or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Home A/V Distribution › Confused: Elan vs. Control 4 vs. Niles ICS
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Confused: Elan vs. Control 4 vs. Niles ICS

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
I am in the process of deciding between Elan, Control4 , or Niles ICS for a major home remodel. Basically my desires are this:

-5-6 zones of distributed audio
-2-3 zones of video
-ease of use for guests and wife
-future upgradability
-ability to have all my cd's stored on a central server, and ease to add memory to system if need be.
-would like to view cover art as I choose my music
-would also like to keep keypads to a minimum if possible, as they will not go over well with the architect or the wife. (but would like to still be able to easily control the zones/sources)

I have met with dealers for all 3 of the above, who all claim that their product is the best. The Niles guys poo pooed the Control4 as it "being too new, and not well established, therefore unreilable" the Elan guys poo pooed the Niles system as being "unreliable in the past"

Wondering what peoples thoughts are on these three systems...ANY help would be appreciated.
post #2 of 84
Sounds to me like you have found a few installers who know what they are talking about. You just might not be getting the whole story. We found the previous generation Niles product less than stellar as well, but it was a gem compared to years of difficulty w/ Elan's Via!. Control4 has gone through so many growing pains that I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. How big of a risk taker are you? Niles and Elan don't offer cover art on the touchpanels. Control4 does, but on the 3.8" screen its not exactly a benefit. The art is smaller (quite a bit smaller) than a postage stamp, and crowds out the text so it becomes hard to read as well.

The systems all have compromises, they can all be mitigated by a good installation team. Picking the right firm is much more important than the right product. The gear, any type of gear, is going to cause problems. The installer is going to help you solve them.

I am a firm believer in having an in room control for each music zone, ideally placed within a line of sight to the loudspeakers. Its just like a lightswitch, if the light is on, you look around the room to see a spot where you can shut it off, and vice versa. The systems you are looking at are typically configured this way. If you want a single master control, that offers control over multiple independant locations, you should probably be looking into a customizable solution like Crestron or AMX. You'd get your cover art that way as well. BTW, Its a whole different price category.

jcmitch
post #3 of 84
Don't know about Niles, but Elan can certainly put album art on the Via touchpanels, wired and wireless, and can put album metadata on the Ole keypads from both the music server and Ipod dock. You do have to use an ELan Via DJ for a music server to get two way feedback. YOu can also get the album art on any TV in the system.
I do agree that each zone needs to have a fixed controller somewhere. YOu can control each zone of an ELan system with a programmable remote from RTI or URC instead of a fixed controller, but I prefer to have the fixed controller as well.
post #4 of 84
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input. It sounds like the Control4 system is having some growing pains. Do you know if Elan is still having issues with the Via DJ? The dealer said they stopped selling the older ViaDJ likely due to the problems you were eluding to. Hopefully they have worked these problems out.

I am leaning towards Elan vs. Niles mainly due to the fact that the Elan seems more upgradeable.

Hopefully I wont be dissapointed..

Thanks again.
post #5 of 84
All of the Via DJII's I have in the field are working fine with no issues. They do like to be on a UPS though.
The only drawback to Elan IMO is the inability to use your own media server. For most people this is not an issue, for some (and probably most on this board) it could be. And its not that you couldn't use your own as a source, you just wouldn't get two-way feedback.The beauty of the Elan server (and Integra, Crestron, and all the other OEM Xiva servers) is the multiple outputs. 4 simultaneous independant zone outputs.
post #6 of 84
If multiple outputs aren't an issue for you and you go with Elan, then a VIAMigo Ipod doc and an ipod give you full two-way feedback on Via touchpanels and Ole keypads for a lot less $$ than a dedicated server.
post #7 of 84
While no system can be completely "future-proof" the Niles ICS system uses a very cool modular, card based approach which allows you to incorporate new sources as they become available. The ICS system also supports both music servers and iPods.
The ICS system also offers an excellent alternative to keypads called the iRemote. It is RF based and will receive metadata from sources via the transmitting base unit. I have used it in excess of 125 feet from the base unit. If you need more range, additional base units can be added. I know guys who have installed entire systems and not put a single keypad in the wall.
Overall the ICS system is very easy to use, sounds really good and should provide you with the future "upgradeability" you're looking for.
Hope this helps!!
post #8 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by doober72 View Post

I am in the process of deciding between Elan, Control4 , or Niles ICS for a major home remodel. Basically my desires are this:

-5-6 zones of distributed audio
-2-3 zones of video
-ease of use for guests and wife
-future upgradability
-ability to have all my cd's stored on a central server, and ease to add memory to system if need be.
-would like to view cover art as I choose my music
-would also like to keep keypads to a minimum if possible, as they will not go over well with the architect or the wife. (but would like to still be able to easily control the zones/sources)

I have met with dealers for all 3 of the above, who all claim that their product is the best. The Niles guys poo pooed the Control4 as it "being too new, and not well established, therefore unreilable" the Elan guys poo pooed the Niles system as being "unreliable in the past"

Wondering what peoples thoughts are on these three systems...ANY help would be appreciated.


