Mono or stereo in ceiling? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 35 Old 08-28-2019, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Mono or stereo in ceiling?

Tired of searching and reading so much nonsense.

New house construction, ceiling speakers for WHA used almost exclusively for background music. The exception may be in bedrooms where I may want the option of piping sound from TV to an in ceiling speakers pair if it turns out to sound better lying in bed than the TV or a sound bar.

All common living spaces, outdoors, just background only. Well, around the pool may be louder than just background occasionally!

Mono speakers or stereo speakers? I don't mean single speaker stereo (which I'd use in small rooms if I maintained stereo signal path), I mean mixing down to mono prior to amplifier and using any number of truly mono speakers in a space.

I've seen this suggested as:
- it's background
- you aren't oriented in traditional stereo direction often
- separation may be odd in some rooms... Guitar over here, vocals over there etc.
- often differing room boundaries for L and R
- increases independent channels and perhaps zones?

I've seen arguments against:
- many common WHA systems seem to assume stereo, as volume per zone is on a pair of channels, not each independent channel.
- still maintain some stereo imaging
- less cancellation/combing than from widely spaced mono sources
- plan HTD sent as an example assumes stereo in every zone
- plan local AV integrator sent assumes stereo in every zone.

Personally, going mono seems logical but most entry to mid level WHA systems don't appear to be designed this way. Anything I'm missing here?
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post #2 of 35 Old 08-28-2019, 07:32 PM
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Most commercial installs use mono, only because large installations with lots of speakers use 70 Volt for wiring and power vs 8 ohm. Mono doesn't matter in a mall or other large space.

Residential is different as most everything is 8 ohm and used in a stereo setting. Most rooms will sound great (depending on the speaker/room design).

8 ohm has better bass than 70 volt too, if we are talking the exact same speaker.

Some systems (like VSSL) can set certain zones as mono and can be good for certain room shapes where mono may be better, but these are rare.

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post #3 of 35 Old 08-29-2019, 05:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Awesome, thanks. Short concise answer. I could learn from that!
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post #4 of 35 Old 08-29-2019, 09:10 AM
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I say - pick, choose, plan.

That is, pick products which allow you to mix and match stereo and mono zones.
Choose which zones will be stereo, and which will be mono.
Plan your speaker placement accordingly. Put stereo speakers in the best location for the best sound and results and run them in stereo. For mono zones, place your speakers for best even coverage of the space.

I use a product which let's me mix and match my zones, which I do. I have many rooms with televisions that run in stereo. I put the speakers near the TV on the wall, or use angled speakers in the ceiling near the TV location.

Other areas, like bathrooms and outside, I have the system set for mono and it automatically mixes the stereo feed down to mono.

Everything is 8 ohm for the better audio reproduction.

Yes, commercial uses 70v, but have no doubt that some rooms are designed with stereo setups and use 2-channels of amplification for sound reproduction. I've seen a ton of variety in commercial setups.

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post #5 of 35 Old 08-29-2019, 10:38 AM
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For rooms where you want to go mono, just use one dual-voice coil speaker.

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post #6 of 35 Old 08-29-2019, 01:16 PM
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70 volt systems can be stereo as well.

Yes you can use a dual voice coil but it's easier to blend the signals at the low level. Uses one less amplifier.

When there is a central sitting area as main listening area, use stereo. Otherwise use mono. Outdoor landscaping it typically mono as you are moving around the yard. And, because of the wire lengths, might also be 70 volt.
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post #7 of 35 Old 08-29-2019, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahard View Post
For rooms where you want to go mono, just use one dual-voice coil speaker.

If you are going to use a WHA system with 2 channel stereo amplification to each zone.... I agree this is the best option for zones where you don't want to (or can't) install two speakers, just run a 4 wire cable, install 1 speaker and done! I did this for the bedroom and bathroom zones in my system and I am very happy with the results.

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post #8 of 35 Old 08-29-2019, 08:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Seems there is a choice to be made between many common consumer WHA devices like the HTD and monoprice systems, maybe Russound?, that don't provide any downmix to mono options that I can see, and more upscale matrix equipment like crestron.

To be honest, I looked briefly at the used crestron gear market and it seemed like yet another time consuming diy project. My minutes are already double booked with doing a lot of the theater construction work, building a ton of speakers, building six more multichannel amps, programming a Lutron system, getting up to speed and programming an automation controller.

