New (existing) home - first time dealing with distributed A/V - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-15-2013, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
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So my wife and I have purchased a new house, and are getting a little bit of remodeling done (not down to the studs so running cabling and speaker wire is a *small* concern, but I have a long drill bit and fiberglass rods and a willingness to bust open small holes in sheetrock). While this is happening I'm planning how to set up our AV equipment. I don't have a specific budget for this, but I want a good value and good functionality (i.e. my mother in law can pick up the remote in her room and watch HGTV without my help). I'm sure what I'm asking for isn't cheap, but I want it done for less than $5,000 for the distribution hardware. The speakers and TV's can be purchased as funds allow so I'm not too worried about those. I'm relatively new to this aspect of A/V, but not A/V in general. I'm very competent with all electronics, and am of average ability with my hands.

The physical limitations of my setup aren't too bad, my entire first floor has a full unfinished basement or accessible crawl space underneath it, and there is even some attic space that I can work in on the second level. There is not a lot of ethernet ran in the house unfortunately, so I will be running lots of cable for just about any solution I come up with. Cabling may be a pain in my ass, but it won't make or break the setup so don't worry about that. The unfinished basement is heated and cooled and I want a central A/V closet to serve the entire house. After we move in we will be finishing most of the basement area into a bar/man cave/theater. This will happen relatively soon, but not immediately so consider it "phase 2" of the project. I currently have an HTPC with a 4 tuner Ceton Cable Card in it (I do not know of any way to use all 4 tuners separately except for Windows Media Extenders) and a NAS for downloaded media, a Roku (I can integrate this or toss it out, it's so cheap it doesn't matter), and what I believe is a Pioneer 1015 receiver (can't recall off the top of my head), and a few cable boxes here and there. The HTPC is the core of my A/V setup right now, but I'm open to new ideas if they are better.

I WANT to have one main A/V rack in the basement to serve media to the whole house with minimal hardware at the other end. I'm not sure it's possible, but I want a whole home audio system with at least 12 zones (possibly just 6) for low to moderate volume listening mainly on in-wall and in-ceiling speakers of moderate quality. I'm not set on having to have wall pads to control the audio, an app or remote control would be fine. I also would like the in-wall speakers it to be able to pull the audio from my video sources so I could have seamless transition from one room to another with live sports, but then when in my man cave or living room I'd like the option to turn off the in-ceiling speakers and switch to my higher quality speaker setup.

I want to be able to view 3-4 live TV channels in my man cave (think sports bar setup, minimum of 4 displays possibly more, but no more than 4 sources). On top of the man cave setup I want to distribute those same sources to my Master Bedroom, Master Bath, Kitchen, Living Room, Office, and 3 guest rooms and 1-2 outside TV's. In a dream world, I'd be able to mix and match audio sources and video sources at a whim and in each different zone.


What I've listed above is my absolute "dream" scenario, I know that frequently my dreams don't line up with what I'm willing to spend. If you can make a recommendation that gets me a substantial portion of what I am dreaming of I would be forever grateful. I need suggestions from what rack to buy all the way on up. The good news is there is plenty of room in my A/V closet and it's very centrally located. However, being in the basement there will be some long runs to take into account on the top floor. I'm working on my "A/V blueprints right now" so when I have those done you may be able to get a better idea of the zones I'm looking at and what I hope to be able to accomplish in each zone.
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-15-2013, 09:31 AM
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I want a whole home audio system with at least 12 zones (possibly just 6)

Say goodbye to that $5k budget. WHA is not cheap, especially for that many zones. You could create an HTD system for about $2500, but I would recommend either Sonos or Nuvo, and either of those will eat up most of your budget. For Sonos, assume $500 per independent zone.

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I also would like the in-wall speakers it to be able to pull the audio from my video sources so I could have seamless transition from one room to another with live sports, but then when in my man cave or living room I'd like the option to turn off the in-ceiling speakers and switch to my higher quality speaker setup.

Now we're talking... So... you need to feed your sources (music sources, AVR) into your WHA system. Your AVRs (you'll need two, one for LR and one for man cave) will power your high quality speakers and be devoted to those rooms. One of those should also be a source for the WHA system. So, if you're watching the Steelers game, you can turn on your WHA system and select the AVR as the source, then stream it to all rooms while also watching it in the man cave. In a Sonos setup, you'd attach a Sonos Connect to your AVR, which then would allow any music source to be sent to your powerful man cave speakers while also allowing any show in the man cave to also be broadcast to all other speakers (which would be hooked up to a Sonnos Connect Amp).