Hello. Im a lurker on this forum but thought id give you my input.

Give Control4 a good look. It can do every single thing you are mentioning.

You can storage your music digitallly on it their Media Controller or buy the HC300 and use a USB hard drive or NAS drive. You can use their 2 way RF remotes which have the ability to list all of your music right on the remote or even the large 10.5" touch screen that runs on wifi. Since you are doing video distribution i would recomend doing an on screen interface via an HC300 which is displays the interface @ 720P. This let you view album art on your screen. Add a Sony 777 dvd changer and now you have dvd album art on the tv screen.

You can then add a control4 t-stat so you have temp control right on your tv. Add a few dimmers and switches and now you have control of them on that same interface. Heck just replace your exterior light switches and have the installer program them on an astronomical clock so you never have to turn them on or off again and then put some in the master bed and bath so at night you can have the installer program them to not go as bright after a certain time so when you need to go to the restroom and you dont want to stumble in the dark you can

really give Control4 a look. Its extremely stable. I have jobs with 200+ light loads, 16 tv locations etc all ran on a Control4. Not a single issue.. Its great product and I have had the chance to become an Elan dealer and looked at the Niles ICS system extensively. Control4 really is your best choice and offers the most future upgradability as far as software goes and controls alot more.
post #9 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by doober72 View Post

Thanks for your input. It sounds like the Control4 system is having some growing pains. Do you know if Elan is still having issues with the Via DJ? The dealer said they stopped selling the older ViaDJ likely due to the problems you were eluding to. Hopefully they have worked these problems out.

I am leaning towards Elan vs. Niles mainly due to the fact that the Elan seems more upgradeable.

Hopefully I wont be dissapointed..

Thanks again.

Nope no growing pains.. You dont need to buy anything extra with the Control4 system to get digital audio play back : ) All of their controllers can play back music from a usb hard drive, a NAS or even a shared folder on your computer that is full of mp3s
post #10 of 84
Sounds like you might be focusing on the distribution system more than the piece that does your music jukebox functions. You could try the Escient Fireball line which supports cover art for DVD and Audio.

You could also check out the DirecTV HR-20 HD DVR boxes. They've added functions that are pretty sweet.

In my own system, I wanted to push MP3 to at least 4 distinct zones from one source. I can do this by co-opting my HR-20 functionality. I have a wireless network, but my HR-20 boxes are centralized and hard wired into a network switch. And then I have my Window Media Server (computer) PC jacked into the network. The sat boxes see the Media Server and all the music I have on it (plus photos) can be viewed from every TV in the house.

The interface is pretty clean and IMHO nicer than the Fireball.

If you did something like that, you'd just need a something do the data switching. I am using an Elan S-12, but you could probably use a variety of systems. The RTI touchpanels might get you what you want in a blended system.
post #11 of 84
Audio Advisor, I am glad to hear that you have such a large system installed.I will have 13 TV's, over 110 light switches. I am being told by a Crestron dealer that zigbee is not solid and that Control 4 products are made in China, and hence, the light switches and controllers will fail. How can I discuss these issues with you and talk to an end user? mpr540@aol.com
post #12 of 84
Audio Advisor, I am glad to hear that you have such a large system installed.I will have 13 TV's, over 110 light switches. I am being told by a Crestron dealer that zigbee is not solid and that Control 4 products are made in China, and hence, the light switches and controllers will fail. How can I discuss these issues with you and talk to an end user? mpr540@aol.com
post #13 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpr540 View Post

Audio Advisor, I am glad to hear that you have such a large system installed.I will have 13 TV's, over 110 light switches. I am being told by a Crestron dealer that zigbee is not solid and that Control 4 products are made in China, and hence, the light switches and controllers will fail. How can I discuss these issues with you and talk to an end user? mpr540@aol.com

I cannot imagine a Crestron dealer saying otherwise about Control4. It is made in China, and yes, it looks like it's made in china but to say that Zigbee is not solid is bs... Zigbee has been around long enough and is not only used in the home automation lighting industry. If well designed and well configured, a Zigbee mesh network it is in my opinion very solid.

You need to remember that Crestron and Control4 serve 2 different markets ($$$)

I sell and install Control4 and have one in my home and I can tell you from an end user point of view that as far as lighting and control of my AV equipment is concerned, it lets me do more then I ever wanted to do for a fraction of the price of a Crestron system.

