a CD changer and hooking them directly to the Speakers and the sound was good . But once I attach the wall controllers and Xantech 4 zone controller , the same songs sound so Bad . I mean there is no good base in the sound .

I even fiddled with the setup settings and still cannot figure it out . Could it be due to the fact that the cat5 is about 100ft ?
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post #8 of 19 Old 12-08-2011, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravi355 View Post

I installed the Xantech Digi5 last week and not sure why the sound quality is not that good . I mean , I tested the speakers when installed by playing songs from a CD changer and hooking them directly to the Speakers and the sound was good . But once I attach the wall controllers and Xantech 4 zone controller , the same songs sound so Bad . I mean there is no good base in the sound .

I even fiddled with the setup settings and still cannot figure it out . Could it be due to the fact that the cat5 is about 100ft ?
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I'm not sure honestly. Do you have an extra keypad, speaker wire, and a test speaker so you can test with a shorter Cat5 run using the Xantech system?

According to page 19 of the product manual (located at w w w .xantech.com/ files/manuals/508_D5RH-InstallationInstructions. pdf), you should be fine with a Cat5 run up to 150 feet - anything more would require you to run a secondary Cat-5 cable to boost the power.

Remove spaces from above URL - I can't post links because I don't have enough posts on this forum.
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-01-2012, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone, and happy new year!

After running a new CAT-6 cable from living room (the source of the hub and my audio inputs) to my bedroom, I'm finally up and running in the bedroom.

Like the kitchen and bathroom installs, I used a multi-gang box with plastic divider to separate the low-voltage keypad from the high-foltage light switch sharing the same box - Here's a picture:


Xantech D5KP - Bedroom (black color-change kit shown/used to blend in)

Unlike the other two rooms however, I took an extra step in the bedroom and installed a local source plate (Xantech D5IP) in a separate double gang box near my floor and baseboard molding. The local source plate connects only to the corresponding keypad via ethernet cable, and audio inputted into this plate cannot be distributed to other rooms in the system. In my installation, the local source plate is located about 4 feet below the keypad making for an easy in-wall CAT-6 run. RCA L&R, digital, and optical inputs can be used, but a jumper switch only allows one input to be passed on to the keypad (and speakers):


Xantech D5IP - Bedroom (only available in white...oh well).

The local source plate allows me to switch between the four "whole home" sources and a fifth "local" source, in this case, my wall-mounted LED HDTV:


Early install - Speaker, Power, and AV cables still need to be run/fished


All done! Articulating mount was from VideoSecu - purchased on Amazon for under $50

So in addition to being able to enjoy whatever's being pumped through to the rest of the system, the local source plate serves as a mini receiver, providing amplification to drive my two orb speakers, and a better audio experience for the accompanying TV. This setup is great for those tight on space, or those wanting a clean looking installation - I am extremely pleased with everything thus far.
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-03-2012, 03:28 PM
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I used shorter cat5's and even paid a local xantech installer to come over to trouble shoot and found that no matter what source or digital/analog connections we use , the clip lights on the back keep blinking so it means the source is HOT and thats why there is distortion . I am returning the distribution HUB and see if a new piece will work as we dont think its an issue with the Keypads
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post #11 of 19 Old 07-16-2012, 05:45 AM
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To anyone exploring the Xantech DIGI-5 solution, please be aware of the following.

The D5HR RS-232 interface does not work properly. 'Set' commands are processed as expected but 'Read' commands cause the device to change state. I contacted Xantech and they acknowledge the bug but claim the device "works" because you can send commands.

I was first told there would be a firmware fix within a month but once the month had elapsed I was told there would not be a fix until next year (2013) which was 6 months later. In the meantime, I'm stuck with a half-functional product that doesn't do what I need it to despite being advertised as an RS-232 capable device. If I only wanted to send commands I could have done that via IR. I purchased this device over other DIGI-5 devices specifically because of the RS-232 interface.