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I want to be able to view 3-4 live TV channels in my man cave (think sports bar setup, minimum of 4 displays possibly more, but no more than 4 sources).

Each TV is going to need it's own tuner. DirecTV allows you to watch 4 programs at once with their whole home DVR setup. I'd look into that. But, since you're not dedicating everything to your mancave, you'll need an HDMI matrix. Look at monoprice. I think there's is in the range of $300, and that includes the extenders.

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On top of the man cave setup I want to distribute those same sources to my Master Bedroom, Master Bath, Kitchen, Living Room, Office, and 3 guest rooms and 1-2 outside TV's. In a dream world, I'd be able to mix and match audio sources and video sources at a whim and in each different zone.

Nope, not happening for under $5k. Now you'll need an 8x8 matrix, which is going to cost you $3,000+. You need to bring down your expectations a bit if you want to keep your costs down. For example, do you really need to watch Dark Knight in the master bath or outside? Probably not, so take those off the matrix and just let them have a tuner for live TV and DVR shows.


My bottom line advice... WHA is expensive and distributed Video is really expensive. Think about real world applications... how are you most likely going to use everything. The most important thing you can do is wire. Run Cat6/RG6/Speaker cable EVERYWHERE!!! When in doubt, put in a few runs. Then you can focus on buying the equipment, because for your setup, you're easily looking at $20-30K.

Another suggestion... reach out to a couple local AV installation companies. Walk them through your setup and tell them what you want and have them put together a few plans... they'll be able to give you a better estimate of the costs. And you can always take their plans and try to install it yourself.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-15-2013, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Excellent, this is just what I was looking for. You've given me quite a bit to work with. I did not expect to be able to do all the things in my wish lists, and some are definitely more important than others as you've pointed out, the odds of me watching the Dark Knight in my master bath and outside aren't very high. The first thing I'll modify is my WHA system, I could do 4 zones for the whole house (upstairs, main living area, outside, man cave/basement) I would just need a multi-channel amp to power the multiple pairs of in-wall's throughout the house. WRT a 4x4 v 8x8 matrix, I do not think it likely that the man cave will be in use at the same time as the upstairs areas. Would it be feasible to take the 4x4 and on each of the runs from the matrix to display split it again so that I can mirror those displays elsewhere in the house? i.e. If TV#1 in the man cave was split to be Guest Room 1 TV and Patio TV? As long as I was satisfied to have the same source displayed on each TV is it feasible? Any major drawbacks?
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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For my WHA setup, if I can deal with reduced sources and limited ability to control those sources from each zone, do you think a setup like this fine member has be able to be tweaked to my desires?

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1485660/nineteen-speakers-my-install#post_23628125
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Eryxis View Post

For my WHA setup, if I can deal with reduced sources and limited ability to control those sources from each zone, do you think a setup like this fine member has be able to be tweaked to my desires?

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1485660/nineteen-speakers-my-install#post_23628125

What part?

Regardless of what budget-saving measures you use in the short term, you should concentrate now on the pre-wiring. Get it right, and you'll be able to use any of the systems available "eventually". Which means wiring for potential keypads / touchscreens in each room, and of course home-running everything. Some extra speaker wire runs to AV cabinet(s) where a multi-zone AVR could be used for WHA purposes as a starter system is an excellent option, too.


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post #6 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 02:07 PM
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If you can run enough cable, hopefully you'll be prepared for whatever you want to do; but one way to keep the cost down is to use older technologies where possible.

For instance, Component Video is mature and very hassle free to work with. You could buy an 8x8 Component Video matrix for the fraction of the cost of an 8x8 HDMI matrix. Some DVRs support multiple simultaneous outputs, and this can be very handy. For instance, I route HDMI, Component Video, and RF all off the same DVR to different TVs around the house. RF while low quality is a dream to work with as you can transmit multiple sources over the same cable. Distributing ATSC or QAM over RG6 would be amazing, but an ATSC/QAM output isn't built in to devices due to copy protection concerns, and ATSC/QAM encoders are expensive.

A Sonos system will cost you a pretty penny, but a low power wall speakers - not so much.

Controlling the mess is a huge issue as well. You can run IR repeaters all over the place, or you can use RF/WiFi capable remote controls. Regardless, your life will be a lot easier if the equipment you choose supports unique IR codes.

