Rant: why is this so hard ? (Whole house AV distribution) - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 41 Old 10-20-2014, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Rant: why is this so hard ? (Whole house AV distribution)

/rant on
It puzzles me why its so hard to distributed AV media around a house these days.

We have a 3800 ft^2 house (plus the basement). It has about a dozen audio zones with speakers either in the ceiling or wired junction boxes in the wall. Every volume control location is wired for Ethernet. All the speakers are wired to an audio closet.

We have about 6 locations set up for display monitors. Most of them have conduit such that we can pull any sort of wire we want. All our TVs are DLNA compliant.

We have several content sources
- Blu-ray DVD player
- 2 satellite receivers
- large MP3 collection
- some hard drive based video
- about 10,000 digital images
- Netflix
- various Internet based radio stations

So why is it that its so hard to tie this all together in this day and age, especially without spending a fortune ?

Ideally all the hardware would be in the audio closet.
Ideally we'd be able to view any of the video sources on any of the display monitors.
Ideally we'd be able to listen to any source in any zone(s) in the house.

And yet nobody has been able to come up with a system that will allow me to do this.

The closest system we've found thus far for audio is the HTD Lyncpad system. Their biggest system is 6 sources (plus local sources) and 12 outputs. Their built in MP3 player doesn't shuffle so its pretty much out, though we could tie an RPi MP3 player as a source. But then it can't be controlled from the wall controller, so that means one needs to carry a phone around.

The Lyncpad system doesn't touch the video side. About the best idea we've had there is to get a matrix HDMI switch and use it to route video where it needs to go. The Lyncpad system could route the remote IR signals back to the audio closet where the sources are. However, the distance from the audio closet to some of the display monitors is over 100 feet of cable, so there are issues there.

But surely there is a better way ?

The culprit on the video side is HDMI. Manufacturers use it as a DRM system. Nobody builds a stand alone decoder that takes HDMI and converts it to DLNA, or this would be easy - stream all the video sources are DLNA streams and use the display monitors to select which one you want to watch.

There are no excuses on the audio side. Lyncpad comes closest. It needs more source inputs down in the audio closet. It should also have a built in Internet radio player (or three).

/rant over

I could go on, but I have to leave for a meeting.

Any and all ideas for solving this problem are welcome.
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post #2 of 41 Old 10-20-2014, 03:19 PM
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So why is it that its so hard to tie this all together in this day and age, especially without spending a fortune ?
Because you're mixing audio with video...

Audio is easy. Video is hard primarily because of copyright protection in the digital world... The cat was out of the bag on digital audio too early, so DRM methods failed and were abandoned. But cheap streaming setups are also removing a lot of the need to "distribute" video from shared/centralized sources, too. At least in economic terms.

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The closest system we've found thus far for audio is the HTD Lyncpad system. Their biggest system is 6 sources (plus local sources) and 12 outputs. Their built in MP3 player doesn't shuffle so its pretty much out, though we could tie an RPi MP3 player as a source. But then it can't be controlled from the wall controller, so that means one needs to carry a phone around.
The NuVo and Russound wired systems (and Control4 or others further up the price curve) with the matching music server product(s) will do what you want, sans video. But you can certainly feed stereo audio from video sources to these systems.

None of these may do it as cheaply as you'd like, but that's the market. $500/zone for distributed audio (plus speakers) is the going rate for a fully integrated audio solution...

Jeff
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post #3 of 41 Old 10-21-2014, 12:52 PM
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I have a feeling vendors of AV equipment, don't take into consideration whole-house distribution, when they come up with these connects, so it's up to third-parties to "patch" (un-elegant) all the pieces together.
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post #4 of 41 Old 10-21-2014, 01:19 PM
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Heard of these guys? I haven't tried their stuff, it isn't cheap, but it does seem to distribute HDMI all over Ethernet. The biggest plus of this system is it is basically an infinite matrix switch limited only by the port capacities of your network of managed routers. The other benefit is you can have sources anywhere, just connect them to a transmitter box. Need another source, buy another transmitter, install it next to the source, connect it to the managed Ethernet network. Need another sink, buy another receiver, connect it to the network, connect it to your TV/receiver/whatever. They also mention you can do an "audio extract", so 2 channel zones are supported, too.

