need advice on a new house A/V distribution system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 07-09-2012, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I am a newbie in terms of A/V in general. I've done a bit of research but being a newbie it is hard to understand the precise information in forum posts - don't want to miss any important details here.

I have a new house and I am in the stage of wiring it up for Home Network, video and audio. I am looking at the cheapest way to be able to share video sources to multiple rooms. The detailed information is as follows.

- I have basement, floor 1, floor 2 & floor 3
- I plan to wire the entire house with Cat6 or Cat5e Ethernet (using multiple switches to reduce wiring cost)
- I plan to put majority of the video inputs (Apple TV, HDTV cable box, Blu-ray, Satellite TV) in basement which functions as a dedicated home theater
- a projector will be set up at the baseline home theater
- a 7.2 receiver at basement

what I want to achieve

MUST
- affordable
- share the multiple video sources to different rooms

Nice to have
- master bedroom (floor 2) would probably have its own 5.1 speakers. if this is the case, any way to leverage the receiver at basement?
- to be able to play MP3's via Apple TV (basement) in dining room, or some other room

Thank you very much for your advice. I apologize if the details are not clear to you.
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post #2 of 17 Old 07-09-2012, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by gh0001 View Post

- I have basement, floor 1, floor 2 & floor 3

How many (potential) displays? That will determine the cost of the solution, along with the number of sources to share among them...
Quote:
- I plan to wire the entire house with Cat6 or Cat5e Ethernet (using multiple switches to reduce wiring cost)

Uh, no - don't start in that direction with your Cat5/6 runs - you'll want extra runs to each room, above your planned immediate needs for Ethernet and video distribution. Category cable is the cheapest, most flexible cabling for a whole myriad of potential uses. You should run lots of it.
Quote:
- I plan to put majority of the video inputs (Apple TV, HDTV cable box, Blu-ray, Satellite TV) in basement which functions as a dedicated home theater

You're talking about a "matrix switch" setup here, likely an HDMI-over-Cat5 based unit to reach those locations.
Quote:
MUST
- affordable
- share the multiple video sources to different rooms

HDMI matrix switch will do this. Depends on your definition of affordable. Expect $1-2k, more if you'll have a lot of displays. Depending on your goals, you may be better off replicating sources. (Example -- spending big money to share a $99 AppleTV, probably not the right answer)
Quote:
Nice to have
- master bedroom (floor 2) would probably have its own 5.1 speakers. if this is the case, any way to leverage the receiver at basement?

You can locate the receiver in the basement, but will need to run the speaker wires to the room. It can complicate your matrix setup depending on your selections.
Quote:
- to be able to play MP3's via Apple TV (basement) in dining room, or some other room

Now you're talking about a "whole house audio" setup - best to keep those as separate topics from video distribution, but both systems can share audio sources. And if you're interested in doing that at some point, absolutely get the wiring in place to make it easy to do (now or later).

Jeff

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post #3 of 17 Old 07-09-2012, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot Jeff for your information. It is really helpful. Answers to your questions and some follow-up questions
Quote:
How many (potential) displays? That will determine the cost of the solution, along with the number of sources to share among them...
- 4 displays
- I plan to use 1 output for basement, and put a HDMI splitter for the HDTV & projector at basement
- the other 3 outputs for displays located in other locations
Quote:
Uh, no - don't start in that direction with your Cat5/6 runs - you'll want extra runs to each room, above your planned immediate needs for Ethernet and video distribution. Category cable is the cheapest, most flexible cabling for a whole myriad of potential uses. You should run lots of it.
You're talking about a "matrix switch" setup here, likely an HDMI-over-Cat5 based unit to reach those locations.
To make sure that I get this right - I need to get something like this?

4x4 HDMI matrix switch at basement
|
HDMI
|
HDMI-ver-cat5 unit at basement
|
Cat5e or Cat6
|
cat5-HDMI unit at each room
|
HDMI
|
display

if this is the case, I need 1 HDMI switch, and 3 HDMI-ver-cat5 units (one for each room), plus the cables, right? It seems that these Cat6 cables cannot be used for my home Ethernet?

Good point on replicating Apple TVs since it only costs $99, but I wonder what is the best way to share the music across the house? You are right that it is a different topic. But I just want to know if the video infra that I investing can be used for audio as well.

