Advice for new Multi-Source Multi-Zone - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 05-21-2001, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm planning on doing a multi-zone multi-source Audio Only system in a new construction house later this year. I will have a low-voltage company run the wires, but would "prefer" (I think??) to install the hardware and do any programming myself.

I've seen posts regarding Ealn, Niles, Matrix Audio, ADA, and others...But never see any "real" recommendations. How about Pro's and Con's for each "major" player?

I'm looking at 6-8 Zones, 4 Sources. I prefer some intelligence..and to use Universal remotes in most zones...My budget expectations are below $10K for Multi-zone stuff (not including sources or speakers).

Help..>There just doesn't seem to be enough out on the web to assess true capability...And custome installers won't waste their time if they don't think the business will be coming their way (can't blame them).

Also, what features of these systems are critical, important, gimicks???

Thanx for time...

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post #2 of 15 Old 05-21-2001, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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More:

The house is just getting ready to break ground...And since each of these systems uses a different wiring scheme...I need to make the decision before electrical gets run just figure out the wiring requirements...

Thanx

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post #3 of 15 Old 05-21-2001, 06:37 PM
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Hi Jeff:

You might want to read through this thread. I posted some information about the Xantech ZPR-68.
http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/004126.html
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-22-2001, 07:07 PM
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Jeff:
Give me A call @ work tomorrow,(after PM EST) and I will go over the main options (Elan, Niles, Xantech etc.) with you.
I am not A dealer, we supply only the trade, but I will be happy to help in any way that I can.
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-23-2001, 05:14 AM
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Hey Jeff, I am in about the same boat. Just started framing my house and need to make a decision quick. I am looking at the Elan system a local guy is pushing. I think I only want need about 2 or 3 zones though and would like some video surveillance on the exterior as it is a larger home on the outskirts of town. Keep us informed on what you go with and why.

Thanks,
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-23-2001, 05:54 AM
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For 3 zones of audio Elan would be a good choice. I believe it'll run something like $1000/zone. Plus about $1800 for mini-touch panels. Security would probably be done by your security company who could then run composite outputs for you to modulate or something.
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-23-2001, 06:17 AM
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It is very easy to wire your home to accomodate any of these systems and give yourself the time needed to make the right decision. Any multiroom system, heck any low voltage cabling at all (in a modest sized home) should be run in a star topology ("home run"). If you pull a cat-5, 22/12 sheilded, and the speaker cable to the control location for each room, and continue the run of speaker cable to the speakers from there, you can install any one of these systems. If you eliminate the ADA Genesis from the mix, can substitue a 22/4 sheilded for the 22/12. If you are thinking of adding touchscreen controllers at some point in the future, add a 16/2 and a RG59. I always pull at least a 22/8 sheilded cable, you can never have too much copper. Well actually you can, the extra conductors can act as an antenna for noise, but they can always be tied to ground if not in use. Use a class 2 low voltage ring instead of an electrical box at the control locations, then you dont have to worry about the depth of the device, as long as that complies with the building code in your area.

As far as a product recommendation, as a DIYer, you have a limited number of resources. Some systems use proprietary hardware and software for programming etc. It really depends on what you have access to. If you just use a universal remote for a controller (something I don't recommend), I think the Elan Z system is the best choice. It will make sense to you when you go to put it together, and the components are modular so you buy what you need. Their keypad requires a dealer only programming kit and software. Intellinet Controls makes a feature packed system that seems well put together (I've been evaluating one at the shop for a couple of months) and is fairly easy to program, but you have to get your hands on the software, I'm not sure they release it to endusers. Xantech makes a fine product and you'll have no trouble if you use a remote capable of firing ir macros (with adjustble timing) from any key. The Philips Pronto, Xantech's URC2 and RTI's T2 are fine choices. You cannot easily program their keypads w/o the dealer only programming kit. The Matrix Audio stuff looks interesting. I actually sent off for a dealer info kit after reading a post on the product here. But I can't recommend a product I haven't installed. ADA is my favored multiroom manufacturer. But, other than Genesis, its definitely not DIY and your $10k price limit doesn't allow for this level of gear. Most of our ADA aystems run $30k and up. The B&W Casa and the Linn Knect are in the same catagory. Hope this helps.

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post #8 of 15 Old 05-23-2001, 07:15 AM
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The minute you say "multi-zone"/"multi-source" you've said you're prepared for a level of complexity..or capability in your system that quickly (a) adds cost and (b) adds complexity. The complexity is generally found almost entirely under the subject of "what has to be done to program this beast". 6-8 zones and 4 sources, on the other hand is not a big system.

ADA, Crestron, Elan, and others can all deal with this size of system very nicely. System like ADA and Crestron, however, have a basic architecture that allows expansion way, way beyond your target. Due to this basic architecture, the baseline systems have build costs, and programming complexities, to support large endeavors.