I wish I had a Crestron at home, but my wallet and my wife says I'm the market Control4 is aiming for
post #14 of 84
Crestron uses Zigbee also.
post #15 of 84
What do you see as the major differences between C4 and Crestron in terms of features?
post #16 of 84
I have several nagging questions about Control 4 hat many of you may be able to help with:
1) What type of interference exists if I am using 100+ light switches?
2) Should the light switches be hard wired or wireless?
3) How do I interface my Mac computers with Control 4 as my Mac's use WAP security, and i understand that C4 uses WEP?
4) What type of cable should I use for wired light switches?
5) How reliable (MTBF) are the switches? Witj 100+ I don't want to be changing one out every few months.
6) If the master control unit goes out, will the switches still work?
7)Will there be interference between the zigbee products and my Mac Airport express units?
8) Will the Panasonic wireless phones interfere with C4?

I am still working thru other issues, but any answers to these would be helpful. Thanks.
post #17 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpr540 View Post

I have several nagging questions about Control 4 hat many of you may be able to help with:
1) What type of interference exists if I am using 100+ light switches?
2) Should the light switches be hard wired or wireless?
3) How do I interface my Mac computers with Control 4 as my Mac's use WAP security, and i understand that C4 uses WEP?
4) What type of cable should I use for wired light switches?
5) How reliable (MTBF) are the switches? Witj 100+ I don't want to be changing one out every few months.
6) If the master control unit goes out, will the switches still work?
7)Will there be interference between the zigbee products and my Mac Airport express units?
8) Will the Panasonic wireless phones interfere with C4?

I am still working thru other issues, but any answers to these would be helpful. Thanks.

1)control4 can handle 100+ light switches. they recently released to controllers with even more power (faster)
2)light switches dont need extra wiring, they hook up like a regular light switch and wirelessly connect to control4
3)not sure...what are you trying to interface your computers with it for though? its a standalone system, all the music is stored on the controller, or through a harddrive connected to the controller - what are you trying to do?
4) light switches are wireless...only physical connection is the line/load you'd normally have on a lightswitch, unless your talking keypads, they need cat5e if your going wired.
5) light switches are very relieable. rated for 1000 watts. if your putting a bunch in one enclosure, like any automation light switch, it reduces the rating to 600 watts.
6)the switches still operate as a regular switch or dimmer (which ever you get) if there is no controller. i had my light switches hooked up before i hooked up my controller for a week, and they act just like regular switches.
7) most likely not...c4's zigbee is propietary and they dont want to give that up
8)what are you trying to do with this? there may be another way to accomplish what you want to do, without them on the same network

some people have released the login/password for c4, i dont have it off the top of my head, as i had no use for it so i disregarded it.


ive found the system to be very reliable and stable. id splurge for the new controllers though, ive got the older one, and its fast but with a big setup, it will bog down. those issues were fixed with the new hc-300
post #18 of 84
crestron has a bigger selection of products, better gui's and such. as far as capabilities, they are similar. c4 cant stream video though.

c4 costs much less
post #19 of 84
shift_grind, thanks for the answers. The Panasonic phones will not be on the network. I was concerned about wireless phone interference with zigbee. Also, I understand that the C4 gui is easy to use (for my wife). I should be able to network my Tivo's together to accomplish most of what streaming video would do. Am I missing the point of Crestron . I read it as very expensive and possibly comes with more reliability and better qualified installers. I really need to find a great installation/programming group.
post #20 of 84
Control 4 wireless equipment runs in the 2.4 Ghz range so if you use the 5.8 Ghz from Panasonic, you reduce chances of having interference problems. More problems have been known to be caused by microwaves then phones.
post #21 of 84
I am looking at a control 4 system and getting quotes from a few dealers. I'm poling for opinions as to what a typical discount to MSRP would be for a midsize Control 4 system with 7 zones, 3 HTC 300's, 2 touch panels, 30 light loads, 3 wall programmable switches, and security? I'm not looking for actual prices on individual units just what is the typical mark up on this product? I understand my installer needs to eat and I plan to hire them for programming albeit I am running all wires. I am very budget sensitive and it is important to me that I'm getting a fair deal and I would prefer not just take the build and bid it to 10 installers looking for the best price on the equipment. I appreciate your thoughts.
post #22 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinners1 View Post

I'm poling for opinions as to what a typical discount to MSRP would be for a midsize Control 4 system

0%

I wouldn't expect any discount from MSRP. Especially if you are doing the wiring, the labor on the job is minimized. With minimal margin on equipment, where would your guy make any $$?
post #23 of 84
While on the surface I agree with your point but how do I know this when I have no concept of what the mark ups are. If he is going to make 30% on a $20,000 equipment purchase plus bill out $150/hour for programming then I would have a hard time agreeing that he isn't "making any money."

