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post #1 of 194 Old 07-03-2012, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone,

I am finally reaching completion of my new basement area and that means that it is time to look at researching what is needed in equipment to be able to run the home theater as well as the other locations in the house. Let me start off by saying that it is the first time I am delving into whole home A/V distribution so this is new territory for me so all the help is needed and appreciated. I do have a friend who recently did a similar thing in his newly built house but he has many more zones and he broke the bank for the whole thing to be installed. I have a more modest budget to work with and my home is quite older. I only thought about doing whole home AV distribution when we were doing the basement home theater/family room.

My current situation and setup is the following. I have a split level home with 4 (half) floors. The viewing and audio locations are the 1st floor living room, the ground floor den and the basement home theater. Speaker locations were created in all these areas when we were doing basement renos since it was easy to pass speaker wire from the walls without making openings and fishing. The basement is where the AV closet will be located so all wiring will originate from there to the different TV's and speakers. I actually have ran 1 1/4" PVC conduits to the 3 TV locations so that I can easily fish wires there through the walls. The following is the planned setup for each location:

  • Basement Home Theater
    1080p projector (most likely Epson 5010, not yet bought) on 130" screen, currently have run a 35' HDMI and CAT6 cable to this location. 7 in-ceiling speakers with 1 powered 10" sub (possibility for 2nd sub in the future, wiring already ran inside wall).
  • Ground Floor Den
    50" 1080p plasma monitor (Pioneer Elite Pro 101-FD), currently have run a 50' HDMI and 2 CAT6 cables to this location. 2 in-wall speakers installed at this area (still using Sony 3.1 sound bar for the moment).
  • 1st Floor Family Room
    32" 1080p LCD TV (Sharp 32D62U), currently have run a 35' HDMI and CAT6 cable to this location. 2 in-wall speakers installed at this area. There was no TV in this area prior to the recent construction.

What I want to be able to do is send various sources to the 3 locations and hide everything in the media closet in the basement. I was each location to have independent control of each source and some zones may actually have other local equipment that they can only access (using the other HDMI inputs of the TV's). I do not have an AV receiver at this moment but I figure I will need one for the basement since I have a 7.1 setup ready but for the other zones I only have 2 speakers so a stereo amp would suffice I guess.

This is the way I picture the setup with some ideas of equipment that I may use. Please feel free to give your comments and corrections if I am doing something wrong or missing things along the way.

Global Sources
HTPC (not yet bought, built or configured)
Apple TV (1080p version already bought)
PS3 (already bought)
Videotron PVR (cable company DVR, already bought)

Local Sources
Blu-Ray player (Oppo or something else that is a good player, to serve a second location not wanting to watch what is playing on the PS3, not yet bought)
Videotron PVR (to serve a second location that wants to watch something different than the global DVR, not yet bought)

Equipment needed
AV receiver for basement zone (Sony STRDH820, for its 7.2 capabilities, or equivalent)
4x4 HDMI matrix (Monoprice PID 5704 or equivalent)
Audio distribution system (?? but need to be able to handle the audio from all sources and send to the different zones)
RF remote control system (prefer URC system, possibly MRF-350 base station with MX-450 remotes?)
IR adapter for PS3 (Audio Authority Blubeam or PS3IR-1000)

You can all obviously let me know if I am missing something in all this system setup because I probably have not thought about everything. The goal is to be able to, for example, watch a show on the DVR at the den while watching a movie on the PS3 in the basement and then if the person in the den chooses to switch and watch the movie from the basement in the den, he can do so. I also want to be able to have the same example but this time the person in the den listening to music (via the Apple TV Airplay) but watching the same movie playing in the basement (obviously without the audio, just getting video).

I do not have a hard set budget in mind at this time so I will wait and see what people offer as suggestions and determine whether this is too pricey or not. I would really appreciate everyone's opinions on this project since the goal is to set all this up in the next few months. I want to be able to enjoy the system by the fall so it's time to look into putting it all together one step at a time.

Regards


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post #2 of 194 Old 07-04-2012, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Already 30 views but not 1 comment? Come on everyone, I need your help on this one. If I am missing some info that you all require in order to comment, please let me know.