That said, I do believe you're very right, it seems there is no company really looking to fully integrate a user's audio/video library, with live/recorded TV, streaming, and any HDMI-based sources. Of course, that's probably because the market for that level of integration is smaller than the cost to fully develop it. However, since most of that stuff is done over Ethernet, maybe just putting the HDMI sources on Ethernet as well could be one more step to more easily integrating stuff.... "One cable to control them all" if you will, lol.

Good luck! I know I, too, was frustrated when I wanted a one-stop shopping solution forever ago. I just gave up, deciding that while it would be really neat to have all that, it was just my wife and I plus an occasional guest in our home, and we didn't need to appropriate money to something we'd never use to its fullest extent.
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post #5 of 41 Old 10-21-2014, 03:12 PM
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Heard of these guys? I haven't tried their stuff, it isn't cheap, but it does seem to distribute HDMI all over Ethernet. The biggest plus of this system is it is basically an infinite matrix switch limited only by the port capacities of your network of managed routers. The other benefit is you can have sources anywhere, just connect them to a transmitter box. Need another source, buy another transmitter, install it next to the source, connect it to the managed Ethernet network. Need another sink, buy another receiver, connect it to the network, connect it to your TV/receiver/whatever. They also mention you can do an "audio extract", so 2 channel zones are supported, too.
The JustAddPower solution is great for commercial uses, but as it's not bit-perfect (and I don't recall if it supports DTS-MA / DD+), the scale it provides generally isn't necessary for residential purposes - and the cost of the gear plus the managed switch infrastructure is probably higher than a matrix.

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That said, I do believe you're very right, it seems there is no company really looking to fully integrate a user's audio/video library, with live/recorded TV, streaming, and any HDMI-based sources. Of course, that's probably because the market for that level of integration is smaller than the cost to fully develop it.
The market for a fully integrated audio/video server would be huge - if it was legal... But since you can't (legally) rip DVD/BD discs to a server without being sued out of existence, the solution is simply not available. K-scape does it with a huge kludge of keeping the discs in managed storage, which makes it way too expensive for us mere mortals.

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post #6 of 41 Old 10-21-2014, 07:12 PM
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The JustAddPower solution is great for commercial uses, but as it's not bit-perfect (and I don't recall if it supports DTS-MA / DD+), the scale it provides generally isn't necessary for residential purposes - and the cost of the gear plus the managed switch infrastructure is probably higher than a matrix.
True, it is not bit-perfect. You are also correct, it does not support the newer lossless audio codecs. However, most people aren't distributing to a bunch of theater-like rooms, so...maybe not such a big deal. Though, for the price, you may be right, a matrix switch with just enough ports for the user is probably more economic.
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The market for a fully integrated audio/video server would be huge - if it was legal... But since you can't (legally) rip DVD/BD discs to a server without being sued out of existence, the solution is simply not available. K-scape does it with a huge kludge of keeping the discs in managed storage, which makes it way too expensive for us mere mortals.
I don't know that it's as big as you think. But, you're correct, the legality of serving up a user's personal video collection is an issue.
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post #7 of 41 Old 10-21-2014, 07:33 PM
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I don't know that it's as big as you think. But, you're correct, the legality of serving up a user's personal video collection is an issue.
Anything we call a "DVR" today could turn into a media server with little or no hardware cost added. Software is mostly there, or could have been easily purchased (codecs, network stacks). The market size for that is - everyone who currently has a DVR.

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post #8 of 41 Old 10-21-2014, 07:41 PM
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Two monoprice 6 zone units would work.
Add in a receiver with 2 + zones
Add a monoprice 4x4 matrix

Audio out from video sources go into the monoprice unit (rca plus each has toslink as well)
Receiver is your flex player...for when you run out of HDMI inputs on matrix....or need more wattage for a large room

Then it's about programming a remote with rf or iPad with easy to use macros like:

Choose your room/location
Music or video?
Then list applicable sources or activities
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post #9 of 41 Old 10-22-2014, 01:58 PM
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'Manufacturers use it as a DRM system' - no that would be the copyright holders who have imposed the rules!

How much are you looking to spend (or not) on your ideal solution?

A two layer approach (HDMI over CAT Matrix + multi-zone audio) is often the most cost effective - which may require you go with iOS or Android devices for control?