Thanks!
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post #4 of 17 Old 07-10-2012, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gh0001 View Post

To make sure that I get this right - I need to get something like this?
4x4 HDMI matrix switch at basement -> HDMI-ver-cat5 unit at basement -> cat5e/cat6

Or you get a matrix switch with the Cat5e extenders built-in, which makes for a simpler installation... Note that most of the existing HDMI-over-cat5 extenders require TWO cat5e/cat6 cables per run. The notable exception being the new HDBaseT technology - and Atlona's forthcoming 4x4 matrix with HDBaseT built-in.

When looking at the matrix switches, make sure you get one with IR remote control routing - you have to be able to control the sources from the zones, and the routing allows multiple identical sources to function without jumping through hoops with different IR codesets (or worse!).
Quote:
if this is the case, I need 1 HDMI switch, and 3 HDMI-ver-cat5 units (one for each room), plus the cables, right?

Correct. I would run at least 2-3 cat5e/cat6 cables to each of your display locations. Two for HDMI, one for Ethernet.
Quote:
It seems that these Cat6 cables cannot be used for my home Ethernet?

Correct, you cannot. They use the same type of wire (more correctly - everyone is leveraging the type of wire commonly installed for Ethernet), but share nothing in common. Much like PVC can carry water and sewage. Same pipe, can't mix the contents. eek.gif
Quote:
Good point on replicating Apple TVs since it only costs $99, but I wonder what is the best way to share the music across the house? You are right that it is a different topic. But I just want to know if the video infra that I investing can be used for audio as well.

Not at budget price points, and the wires would go different places anyway - you have to run speaker wires from an amp somewhere. Start looking at whole house audio systems (HTD.com, NuVo, Russound), but you should probably concentrate on the pre-wire first.

Jeff

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post #5 of 17 Old 07-10-2012, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Jeff, thanks for the help again. I am wondering if you could suggest a couple of products (HDMI matrix) that are under 2K. Looks like these HDbaseT stuffs are really expensive.

Another question on controlling the sources via IR remote control, what happens if two rooms are view the same source? Will only one of the room be able to control the source?
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post #6 of 17 Old 07-10-2012, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by gh0001 View Post

Jeff, thanks for the help again. I am wondering if you could suggest a couple of products (HDMI matrix) that are under 2K. Looks like these HDbaseT stuffs are really expensive.

It is, but note that it only consumes one cat5e run per room. Most matrix switch solutions (non-HDBaseT) are going to consume two.

The other thing you need to know about HDMI distribution is the common-denominator issues, especially around audio. As most TVs only support 2-channel (stereo) PCM audio, any source connected via HDMI will select that format for its audio output - meaning not DD5.1, DTS-MA, etc. For anywhere you expect to use a surround setup, be prepared to either dedicate local sources, buy a matrix with separate digital audio switching, use external HDMI audio extractors, or live with those limitations. That was one of the reasons I stuck with component video for HD distribution and use local BD sources in the 'key' locations.
Quote:
Another question on controlling the sources via IR remote control, what happens if two rooms are view the same source? Will only one of the room be able to control the source?

No, with IR routing, any zone connected to a particular source will have its IR routed to that source (and that source only).

Jeff

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post #7 of 17 Old 07-10-2012, 06:03 PM
 
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You start cascading switches, you end up with a bottleneck, along with the fact, that it does nothing to eliminate wiring. Best way is to run all of your runs from a central point, but first thing is to have a plan on how many runs total for the whole structure. You can also look at the point that Wifi & wired can co-exist in a home, but also look at how many other networks in your area are also on the 2.4GHz band.

Those that keep suggesting running multiple switches on a LAN, forget to also explain that in order to do it properly, you have to use managed switches, and know how to also set up said network and maintain it.
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post #8 of 17 Old 07-10-2012, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

Those that keep suggesting running multiple switches on a LAN, forget to also explain that in order to do it properly, you have to use managed switches, and know how to also set up said network and maintain it.

"Properly" for a typical residential use is going to be just about anything that gets a link light... biggrin.gif

Nothing wrong with cheap, unmanaged switches to reduce the cable usage for the 'islands' of devices in an A/V rack or cabinet. Vast majority of them are only 10/100, so a cheap Gb switch will provide ample bandwidth. Many folks (I don't mean gregzoll) get confused about network performance, thinking that Gb links will improve their Netflix performance, etc...