Systems from Xantech and Niles are perhaps better suited both in cost and system size for your application. The other very excellent system is the Audio Control Director...very well thoughtout, very easy to set up, and very reliable.

Audio Control will sell only to installing dealers. Niles and Xantech you can get yourself from various sources. Setting up Xantech and Niles may not be the most intuitive experience, but, it can be done with patience.

If you are going to do it yourself, get a basic system working. Once you're comfortable with that (and have something working) then add the bells and whistles.

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post #9 of 15 Old 05-25-2001, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
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First of, thanx to Brent for his time...and excellent advice.

Crestron, ADA, Phast...are all WAY above my budget...From several people I'm hearing that Xantech may not be the most reliable system out their...that Niles is too proprietary...That Russound is too new...And that MatrixAudio Designs has an excellent and simple package...However I thik their digital transmission over "Speaker" wire is proprietary as well...

Elan seems to be my best shot "product" wise...But I'd have to pay a custom installer to do the hookup. I should be able to do this myself...I'm already frustrated that I have to pay $125/pr for speaker wire to be run...And who knows how much MORE to have Cat 5 run, etc...

I'm still thiking this through...But for an audio oly system...I'm leaning toward the Audio Matrix...And will be calling around for prices...If you know of a dealer giving great prices send me an e-mail (jgrimes1@ford.com)

Related to this thread is my wifes request to have an intercom system. She's tired of screaming from the Kitchen to call me from the basement woodshop http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

Matrix Audio doesn't have anything...Elan and Niles do...Brent recommends I just buy a phone system to do the intercom stuff...And I think I agree...Any advice on this would be great...

And lastly...What distribution "hubs" would you recommend...The wall mounted boxes are what I am referring too???

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post #10 of 15 Old 05-26-2001, 06:06 PM
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The labor should be similar for the new cabling, it is pulled to the same location, at the same time. All of the cables are taped together. You can pick up Cat5 cable at Home Depot for less than $70 a box. The multi-conductor, sheilded cable should be somewhat more expensive. As far as cabling "hubs", if your talking about structured wiring enclosures and accessories, I use OnQ. They are among the higher priced units, but they have the largest degree of choice. The Open House stuff from Channel Plus seems to be the value leader. BTW, you're paying less than half the going rate for the wiring work in my neighborhood. When installed properly, a Xantech system is as reliable as any of the others you're considering. Long runs are succeptible to noise however, and one needs to be careful.

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post #11 of 15 Old 05-29-2001, 03:00 PM
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Look also at Russound (www.russound.com) they have two multiroom/multisource solutions (4z/6s and 6z/4s)that I have been looking at for a while now.. price is 'normal' and is a DIY solution. They even have LCD keypads!! Smarthome has a OEM version of the same (or at least I think is the same). Good luck.
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post #12 of 15 Old 05-30-2001, 08:52 AM
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Hi, I did the Russound 6.4 installation myself over a year ago, works like a champ, and requires no programming. The keypads and volume controls are easy to use, and you can repeat IR through the system easily.
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post #13 of 15 Old 05-30-2001, 04:03 PM
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Phildude, I live in Livonia and was wondering where you bought your system. Also, are you using in wall speakers? Does this system provide enough power to each room for fairly loud good sound?
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post #14 of 15 Old 05-31-2001, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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PhilDude...I'm in Canton, I too would appreciate the name of where you bought it. Depending on costs...I am partial to their LCD keypads...

I'm still investigating...My current plan is to run Cat5 wire to each kepad location and Home run my speaker wires...

The only system this excludes is the Matrix...Which I'm still trying to find a good price for. It doesn't offer the bells and whistles, so soshould be considerably cheaper than an Elan or Russound.

By the way...ANyone work with the Russound PRZ products??


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post #15 of 15 Old 06-04-2001, 09:47 PM
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I bought my stuff online, I'll have to grab the invoice - I don't recall the name of the place. I found a couple places online that sold the CA 6.4, with prices all over the map. I find the sound to be plenty loud enough, but I'm not a youngster anymore, so I don't crank it up to ear-splitting levels any more http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif I started with Cat 5 cable to the keypads, but ended up going with heavier thermostat wire for some of the longer runs. I've got it powering:
2 in-wall speakers in my kitchen with a keypad, 2 in-wall speakers in our dining/living room with a keypad, 2 in-wall speakers in our kids playroom with a keypad, 4 outdoor speakers on our deck with a keypad in a weather proof box, and 4 outdoor speakers by our pool and hottub, with the keypad in the poolhouse. Still have one more zone left, can't decide if it will be used for a bedroom or my workshop. For Sources, I've got a couple jukebox CD players slaved together, an extra tuner that I use mainly as my radio source, my home theater tuner, which transmits anything on TV, VCR or DVD or Sat music channels, and lastly, a wireless receiver that gets mp3 and internet music from a PC. I'll track down the name of the place I bought it from and let you all know.
Phil
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[This message has been edited by PhilDude (edited 06-04-2001).]
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