Future proof whole home audio RCA, CAT6, 16/4 or all 3? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-19-2018, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Future proof whole home audio RCA, CAT6, 16/4 or all 3?

I am in the process of remodel work to my home and running a lot of wire for smart home / automation / av dist/ network / and whole home audio. I was wondering what the "standard" and realistically future proof wire is for someone who plans on having a matrix switch to run AV in every room and support 4k + future technology as it comes out.

I have been looking a lot at netstreams older products, for some reason, I just really like the Ethernet + 16/2 or 16/4 design, and more so because I don't have to "centralize" and run RCA wires for every speaker in the home to one panel, instead netstreams design runs inline to the touch panels in every room while you just have an output for cat5e + 16/4 + RG6 to the controller.

I understand netstreams got bought out and they will no longer support the technology with clearone coming into the fold now, however, I noticed that a lot of distribution controllers like control4's 16 channel audio switch (and others) are still using RCA. What is the best approach for home audio wiring these days? Is good old RCA still the best future proof method by doing long runs all going to a central location from the speakers scattered throughout the home? Or is Ethernet (such as netstreams) and the way they layout the digilinX products a really promising approach?
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post #2 of 15 Old 07-26-2018, 06:47 PM
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Tv’s - 1x Sheilded Cat 6, 1x cat 6, 1RG6 & 1x 22/4 (sheilded cat 7 or multi fiber would be even better... but we may not be around when it’s useful)

Audio - 16/4 to each zone all to one head end area. Make sure this Audio head end has a couple cat 6 jumps if you don’t have one location for all subsystems together. (Rack)

Please do not run audio to a Keypad and cat to a panel.. it is horrible technology and was abandunded for a reason.
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post #3 of 15 Old 11-12-2018, 06:52 PM
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I would say with the new ability to do a house with Homekit (Apple), I find the paradigm has changed.

1. cat6a to every room. Each room with an Ubiquiti Unifi Wifi PoE access point.
2. Apple TV in each room - direct to TV / soundbar / sub in simple rooms
3. Apple TV to Homekit Receiver (denon/marantz/etc) in any room with multichannel needs
4. The key is to be sure and wire all surround sound rooms with speaker wire and subwoofer locations since that is actually quite cheap. Be sure there is a nice place to put your receiver/main speakers/etc. in this process. The receivers can be in the bedroom closet in theory.

I personally think the days of central amps for a house are coming to an end with all audio going over Cat cable (sonos, homekit) to an amplifier that is local in the room. Airplay2 allows for zoning and grouping as does Sonos.

I am near completion of an entire house with homekit based stuff and the key is bulletproof wifi which Ubiquiti unifi provides.

Blazar!
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post #4 of 15 Old 11-13-2018, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blazar View Post
I would say with the new ability to do a house with Homekit (Apple), I find the paradigm has changed.

1. cat6a to every room. Each room with an Ubiquiti Unifi Wifi PoE access point.
2. Apple TV in each room - direct to TV / soundbar / sub in simple rooms
3. Apple TV to Homekit Receiver (denon/marantz/etc) in any room with multichannel needs
4. The key is to be sure and wire all surround sound rooms with speaker wire and subwoofer locations since that is actually quite cheap. Be sure there is a nice place to put your receiver/main speakers/etc. in this process. The receivers can be in the bedroom closet in theory.

I personally think the days of central amps for a house are coming to an end with all audio going over Cat cable (sonos, homekit) to an amplifier that is local in the room. Airplay2 allows for zoning and grouping as does Sonos.

I am near completion of an entire house with homekit based stuff and the key is bulletproof wifi which Ubiquiti unifi provides.
Why in the hell would you need to put one of these in each room? Unless each room is 1,000sq ft with lots of appliances and fixtures & 150 clients there's no reason to have one in each room.

Jer

'Build a man a fire and he stays warm for one night. Set a man afire and he stays warm for the rest of his life.'
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post #5 of 15 Old 11-13-2018, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremyhelling View Post
Why in the hell would you need to put one of these in each room? Unless each room is 1,000sq ft with lots of appliances and fixtures & 150 clients there's no reason to have one in each room.
if you just want 2.4 band, then you definitely dont need that many. If you want consistent 5g coverage however, any line of site obstruction by walls drops connection speed dramatically.