What is the margin on the Control4 system products or am I going to have to become a dealer to figure it out?
post #24 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by shift_grind View Post

crestron has a bigger selection of products, better gui's and such. as far as capabilities, they are similar. c4 cant stream video though.

c4 costs much less

I disagree with this statement, and that is not saying anything bad about C4. Their capabilities are not remotely similar. Crestron offers a true object oriented programming environment that allows the integrator to accomplish almost anything. I could rattle off 100 different scenarios that I can easily accomplish with Crestron that could not be accomplished with C4. Heck, you can't even modify the GUI of C4 and that is SO basic. And that doesn't even touch on the equipment.

Again, I think C4 is an excellent solution for many projects, but their capabilities are not "similar".
post #25 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinners1 View Post

While on the surface I agree with your point but how do I know this when I have no concept of what the mark ups are. If he is going to make 30% on a $20,000 equipment purchase plus bill out $150/hour for programming then I would have a hard time agreeing that he isn't "making any money."

What is the margin on the Control4 system products or am I going to have to become a dealer to figure it out?

I'm not sure about Crestron but I can tell you the mark up for C4 is no different than Russound, Elan and almost any others in the A/V & HA industry (aside from display).

Without having to know exactly what the margin is, all you have to do is get more quotes from other dealers, you'll know then. Hell, do you ask the clerk at the store what his margin is every time you buy a case of beer?
post #26 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shazz View Post

I'm not sure about Crestron but I can tell you the mark up for C4 is no different than Russound, Elan and almost any others in the A/V & HA industry (aside from display).

Without having to know exactly what the margin is, all you have to do is get more quotes from other dealers, you'll know then. Hell, do you ask the clerk at the store what his margin is every time you buy a case of beer?

A case of beer, no. A car? Yes. A house? Yes. A gallon of milk? No. See what I am getting at? I think your comparision is a little silly. A comodity and $20,000 worth of AV gear are 2 totally different things.

What are the mark ups for Russound & Elan?
post #27 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinners1 View Post

A case of beer, no. A car? Yes. A house? Yes. A gallon of milk? No. See what I am getting at? I think your comparision is a little silly. A comodity and $20,000 worth of AV gear are 2 totally different things.

What are the mark ups for Russound & Elan?

post #28 of 84
So you don't know the mark ups or you don't understand my quote. Which is it?
post #29 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by QQQ View Post

I disagree with this statement, and that is not saying anything bad about C4. Their capabilities are not remotely similar. Crestron offers a true object oriented programming environment that allows the integrator to accomplish almost anything. I could rattle off 100 different scenarios that I can easily accomplish with Crestron that could not be accomplished with C4. Heck, you can't even modify the GUI of C4 and that is SO basic. And that doesn't even touch on the equipment.

Again, I think C4 is an excellent solution for many projects, but their capabilities are not "similar".

name a few of those things.... I have yet to find a Crestron system I cant compete directly with using C4 products.. Crestron does have some extremely custom features you can do ie the interface

the point of Control4s interface is to keep it simple.. Theres no interface to screw up. its simple.. you want to watch tv press TV you want to listen to music press music.. i have yet to find someone who cant operate Control4 products.


PS.. I have replaced 4 customers systems that they paid 200K+ for that was all crestron controlled with control4 and they are much happier.. Heck i hear the same thing on the majority of the jobs i have walked into that have crestron... "Crestron sucks, i hate it, my system never works" now i know this is the installers fault but the openness that crestron has makes it so that unless you know exactly what you are doing your interface and programming must be nearly perfect or else you get a horrible working system.. Control4s theory is to keep everything simple. the programming etc.. There are plenty of advanced things you can do with C4... I put control4 in houses ranging from 6500-15000 sq ft and now have a 20k sq ft project in the works.. Control4 controls all of them just fine..
post #30 of 84
for the guy who is being extremely cheap.. If you dont want to pay for products that you want then done.. this is simple... Its NONE of your business what someone makes..

running a business is not free nor is it cheap.. Regardless of what someone makes they have over head and employees to pay for so if you want a low quality installation then go with the cheapest bid, BUT DO NOT COMPLAIN when nothing works..

Find a reputable dealer and go with them. If you dont want to pay those prices then dont buy the system its that simple.. Again if you go with the cheapest bid dont complain when its installed wrong and doenst work.. ive seen it way too many times and in reality i find it hillarious

good luck
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Home A/V Distribution
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Home A/V Distribution › Confused: Elan vs. Control 4 vs. Niles ICS