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post #10 of 41 Old 10-22-2014, 03:21 PM
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The price is because good audio costs money. You can't get 'cheap' quality preamps and amplifiers for nothing. They call cost money. The bufferring of different audio signals so you don't lose quality in a controlled environment has some costs associated with it. Good amplifiers that can be available all the time, are reliable, and don't introduce noise into the system are pricey. We now can get speakers direct from manufacturers, which drops pricing, and you can always get used (eBay) gear to lower prices further.

But, HDMI isn't often an eBay item, and the mixing of surround sound audio zones with stereo audio zones can introduce huge HDMI issues which aren't easily worked with.

You could try a rack of A/V receivers which handle HD audio, then pipe them over to stereo zones and surround zones as you want. They take a ton of room, and may be pricey (again). But, perhaps cheaper than a true distributed system with integrated DSP capabilities and break away audio.

At the end of all of this, HDMI has failed to deliver a combined stereo/surround audio solution for consumers on a single cable, leaving manufacturers to make this product. Still, much like quality audio, to distribute quality video uses a ton of bandwidth, and doing it error free has a cost associated with it.

Several thousand dollars would be 'cheap' for a really good solution... just for the HDMI itself.

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post #11 of 41 Old 10-23-2014, 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post
Anything we call a "DVR" today could turn into a media server with little or no hardware cost added. Software is mostly there, or could have been easily purchased (codecs, network stacks). The market size for that is - everyone who currently has a DVR.
Agreed -- I see your point. But, they could do that by adding "apps" to DVRS (DirecTV has a half-arsed implementation of app-like things) that could act as streamers. In that case, it's probably a competition-thing. Why should, say, Comcast put a Netflix app out the box when they want to sell people the OnDemand packages. Plus it still wouldn't be likely they'd add HDMI-matrixing to the mix.

That said, I agree, given the current content-delivery systems in place, I'd say the providers (Comcast, DirecTV, etc) would much prefer their DVR products be what offers than rather than, say, independent companies (maybe, Oppo or Kaleidoscope) designing it. So, if they wanted to (and they don't) they'd integrate this into the DVR and tons of people would go for it -- don't think they'd pay more for it, though (sorta like a Genie upgrade if you're with DirecTV).
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post #12 of 41 Old 10-23-2014, 06:49 AM
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Agreed -- I see your point. But, they could do that by adding "apps" to DVRS (DirecTV has a half-arsed implementation of app-like things) that could act as streamers. In that case, it's probably a competition-thing.
No, it's a copyright thing... They can't do what you're suggesting, as they'd get sued from every direction. But yes, if they could, it could just be an "app" to stream content from your digital library.

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post #13 of 41 Old 10-23-2014, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by elmerfudII View Post
/rant on
It puzzles me why its so hard to distributed AV media around a house these days.

We have a 3800 ft^2 house (plus the basement). It has about a dozen audio zones with speakers either in the ceiling or wired junction boxes in the wall. Every volume control location is wired for Ethernet. All the speakers are wired to an audio closet.

We have about 6 locations set up for display monitors. Most of them have conduit such that we can pull any sort of wire we want. All our TVs are DLNA compliant.

We have several content sources
- Blu-ray DVD player
- 2 satellite receivers
- large MP3 collection
- some hard drive based video
- about 10,000 digital images
- Netflix
- various Internet based radio stations

So why is it that its so hard to tie this all together in this day and age, especially without spending a fortune ?

Ideally all the hardware would be in the audio closet.
Ideally we'd be able to view any of the video sources on any of the display monitors.
Ideally we'd be able to listen to any source in any zone(s) in the house.

And yet nobody has been able to come up with a system that will allow me to do this.

The closest system we've found thus far for audio is the HTD Lyncpad system. Their biggest system is 6 sources (plus local sources) and 12 outputs. Their built in MP3 player doesn't shuffle so its pretty much out, though we could tie an RPi MP3 player as a source. But then it can't be controlled from the wall controller, so that means one needs to carry a phone around.

The Lyncpad system doesn't touch the video side. About the best idea we've had there is to get a matrix HDMI switch and use it to route video where it needs to go. The Lyncpad system could route the remote IR signals back to the audio closet where the sources are. However, the distance from the audio closet to some of the display monitors is over 100 feet of cable, so there are issues there.

