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post #1 of 8 Old 02-22-2014, 08:43 AM - Thread Starter
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What I'm looking to do:

- Distribute audio and video to a total of 13 zones.
- 1 theater room
- 12 non-surround audio zones, 4 of which have video


Things I'm looking to distribute (google eco-system not apple):

- Cable (1 Comcast box, may expand to 2)
- Chromecast (Youtube, Pandora, Google Music, etc.)
- PS3/4 (Games played in theater. Only need video distribution elsewhere)
- Security system video
- PC

Current wiring situation:

-Media closet runs for:
- Speaker cable runs for all zones
- Dual Cat 5e and HDMI to all video zones
- Separate Cat5e runs to all zones for control panels
- Volume controls run on 4 of the audio zones (I'm expanding an existing system, so that's why this isn't done on all zones)
- Flex conduit to the video ports in the theater and two of the pre-existing video zones


Features I'd like the system to have:

- I want the audio in each of the video zones to come through the A/V system, not distributed from a device in that room. (i.e. I don't want a receiver in each video room. I just want the TV and in wall/ceiling speakers.) Other reason for this is that I'll also want the audio distributed to multiple zones in addition to the video zone ex: Watching the game inside, but want to be able to hear it on an external zone when I go out to check on the grill.
- Centralized global control, preferably from an app over wifi. Local control via remote or control panel. Basically looking for these two to play nice (Wife usable solution)

Other info:
- 2 primary users in the home
- Currently have an Atlona 4x4 HDMI matrix. This works fine for the current system with 3 video zones, but obviously won't support all 5.
- I already have the theater equipment (it's part of the existing system)


I had originally planned to get an audio solution that could handle all 12 audio zones with maximum flexibility (HTD,) a bigger HDMI matrix, and link to the two together via Harmony remotes. However, this seems clunky. Are there more preferable ways to do this? Mostly looking for system organizational/media closet gear suggestions. I'd like to stay under 10k (obviously as far under as possible.) Speaker, TV, etc. costs excluded.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-22-2014, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hegemony View Post

Best way to do this?

Start with a descriptive thread title... biggrin.gif
Quote:
Things I'm looking to distribute (google eco-system not apple):

- Cable (1 Comcast box, may expand to 2)
- Chromecast (Youtube, Pandora, Google Music, etc.)
- PS3/4 (Games played in theater. Only need video distribution elsewhere)
- Security system video
- PC

First you need to get all of your video gear to one 'format' - meaning probably HDMI. Assuming your security system doesn't output HDMI, you'll need to get a converter for that.

Second, using distribution for $30 Chromecast devices is not recommended unless you have a real need to keep multiple displays in perfect sync.

Third, game consoles are difficult to distribute because they need to be physically in range of their specific controllers, they don't have IR remote control, and the game sensors / cameras create additional connectivity requirements. Since you mention gaming in the theater only, and "video distribution elsewhere", buy a BD player / Roku streamer / whatever to serve normal video content. And if the <$99 device can do the job - dedicate one to each zone and avoid all the matrix issues.
Quote:
Current wiring situation:

-Media closet runs for:
- Speaker cable runs for all zones
- Dual Cat 5e and HDMI to all video zones
- Separate Cat5e runs to all zones for control panels
- Volume controls run on 4 of the audio zones (I'm expanding an existing system, so that's why this isn't done on all zones)
- Flex conduit to the video ports in the theater and two of the pre-existing video zones

You've got an excellent foundation of wiring here, so you have plenty of choices!
Quote:
- I want the audio in each of the video zones to come through the A/V system, not distributed from a device in that room. (i.e. I don't want a receiver in each video room. I just want the TV and in wall/ceiling speakers.)

Locating the gear "remotely" in the media closet doesn't necessarily require distributed video systems. Since you've got the wiring in place, you can just place AVR's in the closet for each video zone. Each AVR would have its own Chromecast or Roku or whatever, too.
Quote:
Other reason for this is that I'll also want the audio distributed to multiple zones in addition to the video zone ex: Watching the game inside, but want to be able to hear it on an external zone when I go out to check on the grill.