Additionally, the quality of the keypads is abysmal with almost every one I've had being defective in some way (non-functioning buttons, non-functioning LCD backlight, erratic behavior, etc).
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post #12 of 19 Old 07-16-2012, 01:15 PM
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Hi Fiskarz,
Hope you are enjoying your system. I have been thinking about the same and have few questions?
How has been your experience with Xantech DIGI-5 so far?
Any issues?
Do you have the wall mount or rack mount?
Would you recommend it?
How is the overall quality of the system/keypad etc. (Build quality & audio)?
Have you encountered any bugs or severe technical issues? Any issue with IR or the Serial RS-232 port?

Hi Iolaus,
Sorry that you have been having issues....Could it be just this unit for issues with keypad? I understand that you have issues with its serial port but do you have/know any other issue/bug with its IR? Any other feedback/input for a potential new buyer?

Regards, Shaurya
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post #13 of 19 Old 07-16-2012, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
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@iolaus
Quote:
The D5HR RS-232 interface does not work properly. 'Set' commands are processed as expected but 'Read' commands cause the device to change state. I contacted Xantech and they acknowledge the bug but claim the device "works" because you can send commands.

I was first told there would be a firmware fix within a month but once the month had elapsed I was told there would not be a fix until next year (2013) which was 6 months later. In the meantime, I'm stuck with a half-functional product that doesn't do what I need it to despite being advertised as an RS-232 capable device. If I only wanted to send commands I could have done that via IR. I purchased this device over other DIGI-5 devices specifically because of the RS-232 interface.

I can't speak to the IR capabilities, as my computer (server) is continuously pumping music and streaming talk radio out over all four inputs. For me to utilize IR commands with my computer, I'd have to start tinkering around with Girder to map IR commands to keystroke combinations. Furthermore, I have no experience with the RS-232 interface at all, as I am using the Xantech system strictly for "one-way" audio distribution.

I'm sorry that RS-232 interface isn't working - hopefully they'll produce that FW update to solve the acknowledged issue.
Quote:
Additionally, the quality of the keypads is abysmal with almost every one I've had being defective in some way (non-functioning buttons, non-functioning LCD backlight, erratic behavior, etc).

I purchased the kit with four keypads and all four have been working perfectly for me since installation. On rare (once every three-four weeks or so) occasion, I need to press and hold the power button on my bathroom unit to power off, but that's it. Button LEDs, screen backlight, and volume/source commands are perfectly functional on all four keypads and bundled "mini" remotes.
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post #14 of 19 Old 07-16-2012, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaurya View Post

Hi Fiskarz,
Hope you are enjoying your system. I have been thinking about the same and have few questions?
How has been your experience with Xantech DIGI-5 so far?
Any issues?
Do you have the wall mount or rack mount?
Would you recommend it?
How is the overall quality of the system/keypad etc. (Build quality & audio)?
Have you encountered any bugs or severe technical issues? Any issue with IR or the Serial RS-232 port?
Hi Iolaus,
Sorry that you have been having issues....Could it be just this unit for issues with keypad? I understand that you have issues with its serial port but do you have/know any other issue/bug with its IR? Any other feedback/input for a potential new buyer?
Regards, Shaurya

Hi Shaurya,

Overall, I'm thrilled with the system, it has met my expectations, and has been working perfectly since installation. I would recommend, especially to those using it in similar manner to me. That being said - I have no advanced experience with the "two-way" IR capabilities of the system, as it's not necessary in my particular setup.

I purchased the D5RHK (http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5RHK/) which comes with the rack mount hub. If you wanted the same 4-source, 4-zone kit with wall mount/hub, I believe the D5SHK4 is your solution: http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5SHK4/ , although this one seems to come with four local input plates too...

Build quality on the keypad is good, buttons are hard plastic, and "clicky" like a Logitech Harmony remote. Since I have different color schemes in my other rooms, I bought the D5KCK faceplate color change kit (http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5KCK/) and both color and shine match up to the standard Leviton decora plates available at Home Depot (Light Almond, White, Black, and Ivory). Scroll earlier in the thread for pictures of everything "ganged up" together. The display screen is a backlit dot-matrix display, capable of displaying two rows of text. You can customize the source labels on each of the keypads themselves if you don't like "Source 1, Source 2" etc.