But surely there is a better way ?

The culprit on the video side is HDMI. Manufacturers use it as a DRM system. Nobody builds a stand alone decoder that takes HDMI and converts it to DLNA, or this would be easy - stream all the video sources are DLNA streams and use the display monitors to select which one you want to watch.

There are no excuses on the audio side. Lyncpad comes closest. It needs more source inputs down in the audio closet. It should also have a built in Internet radio player (or three).

/rant over

I could go on, but I have to leave for a meeting.

Any and all ideas for solving this problem are welcome.
Elmer-- just curious, but the ideas above (and/or the approach I suggested) would allow you to watch any show on any screen and listen to 12 sources in 12 zones...all for under $2K.

If I may ask: what is it exactly that you wish to do, but cannot?
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post #14 of 41 Old 02-21-2015, 08:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Elmer-- just curious, but the ideas above (and/or the approach I suggested) would allow you to watch any show on any screen and listen to 12 sources in 12 zones...all for under $2K.

If I may ask: what is it exactly that you wish to do, but cannot?
The Monoprice 4x4 matrix is $1500 alone. It relies on wired HDMI connections.

**IF** we could send content compressed on Ethernet, the matrix switcher would be the price of a low powered PC. And you could have as many sources and sinks as the PC could keep up with sending content to. And the displays could be any device instead of only a device that has an HDMI connection.

We live in the year 2015. Things should be a lot easier and more versatile than they are.

I don't follow exactly how you are getting that 12 sources could be watched on 12 display devices. I'd need to see a block diagram.
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post #15 of 41 Old 02-21-2015, 09:50 PM
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The Monoprice 4x4 matrix is $1500 alone. It relies on wired HDMI connections.

**IF** we could send content compressed on Ethernet, the matrix switcher would be the price of a low powered PC. And you could have as many sources and sinks as the PC could keep up with sending content to. And the displays could be any device instead of only a device that has an HDMI connection.

We live in the year 2015. Things should be a lot easier and more versatile than they are.

I don't follow exactly how you are getting that 12 sources could be watched on 12 display devices. I'd need to see a block diagram.
What are your audio needs at each location? Look into Just Add Power again- it supports 4K and the switching speed is faster than anything out there. I haven't used it (just been to their training) and from what others in the industry say, it just plain works.

Re: things should be easier than they are- blame Hollywood and everyone who adopted HDMI. If they had pushed for fiber and media converters, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
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What are your audio needs at each location? Look into Just Add Power again- it supports 4K and the switching speed is faster than anything out there. I haven't used it (just been to their training) and from what others in the industry say, it just plain works.
But it may not be any cheaper... It will depend on what the real needs of each zone are (music/audio or audio/video/surround).

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Re: things should be easier than they are- blame Hollywood and everyone who adopted HDMI. If they had pushed for fiber and media converters, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Yes, we would. HDMI isn't the issue. Any digital transmission system would have, and will continue in the future, to face the same content protection requirements (e.g. HDCP) if anyone expects Hollywood to support the system. Fiber-based systems wouldn't have solved any of the issues we face...

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post #17 of 41 Old 02-22-2015, 12:11 PM
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But it may not be any cheaper... It will depend on what the real needs of each zone are (music/audio or audio/video/surround).



Yes, we would. HDMI isn't the issue. Any digital transmission system would have, and will continue in the future, to face the same content protection requirements (e.g. HDCP) if anyone expects Hollywood to support the system. Fiber-based systems wouldn't have solved any of the issues we face...
IIRC, you wrote that you have a way to feed cabling after the initial wiring has been done. You might be interested to know that many manufacturers don't recommend using anything above Cat5e, unless its for exceptionally long runs. Just Add Power is one of these. They designed their system to work with cables that are already in place and for that, I applaud them. However, I think you might want to look to equipment that's used for presentations & digital signage and to the contractors who sell and install it for ideas. What you want to do isn't in the realm of the 'typical' residential distribution scheme. It's not cheaper, but it might just be what is needed.

