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Best way to control whole house audio?  

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have a dilemma. We just purchased a new home, and it has roughed-in wiring for whole-house audio. In the master bedroom, ensuite, dining room, living room, and kitchen there are speaker wires in the walls, running back to electrical boxes for volume controls. The output from that terminates in the basement.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, they never put in ANY low-level wiring for an IR repeater system. All I have are speaker wires. In my last house, I installed my own system using Niles volume controls and Niles IR sensors in each room.

My options now are to add low-level wiring for each room (expensive), or to come up with some other way of controlling the whole-house audio components. BTW, I haven't purchased the electronics yet.

Are there controllers out there that allow you to mix the ir control signals with the speaker wires and split them out again? If not, what about X10? Are there X10 IR distribution systems that let you transmit your IR codes over house wiring?

I guess another option are those Pyramid IR repeaters, but I don't know how well they work, and over what distance - the electronics will be in the basement, and the master bedroom is on the top floor of a two-story, so whatever solution we use has to reliably transmit signals through two floors and at least 50' of straight-line distance.

The other option would be an RF remote system, with separate remotes for each room. Are there RF controllers out there that will support multiple remotes? I'd hate to have to go looking for the remote every time I wanted to turn the stereo on in a different room.

Or maybe there is another solution altogether that I haven't considered. I'm open to all ideas.

Thanks.
post #2 of 7
Quote:
Originally posted by dhanson:
I have a dilemma. We just purchased a new home, and it has roughed-in wiring for whole-house audio. In the master bedroom, ensuite, dining room, living room, and kitchen there are speaker wires in the walls, running back to electrical boxes for volume controls. The output from that terminates in the basement.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, they never put in ANY low-level wiring for an IR repeater system. All I have are speaker wires. In my last house, I installed my own system using Niles volume controls and Niles IR sensors in each room.
bummer

Quote:


My options now are to add low-level wiring for each room (expensive), or to come up with some other way of controlling the whole-house audio components. BTW, I haven't purchased the electronics yet.

Are there controllers out there that allow you to mix the ir control signals with the speaker wires and split them out again? If not, what about X10? Are there X10 IR distribution systems that let you transmit your IR codes over house wiring?

I guess another option are those Pyramid IR repeaters, but I don't know how well they work, and over what distance - the electronics will be in the basement, and the master bedroom is on the top floor of a two-story, so whatever solution we use has to reliably transmit signals through two floors and at least 50' of straight-line distance.
I have a friend who uses the Pyramid IR repeaters in a (large) apartment and it appears to work well.

Quote:

The other option would be an RF remote system, with separate remotes for each room. Are there RF controllers out there that will support multiple remotes? I'd hate to have to go looking for the remote every time I wanted to turn the stereo on in a different room.
I have a Crestron system to control my theater. I picked up a used touchpad and use that to control my whole-house audio system from the upstairs room.

The Atkins (or is it Atkinson) remote that Denon uses for the 5800 uses RF. And isn't there going to be released (soon?) an RF version of the pronto? (not sure about this).

Quote:

Or maybe there is another solution altogether that I haven't considered. I'm open to all ideas.

Thanks.
How hard would it be to run the wires for IR? Can you run some RG6? With that you could multiplex the IR signal onto the coax using the ChannelPlus stuff.

You could also do some IR distribution using some of the Applied Digital stuff. I use a Ocelot and a SECU-16 for controlling some of my theater/audio stuff.
post #3 of 7
Yes there is Hope!
Matrix Audio Products offers a 4-8 Zone system that
carries Keypad and IR info over the speaker wire.
You Select either the 4 zone or 8 zone amp/processor then mount their keypads(4 Source)in each zone. The Keypads also pass IR.
If you have anymore questions.
Brent McCall
Tsunami HT
(800) 221-0932 #230
post #4 of 7
Depending on the construction of your home, it should not be too expensive to add low voltage wiring to each of the rooms. The key questions are, is there an unfinished attic?, unfinished basement? drop ceiling in a finished basement? one or two level home? what level will the gear be located on? The wire that needs to be added is very small (cat 5 or 22/4 in most cases). That being said, the Matrix Audio does seem to be a good solution. I would be wary of rf based solutions, the lower priced stuff just doesn't seem to work all that well.

jcmitch
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
We do have an unfinished attic and an unfinished basement, but the house will be difficult to wire because there are no common walls between the floors. The top floor of the house is mostly open to the lower level, with two bedrooms out over the garage, a catwalk going across the middle of the upper floor, and the master on the other side.

From what I can tell, to get wiring into the basement where the equipment will be, I'd have to go up into the attic, snake wires down into the walls of each room, then bring the wire outside the house into a conduit and bring the conduit back in to the basement. Getting installers to do this will probably wind up costing a couple of thousand bucks, as a guess.

I may wind up going the hardwired route yet, because the upstairs rooms also lack Cat-5 for a home network, and there's only a single RG-6 in the master and none in the ensuite.

Thanks for the help!
post #6 of 7
First, check your contract to see if the low voltage cable should have been pulled by the builder. If it is in the contract then it is his responsebility to run the low voltage cabling. Get him to do it.

Second, JCM is correct, it will not be that expensive to run low voltage cabling from the "electrical boxes" to the basement "where your equipment will be". The speaker cables running to the basement must take a route through the walls to the basement. First try to follow that with a snake. In most cases you will find that the cable puller dropped straight down into the basement then pulled across the basement to the equipment location. From the second floor the cable puller probably pulled through a natural conduit created by the construction of the house or put a chase in himself. Chances are the cable puller used a natural conduit to the attic. In any case, unless you have poor cable pullers in your area, you will not have to pull low level cabling to the outside of your house.

Your greatest expense will be the labor. You will probably find that you can run the first level yourself avoiding those labor costs. The second may be more difficult if you can not find a conduit to the attic. Go into the attic and look to see where the wires seem to be grouped together. Move away the insulation and see if you can find a hole where the cables disappear into. Shine a bright light down the hole and go to the basement and look for the light. with any luck the cable pullers found a natural conduit going straight to the basement. If it is a straight conduit you will see the light coming out of the cieling in the attic when the lights are off.

Dave
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well, the cables were all installed when the house was built, so I think all bets are off regarding how and where they pulled the wire.

It's really hard to tell how it enters the basement, because there is a frost wall that runs all the way around the basement, and all the wires are behind it (with vapor barrier stapled over). In addition, after the house was built the owner had the basement insulation upgraded from R-12 to R-20 by putting a second insulated wall in front of the first.

I did look in the basement directly underneath the electrical boxes that terminate the wires on the main level, but the wires do not come through the floor at those locations. So they must have been gathered in the ceiling of the first level and brought out to the inside of one of the exterior walls. I'd be surprised if they installed conduit for any of these runs - the walls were open when it was installed, so they probably just drilled holes where they needed to and snaked the wires through.
complicating matters is that all the exterior walls are densely insulated, making it extremely difficult to feed any more wires through or push a fish tape. I installed some wiring in my home office on the main level, and just getting it through about 2 feet of the insulated wall was an interesting experience.

I'd love to have the whole system hardwired, but now I'm looking at other options, just in case it isn't feasible.
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