Thanks


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post #3 of 194 Old 07-04-2012, 02:01 PM
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Was there a question in there? These general "what do you think" big posts are hard to boil down - you'll get more responses if you ask specific questions. Reviewing whole system plans is a lot of work...

What is the "audio distribution system" for? If you're wanting more than TV audio and/or surround capabilities in any of those zones, you'll want to handle that will an AVR. You can locate the AVRs with the rest of the equipment if you've got the speaker wire run.

You're on the right path with an HDMI matrix - just be prepared to add some HDMI extenders/boosters for those longer runs in case there's trouble.

Jeff
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post #4 of 194 Old 07-04-2012, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Jeff. I guess my initial post was quite long and maybe the general question got lost in the entire description. I just wanted to know what people can suggest to me for a whole home audio and video setup. The audio distribution system is so hat all the audio from the sources connected to the matrix go to an amplifier which can then send to the other zones. Obviously the basement zone will have an AVR because of it's 7.1 setup but the other 2 zones only have 2 stereo speakers so an amp to distribute the various audio is probably the best way to go (??). Also, if I ever want to add any other audio sources, such as a sonos player or such, they can be connected to the audio distribution system (amplifier).

Hope I can get some suggestions from people or their experiences on how they setup their whole home AV system.


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post #5 of 194 Old 07-09-2012, 09:21 AM
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As Jeff correctly points out, designing the system from scratch is a lot of work and something I would not have waited until the end to discover that I don't have the proper wiring in the walls - which I think you may not. But I have a few questions / comments in return:
  • Why have an Oppo as a "local source" unavailable to the rest of the system? Typically speaking, any audio / video equipment except for gaming systems should be located in one spot and distributed to any zone in the quality desired (stereo, full blown surround sound, etc.). The gaming system would be the exception as Bluetooth has limited range and you are most likely exchanging media. You may consider looking at one of Sony's Blu Ray 400 disc vaults for easy access via RF remote from multiple locations without getting involved with streaming-based systems and the cost that they carry. The only thing you would give up is 3D and 4K at this point - both of which aren't high on many people's lists because of the quality and general lack of media availability.
  • Why build an HTPC? What is your intent? You can stream CD quality through your Apple TV or simply get a Sonos Zone Player (ZP-90) with a free iPad app and an inexpensive NAS to rip your music for a complete streaming system. Do you really need to stream movies? And remember a limiting factor with HTPC is that unless you really know what you are doing, they aren't much good multiple zones
  • Why not consider a receiver that offers Zone 2 and Zone3? Or an aBus-type system? Yes, you will need to have some sort of powered amp for these other zone speakers, but a better receiver will at least be an in-between step to a full-fledged system. Niles, Xantech and others make nice all-in-one units that have up to 8 stereo inputs, built-in FM and up to 8+ powered speaker level outputs - not to mention full IR control through specialized keypads. More money, yes....but much easier to use and control.

And this doesn't even cover getting a matrix switch that can send HDMI 1.4 over powered baluns for which most systems require 2 cat-6 cables to operate reliably. Your money is probably better spent partnering with a local AV professional company that can take in your dreams and then make it happen with the right installation knowledge and capabilities.


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post #6 of 194 Old 07-09-2012, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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TMcG, thank you so much for your reply, it is much appreciated and I will try to give you more clarification on my current situation.

Regarding the wiring that has been ran to the different TV locations from the AV closet, at this time there is 1 CAT6 cable and 1 HDMI cable. I can add other wiring as I like since I have run a 1 1/4" PVC pipe from the AV closet to each TV location, therefore fishing more wires is not a problem.
  • The OPPO as a local source is probably not the best bet as you state. I will most likely keep the PS3 for the basement projector location (since that is where all the gaming will take place) and place another standalone Blu-Ray player as a global source on the matrix.
  • The reason for the HTPC is because I download quite a bit of movies and music so it would be an easy way to view/hear the files without having to send the wirelessly to the AppleTV. I don't need anything super powerful, just capable of handling 1080p Blu-Ray rips and has an HDMI output.
  • Regarding the audio to the other 2 (stereo) zones (remember the basement is configured for 7.2), I am seriously looking into getting individual AV receivers for each of those zones (and the HDMI form the matrix will feed the audio at the same time), which will allow me to also connect local sources to them as well. Probably gonna look at entry level 5.1 receivers n the $200 range. If there is a better solution please let me know.