HDCP and by default, HDMI ARE the problem. Hollywood likes them because they don't want people to copy their precious movies but they're ignoring the fact that when someone copies movies or music on a large scale, it's not from a disc player's output to the input of a digital recorder, it's done by ripping the disc to a hard drive and making copies. WRT to copy-guarding content, you're right- fiber probably wouldn't help but as far as being able to handle bandwidth and other technical issues, it definitely could be a good solution.
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post #18 of 41 Old 02-22-2015, 12:27 PM
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IIRC, you wrote that you have a way to feed cabling after the initial wiring has been done. You might be interested to know that many manufacturers don't recommend using anything above Cat5e, unless its for exceptionally long runs. Just Add Power is one of these. They designed their system to work with cables that are already in place and for that, I applaud them. However, I think you might want to look to equipment that's used for presentations & digital signage and to the contractors who sell and install it for ideas. What you want to do isn't in the realm of the 'typical' residential distribution scheme. It's not cheaper, but it might just be what is needed.
You're quoting the wrong person... "cables that are already in place" for JAP just means a capable 1Gb Ethernet infrastructure. Which for commercial installs is more likely to match the existing cabling. But for residential wiring, the in-place wiring is probably just as capable for HDMI-over-cat5e solutions (since everything is generally home-run anyway).

But the OP was not looking for a commercial or digital signage solution, either. Which again leads back to HDMI-over-cat5e / HDBaseT solutions which are generally more appropriate than the JAP for residential installs...

Quote:
HDCP and by default, HDMI ARE the problem. Hollywood likes them because they don't want people to copy their precious movies but they're ignoring the fact that when someone copies movies or music on a large scale, it's not from a disc player's output to the input of a digital recorder, it's done by ripping the disc to a hard drive and making copies. WRT to copy-guarding content, you're right- fiber probably wouldn't help but as far as being able to handle bandwidth and other technical issues, it definitely could be a good solution.
Bandwidth and technical issues aren't a problem. Fiber only raises costs and complexity, again talking about residential AV uses. Fiber wouldn't fix the EDID and audio/video compatibility issues that come up with HDMI distribution. Those are all due to a lack of "distribution" features being designed into the specification. Fixing them, in hindsight, would be simple - but certainly rewinding a decade, would have raised the implementation costs and complexity to solve for situations that even today are probably only seen by 1-2% of the customers (but that small percentage, of course, most of us fall into!).

No argument here that the digital copyright protection stuff is misguided and targets the wrong people, but my point is that copy protection schemes would have existed regardless of the method of digital transmission. Until that mindset changes, we're stuck with it - and that's not HDMI's fault...

Jeff

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post #19 of 41 Old 02-22-2015, 01:56 PM
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You're quoting the wrong person... "cables that are already in place" for JAP just means a capable 1Gb Ethernet infrastructure. Which for commercial installs is more likely to match the existing cabling. But for residential wiring, the in-place wiring is probably just as capable for HDMI-over-cat5e solutions (since everything is generally home-run anyway).

But the OP was not looking for a commercial or digital signage solution, either. Which again leads back to HDMI-over-cat5e / HDBaseT solutions which are generally more appropriate than the JAP for residential installs...

Bandwidth and technical issues aren't a problem. Fiber only raises costs and complexity, again talking about residential AV uses. Fiber wouldn't fix the EDID and audio/video compatibility issues that come up with HDMI distribution. Those are all due to a lack of "distribution" features being designed into the specification. Fixing them, in hindsight, would be simple - but certainly rewinding a decade, would have raised the implementation costs and complexity to solve for situations that even today are probably only seen by 1-2% of the customers (but that small percentage, of course, most of us fall into!).

No argument here that the digital copyright protection stuff is misguided and targets the wrong people, but my point is that copy protection schemes would have existed regardless of the method of digital transmission. Until that mindset changes, we're stuck with it - and that's not HDMI's fault...

Jeff
Fair enough, but it's more than 1-2% and those who installed their own equipment, probably has the TV on top of the stand with the rest of the equipment. The rest of us who install throughout the building have all seen many cases where they used cables that worked last week/month/year and no longer do because of some update that makes them obsolete. Customers don't like being told that the money they spent on cables was wasted because of something that the industry decided people need (3d and 4K) but only a small number may have asked for. Sure, we want higher resolution, but how many really know what it entails from a hardware standpoint? HDBaseT doesn't solve all of these problems and when a cable/satellite installer has had their way with an existing structure's cabling, sometimes the only way to get a good signal to the TV is by tearing it open and fishing new. If wireless HDMI works, great. If not, they often do without or leave cables laying on the floor.
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post #20 of 41 Old 02-22-2015, 10:50 PM
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Fair enough, but it's more than 1-2% and those who installed their own equipment, probably has the TV on top of the stand with the rest of the equipment.
Ya lost me there... It's all ball bearings these days!

