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Best practice for TV/HT/Audio setup? Central or Distributed?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
As I mention in another thread, we are doing a large remodel. I'm having trouble figuring out the best way to handle my home theatre and audio. I am a computer dork and "software guy" and I'm cheap

I will have TV's in:

Living room (want HT here)
game room (also HT here + ping pong,etc)
kitchen (just stereo tv is fine)
barn (just stereo tv is fine)
patio (future may want HT, but not required)

I have an AV closet upstairs which will be connected to some kind of home automation system.

I like the idea of central media server / dvr up in the AV closet.

Now, when I was thinking about this, I guess there are two ways to go (at least).

1) Centralize all hardware up in the AV closet, just have the TV's/speakers at the desired locations. Controll via pc/remote/whatever best solution is.

2) Centralize media servers, and have local stereo, HTPC, whatever at each point

Option 1 sounds really neat, but is it practical? Oh, also, do you typically have a local say, DVD player, even if you run a centralized system, for convenience?

I also plan to home run speakers from every room for whole house audio / intercom / notification for future use (this will probably be controlled by a PC solution).

What option would be most flexible?
What option would cost less long term?

at this point, I dont need to have a hard set hardware solution, but my main concert right now is WIRING.

I need to have wiring up in about 3 weeks.

Wire I have now:

I have a 1000' spool of QSRG6 on it's way
I have as much CAT5e and I need to get.
I have 250' of 14/2 speaker cable (I may need to get more)

Here are my floor plans:

Floor 1 (includes existing floor 1.5 which is not changing)

Floor 2

Sorry, I need to get a cleaned up version of this floor.

AV Closet is the 3' x 2' closet in the game room on Floor 2.

post #2 of 10
Option 1 is certainly practical, but tends to cost more in terms of a) initial install costs and b) equipment costs. But, it gives a very flexible system capable of sharing/distributing media.

Just some things to think about:

If you want 5.1 or better surround in more than one room, you'll need an AV receiver for each room. Distributing 5.1 sound is not very practical. Whether you locate the receiver in the room or put it centrally and route your speaker cable there is up to you but I would do the latter as your central control to your AV receivers will likely be serial RS-232 and its easier to do in a single equip rack.

If you want to distribute video, the most practical is component. HDMI distribution is problematic. So, while component can support 1080p, there aren't many sources that resolve to that currently. Most are 1080i/720p.

RG6QS is overkill and can even be the wrong cable for component distribution. RG6QS is good for RF distribution of a cable signal, but if you decide to distribute component, you'll need a coax w/ a solid copper center, 100% foil and 95% braid shielding. And, you'll need 5 of those coax's to each room (3 for Y-Pb-Pr, 2 for analog 2ch audio or 1 for digital audio).

Run Cat5e or Cat6 everywhere and lots of it. Instead of the 5 coaxes you can distribute component video, audio, and IR via 2 Cat5es and a system like the Audio Authority AVatrix or using your own Cat5 Baluns like the CELabs Rx/Tx units.

Your concern for local DVD can be solved with a multi-DVD changer, however, I'm not certain if a Blu-Ray solution exists yet.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
I did make sure to get the solid copper core QSRG6 instead of the steel clad, so at least I did something partially right.

I was figuring I could run 5 runs of the QSRG6 to each TV along with 3 cat 5e's based on a recommendation I heard in the past.

I have heard some talk of using some 1505a and 1694a instead of my solid QSRG6 and I'm not sure if I want to do that. It's more expensive and I'm running low on time.

A seperate receiver for each 5.1/7.1 system is assumed on my end and is not a problem.

So since I got the solid copper RG6, it sounds like I'd be OK, but perhaps not totally optimal, to go ahead and run 5 of those plus a bunch of CAT5?

I will also try to run some conduit to the downstairs location for future use. The upstairs theater backs up to the AV cabinet, and has an attic, so the lower floor is my primary problem point.

I can run a couple of 3/4 conduits down to the TV spot for future cable runs to the lower TV.

Or if it's a complete mistake to use the RG6 that I have now, I'm open to hear about it.

Thanks for the advice, how does what I mention here sound?
post #4 of 10
I think you are on the right track. I am retrofitting my house with dist audio and video currently and I can't stress enough that you should install conduit. Especially between floors (atttic and basement included).

Have you also given consideration to having touchscreens or keypads in various locations? If so, you will need CAT5 to those locations as well and speaker wire. Actually, you should home run your speaker wire through the keypad locations then on to the speaker. Some even recommend running CAT5 to the speaker as well because newer technologies exist that can take advantage of that. Do a search in this thread for "wiring" or "future proofing". This topic comes up all the time and has been answered quite thoroughly.

Basically, if you don't know what system you are going to install now, you have no choice but to run wires everywhere and install conduit for future wire runs.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Im looking at possibly using a PC for the whole home audio at this point, but I havent researched it enough (but want to be safe wiring wise).

I had heard about people running wall panels. I guess it doesnt hurt to run them from speakers to optimal box locations now, even if I dont use them.

Im not sure if I can control the PC audio output from the boxes, but I guess I probably could. The whole house audio for me right now is a nice to have, so I dont want to spend a lot on it now, but I will have money in the future if needed.

I already need to run cat5 to my light switches for use of ALC, I'll make sure to run another cat5 for the audio panels. How much are keypads/touch panels?
post #6 of 10
Not sure if you can control the audio PC from a touch/key pad. It probably depends on the system you choose.

Normally the audio systems on the market today have a complete system including touch pads or keypads. The PC would be just another source of audio that you would switch to from a keypad. More eloborate systems exist that may give you control of the PC.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Auh, I was thinking there would be a volume knob that was more mechanical that would allow to turn up/down the speakers at any given location for now,
I could run cat5 and power there now to upgrade to an lcd touch pad?

Is cat5 and power all that's needed for future touch pad?
post #8 of 10
I believe all you need is the speaker wire for power and Cat5e for control. I think others on here have recommended two cat5 wires for control depending on the system. My system only needs one cat5 for the keypad.

So are you going to home run cat5 to the TV locations as well as coax?
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Yes, currently from what I gather people are suggesting 5 RG6 and 2 Cat 5's to each TV location, home run to the closet.

I'm also going to run another Cat5 for LAN.

Also, im the lower room, where it's hard to get access later, I'm going to drop one or two tubes of conduit.

Looked like 1 1/2" might be easiest, I have to drill and run it through a 2x4 so I dont have a ton of room. But I can run multiples. Im going to run it straight up the exterior wall through two floors and into the attic.
post #10 of 10
That sounds like a good plan. Running an extra CAT5 for LAN is also a very good idea because there are boxes out now that allow you to download movies from the Internet and watch them while being streamed.
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