Hiring a professional company to to my AV planning and setup is not really in the cards right now. I have a family friend who recently got one such company to do his house and he paid around $18k for install + equipment. This is way too much for me at this time so I am looking to do something myself (with the help of the great people on this site) and possibly expand and improve the system as time goes on.


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post #7 of 194 Old 07-09-2012, 11:50 AM
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Well, it is good you have the conduit in place for subsequent wire runs, that's for sure!! And having a hard-run HDMI wire will certainly cut out the expense of a balun-based system since you kept your runs under 35 feet it seems. Anything more than that and you can expect some digital artifacts from time to time.

If you have your Apple TV with your other source components (which I assume you would), it would be very easy to have your Apple TV stream files over the network provided you have a hard-wired network location. No offense, but it seems a bit odd to spend a bunch of money building an HTPC when a $99 product you already have will stream most of the available file types if you have them properly cataloged. For all streaming applications I greatly prefer wired vs. wireless anytime.

Regarding the receiver - I was referring to those that will drive 7.2 AND at least one powered Zone 2. Most receivers at that level will also have a separate Zone 3 preamp output. Think of it as putting more $$ into a better receiver than having to buy and control other receivers for the other zones. I used to be in the business and your proposed approach is definitely not the way I would design the system. I am not here to convince you otherwise, but to push you to re-evaluate your system choices and practical needs.

So, in short, my recommendations would be:
  • Have networking wire delivered to each component that needs it so your network and components are hard-wired as much as possible
  • Skip the HTPC and find a way to do what you need through Apple TV, Roku, VUDU, Google TV or other small, inexpensive streaming content device. Yes, this means you have to live in the box and kiss the King's ring, but it will make your life TONS easier and save you a lot of money and headache.
  • Look closely at Xantech, Niles, Audio Authority and others that make cheap and effective all-in-one multi-zone solutions for stereo audio. Provided you had a receiver with 3-zone output, you could take the preamp output from the receiver zones 2 and 3 and run them as "sources" into the inputs to get a cheap multi-zone system you are wanting. Then from a programming / control perspective each room would control its own zone from the receiver.

Let me know your thoughts.


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post #8 of 194 Old 07-10-2012, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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TMcG, thanks once more for your input, it is much appreciated. I reply to you as follows wit my thoughts:
  • I can easily have all my components (AppleTV, PS3, receiver, etc.) in the AV closet wired to the network with a hub so it will not be an issue to have them all hard wired and not rely on wireless. Please let me know if this is what you mean by wiring components or if you were referring to something else.
  • Based on your comments, I will probably skip the HTPC for now and simply work with the AppleTV. If I see that I really need a HTPC, I will then consider adding it but for now I will drop it from the plan altogether.
  • I have found a cost effective 3-zone AVR, the Onkyo TX-NR616. Please let me know if you think this is a good choice or if there is another one that you would recommend that would be better. As for the other multi-zone all-in-one solution you are referring to, I could really use some suggestions as I do not have any experience with this at all. I assume that the stereo audio out from zones 2 and 3 of the receiver will be plugged into this stereo receiver (input) and the speaker wire for these zones will also go into this multi-zone stereo receiver (output). Please correct me if I am wrong.

The important aspect in all this is that I will be able to control all these elements from a URC remote. Nobody has commented yet about my RF control system so it would be great to know if all this can be setup to work with the different components.

Thanks again


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post #9 of 194 Old 07-10-2012, 11:56 AM
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To address your points in order:
  • Yes, this is what I meant by hard-wiring everything and use the wireless connections for streaming AV as little as possible - it just works much, much better and more reliably
  • Like I said, I don't mean to talk you out of HTPC if you really want it, but going with a Sonos ZP90 and a cheap NAS with the free Sonos iPad app kicks the sh*t out of the expense and setup complications of an HTPC. Streaming any video content you may have in a format iTunes can understand will also make your life much easier and save you money. If you happen to have files that iTunes won't play, an inexpensive Google TV device should be able to deal with the file easily.
  • Yes, the Onkyo seems to work well. I don't have time to look it up now, but my only question is if the RCA jack outputs of this receiver are fixed or if they can be made to be variable. Variable would be preferred, fyi. This way you could have one remote dedicated for zone 2 and one remote dedicated for zone 3. You would just need to hook these outputs to an inexpensive multi-channel amplifier with no more than 30 watts per channel needed. In this way the volume control is still done through the receiver's variable zone volume and the amplifier simply turns itself on for that zone when a signal is detected. Simple, elegant and easy to control.

