Okay, I have a pretty new house with a Russound multi-room audio system (I think it's the MCA-CA5). I'm currently using 4 zones and I'm doing my basement right now. I'm planning on adding a zone by my basement bar and another outside my house. I'm planning on buying the keypads, speakers, and having my builder run the wire, and then I'll program the system. The only thing I have hooked in the Russound right now is the tuner it came with.
I'm also looking into home automation with a system like Control 4. I'm probably only looking to do something basic at the start like control my TVs, Russound multi-room audio, and perhaps my thermostats. I have all Apple equipment - multiple iphones, iPads, lap top, and desk top. I have an upstairs hearth room with surround sound, I'm doing a new basement family room that will have surround sound, and I'm doing a dedicated movie theatre that will have surround sound. We're typically pretty practical and don't want to spend a ton of money. We think the home automation stuff is cool, but aren't willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money to get it. Our house is currently wired with Cat 5e cable, but I planning on Cat 6 in the basement and I may redo some of the cabling to the upstairs while we can still get to it.
Here's my series of questions (because my head literally spins with people telling me different things):
1. I'm interested in Russound's DMS 3.1 Streamer because I want to stream my music and I'd ideally also like to be able to play Pandora and Sirius/XM radio on my Russound speakers. I believe the DMS Streamer will do these things for me. However, the Control 4 guy told me that he wouldn't do that; he thinks he should install a driver that will run my Apple TV and I can stream all my iTunes on the Russound that way. Is using Control 4 or a different home automation system a better way to bring more functionality to the Russound? Should I be looking at something like Sonos? Does it integrate with Russound? Is this an easier way to bring more sources into my Russound?
3. We'd really like to be able to control all our TVs/theater with home automation like Control 4. Do you think you get the best bang for your buck with Control 4? Or is there another professionally installed system that's just as affordable that we should be looking at?
4. What's the best setup for receivers? We have the Russound for the multi-room audio. I have a decent Onkyo receiver for my upstairs hearth room. What should I be looking at for my downstairs family room and theater? I've had one professional recommend a new Marantz receiver that can control 2 different systems off the same receiver.
5. If this was your home, are there any options/things we should really consider doing? I don't know all the capabilities or best practices that I should be considering so am open to ideas.
6. I have about a week to make a decision on what I'm going to do. If I can't make a decision on which way to go, what type of prewiring should I be doing that will give me the best options long term if I want to do home automation?
Thanks so much in advance. I just haven't been impressed with the professionals in my area. Their knowledge seems really limited where they really don't understand their systems and good practices so I've recently started trying to learn as much as I can on my own.