I tried for years with 2-3 access points and the service sucked. On my 6250 sf house with foam insulated walls, my coverage is dramatically better with around 10 access points.

Also you can turn down the radio strength when you have a lot of points so that the client device can unlatch from room to room easier and attach to a closer 5g signal.

I have tried everything in the past, and unobstructed low intensity radios beat everything.

The situation will change when wifi alliance puts in multi-radio client devices into the story so that you can get true mesh networking (you never really disconnect since you are already connected to the next access point closest to you).

If you want proper home automation without all the 3-4 star reviews that client devices tend to get, you want bulletproof wifi. In the grand scheme of things, the cost of ubiquiti unifi access points is quite cheap when bought in the bulk boxes. It's quite easy to run cat6 cable. on top of that, the units also have passthrough POE so you really have nice versatility.

I would say bar none, one of the best products i have ever bought for my house was ubiquiti unifi.

My current access points:
1. behind each TV/media center in the bedrooms (4) so that I have a direct wire access too. they are slightly hidden here too so that don't mess with the room decor. one for the bedroom covers that bedroom, closet, bathroom, and the immediate area outside the house.
2. one for the dining room area (which is separated by walls)
3. one for the kitchen + living room + breakfast area - direct line of site by placing this one on a wall behind a painting. again hidden which is my theme here.
4. one in my study close to the front of my house so i can have signal reach out into the front yard.
5. one for the garage which is sealed from the main house by foam insulation - this helps he get onto wifi from my driveway and control my garage door openers (MyQ) via wifi/homekit.
6. one for the game room area upstairs which is a wide open area.
7. one for my home theater which is completely foam insulated in addition to the usual sound proofing like mass loaded vinyl and whatnot. again this access point is a necessity for clean 5g wifi in this room.

Again it may seem like overkill, but remember that you want your client device to disconnect if you are walking down the hall and reconnect in the destination room. you dont want to latch onto a really far away signal with a crap throughput. This is really the magic of a pro wifi system... it is dramatically better than anything else I have tried with consumer grade routers placed centrally in my house or with something like airport express modules.

Blazar!
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post #6 of 15 Old 11-14-2018, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheezefrog View Post
I am in the process of remodel work to my home and running a lot of wire for smart home / automation / av dist/ network / and whole home audio. I was wondering what the "standard" and realistically future proof wire is for someone who plans on having a matrix switch to run AV in every room and support 4k + future technology as it comes out.

I have been looking a lot at netstreams older products, for some reason, I just really like the Ethernet + 16/2 or 16/4 design, and more so because I don't have to "centralize" and run RCA wires for every speaker in the home to one panel, instead netstreams design runs inline to the touch panels in every room while you just have an output for cat5e + 16/4 + RG6 to the controller.

I understand netstreams got bought out and they will no longer support the technology with clearone coming into the fold now, however, I noticed that a lot of distribution controllers like control4's 16 channel audio switch (and others) are still using RCA. What is the best approach for home audio wiring these days? Is good old RCA still the best future proof method by doing long runs all going to a central location from the speakers scattered throughout the home? Or is Ethernet (such as netstreams) and the way they layout the digilinX products a really promising approach?
Home run everything, and if you're not certain what you want in terms of products (and therefore cable needs) run conduit.
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post #7 of 15 Old 11-14-2018, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blazar View Post
if you just want 2.4 band, then you definitely dont need that many. If you want consistent 5g coverage however, any line of site obstruction by walls drops connection speed dramatically.

I tried for years with 2-3 access points and the service sucked. On my 6250 sf house with foam insulated walls, my coverage is dramatically better with around 10 access points.

Also you can turn down the radio strength when you have a lot of points so that the client device can unlatch from room to room easier and attach to a closer 5g signal.

I have tried everything in the past, and unobstructed low intensity radios beat everything.

The situation will change when wifi alliance puts in multi-radio client devices into the story so that you can get true mesh networking (you never really disconnect since you are already connected to the next access point closest to you).