I think any of your mentioned control systems will be fine - provided you get the RF versions. Do not get just the IR only units. This will make your life easy. I personally recommend the Logitech Harmony 890, but the URC products are also good. Just make sure you can have multiple RF "channels" for all of these RF remotes to peacefully coexist. If there is not this option, you may have to simply have the same programming on all the remotes and select the room you are in for proper programming and operation.


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post #10 of 194 Old 07-10-2012, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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TMcG, I have quickly checked and the NNR616 seems like the RCA outputs can be made to be variable so that is another bonus. Now all I need to find is some very budget friendly stereo amps for zones 2 and 3, any suggestions?

As for the RF control, I will look into Harmony as well but I know that URC operates on 2 different channels so that helps but I will have to look into this a little more. Help from anyone else with experience on RF control is appreciated.

Thanks


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post #11 of 194 Old 07-10-2012, 12:21 PM
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Have to run to an appointment now, but something like this will get you up to 6 stereo pairs of speakers, so you could even conceivably expand to outdoor speakers, deck speakers, etc. if you so-choose.


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post #12 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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After reviewing the suggestion about the AV receiver with 3 zones more carefully, I am not so sure that it will be able to do what I want it to. My understanding is that if I plug one of the HDMI matrix outputs to this AVR and the others to the individual screens, all the audio will be handled through the AVR. This means that if I am watching something in the basement (say source #1) which will be Z1 (primary zone), then the audio that I will be able to send to Z2 and Z3 will only be the same audio as Z1. Is this correct or am I not understanding it correctly. Can Z2 and Z3 each listen to audio from the other sources on the matrix while Z1 has another audio source playing? Furthermore, since Z2 and Z3 are stero zones, will the HDMI down-convert the audio signal to 2.0 everywhere (including Z1 which is a 7.1 zone) since that is what is being fed to Z2 and Z3? These are my concerns with this type of setup at the moment.

I think my initial thought about an AVR for each zone would not have these issues since each HDMI output from the matrix would go to an individual AVR which in turn would handle the audio and video. The only problem here is that they do not make AVR's for 2.0 systems so I would be stuck with purchasing a budget friendly 5.1 AVR. Any feedback on this would be appreciated.

Thanks


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post #13 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 07:25 AM
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You can select different sources for each zone output. Receivers will also down-convert full signals into stereo audio, so that is not a problem. You would also have to control the HDMI matrix switch to route the video.

I never disagreed with you a separate receiver for each zone is the nicest way to go - it is just more expensive and I thought you were on an extreme budget. Plugging all the sources into the HDMI matrix switch and then having each HDMI output going to a static (i.e. fixed) HDMI input on each receiver is the easiest way to go and will allow you to collapse a surround-encoded material to two-channel stereo very easily.

Your biggest concern may be living within 4 HDMI source inputs on the matrix (instead of 8x4 or 8x8 switches).


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post #14 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 07:37 AM - Thread Starter
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If I can precisely select which audio source will go to Z2 and Z3 then that is good to hear but how do I select that audio source if there is only 1 HDMI coming into the AVR from the matrix and Z1 is already playing an audio source from that HDMI? It is the thing that confuses me the most about all this setup. I am trying to stay on a tight budget but I also do not want to completely compromise what I am trying to achieve.

As for the matrix itself, it goes without saying that I would prefer an 8x4 so if you know of any out there (that do not break the bank), please direct me towards them. If I have to stay with a 4x4 matrix, I figure that I will connect to it a BD player, Apple TV and 2 cable boxes. Any other equipment is probably not necessary at the moment (at least to start) but if I do go with each zone having it's own AVR, then a 4x4 matrix is perfect since I can then add local sources to specific zones.


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post #15 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMcG View Post

You can select different sources for each zone output. Receivers will also down-convert full signals into stereo audio, so that is not a problem.

