This has been a terrific community to read over the past several weeks as I embark on my own home audio/video journey, and I'll start off with a thank you to all the active people here for helping to educate those of us who are new to this world.
Now...on to my situation:
We're building a home...the wiring is under way right now. 4 bedrooms, basement, living room, family room, and 2 outdoor decks. All rooms will have:
2 Cat 6 connections
2 Coax connections
2 HDMI connections
2 speakers, ceiling mounted (except for family room and basement which will both be 5.1)
The wiring all terminates in a closet in the basement.
What I want in my "dream" setup:
8-12 zones of audio in the house with AirPlay support
All video source equipment (Bluray and TiVo primarily) in the basement closet providing video to the rest of the house
An app on my iPad to control it all
For instance, my TiVo and BluRay can be controlled via an iPad so I'm not as concerned about that...but switching video sources is something I'm not really clear on, nor what the options are. Similarly, how do I ensure that the AUDIO coming out of my TiVo or BluRay routes to the speakers in the ceiling in the family room?
I'd love suggestions on the best approach to achieving the above.
Do you have rooms above your family room or any main floor rooms that now have ceiling speakers planned/in them?
There are a ton of products out there, but HDMI distribution is pricey with a entry level solution being several thousand dollars for acceptable quality. The mixing of surround with stereo really may mess things up unless you have good EDID spoofing in place.
How long are your HDMI runs to the basement? Those are a big question mark as far as being a good solution/decision.
Are you prepared to put HDBaseT in place if necessary?
What type of budget are you planning for all of this and what do you expect for that budget?
How long are the HDMI runs?
What is your proficiency level in A/V?
Are you looking for a turnkey solution, or are you prepared to spend dozens, or hundreds of hours programming things to make it work?
How user friendly does it need to be for the rest of the family?
The runs are being completed over the next week. I'm already committed to the wiring -- any changes at this point will have to come much further down the line after we've moved in. On the plus side, everything is being run through 1" conduit so I can re-cable anything I'd like to do later.
The rooms above the family room are bedrooms. Each bedroom will have 2 ceiling-mounted speakers.
So what are the options for HDMI distribution, and relative pros/cons of each? I get this is a non-trivial proposition from a cost perspective which is why I'm trying to understand the options (and who the potential vendors are for this stuff).
I'm prepared for HDbaseT if needed, but it seems like a tough proposition given the current state of HDbaseT products...all I've seen are a world of hurt that isn't fully baked yet.
HDMI runs...the critical ones I care most about are 10-30' from the closet all this is run to. The furthest HDMI run is probably 50-60'.
My proficiency in technology/IT is quite high (I work in IT)...my proficiency in the A/V world is pretty low, but learning quickly.
Prefer turnkey solution, but I'm willing to spend the time configuring/programming things...largely this hinges on the question of what's the cost difference between the two options? :) My willingness to endure pain is inversely proportional to how much money I'm spending.
My wife and I are reasonably comfortable with technology...but it's 2013 and I had hoped that things had progressed so that sane user interfaces exist for these things now.
HDBaseT is an extremely solid solution, I'm not sure what led you to believe otherwise. But, HDMI has huge distribution issues across the board. It mostly deals with EDID and cheaper HDMI distribution products not being even close to capable of dealing with multiple audio and display types.
Crestron, Extron, and AMX are gold standards for quality, and have a cost in-line with that.
While Aurora, Gefen, and others have lesser expensive solutions for HDMI matrixing, they don't deal with EDID reasonably to my knowledge. So, 1080p, surround sound, is generally a must for all rooms if you want it to work in any rooms. That's the headache of HDMI right now.
As long as you have access to all display locations with conduit, I would consider it all a non-issue right now.
There is no 'turn-key' HDMI distribution system out there really that I know of. There are HDMI matrices which you can buy from a number of companies, and integration companies, such as Control 4 will sell turn key solutions, but you may want to speak with someone who really gets it.
The big headache is that there is certainly a user interface for these things - one user interface for the matrix, one for your TV, one for the audio, one for this source, one for that source. You have 20 different manufacturers, so you get 20 different remotes. Whether they are in your phone, or sitting on your coffee table, there is no turnkey remote solution out there, and in my dozen+ years experience, the industry is heading more and more away from any thoughts of creating a unified system of control since HDMI CEC is a dismal joke.
IT experience is good to have, but most home networks don't need much, but that's great knowledge and good to know your home network won't be holding back any online A/V systems, but A/V and IT are very different beasts.
The big issues will be the control of everything, and the EDID issues associated with HDMI.
On something like this I would probably look for HDMI sources with analog output, or do 2-channel down-mixing to a analog distribution switcher with forced highest level audio. The rooms without surround sound would have to have in-wall/in-ceiling speakers, and any rooms with TV speakers would have the speakers towards the displays and use angled speakers to direct sound towards the listeners as this creates a far more natural viewing experience. The audio only zones can have speakers almost anywhere with acceptable results. All TVs would need to be 1080p compliant. Then, I would put in a decent matrix switch which can handle all the inputs/outputs necessary. Since I deal with Crestron (often using B-stock gear), I would likely use that to create a consistent remote control interface for all the rooms with displays in them and put keypads in all rooms with audio only if at all possible. A pricey proposition, but great control and reliability.