Outside of a JustAddPower setup, I'd struggle to think of a general case in even an extensive *residential* network that would need a managed switch.

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post #9 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
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The other thing you need to know about HDMI distribution is the common-denominator issues, especially around audio. As most TVs only support 2-channel (stereo) PCM audio, any source connected via HDMI will select that format for its audio output - meaning not DD5.1, DTS-MA, etc. For anywhere you expect to use a surround setup, be prepared to either dedicate local sources, buy a matrix with separate digital audio switching, use external HDMI audio extractors, or live with those limitations. That was one of the reasons I stuck with component video for HD distribution and use local BD sources in the 'key' locations.
This is not good... does it happen even when the 2-channel audio equipment is powered off?

Another related question, say my cable box has two HDMI outputs. I connect one to a 2-channel display and the other to a 5.1 receiver. will the receiver still get 5.1 audio?

Quote:
No, with IR routing, any zone connected to a particular source will have its IR routed to that source (and that source only).
I understand this. What if two zones use the same source? If this is allowed would both zone be able to control the source? What if zone1 wants to stay at the current TV channel and zone2 wants to change channel?
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post #10 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 05:40 AM
 
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Jautor, the only time that I would use a managed switch in my network, would be if I wanted to segment my wired network into two more private LAN's. Otherwise for what I do, it is worthless. Now when you start talking about people wanting 48+ LAN runs, with a lot being used for possible phone or HDMI, or video distribution or audio over Cat-5e or Cat-6, then you have to decide what you are going to do and how to do it.

Running everything back to a central point has been the long term thinking, because it makes things easier to manage in the long run, with the fewest connection points, or points of failure. Cascading switches is also where you have to decide if you want a possible point of failure, or what you are actually going to do with all of the Cat-5e/6 that you are pulling, since a lot is not going to be used for wired LAN, but other forms of distribution.
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post #11 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by gh0001 View Post

This is not good... does it happen even when the 2-channel audio equipment is powered off?

Depends on the device and its implementation of HDMI. It's the source that makes the decision to "down shift", whether it will shift back without being rebooted is device-specific...
Quote:
Another related question, say my cable box has two HDMI outputs. I connect one to a 2-channel display and the other to a 5.1 receiver. will the receiver still get 5.1 audio?

Highly unlikely...
Quote:
I understand this. What if two zones use the same source? If this is allowed would both zone be able to control the source? What if zone1 wants to stay at the current TV channel and zone2 wants to change channel?

Same thing as if two people do it with two remotes in the room. Last one to give up the fight wins.

Rule of thumb with matrix switches (distributed video in general) is to size the system with a "set-top box per household member" to avoid this problem. So I use "set-top #1" and you use "set-top #2", regardless of what room we're watching - that trains folks to not change channels on others... This is a starting point, adjust the quantity up/down depending on the usage.

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post #12 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

Jautor, the only time that I would use a managed switch in my network, would be if I wanted to segment my wired network into two more private LAN's. Otherwise for what I do, it is worthless.

Agreed, which is why I was confused when you mentioned it in your post above...
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Running everything back to a central point has been the long term thinking, because it makes things easier to manage in the long run, with the fewest connection points, or points of failure. Cascading switches is also where you have to decide if you want a possible point of failure, or what you are actually going to do with all of the Cat-5e/6 that you are pulling, since a lot is not going to be used for wired LAN, but other forms of distribution.

Yep, agreed. My point was that when starting a pre-wire plan, one's goal should not be to "minimize cost by reducing cat5e runs"... Run lots of it, 'cause there's so many uses for it. Now, if you find that there's a A/V cabinet with eight Ethernet devices in it - probably a good place to drop a switch to conserve the cable runs for other uses. But yes, if you've got like two Ethernet devices in a room, much better to home run both (assuming the cable is available).


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post #13 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

...I'd struggle to think of a general case in even an extensive *residential* network that would need a managed switch.

Your version of "extensive" is quite different from mine. We setup residential networks with Cisco routers/switches/AP/wireless lan controllers. Managed switches to manage vlans, trunking between switches/router/WLC. Multiple VLANs for house, office(s), phones, control (multiple vlans sometimes), and guest network(s). "Extensive" residential systems have stacks of Cisco switches connected over a 32 Gbps bi-directional ring stack. Along with dozens of access points. But I did say extensive.