I'd recommend taking a look at the home distribution methods offered by the various providers. I mean, if you're buying all new equipment, does it get much easier than to just buy a smart TV with RVU support? Plug it in, use the remote that comes with TV, and there's nothing to wire up at all if you're using WiFi. IPTV is another possibility.
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 02:49 PM
 
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Spend your money on wiring or add conduit if you can. Conduit will save you in the long run but it's hard to do with sheetrock in the way. Unfortunately you'll be surprised at how fast the money goes with good wiring, even using Monoprice (who can save you a lot of money).

Basically with conduit you'll have a path to run wires in 5 years or remove a wire.

Also if you open the sheetrock, make sure you take photos while you have the chance. It's kind-of like having x-ray vision in 5 years when you don't remember what is behind the wall.
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-24-2013, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, I've been doing some more research, and adjusted my expectations. I have no issues using a little older tech if it achieves what I want. With that in mind, the component 8x8 matrix sounds quite appealing, but the physical runs of component video are so much more difficult in an existing home (with walls staying mostly sealed) than Cat6 is. Is there a good technology to extend component over Category cable? I see something like this http://www.svideo.com/videobalun1.html but since Component is a bit older technology it doesn't seem to be as commonly discussed on the forums anymore. For the actual audio portion of the system I'm leaning towards the HTD Lync 12 system. My biggest concerns with this system are going to be ease of use for anyone besides me. What type of remote control system would be best for this? I'm looking for something grandma can use. I do have an HTPC with NAS that's going to be one of my sources so it could also act as a controller possibly for the Lync system because I see it has a serial port.
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-24-2013, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eryxis View Post

OK, I've been doing some more research, and adjusted my expectations. I have no issues using a little older tech if it achieves what I want. With that in mind, the component 8x8 matrix sounds quite appealing, but the physical runs of component video are so much more difficult in an existing home (with walls staying mostly sealed) than Cat6 is. Is there a good technology to extend component over Category cable?

Aton HDR44 - needs two category cables per drop, but works great and very trouble-free...
Quote:
For the actual audio portion of the system I'm leaning towards the HTD Lync 12 system. My biggest concerns with this system are going to be ease of use for anyone besides me. What type of remote control system would be best for this? I'm looking for something grandma can use. I do have an HTPC with NAS that's going to be one of my sources so it could also act as a controller possibly for the Lync system because I see it has a serial port.

Sonos Connect(s) as sources, mobile device for music selection and the Lync keypads for volume control.

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post #10 of 14 Old 08-28-2013, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eryxis View Post

OK, I've been doing some more research, and adjusted my expectations. I have no issues using a little older tech if it achieves what I want. With that in mind, the component 8x8 matrix sounds quite appealing, but the physical runs of component video are so much more difficult in an existing home (with walls staying mostly sealed) than Cat6 is. Is there a good technology to extend component over Category cable? I see something like this http://www.svideo.com/videobalun1.html but since Component is a bit older technology it doesn't seem to be as commonly discussed on the forums anymore. For the actual audio portion of the system I'm leaning towards the HTD Lync 12 system. My biggest concerns with this system are going to be ease of use for anyone besides me. What type of remote control system would be best for this? I'm looking for something grandma can use. I do have an HTPC with NAS that's going to be one of my sources so it could also act as a controller possibly for the Lync system because I see it has a serial port.

I use component video for all my distribution without any trouble. The baluns are much cheaper and more reliable than HDMI. One issue with DTV is that if you have an HDMI cable plugged into a receiver it will not play pay channels (VOD, HBO, etc.) though component. If there is no HDMI connected it plays fine.

I use an Extron 4x8 matrix. The one I use will also handle stereo audio and volume adjustments so if functions like a receiver in many ways. The baluns only need a single CAT5 wire and I have used them in runs of over 100m. I would say with my 5 zones of video, 4 zones of audio with matrix, baluns and my URC control system I am probably in the $3000 range.
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-28-2013, 02:35 PM
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Component video cable can be terminated on the ends in the field with just a few tools and connectors.

The cable for running component in the home can be something like Mini-HR cable (mini high-resolution) and it pops up on eBay from time to time.

For example, this is a brand new roll of 500' of MHR cable...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/EXTRON-MHR-5P-22-103-02-BNC-Video-Cable-/251283333704?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a81a76248

$180 shipped.

It has 5 mini coaxial cables which work perfectly for component HD video distribution, with the potential to carry digital audio to/from a location or a analog left/right signal since there are 5 conductors inside.