Careful here... HDMI and digital audio sources on most AVR's are *NOT* available to the Zone2 / Zone3 outputs. The AVR's typically only route analog stereo inputs (and hopefully the Internet-based sources they support natively). This can be solved by running analog audio from the video sources in parallel to HDMI so that they're available to the Zone outputs. But if there's a lot of sources, this can become a pain...


Jeff


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post #16 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comment Jautor, what would you suggest for my situation based on everything you have read?


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post #17 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 09:33 AM
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If you're really only going to have three zones max, you can stick with an AVR with Zone2/Zone3 outputs, as long as you run analog audio in parallel for all your sources that will be used in the Zones. But if you have any desire to add more zones in the future, I'd start down the path of a multichannel amp / whole house audio setup. Regardless, set up your wiring to those zones such that you can upgrade to a WHA system later... Meaning, wire for keypads in addition to the speaker wire.

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post #18 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 11:21 AM
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+1 to what Jautor said - you will need to run the analog outputs for each source into the receiver so the receiver acts as an analog matrix switch IF the receiver does not downconvert HDMI to stereo out for Z2 and Z3. However, I will say that most of the receivers I have dealt with will downgrade an HDMI audio signal to the stereo L/R for Z2 and Z3, but you make a good point to double-check that this is available for whatever receiver you purchase.

There are 8x4 HDMI Matrix switches available. To stretch your budget I would look to the used market on eBay, specifically Gefen, Key Digital, Atlona, CE Labs or Audio Authority at a minimum HDMI 1.3b level. You will need a switch with a HDMI 1.4 minimum level to do 3D and eventually 4k, but these will be more expensive so you really have to justify the cost.

I also agree with Jautor that building the system as if you eventually will have a whole-house audio multi-zone system is also preferred. An example would be the multi-channel amplifier I sent you from Niles to use as speaker amplification for now, but Niles (and others) also make all-in-one units where you run the analog sources into the all-in-one device (and not the 3-zone receiver) for more robust and easier control of just the whole-house system for your three zones. And since many handle up to six pairs of speakers, you have a built-in upgrade path for additional zones simply by adding speakers.

Although you have the conduits to add wiring later, I would disagree with Jautor on one point - that you need to involve yourself with any of the expensive and proprietary keypads. If you have a Sonos and their free app, this is FAR more powerful (and free) way of controlling multiple zones than buying keypads for each room. One note - you will need to buy a Sonos ZP90 for EACH separate streaming zone. For example, I have one Sonos pointed to me and one pointed to my wife, but both pull from the same NAS on our network. This allows her and I to be listening to two different music streams simultaneously.

And if I could make one other source suggestion to you that I previously forgot about that might suit what you are trying to accomplish.....look at the Popcorn Hour C-300 (releasing at the end of this month). http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/index.php?pluginoption=catalog&mainItemId=47 The device is cheap, plus you can add either an internal hard drive or Blu-Ray drive to the device to really make it sing. I plan to add one to my system to sit beside my Apple TV as more of a robust device that can deal with traditional PC files vs. conversions into something only iTunes can understand.

Let me know your thoughts / feedback on the above. Thanks.


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post #19 of 194 Old 07-12-2012, 12:14 PM
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Although you have the conduits to add wiring later, I would disagree with Jautor on one point - that you need to involve yourself with any of the expensive and proprietary keypads. If you have a Sonos and their free app, this is FAR more powerful (and free) way of controlling multiple zones than buying keypads for each room.

"Expensive and proprietary" is all relative... Putting the wiring in place to allow for keypads in the future, I think you'll agree, is really cheap to do now. Doing it later becomes a huge cost/mess impediment to implementation.

And we will have to agree to disagree on the usefulness of wall-mounted controls / keypads. Yes, having handheld, wireless devices are great - but they serve different purposes. I use both, and continue to recommend that path. The keypads are like light switches - they don't move, are always available, very fast/easy to access, and are available to guests to use.

Being able to even do the basics (on/off, volume, source selection) without having to have a wireless device "handy" should not be discounted (Control pads with metadata / 2-way features are even better)... I don't carry my cell phone around with me in the house, but can easily turn on the audio in a room with a single press while walking in (my morning routine in the master bath, for example). On my NuVo system, a few button presses can get a Pandora stream running. If I had to find an iDevice, pick it up, unlock it, launch an app, navigate, etc. - the system wouldn't get used nearly as often...