If you want proper home automation without all the 3-4 star reviews that client devices tend to get, you want bulletproof wifi. In the grand scheme of things, the cost of ubiquiti unifi access points is quite cheap when bought in the bulk boxes. It's quite easy to run cat6 cable. on top of that, the units also have passthrough POE so you really have nice versatility.

I would say bar none, one of the best products i have ever bought for my house was ubiquiti unifi.

My current access points:
1. behind each TV/media center in the bedrooms (4) so that I have a direct wire access too. they are slightly hidden here too so that don't mess with the room decor. one for the bedroom covers that bedroom, closet, bathroom, and the immediate area outside the house.
2. one for the dining room area (which is separated by walls)
3. one for the kitchen + living room + breakfast area - direct line of site by placing this one on a wall behind a painting. again hidden which is my theme here.
4. one in my study close to the front of my house so i can have signal reach out into the front yard.
5. one for the garage which is sealed from the main house by foam insulation - this helps he get onto wifi from my driveway and control my garage door openers (MyQ) via wifi/homekit.
6. one for the game room area upstairs which is a wide open area.
7. one for my home theater which is completely foam insulated in addition to the usual sound proofing like mass loaded vinyl and whatnot. again this access point is a necessity for clean 5g wifi in this room.

Again it may seem like overkill, but remember that you want your client device to disconnect if you are walking down the hall and reconnect in the destination room. you dont want to latch onto a really far away signal with a crap throughput. This is really the magic of a pro wifi system... it is dramatically better than anything else I have tried with consumer grade routers placed centrally in my house or with something like airport express modules.
We're both in agreement on this point although I do think it's overkill. Then again, the topic of the thread is "future proofing" so on one hand I can see where "overkill" often goes hand in hand with the former idea. I also think that if the OP isn't going to utilize all AP's out of the gate that simply wiring CAT6 to each location is more what they had in mind. Adding more APs as the need arises would be quite simple then and, should he/she actually outgrow a couple of APs, adding more would be a simple PnP scenario. I just disagree that adding a dedicated AP to every single room out-of-the-gate is going to offer a good ROI to the average user.

Jer

'Build a man a fire and he stays warm for one night. Set a man afire and he stays warm for the rest of his life.'
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post #8 of 15 Old 11-17-2018, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremyhelling View Post
We're both in agreement on this point although I do think it's overkill. Then again, the topic of the thread is "future proofing" so on one hand I can see where "overkill" often goes hand in hand with the former idea. I also think that if the OP isn't going to utilize all AP's out of the gate that simply wiring CAT6 to each location is more what they had in mind. Adding more APs as the need arises would be quite simple then and, should he/she actually outgrow a couple of APs, adding more would be a simple PnP scenario. I just disagree that adding a dedicated AP to every single room out-of-the-gate is going to offer a good ROI to the average user.
In particular, getting access points to the edges of my house and garage helped with getting the wifi signal outside without doing more access points for outdoor use. I would rather have protected indoor units.

I agree, my house isn't the "average" user by any stretch of the imagination. I am an enthusiast with this sort of thing so really my setup beats most commercial installations. But my time on avsforum tells me something: people that hang around on these forums are the type of folks that become dissatisfied with mediocre anything. Most of us are OCD about these things which is why we are here in the first place. I am rarely talking to the average user.

the biggest factor in my mind for folks to consider:
a) are you doing wifi calling where you will drop a call if you are not rapidly switching for AP to AP. This is an issue for some people's houses on certain carriers where they have poor reception. wifi calling can be quite good. rapid switchover while you are walking around the house is critical since true client side mesh networking doesn't exist.

b) are you going to stream (via airplay) for example from your personal device which you are walking around the house with? You are going to drop the music from time to time if you access point doesn't switch over.

c) unusual walls or obstructions (like concrete walls) that prevent good signal.

The two above points were the precise reason I went on a warpath to getting the "best" wifi I could find.

Once they have truly client side mesh wifi become a reality, we will probably all change our wifi stuff yet again. I would say another 10 years for that to become "common". That will create a true setup where you never disconnect between access points. This is a constant issue at work where I use a rolling computer in a big building.

Blazar!
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post #9 of 15 Old 11-19-2018, 12:13 PM
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If I had to guess, most people streaming music or video do it using Roku, Google Chromecast or Amazon Prime.