Now, you count your rooms and your sources... Call it 4 cable tuners, plus a few other playback sources which deliver component video for distribution (Media players, older Blu-ray or similar)... Maybe up to 8 total distribution sources for video. You also have a few more than 8 rooms as destinations, looks like you have 4+ TVs in the basement, and another half dozen or more in the home. So, I would be looking for a 8x16 or larger matrix switcher.

This model, is NOT showing the number of inputs/outputs on it, so perhaps message them, but this is the concept:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Extron-Crosspoint-Series-Switcher-/300948997084?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4611f543dc

Here is one which is a full 16x16...
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Extron-Crosspoint-Switcher-1616HVA-RGBHV-Video-and-Audio-RS232-Control-/290963766947?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43becabea3

That will do up to 16 different component video sources and distribute it out to 16 different rooms in ANY COMBINATION that you want! So, if you have 8 cable boxes, they could be viewed anywhere in your home that is wired, in any combination that you want to use.

That's under $500 to get this level of video distribution. You will still need terminations for the MHR cable, which costs a couple hundred bucks to get the parts for, but not that bad.

You will still need the audio side of the equipment which means amplifiers for all the speakers (one pair of channels per speaker pair). Perhaps 2 or 3 12-channel amplifiers. About $400 each via auction...
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_udlo=250&_sacat=0&_from=R40&_udhi=500&_nkw=12-channel+amplifier&LH_Auction=1

I would look for deals, but wouldn't overlook quality. Niles, Sonance, and Speakercraft are all excellent manufacturers of distributed audio amplifiers with a long history of support and quality. My personal favorite is the Rotel RMB-1048 which has almost zero noise on the line, but is a bit pricier and more difficult to come by. Call it $1,200 in amps.

There are other options on amps, and a fair number of audio preamps for speaker distribution which are available. I use Crestron for all of it since I can program that stuff. I can get a Ethernet controlled processor, enough to do 16 zones, along with the preamp distribution for about $1,000.

There's still a lot of other costs and considerations, and you need hundreds of feet of speaker cable (14/4 & 14/2) at least. Maybe $40 in speaker wire per run (give or take), so perhaps $800 in speaker wire.



$300 in video switching
$500 in connections for video switching
$1,200 in amplification
$400 in video cable (high side)
$800 in speaker cable (high side)
$1,000 in preamps/audio distribution/volume control with Ethernet enabled control system
That's $4,200 and I would plan on running a lot of cat-6 cabling throughout the house, which will run you several hundred dollars for 3 or so spools of 1,000'.

That'll get you wired up, and take care of your head end.

You will still need to purchase some speakers, you will need to take care of wall plates, power, and the like. You will need TVs and such all in place, wall mounts, etc. So, there is a LOT of additional cost beyond this, but this would be a very top shelf component video distribution system that would have run, rather easily, in the range of $25,000+ if purchased new.

That 16x16 switcher is still sold new in a very slightly upgraded version, and carries a MSRP of over $17,000! Think about what that means in terms of what this represents for quality for your money.
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-29-2013, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been researching and brainstorming and have developed a sketch (done in MS paint no less) that shows the ideas I have for accomplishing my distributed AV goals.


The first two options are HDMI based, and pretty ghetto/rigged, but I think could still be easily controlled using iRule and the associated hardware. I'm unsure how to get the IR controls to the TV to turn it on/off, but I don't think it will be THAT hard. The third option is based off a distributed RGB component output system. I want to say THANK YOU to AV_Integrated, your post is amazingly detailed and helpful. I would have probably pulled the trigger on my ghetto HDMI stuff already if you hadn't chimed in. For the record, I'd much rather go with something high end like that than my ghetto HDMI distribution with all the limitations that go with it.

I was thinking of doing the Lync12 system from HTD for my audio distribution. I thought that by doing it that way I can control the video and audio portions separately (play music over a football game on the screen or something similar). Does the extron stuff let you mix/match audio and video signals? Would it be able to function as inputs for my audio only stuff going to the whole-home amps?
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post #13 of 14 Old 12-19-2013, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Does anybody have the 5 pin phoenix connectors that fit an Extron? The one I bought off ebay didn't have any and I'm having a hard time finding the right model at less than $5/ connector (and I need 32). I hate to pay almost as much as I did for the whole unit just for audio connectors.
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post #14 of 14 Old 12-19-2013, 12:12 PM
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PM me... I can't promise I'll get them out before Christmas, but I have a bunch of them.

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