Now, if I'm sitting on the couch and want to browse the library, absolutely will use the iDevice instead of going to the keypad!

Jeff


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post #20 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 08:31 AM
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Just my $.02 cents - Jeff and TMcG have covered everything very well. I would add that you should compare the Popcorn C300 AND the Dune players before deciding. I haven't kept up with the PCH models since I switched to Dune, but I understand that the C300 is a very nice product - I would still consider a Dune, though, as they are tanks and playback a wide variety of media with few if any issues.
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post #21 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Mike,

Are you referring to the Dune HD TV 301 (or 101)? Haven't looked into these too much but it seems like a solid option. Possibly this type of device I will not purchase right away but sometime down the line it is highly likely.


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post #22 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 09:09 AM
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"Expensive and proprietary" is all relative... Putting the wiring in place to allow for keypads in the future, I think you'll agree, is really cheap to do now. Doing it later becomes a huge cost/mess impediment to implementation.
And we will have to agree to disagree on the usefulness of wall-mounted controls / keypads. Yes, having handheld, wireless devices are great - but they serve different purposes. I use both, and continue to recommend that path. The keypads are like light switches - they don't move, are always available, very fast/easy to access, and are available to guests to use.
Being able to even do the basics (on/off, volume, source selection) without having to have a wireless device "handy" should not be discounted (Control pads with metadata / 2-way features are even better)... I don't carry my cell phone around with me in the house, but can easily turn on the audio in a room with a single press while walking in (my morning routine in the master bath, for example). On my NuVo system, a few button presses can get a Pandora stream running. If I had to find an iDevice, pick it up, unlock it, launch an app, navigate, etc. - the system wouldn't get used nearly as often...
Now, if I'm sitting on the couch and want to browse the library, absolutely will use the iDevice instead of going to the keypad!
Jeff

Hey Jeff. Good points but I'll expound on my take a bit more to provide perspective. By the way, HDTV Maniac has conduit pulled to wiring locations and everything is closed up - I agree that one or two Cat5 wires should be pulled to each keypad location as a standard (along with a 16/4, of course).

What I meant by expensive and proprietary is that each company produces keypads that only works with their system. Niles, for example, makes a component called a ZR-6, that sells for about $2300. The minimum keypad cost is $110 per room and the maximum is about $250 per room for one that can receive metadata. So you are looking at $3K on the low end and $3800 on the high end for such a system. And with the exception of the top-end keypad, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to control the system outside of on/off and volume up/down when you have a system based on streaming content. I agree with you that having an on/off volume up/down is convenient for zones of a whole house audio system. However, using HDTV Maniac's upstairs family room as an example, he will already have a RF-based remote to control the system. Naturally, if the TV is on then you can navigate streaming devices through the OSD. But if you want to just listen to music beyond some FM presets that can be programmed into the RF remote, you have to migrate to the iDevice - it's just the nature of the beast. So Maniac's upstairs room is no different than any others except that the equipment just happens to be located downstairs. But even if it was in the same room behind a cabinet, I still wouldn't be afraid to NOT put a keypad in that location...you will have the RF remote for that.

Since Maniac is budget conscious, my reasoning to go with a multi-channel amplifier only with no keypads was because the main receiver with a variable z2 and z3 output running through a standard amp and being controlled via RF remote should work perfectly before making the significant financial plunge into a proprietary dedicated system. I agree with you again that if you have audio-only zones, such as deck speakers, then having a minimum amount of control (on/off, volume up/down and source selection) is really all you need and all you realistically can do when you have a streaming content-based system.

I used to have keypads in every single audio zone, but found myself never using them in lieu of using one of the bigger touch panel (Crestron) remotes that could call up "party" modes and allow selection and control of each zone off one touch panel perfectly. Now I simply run a couple of cat5s and a 16/4 to a keypad location and run two 16/2 from the keypad to the room's speaker locations. That way if I ever sold the house someone would be prepped for anything from a volume control-based system all the way up to sophisticated in-wall keypads or docks that provide metadata and operate via PoE.