I sort of want something here that just works out of the box but doesn't require a dealer to install and program.
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post #9 of 35 Old 08-31-2019, 02:45 PM
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If you want to downmix an analog signal to mono you take 2 y cables and connect them together and you have mono, problem solved in about 10 seconds and $3
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post #10 of 35 Old 08-31-2019, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I was thinking before that doing that would create a stereo version and a mono version of each input before a WHA controller, which would make selecting a source problematic, but I suppose that can be done between WHA controller and amplifiers. Maybe it is that simple, since those zones would always be mono. Would definitely reduce total number of amplifier channels needed. Thanks for the suggestion, I had dismissed that earlier without thinking it through well enough.

Of course, I'd use a resistor in line with each output to isolate the sources. Using a Y meant for splitting signals can cause backfeed from one source channel to another and possibly damage them.
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post #11 of 35 Old 09-01-2019, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
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Of course, I'd use a resistor in line with each output to isolate the sources. Using a Y meant for splitting signals can cause backfeed from one source channel to another and possibly damage them.
A resister suppresses in both directions...not just a "backfeed" (of which there isn't any issue in this application).
Just put a Y cable and be done.
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post #12 of 35 Old 09-01-2019, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Line level output devices expect to be connected to a high impedance input/sink, not the low impedance of another output device. Adding a few-k resistor in line for a few pennies is an easy way to ensure that is the case. There "probably" wouldn't be an issue with most devices, but that would be really hard to know until you had a problem.

I had seen a suggestion to mix down to mono before WHA to expand available zones but many don't work that way as channels are linked in pairs. Mixing between WHA and amp seems an easy solution that for some reason hadn't come to mind. Glad I asked!
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post #13 of 35 Old 09-01-2019, 07:49 AM
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In my last house, I had it in the ceilings of three rooms-kitchen, bedroom and great room. It was in stereo and used exclusively as background music. I never noticed and problems with sound as background. Of course, it would not be appropriate for traditional listening. Most receivers have a mono button or option. You can always engage that to try.
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post #14 of 35 Old 09-01-2019, 11:24 AM
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Half of my house is mono - bathroom, kitchen, guest, garage, outside etc. Other rooms are stereo. Less outputs are used, less amp channels needed. For just background music I would prefer it. You can get more creative with speaker layout/zoning, like dropping a single speaker above the bar, or a hallway, or 3 in a long dining room without using DVC and eating up amp channels.

You don't need to do Crestron DSPs for that. You can get QSC/biamp/Symetrix etc DSP used and cheap and the software is not dealer locked. None of the consumer level stuff can touch the capability of those devices.
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post #15 of 35 Old 09-01-2019, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Any specific qsc, symetrix or biamp models you recommend I take a look at? DIY Crestron wasn't something that I thought I wanted to get into, but not against taking a look at less traditional routes for consumer installs so long as software is available and open.
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post #16 of 35 Old 09-01-2019, 12:43 PM
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You can always stack up to 4 of the older Biamp Nexia units. These are very old units (I used these over 10 years ago) but still more capable than anything consumer oriented. You can find the Nexia CS for under $100 easily on eBay. Each has 10 inputs and 6 outputs (mono of course) so if you stack 4 that's 40 in/24 out for $400. Half of that if everything is stereo.

There's Biamp Audia - these are chassis which can have an array of I/O. These can also have cobranet for audio over ethernet. Unless you know exactly what you are looking for I would avoid these. Their newer line is the Tesira, you can find good prices on the standalone (probably not enough I/O) or AVB ones. The Dante Tesiras popup every once in a while. Last one I saw was around 1K.

Newer Symetrix units have Dante and can be had cheap if you keep an eye out, I think they are hitting the sweetspot for price/utility. I grabbed a Radius AEC for $350 a while ago. That's a 12 in/8 out. I found a 12 output expansion unit (x12) for $150 (these retail around 2K.) I've grabbed some misc Dante I/O pieces when they pop up. Shure 4 output unit ($200) Symetrix 4 output ($100) etc. Dante audio isn't going anywhere and the prices can be reasonable if you buy used.

For example something like this:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Symetrix-Sy...AAAOSwiSZdTdbF

I would not buy that one - it's mislabeled as it's not an AEC unit and it's the V1 unit without the expansion port. At $500 no...if it hits around $250-300 it's a decent price.

QSC has the Core 110. These are relatively new so they don't popup all that often. Every once in a while I'll see one pop up for not much more than dealer price (new)

How many zones are you wanting to do?
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post #17 of 35 Old 09-01-2019, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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18 zones would work pretty well for now, 24 would be a little more flexible and give room for any future expansion, 12 would be possible combining some adjacent living spaces and to be honest the decreased complexity on control might offset the decreased flexibility.