Strong wifi in any case is very important as you mentioned Blazar.


Fortunately, for the people that aren't streaming using Airplay or Airplay 2, there isn't any need for them to worry about their phones or tablets leaving the wifi network on the stream has been sent to the Roku, Chromecast and Amazon Prime stick. The stream will continue to play.



I cast music from my Iphone X or my Samsung tablet to my Chromecast Audio and I've left the house to go to the gym and the music plays while I'm out of the house. Same with video that I cast to my Chromecasts.

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post #10 of 15 Old 11-21-2018, 08:18 PM
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I think I'd just do a few ruckus or Aruba AP's that fully implement 802.11r and not worry about proper handoffs, sticky clients and such anymore.
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post #11 of 15 Old 12-04-2018, 06:16 PM
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Unhappy Conduits!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mntneer View Post
Home run everything, and if you're not certain what you want in terms of products (and therefore cable needs) run conduit.

I agree on the conduit, you can use LV flexible conduits (Smurf Tube).


That was my plan on my current home that I finished in 2007. Then I got in a rush with a LOT of decisions and a timeline and ended up not running as much as I had planned. Ended up with a whole bunch of hardwired RG6 cables that I have never used.


Luckily I did run quite a few hard conduits in the HT closet and behind a couple of the TV locations up to an attic space if available and to under the house.


I did run Cat 6 to multiple points in every room and they all home run back to a set of in-wall structured media cabinets.


I still am now wishing that I had run more conduits and less coax.
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post #12 of 15 Old 12-19-2018, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funky54 View Post
Tv’s - 1x Sheilded Cat 6, 1x cat 6, 1RG6 & 1x 22/4 (sheilded cat 7 or multi fiber would be even better... but we may not be around when it’s useful)

Audio - 16/4 to each zone all to one head end area. Make sure this Audio head end has a couple cat 6 jumps if you don’t have one location for all subsystems together. (Rack)

Please do not run audio to a Keypad and cat to a panel.. it is horrible technology and was abandunded for a reason.



Can keypads be converted to digital screens if they wired 7 years ago or do you need new wiring?
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post #13 of 15 Old 12-20-2018, 05:07 PM
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That all depends on “what” was used 7 years ago. If it’s cat 5 or better, you can use it for a touch panel. If it’s security wire for a security key pad, then you can likely do a new security keypad but not a touch panel. You’ll know by the number of wires. If it’s four wires your likely stuck with just a security kp.
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post #14 of 15 Old 01-08-2019, 07:05 PM
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Wherever the main access point is going to go (centrally located) be sure to run 2 ethernets. So if you choose a little Amplifi or any other wireless router it can be placed in the center of the house and have a retunr ethernet back to the homerun location to plug into the switch etc and route the rest of the house. I am surprised how many new homes are missing the single important ethernet run.
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post #15 of 15 Old 01-09-2019, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momoaz View Post
Wherever the main access point is going to go (centrally located) be sure to run 2 ethernets. So if you choose a little Amplifi or any other wireless router it can be placed in the center of the house and have a retunr ethernet back to the homerun location to plug into the switch etc and route the rest of the house. I am surprised how many new homes are missing the single important ethernet run.
Any decent WAP can be placed above a closet door, on ceiling of a pantry or closet, under stairs. Think of its broadcasted band being a big pulsating doughnut. You want them 7-10 feet high and centrally located. You don’t want too much overlap. Having multiple locations wired give you options even if not used. For large open floor plans your far better off with wireless access points and not doing mesh. Mesh is...ok for cluttered small room houses or lots of concrete stone obstructions. Mesh is after the fact.. to make the best of it because it wasn’t thought out right at the construction phase.

Last.. if you have an equipment rack area or any zigbee devices, don’t put a wireless access near the zigbee hub. It’s a bad idea. I don’t like waps on equipment or even in the equipment room.

LAST: DO NOT CONFUSE A MESH WITH A STANDARD ACCESS POINT.
you simply can’t reliably place an access in each room.. that’s ridiculous. Someone finds that of value because they didn’t set thing up right in the beginning and now they are stuck with weak mesh stuff.

Last edited by funky54; 01-09-2019 at 09:33 AM.
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