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The rest of us who install throughout the building have all seen many cases where they used cables that worked last week/month/year and no longer do because of some update that makes them obsolete. Customers don't like being told that the money they spent on cables was wasted because of something that the industry decided people need (3d and 4K) but only a small number may have asked for. Sure, we want higher resolution, but how many really know what it entails from a hardware standpoint?
Huh? The cables don't suddenly stop working... If someone upgrades equipment and expects new features (which require more pins or higher performance), then yeah, cables may have to added or replaced. It was just as bad in the previous decade - look at the move from composite to S-Video to Component video - all very different cabling plants.

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post #21 of 41 Old 02-23-2015, 03:04 AM
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HD over LAN (note you cant call it HDMI over LAN) does tend to 'just work' - again see the bit about it not being called 'HDMI' over LAN (breaking the rules does make things a bit simpler ) - though you have to factor in that all HD over LAN solutions have to use some form of image compression and no matter how good the compression is it will not deliver a 'pixel perfect' image in the way HDBT does!


HD over LAN is great for Commercial systems and in Residential properties where you may have secondary' zones/rooms with smaller Displays and giving away a bit of quality is not such an issue, for 'main' zones HDBT is still the best option.


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post #22 of 41 Old 02-23-2015, 05:18 AM
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I am currently installing a HTD System in a friends new house being built. So far I only have the keypads wired in so I cant say for sure as its not up and running yet but you mentioned something about it not having MP3 shuffle. Couldn't you just hook up a Apple Express or Apple TV to it via a HTD DAC(Optical to RCA Converter) and stream from your phone? That's what we plan to do!

As for video sounds like you need a Matrix system.

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post #23 of 41 Old 02-23-2015, 05:28 AM
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I have a much more modest setup but I have been very impressed with HDBaseT based hdmi distribution. Granted matrixed systems are pricey, but it is very slick way to send hdmi over cat5e/6.

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post #24 of 41 Old 02-23-2015, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post
Ya lost me there... It's all ball bearings these days!



Huh? The cables don't suddenly stop working... If someone upgrades equipment and expects new features (which require more pins or higher performance), then yeah, cables may have to added or replaced. It was just as bad in the previous decade - look at the move from composite to S-Video to Component video - all very different cabling plants.
Yeah, they do stop working. Without being touched, I have had cables that had worked for almost a year, stop passing video. Seems like an EDID issue, right? How would an HDMI cable suddenly go bad? Same thing happened to a customer about 3 weeks after the installation- TW cable had no video, just audio. The banner and guide would show when the buttons were pressed, but the video- gone. New cables cured both and I haven't had problems in these cases since then.

Composite vs S-Video isn't dissimilar enough to mention and they use different connectors but composite cables work for component- you just need to use more of them. HDMI, being digital, can't be compared- totally different format but when they increase resolution & content, old cables won't work. They're changing the rules in the middle of the game.
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post #25 of 41 Old 02-23-2015, 08:33 AM
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Yeah, they do stop working. Without being touched, I have had cables that had worked for almost a year, stop passing video. Seems like an EDID issue, right? How would an HDMI cable suddenly go bad? Same thing happened to a customer about 3 weeks after the installation- TW cable had no video, just audio. The banner and guide would show when the buttons were pressed, but the video- gone. New cables cured both and I haven't had problems in these cases since then.
I didn't mean cables don't fail - you said "they didn't work after some upgrade", implying that the cable was fine, but now "unusable". Lots of reasons cables physically fail (usually the connectors), and yes HDMI is significantly more fragile than a piece of RG6 or cat5e.

Quote:
Composite vs S-Video isn't dissimilar enough to mention and they use different connectors but composite cables work for component- you just need to use more of them. HDMI, being digital, can't be compared- totally different format but when they increase resolution & content, old cables won't work. They're changing the rules in the middle of the game.
It's no different - when we upgraded from composite to S-Video to component, the cabling changed. Needing "more" cables requires the same amount of labor and hassle as installing a different type.