The rack mount was surprisingly heavy for its size, so take that how you want to. The connections on the back of the rack mount are solid.

Audio quality is more than sufficient for my needs. Due to size of rooms, I'm only driving one speaker in the kitchen and bathroom, but my PC is funneling the music/ talk radio to mono for those inputs, so I'm not missing anything. My bedroom has two speakers hooked up and I installed a local source plate (http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5IP/) there so I can use the same set of speakers for my bedroom TV as well. It's like having a small receiver baked right into the wall! When I pump up the volume from the keypads, the speakers in all rooms are overpoweringly loud with little distortion (Orb Audio speakers). I set the PC output volume at 50% for the multi-room sources so this effectively "caps" the output volume.

As for bugs and IR issues, see my reply to Iolaus. The extent of my IR use is simply changing the volume and/or source using the mini-IR remotes bundled with the kit. In my setup, I don't have the need to "push" IR commands back to the hub and/or any IR blasters, as music and talk radio is being played consistently over three channels (shuffle/playlist, completely automated). The fourth channel is whatever I've got playing on my TV at the moment.

Hope that helps!
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post #15 of 19 Old 07-16-2012, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiSKARZ View Post

Hi Shaurya,
Overall, I'm thrilled with the system, it has met my expectations, and has been working perfectly since installation. I would recommend, especially to those using it in similar manner to me. That being said - I have no advanced experience with the "two-way" IR capabilities of the system, as it's not necessary in my particular setup.
I purchased the D5RHK (http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5RHK/) which comes with the rack mount hub. If you wanted the same 4-source, 4-zone kit with wall mount/hub, I believe the D5SHK4 is your solution: http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5SHK4/ , although this one seems to come with four local input plates too...
Build quality on the keypad is good, buttons are hard plastic, and "clicky" like a Logitech Harmony remote. Since I have different color schemes in my other rooms, I bought the D5KCK faceplate color change kit (http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5KCK/) and both color and shine match up to the standard Leviton decora plates available at Home Depot (Light Almond, White, Black, and Ivory). Scroll earlier in the thread for pictures of everything "ganged up" together. The display screen is a backlit dot-matrix display, capable of displaying two rows of text. You can customize the source labels on each of the keypads themselves if you don't like "Source 1, Source 2" etc.
The rack mount was surprisingly heavy for its size, so take that how you want to. The connections on the back of the rack mount are solid.
Audio quality is more than sufficient for my needs. Due to size of rooms, I'm only driving one speaker in the kitchen and bathroom, but my PC is funneling the music/ talk radio to mono for those inputs, so I'm not missing anything. My bedroom has two speakers hooked up and I installed a local source plate (http://www.xantech.com/Audio/AVDistribution/DIGI-5/D5IP/) there so I can use the same set of speakers for my bedroom TV as well. It's like having a small receiver baked right into the wall! When I pump up the volume from the keypads, the speakers in all rooms are overpoweringly loud with little distortion (Orb Audio speakers). I set the PC output volume at 50% for the multi-room sources so this effectively "caps" the output volume.
As for bugs and IR issues, see my reply to Iolaus. The extent of my IR use is simply changing the volume and/or source using the mini-IR remotes bundled with the kit. In my setup, I don't have the need to "push" IR commands back to the hub and/or any IR blasters, as music and talk radio is being played consistently over three channels (shuffle/playlist, completely automated). The fourth channel is whatever I've got playing on my TV at the moment.
Hope that helps!

Nice review. Does the Xantech keypads/wall controllers display any metadata about the song? Or at least dipslay the name of the song?
I've been reviewing the HTD Lync system and was under the impression that probably has amongst the best keyspads (based on reviews I read) for the money. No true metadata, but display 'now playing' song names etc.
Just when you narrow down on one system, here comes another one ;-

Again, nice review! Definitely helpful.
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post #16 of 19 Old 07-16-2012, 09:56 PM - Thread Starter
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@Shaurya
Quote:
Nice review. Does the Xantech keypads/wall controllers display any metadata about the song? Or at least dipslay the name of the song?