Easy. The analog audio outputs from any source can be run separately to a Whole House Audio (WHA) system sitting next to it. This also raises the issue of the Chromecast - getting audio out of that device (from anything other than HDMI) will cost 4X the device itself, and be a pain to control. Look at a Sonos Connect as a primary source for your audio-only zones.
Quote:
- Centralized global control, preferably from an app over wifi. Local control via remote or control panel. Basically looking for these two to play nice (Wife usable solution)

Getting all this gear to work on one "app" is not going to be cheap or easy. There are a lot of options here, but just note that anything "budget" will require switching between multiple apps / interfaces for some tasks.
Quote:
Other info:
- 2 primary users in the home
- Currently have an Atlona 4x4 HDMI matrix. This works fine for the current system with 3 video zones, but obviously won't support all 5.
- I already have the theater equipment (it's part of the existing system)

So the theater wasn't included in your video zone count...

Dedicate sources to your theater and keep it off the matrix. Cable box can be one exception (just split the HDMI for one), but you will run into audio "common denominator" issues for surround sound unless all of the other video zones are fed by DD5.1-capable AVRs.
Quote:
I had originally planned to get an audio solution that could handle all 12 audio zones with maximum flexibility (HTD,) a bigger HDMI matrix, and link to the two together via Harmony remotes. However, this seems clunky. Are there more preferable ways to do this? Mostly looking for system organizational/media closet gear suggestions. I'd like to stay under 10k (obviously as far under as possible.) Speaker, TV, etc. costs excluded.

Treat the audio zones as a WHA system, share sources between them as needed. Cable box audio is easily sent to the WHA system as a source. Then you can control the audio zones through one method (app, keypads, both). Video zones handled through either the matrix or just HDMI repeaters from an AVR (in the closet), all done through IR to keep it simple for everyone.

Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
Theater build photos: http://photobucket.com/autor-ht

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post #3 of 8 Old 02-22-2014, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
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First of all, thanks for the thoughtful response. Some clarifications/questions below:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Start with a descriptive thread title... biggrin.gif
First you need to get all of your video gear to one 'format' - meaning probably HDMI. Assuming your security system doesn't output HDMI, you'll need to get a converter for that.

Noted
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Second, using distribution for $30 Chromecast devices is not recommended unless you have a real need to keep multiple displays in perfect sync.

I'm not worried about perfect sync for youtube cat videos smile.gif The purpose of distributing the chromecast is so that I can listen to Pandora/Google music on multiple zones simultaneously and control what's playing via a phone or tablet. The problem with this is that the Chromecast is HDMI output, so I guess I have to plug it into one of the AVRs that I'm likely to need anyway and distribute audio that way. No biggie really.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Locating the gear "remotely" in the media closet doesn't necessarily require distributed video systems. Since you've got the wiring in place, you can just place AVR's in the closet for each video zone. Each AVR would have its own Chromecast or Roku or whatever, too.

So in this scenario, would the HDMI relay look like this: matrix output> AVR>TV?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Getting all this gear to work on one "app" is not going to be cheap or easy. There are a lot of options here, but just note that anything "budget" will require switching between multiple apps / interfaces for some tasks.

The biggest hurdle in the whole design seems to be using some control interface to play video output X, and the audio for that output, to video zone Y, Z and Q. If I can figure this part out, I think I can back into the number of AVRs and other devices needed will fall into place. There are plenty of systems that allow central control of audio to multiple zones, but integrated the video into the central control is where I'm stuck.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Dedicate sources to your theater and keep it off the matrix. Cable box can be one exception (just split the HDMI for one), but you will run into audio "common denominator" issues for surround sound unless all of the other video zones are fed by DD5.1-capable AVRs.
Treat the audio zones as a WHA system, share sources between them as needed. Cable box audio is easily sent to the WHA system as a source. Then you can control the audio zones through one method (app, keypads, both). Video zones handled through either the matrix or just HDMI repeaters from an AVR (in the closet), all done through IR to keep it simple for everyone.