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post #23 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 09:22 AM
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Just my $.02 cents - Jeff and TMcG have covered everything very well. I would add that you should compare the Popcorn C300 AND the Dune players before deciding. I haven't kept up with the PCH models since I switched to Dune, but I understand that the C300 is a very nice product - I would still consider a Dune, though, as they are tanks and playback a wide variety of media with few if any issues.

I never heard of that Dune device before - pretty badass. Bummer it doesn't have gigabit ethernet and only HDMI 1.3. Also more expensive @ $600 vs. $349, but you get the built-in Blu-Ray drive vs. having it as an optional accessory through Popcorn Hour.


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post #24 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 10:16 AM
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TMcG - You are looking at and comparing the higher end Dunes. I was referring to their half-width Smart series players, which are available with a BD player.built-in for $400. And the lack of gigabit ethernet doesn't mean squat for BD or DVD playback. No player that I'm aware of does 3D natively, so HDMI 1.3 shouldn't be a "real-life" issue - only a theoretical issue in what it lacks (i.e., show me what devices/media really take advantage of the 1.4 spec). From what I can tell, the new C300 and the Dunes appear to be on fairly equal footing as to capabilities, but I do concede that the PCH products have the edge in media jukebox software available.

HDTVManiac - I wasn't referring to the TVX01 series, but Damian (dbone1026) is testing one and has had positive experiences so far. I'm waiting to see what he comes back with before passing judgement on those players - they appear to have more robust functionality than was originally believed based on specs and press releases.
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post #25 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info guys, I will definitely consider both products when I get set to choose a media player. Having a BD integrated combines 2 sources in 1 so that is a bonus, freeing up another slot on the matrix for something else.

I am thinking continuously how to best go about this for my system. Either use an AV receiver in each zone, 7.1 receiver for Z1 and 5.1 receivers for Z2 & Z3 (which will eliminate the need for RCA analog connections from each source to the AVR, they would only be using audio from HDMI and the added bonus of having the option to add local sources to each zone if I chose to), or go with and 3 zone capable AVR and get a multi-channel amp such as the one suggested by TMcG (thus having to keep the analog RCA connections from the sources to the AVR but leaving the option for future zone expansion later on). I will go back and forth with this and come up with equipment selections and try and get your opinions shortly.

As for the matrix itself, I was originally thinking about getting the 4x4 from Monoprice (see here). It looks like a solid product with great user reviews, the only thing that bothers me is that there is a video blackout for 1-2 seconds anytime another zone tunes in to the same source that I am watching in my zone. Is this an occurrence in all HDMI matrices or is it inherent to Monoprice? I like the monoprice product as well due to it's very attractive price, the only other 4x4 matrix I have found that comes close is in the $550 range (Geffen Toolbox) but that one is also known to have video dropout when another zone joins the same source (read it in the product manual). Please let me know what you all think about HDMI matrix switchers and this video dropout/blackout.

As for the remote control aspect of the system, I am looking to go RF and all the IR emmiters going to control the sources from the RF base will be in the closet. For starters I plan on 1 single remote for the basement and hopefully control the other 2 zones via iphone/ipad apps (if they enable macros of course). This is one area that I need clarifications on so anybody with experience using URC (or other), please give me your thoughts on this.

Thanks


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post #26 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 10:55 AM
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TMcG - You are looking at and comparing the higher end Dunes. I was referring to their half-width Smart series players, which are available with a BD player.built-in for $400. And the lack of gigabit ethernet doesn't mean squat for BD or DVD playback. No player that I'm aware of does 3D natively, so HDMI 1.3 shouldn't be a "real-life" issue - only a theoretical issue in what it lacks (i.e., show me what devices/media really take advantage of the 1.4 spec). From what I can tell, the new C300 and the Dunes appear to be on fairly equal footing as to capabilities, but I do concede that the PCH products have the edge in media jukebox software available.

Uncompressed full 1080p with full lossless audio maxes out around 4.46Gbps. We all know that Blu-Ray is a highly compressed format which has a typical data stream rate of anywhere between 25-36Mbps. So yes, a megabit network can handle a full Blu-Ray ISO stream. However, if your system is like mine and you have a DirecTV system that streams over the network to client receivers as part of the "whole home" systems and you have a wife infatuated with downloading and streaming stuff (such as Netflix, iTunes cloud material, etc.)....the size of the pipeline on the Megabit network starts to look very, very small. The solution is obviously a bigger "pipe" with the Gigabit network. That's why I say megabit may be fine....but Gigabit is better.