Thanks! No, the Xantech setup does not display song metadata or "now playing" information. I have "alternative/rock" and "classical/easy listening" music channels and a "talk radio" input. All three are identified on my keypads as such (I customized the input labels myself).
Quote:
I've been reviewing the HTD Lync system and was under the impression that probably has amongst the best keyspads (based on reviews I read) for the money. No true metadata, but display 'now playing' song names etc.

To be fair, the identical single-gang keypads from HTD (http://www.htd.com/site/midlevel/midlevel_keypad_info.jpg) don't appear to display the metadata either. The Lync that you mention is a double-gang solution that appears to show "now playing" info, but I'm wary of the input limitations (ie. iPod only?) that would push that information to the keypads.

In my setup, regardless of the equipment, it'd be next to impossble to display that information, since everything is being sourced from the PC. I run two instances of STP MP3 Player and a radio streaming app. All three start with windows, and sit quietly in the system tray. Furthermore, all three programs send output to different sound cards, which, in turn, hook up to the Xantech hub via "dumb" connections (optical audio, RCA L+R).

If you're considering that other system, I'd take a good look at the supported devices/inputs that would push metadata information to the keypads themselves. It's an awesome feature if you can pull it off, but again, I'm limited due to my setup.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiSKARZ View Post

@Shaurya
Quote:
Nice review. Does the Xantech keypads/wall controllers display any metadata about the song? Or at least dipslay the name of the song?
Thanks! No, the Xantech setup does not display song metadata or "now playing" information. I have "alternative/rock" and "classical/easy listening" music channels and a "talk radio" input. All three are identified on my keypads as such (I customized the input labels myself).
Quote:
I've been reviewing the HTD Lync system and was under the impression that probably has amongst the best keyspads (based on reviews I read) for the money. No true metadata, but display 'now playing' song names etc.
To be fair, the identical single-gang keypads from HTD (http://www.htd.com/site/midlevel/midlevel_keypad_info.jpg) don't appear to display the metadata either. The Lync that you mention is a double-gang solution that appears to show "now playing" info, but I'm wary of the input limitations (ie. iPod only?) that would push that information to the keypads.
In my setup, regardless of the equipment, it'd be next to impossble to display that information, since everything is being sourced from the PC. I run two instances of STP MP3 Player and a radio streaming app. All three start with windows, and sit quietly in the system tray. Furthermore, all three programs send output to different sound cards, which, in turn, hook up to the Xantech hub via "dumb" connections (optical audio, RCA L+R).
If you're considering that other system, I'd take a good look at the supported devices/inputs that would push metadata information to the keypads themselves. It's an awesome feature if you can pull it off, but again, I'm limited due to my setup.

Great! Much thanks!
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post #18 of 19 Old 03-24-2013, 11:20 AM
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Hi everyone. I purchased the DIGI5 kit also. Its taken me a while to get things up and running but I finally got my first zone setup last December. Everything has worked great so far until yesterday. That was when I noticed that the backlighting of my panel went out. I could tell the the display was still showing information because the text was there but extremely faint. Has anyone else had any issues with the backlighting on other panels?
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post #19 of 19 Old 04-10-2013, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
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I haven't had this problem personally, but I'd try to determine if the problem is with the cabling or with the keypad unit itself.

Some troubleshooting thoughts:

1 - If you switch a different D5KP keypad into the same location, are you still stuck with the backlighting issue?
---If yes, go to #2...if no, go to #3

2a - Did you crimp your own cables? Any chance not all eight contacts were made on either plug?
2b - Do you have access to try a new CAT5-E or CAT6 cable between the distribution hub and the keypad in question?
---If still not working, perhaps a cable issue

3 - Did you try connecting the defective keypad to a different port on the back of the distribution hub?
---If still not working, perhaps a keypad issue

Even if it's not a keypad issue, try giving Xantech a call. Their customer service is really good, and they sent me (without hesitation) an extra set of decorative covers when one of mine arrived cracked. If it turns out the keypad is indeed defective and newly-purcahsed, I'm sure they'll replace it...

Good luck!
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