It's not critical that the theater be control-integrated into rest of the WHA/V system. It's currently on a dedicated AVR with the cable as a shared input as you suggest. The PS3/4s are also input into this AVR, so it's more likely that I'll run an output from this system to the WHA for anything that's on the system that I want to share with the rest of the house. If I really need more integrated blueray playback to the non-surround audio zones, I can get a $99.00 device as you suggest.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-22-2014, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hegemony View Post

I'm not worried about perfect sync for youtube cat videos smile.gif

You should be! eek.gif
Quote:
The purpose of distributing the chromecast is so that I can listen to Pandora/Google music on multiple zones simultaneously and control what's playing via a phone or tablet. The problem with this is that the Chromecast is HDMI output, so I guess I have to plug it into one of the AVRs that I'm likely to need anyway and distribute audio that way. No biggie really.

Chromecast is probably the worst solution for an audio-only source. But if you're really set on Google music, that will be your answer for now. I would highly recommend you choose a better-support music library / service. Pandora is easy.

The other issue, besides HDMI, is the app interface. You will absolutely want to control your music sources in other rooms (media browsing / control), so the app has to be written without the expectation of a TV interface that you're merely using the app to "drive". It has to be completely self-sufficient. Which is why I suggest looking at a Sonos unit as a source for WHA - the app fully integrates the various music services into one interface. The limitation comes into play when you want to control volume and source selection among other WHA sources - if you don't build a WHA system out of Sonos components, you will have two control points (app for browsing, keypad or different app for volume / other sources).
Quote:
So in this scenario, would the HDMI relay look like this: matrix output> AVR>TV?

Yes. If you do that for all 4 video zones, with a consistent audio support among the AVRs (easy these days), you'll be in good shape to share sources.
Quote:
The biggest hurdle in the whole design seems to be using some control interface to play video output X, and the audio for that output, to video zone Y, Z and Q. If I can figure this part out, I think I can back into the number of AVRs and other devices needed will fall into place. There are plenty of systems that allow central control of audio to multiple zones, but integrated the video into the central control is where I'm stuck.

This is why I suggest a separate system for the video zones vs. the WHA system. Video zones get controlled with IR, routed to the matrix, AVRs and sources for controlling with normal remote controls in those zones. WHA system controlled by keypad and/or app(s). That's how I handled it in my own system. While I can change channels on my set-top box from the WHA system, that's not something I do very often. The use case is normally "listening to the game in multiple rooms" - essentially mirroring the audio from a video zone's source.


Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
Theater build photos: http://photobucket.com/autor-ht

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post #5 of 8 Old 02-22-2014, 07:44 PM - Thread Starter
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The only way I can see to use the Sonos app to control distribution and volume is to get a Connect:Amp for each audio zone. At $500 each for 12 zones, thats 6k. It seems like i can go to a more integrated solution for around that price point (HTD, Control 4, etc.) Am I missing something?
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-22-2014, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hegemony View Post

The only way I can see to use the Sonos app to control distribution and volume is to get a Connect:Amp for each audio zone. At $500 each for 12 zones, thats 6k. It seems like i can go to a more integrated solution for around that price point (HTD, Control 4, etc.) Am I missing something?

Well, you could just use one or two Connect units as sources to any WHA system - which would be relatively inexpensive, but not fully integrated. $500/zone is the ballpark for a single-app, fully integrated solution. 12 zones is not a 'small' system...

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post #7 of 8 Old 02-23-2014, 04:52 PM
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WHat's the houses layout? Are audio zones close? Can you use one location touchscreen to control multiple audio zones? In the video zones do you want a handheld remote or is an on-wall control enough? Are you looking for Metadata feedback on the in-wall controls or just on the Android app?

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post #8 of 8 Old 02-24-2014, 05:58 AM - Thread Starter
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It's a three story home. Here's the basic layout (not to scale.) There's an additional external audio zone not pictured.

I Drawing1.jpg 29k .jpg file

I'd say that the video/audio zone on the main floor could use the same in-wall control as one of the external zones. All of the internal zones are pre-wired to have their own in-wall control. Remotes for the video zones would be ideal. I don't need metadata on the in-wall controls as long as I can get it through an app.

Something else I forgot to mention before... I do probably need higher power output to the external zones than the internal.
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