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post #14 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by cntp View Post

Your version of "extensive" is quite different from mine. We setup residential networks with Cisco routers/switches/AP/wireless lan controllers. Managed switches to manage vlans, trunking between switches/router/WLC. Multiple VLANs for house, office(s), phones, control (multiple vlans sometimes), and guest network(s). "Extensive" residential systems have stacks of Cisco switches connected over a 32 Gbps bi-directional ring stack. Along with dozens of access points. But I did say extensive.
smile.gif

Yes, that's certainly excessive... eek.giftongue.gif

No, our definition of extensive is the same - my definition of "residential" is different. biggrin.gif

I try to answer with the assumption that we're talking mostly a DIY crowd here. That, and stuff that would apply to 99.x% of residences... Once we start mixing in offices and phones, we're not talking about the same application. I've seen lots of posts here where simple home network questions are answered with long-winded (again, not talking about gregzoll) networking acronym-puke that is so over the top it's funny...

Being in the computer/networking business, though, I'd love to see a network diagram for one of those "fancy houses", as it's not in my typical customer space!

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post #15 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 06:10 PM
 
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jautor, you and I could probably dream one up if we tried. I have three drops not being used right now on my LAN, one is debatable if I will be using it in our Kitchen Remodel. I am with you, some go way overboard, and end up with so much unused Copper in the structure, that it shows either under planning, or over planning, in the original intention.

Only things that use our LAN extensively, is the three UVerse boxes, which hook up to the ATT RG, then we have a 8 port switch, with right now, just three items hooked to it. The three drops not being used, have no patch cords, so they are just there, if we need. We use more wifi devices in our home, than wired. So yes, you can say that I have over killed the network, due to streamlining things.

I took a peak at our LAN closet at our church, which was actually just put in during the remodel, and with the VoIP, video distribution, Computer Network, there are probably over 60 drops alone of Cat-6, and probably 20 to 30 drops of RG-6 for video distribution for CATV. All of the internal Video distribution is done via HDMI over IP (yes correct, not just Cat-6 & baluns).

Then there is the audio distribution for the two rooms, the worship arts minister's practice rig in his office, and the six Wifi networks. A whole lot of 1's and 0's get pushed around our church building.
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post #16 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 06:33 PM
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Exactly - not a residence! (well, ok, not THAT kind!) wink.gif

I think I've got ~24 RG6 and ~75 cat5e drops in the house for network and video distribution, not counting the keypad drops. Three switches to handle the dense islands.

Your Uverse box example is where a lot of folks get confused (or bamboozled, depending on whether they're being sold something or not!), and worry about gigabit links and so forth - none of that is consuming more than an aggregate 30-40Mbs upstream from Uverse, and of course the whole-home-DVR features are well under 10Mbs (ok, could officially be up to 19Mbs, but yeah, doubtful).

Not saying folks shouldn't buy gigabit equipment - the cost delta is trivial and gives plenty of future headroom - but it ain't gonna make Netflix stream faster!

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post #17 of 17 Old 07-11-2012, 07:13 PM
 
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I put in the Netgear GS-108, due to the wife & I batted around putting a NAS on the LAN, but then with USB3 Pocket drives coming down in price, and having the 50gb offsite storage, and when we figured what we actually had or accessed at any time, it got thrown out. But with gig equipment now coming down on price, it was a deal that we could not pass.

Now of course, if we had one more Set top, I would have to use a Gig switch for the UVerse boxes, due to they use Multicast for how ATT does the IP streaming, which 100meg switches will not work.

I ripped all of the coax out of our place, when I went with ATT, since I have no plans on going back to Comcast. We still have the drop to the house, but it goes as far as the drop that comes in at the basement, where I have all of the networking gear.

I think that as far as the OP in planning, figure what technology they are going with and stick with it. If you do not have something like ATT UVerse that does IP streaming for tv, and have to use Coax, figure out what all is going to be hard wired, along with what video equipment. People just over think all of this, and then you get ten or twenty people throwing out stuff that they have no clue what the OP is doing, or think that it should be done one way, when in reality that way will never work, or is total over kill.

It is going to get to the point that streaming over IP networks in the home is going to get as good as using coax, especially if you figure in Moore's Law, which is right now at about five years, vs. the original ten.
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