But this is way off topic...

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post #26 of 41 Old 02-23-2015, 03:07 PM
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I can understand both sides of this argument. It would be nice if manufactures would realize that people need/want way more source inputs than what they offering. Ideally a product should allow us (for each zone) to select between a local input or a centralized source (meaning you don't need local amps). It would also be nice if the keypads for each zone had an AUX input that would override or take the place of a local source if you wanted to plug in an ipod or something. If I were designing a WHA controller, I would insist that combining multiple controllers also gave you more sources instead of just zones. I would also insist on having a video matrix line that is plug and play compatible with my WHA controllers (think VM1). And scales up the same way. I know they are trying to keep costs down so that the average person can afford this stuff, but I think you could offset the base cost by offering some of these items as add-ons, maybe offering less zones standard (as long as it still scales up),etc.
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post #27 of 41 Old 02-23-2015, 04:31 PM
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I can understand both sides of this argument. It would be nice if manufactures would realize that people need/want way more source inputs than what they offering.
Well, there's a point of diminishing return, and that number seems to be six (which may also be based on commonly available switching chips - but I haven't looked).

Quote:
Ideally a product should allow us (for each zone) to select between a local input or a centralized source (meaning you don't need local amps). It would also be nice if the keypads for each zone had an AUX input that would override or take the place of a local source if you wanted to plug in an ipod or something. If I were designing a WHA controller, I would insist that combining multiple controllers also gave you more sources instead of just zones.
The zone-player / streamer units follow this ("Line Input" on the Sonos/NuVo units that make a source available not just locally, but also to any other zone as well), but the traditional, centralized systems also have solutions for local sources (both powered or un-powered). See "Local Source Input" in most of those product lines... But with WiFi / AirPlay support being common, not sure there's really a lot of demand going forward for lots of other local sources that require real "inputs".

Quote:
I would also insist on having a video matrix line that is plug and play compatible with my WHA controllers (think VM1). And scales up the same way. I know they are trying to keep costs down so that the average person can afford this stuff, but I think you could offset the base cost by offering some of these items as add-ons, maybe offering less zones standard (as long as it still scales up),etc.
The problem is that both distributing video and dealing with the audio-for-video is a completely different animal. Couple that with the need in video zones for 5.1 or more channels, and a different speaker arrangement as compared to a WHA zone, and it becomes obvious why the low/mid-range WHA vendors steer clear of this. And again, the need for truly distributed video is diminishing with the availability of streamers and whole-house-DVR units.

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post #28 of 41 Old 02-24-2015, 09:41 AM
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I am not made of money, so I went with a mostly IP based solution:

QNAP TS-853 8-Bay NAS running Plex Media Server and Logitech Media Server (Squeezebox Server)
Quad-Tuner Tablo Networked DVR
Roku 3 at each display
Squeezebox in each audio system, plus a portable Squeezebox Boom table radio

I did want the ability to sync the TV and sound in the kitchen/dining with the main system in the living room, which I accomplished via a Monoprice 1x2 distribution amp (soon to be replace with a matrix switch) and a 60' run of HDMI.

It all works quite well and only cost a couple grand to set up.

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post #29 of 41 Old 03-07-2015, 12:11 AM
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It is late and my first post but if I am not mistaken...
We use xbmc (now KODI) to share all ov our video\movies\music\images\apps
Libraries are shares, you can do it many ways (unpn, smpt etc)
You can set up mysql to enable leaving one room on a movie and finishing it in another...
We run it all with simple ethernet 110v wall socket connections or through slower wifi for those that are visitng...
Maybe I am missing what you want to do but our whole place does it on a couple hundred bucks (via windows or android) but it can be done on raspberryPi as well...
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post #30 of 41 Old 03-07-2015, 12:18 AM
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I haven't connected different media devices like blue ray because we use them specifically to each source (and that most of our stuff is file driven\streamed) but that might be what you are talking about needing a way to take the signal with a swithching tuner cards for each device but apps like pandora , grooveshark and and most if not all of the majors are supported are all shared as well.
There are also Hulu, Netflix apps that we also are logged into and share.
I don;t see why one xbmc box couldn;t share a player on another on a network.
You can also run live tv via cable (and the web) off of it inside of the gui.
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