Industry rumblings are that the next big thing to gain mass appeal will be 4k for which you would DEFINITELY need a Gigabit network. Granted, the products are pricey and there is currently next to zero content...but I can see this picture improvement taking hold of the market fairly quickly if the studios really get behind it. Broadcast TV will certainly remain 1080p for a long time to come, but the ability to stream 4K and purchase 4k content for private consumption is definitely coming. As for devices taking advantage of the 1.4 spec - it is really anything that does 3D at this point, plain and simple....although I wish more companies would fire up the "data" channel on the 1.4 spec so I didn't have to run a separate networking wire to each HDMI device.

Truthfully, I am ready to ditch HDMI in favor of HDBaseT for everything. No expensive wires, unamplified runs up to 1000 feet, easy standard RJ45 network jack termination, and does everything HDMI can do over a single twisted pair wire - sign me up!!!!


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post #27 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 11:01 AM
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As for the matrix itself, I was originally thinking about getting the 4x4 from Monoprice (see here). It looks like a solid product with great user reviews, the only thing that bothers me is that there is a video blackout for 1-2 seconds anytime another zone tunes in to the same source that I am watching in my zone. Is this an occurrence in all HDMI matrices or is it inherent to Monoprice? I like the monoprice product as well due to it's very attractive price, the only other 4x4 matrix I have found that comes close is in the $550 range (Geffen Toolbox) but that one is also known to have video dropout when another zone joins the same source (read it in the product manual). Please let me know what you all think about HDMI matrix switchers and this video dropout/blackout.

I have an expensive Atlona Pro 8x8 HDMI Matrix that does not have any dropout on either the HDMI outputs or the Blauns Cat5 outputs if another user joins onto the system for the same or different source. The video dropout is from the HDCP "handshake" and is probably (don't know for sure), the way the lesser-priced products are designed / engineered where all displays attached to a particular source have to be revalidated if a new end-display joins the party.


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One more post of advice and I expect to see a consultancy fee check in my mailbox!!! LOL! biggrin.gif


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post #29 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you accept Paypal payment? LOL!


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post #30 of 194 Old 07-13-2012, 02:31 PM
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Uncompressed full 1080p with full lossless audio maxes out around 4.46Gbps. We all know that Blu-Ray is a highly compressed format which has a typical data stream rate of anywhere between 25-36Mbps. So yes, a megabit network can handle a full Blu-Ray ISO stream. However, if your system is like mine and you have a DirecTV system that streams over the network to client receivers as part of the "whole home" systems and you have a wife infatuated with downloading and streaming stuff (such as Netflix, iTunes cloud material, etc.)....the size of the pipeline on the Megabit network starts to look very, very small. The solution is obviously a bigger "pipe" with the Gigabit network. That's why I say megabit may be fine....but Gigabit is better.

Note that any 100Mbs switches bought in the last 5+ years are all true switches (not a "hub"), so each link has 100Mb of bandwidth - multiple devices streaming to other devices can add up to a lot more than 100Mbs total without issue (since each link is using less than 100Mbs). Yes, there is internal switch bandwidth limitations - more so on the cheapest devices, but still likely more than enough for what we're talking about.

That said, if you're buying any new gear - get Gigabit switches. Cost delta is so low, and yes, we may have stuff in the (near?) future that may require it, and in the meantime, you'll have a trouble-free setup with no bandwidth concerns...
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Truthfully, I am ready to ditch HDMI in favor of HDBaseT for everything. No expensive wires, unamplified runs up to 1000 feet, easy standard RJ45 network jack termination, and does everything HDMI can do over a single twisted pair wire - sign me up!!!!

(minor correction - HDBaseT is rated for 100m / ~320ft for a single run, longer can be done with repeaters)

100% agree, and hope we'll see TV makers incorporate the HDBaseT receiver into the display. Speaking to the HDBaseT folks, they did the connector layout/protocol correctly so you could use a single RJ45 jack on the TV which could work with either Ethernet or HDBaseT (I'd expect it to be automatic, too).

Jeff


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