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Multi-room AV distribution solution needed

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I just bought a house where the previous owner had set up multi-room AV. I'm setting up HDTV's in four (4) rooms throughout the house and need to figure out what type of equipment to buy to control and distribute the signals form the "set top" boxes in the basement to the various rooms.

- Satellite/Cable comes into the basement. I'm setting up four (4) set top satellite/cable whole house HD DVR boxes there.
- There are four (4) pairs of CAT5 cables running from the basement up to the 2nd floor family room where the main HDTV is. One of the CAT5 cables of each pair terminates in an IR doohicky.
- CAT5 wiring and speaker wire runs form the family room to each room that also have in-wall speakers. Same configuration; dual CAT5 with one being used to carry the IR signal.
- The family room is wired for 5.1 surround but will likely use my B&W Panorama with subwoofer so probably don't need an amp for that.

I assume I need to use baluns to extend the HDMI from the "set top" boxes in the basement up to the Family Room, however, how do I get the signal, and control it, from the Family Room to the rooms with the other HDTV's? I want each room to be independent and controllable on its own if possible. Do I need some type of multi-rrom AV receiver to manage the distribution? If so, how can each room independently controlling the "set top" DVR in the basement?

ANy help for the newly would be greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 18
Matrix switch... Look at models with IR routing to control the set top boxes...
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Holy schmokes Batman! The first one I looked at was one $5K! Thank you. I'll start digging into that. It would set up like so?

- - - - B A S E ME N T - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - F A M R O O M- - - - - - - - - - - - - - O T H E R R O O M - -

SAT hdmi----MATRIX cat5
/ /
cat5 BALUN hdmi----AV hdmi----BALUN cat5
/ /
cat5 BALUN hdmi----TV
DVR SWITCH REC

I'm not sure how the IR control signal gets through the receiver?
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sorry, that didn't show up well horizontally, Try this:

SAT HD DVR (basement)
hdmi
|
hdmi
MATRIX SWITCH (basement)
cat5
|
|
cat5
BALUN (family room)
hdmi
|
AV RECEIVER ? (family room)
|
hdmi
BALUN (family room)
cat5
|
|
cat5
BALUN (other room)
hdmi
|
TV (other room)
post #5 of 18
To be clear - all sources and all displays (or the AVR feeding a display in a zone) are connected to the matrix switch.

IR signals are received in each 'zone', transmitted to the matrix switch, and repeated to the source devices attached to the matrix. The display and, if present, AVR in each zone receive their IR signals directly from the remote (not through the matrix).

And yes, matrix switches can get really expensive in a hurry. The more sources and displays, the bigger the matrix, and the price goes up... Looking back at your first post, if the only sources you're using on the matrix are a set of set-top boxes to serve an equal number of displays, you could just go with four HDMI extenders (recommend HDBaseT). Monoprice has a good one for ~$200 that includes IR repeating.

Jeff
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I am hoping something like that will work but the CAT5 cables run from the basement to the family room and distribute from there. The challenge then is how to take the cable and run that up to the family room? Is there a CAT5 extender for coax to run the SAT coax up to the family room??
post #7 of 18
Ah, ok, I understand now. Well, with 4 cat5 cables coming from the basement, if you use an HDBaseT matrix switch, you could just patch three rooms through the family room down to the basement. The family room would be the 4th zone. So all equipment in the basement, you consume all four cables coming to the family room. One of those serves the family room zone, the other 3 continue on to three other rooms from there.

HDBaseT has several advantages here for you - first it does everything on one cat5e cable, and second, it has excellent distance reach... Disadvantage is that it's new and not cheap.

Jeff
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
I want to do it right so I'll bite the bullet on cost, but also just realized I need to power the speakers in each room too. I went and checked and it's three (3) pairs of CAT5 between the basement and family room (second floor), not four (4) as I thought. I guess I'll be getting one less set top box than I thought. What's confusing me is the management of the audio.

So the matrix switch will go up in the Family Room?

SAT BOX (basement)
hdmi
|
hdmi
BALUN (basement)
cat5
|
|
cat5
MATRIX SWITCH (family room)
hdmi
|
AVR (family room)
hdmi
|
hdmi
BALUN (family room)
cat5
|
|
cat5
BALUN (other room)
hdmi
|
TV (other room)
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
And I think I just figured out what you meant by HDBaseT. Something new that does the job of the old BALUN coverer?
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Yup -HDBaseT can connect all the entertainment devices in a setting through its 5Play™ feature set, converging uncompressed full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power over cable and various control signals through a single 100m/328ft CAT5e/6 cable with RJ45 connectors.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wow! That's so cool! HDBaseT is the way to go! Any suggestions on mfg.'s?
post #12 of 18
AFAIK, Atlona is the only one right now with an HDBaseT matrix switch... They have a new 4x4 HDBaseT matrix. You can see some info here:

http://www.cepro.com/article/atlona_at_ise_2012_4x4_hdbaset_more_wireless_coming/
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you!
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Actually, as I look into the various options I see lots of matrix switches but the Atlona and Geffen appear to be the only HDBaseT certified? I may not need the HDBaseT if the older matrix switches provide the capabilities for transmitting a full HD signal with a control (IR). Does that sound right?
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacebased View Post

Actually, as I look into the various options I see lots of matrix switches but the Atlona and Geffen appear to be the only HDBaseT certified? I may not need the HDBaseT if the older matrix switches provide the capabilities for transmitting a full HD signal with a control (IR). Does that sound right?

Sorry, I mis-read your post - if you have a total of 8 cat5e cables coming from your basement to the family room, and 2 cat5e's from there to each of the other rooms, then no, you don't HAVE to go HDBaseT. There are several matrix switches that include IR repeating/routing in a 2-cable setup.

But do consider the HDBaseT stuff - I would expect it to be more reliable, and it also frees the other cable(s) for other purposes - like Ethernet (if the HDBaseT matrix doesn't carry Ethernet, which I don't think the current models do).

Jeff
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Outstanding! Thank you. That Altona switch looks amazing (the 8x4). Assume I need the additional inputs for other devices like DVD player, etc. Just need to figure out sound and I'm ready to go!
post #17 of 18
Oh, another note, if you're just building a matrix for set-top boxes, since you appear to have enough cables, you can also use a Component Video matrix. These are much cheaper and very reliable. Won't work for HDMI-only devices (AppleTV, other streamers, new BD players). It will likely hold you for several years - and by the time you *have* to go to HDMI, the prices on those may be a lot lower...

I'm using the Aton HDR44KT component matrix over cat5 setup, works great.

Jeff
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the options. I've already got part of it set up and working but still need to consider what switch to get. Good advice.
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