How are those units you mentioned controlled as far as in a residential setting selecting a source, changing zone volume etc.
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post #18 of 35 Old 09-02-2019, 10:29 AM
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That's a lot of zones. How many of those zones would you want to do mono? Analog I/O gets expensive on commercial DSP stuff. For a large house with 20+ zones going the commercial route might be worth looking into as far as audio ducking, paging, EQ and whatever else pops up.

For example, I'm going to add an in-ceiling sub to my kitchen. I don't have to worry if my WHA supports it, or re-wiring the speakers in that zone. I put it in, run the wire to it and set a xover on the output and I'm good to go. I have a VOIP card in my processor which is used for different things.

As far as control all these guys usually publish their control protocol on their site. Every one I've used has been easy to program control for. These companies make keypads, but they're usually somewhat expensive and I don't see them pop up on ebay often.

Zektor also makes audio processors that have rather high I/O count.

What solution was the A/V integrator proposing for this?
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post #19 of 35 Old 09-02-2019, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
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AV suggested Russound. I got a quote from HTD that would probably meet our needs just fine. We use Amazon echo devices now for background music and to be honest I think music from Amazon, paging/announce function etc of the echo devices would be what we used 90% of the time. I'm tempted to just put echo dots in ceilings everywhere, the HTD amps with priority sensing input, and wire everything back to equipment closet to add WHA matrix later. Would be nice to have local speakers play sound from TV in a zone. That's probably the biggest use I could see. Might occasionally play local music if someone brought a CD or something.

As for stereo/mono, I could see anywhere from 3 to 9 of the zones being mono depending. Some mono or a single dual channel speaker would both be fine.
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post #20 of 35 Old 09-06-2019, 11:29 AM
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See, I think you absolutely need to check the specifications on any product which you get which is a source selector audio matrix to ensure it does stereo to mono mixing per output.

Not sure why someone is talking about DSPs. Those are PRICEY!!!

In all seriousness, we could figure something out for you using 3 Crestron BIPAD8 units. Each one is a 16x8 unit with buffered outputs, so you can stack 3 of them. They will do room by room mono/stereo selection. A little work and they could be pretty well integrated with a phone for control of your source/destination/volume. Not much to it really. Like, $400 materials, maybe the same in labor or so and you could have a 16x24 setup. (amplification NOT included)

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post #21 of 35 Old 09-06-2019, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
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My wife and I may be strange but aren't fans of phone app controlled audio, intercom, lighting, etc. We've talked through it a bit and both agree. Perhaps schizophrenic in our thinking but the two extremes both seem like better options... either wall pad control or voice input. But those both share something in common, they control is always there, local to where you want to play music and perhaps even to control other zones too. Not on your phone which may be in your pocket, on the counter, in the bedroom, dead, in the car, confiscated by a kid watching Netflix......
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post #22 of 35 Old 09-06-2019, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Now if you mean a slick always on app for a phone, iPod, tablet in a wall mounted charging dock that functions as a multipurpose touchscreen for sound, security, lighting etc a cqc or myserver, that's different. Maybe a pain to set up, but at least you always know where it is
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post #23 of 35 Old 09-06-2019, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
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Now if you mean a slick always on app for a phone, iPod, tablet in a wall mounted charging dock that functions as a multipurpose touchscreen for sound, security, lighting etc a cqc or myserver, that's different. Maybe a pain to set up, but at least you always know where it is
To be honest, it depends on what you want and at what level of control. But, I put in iPad minis for some of my clients as dedicated controllers. They control the entire house and they have several of them using the Launchport docking station (induction charging) so that they are always charged and ready to go. It's pretty slick. Using a phone app is just a secondary means and so many these days look to have control in their pocket.

I personally use 12-button keypads throughout my home for in-room source selection and volume control. But, they don't offer much in terms of selecting a streaming app or starting a playlist from my Sonos player. For that, I turn to my phone, which is just what Sonos does as well. But, for radio or matching up to the current TV station it works nicely.

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post #24 of 35 Old 09-07-2019, 08:24 AM
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Not sure why someone is talking about DSPs. Those are PRICEY!!!
He can do 40-50 input/24 output for a few hundred bucks with older bi-amp gear, with software available to the end user. Not sure how that's pricey? This equipment has a learning curve but is a good choice if you need a lot of zones, want to do both stereo/mono and want to DIY.

My personal system has a lot of I/O (w Dante) and I did it for less than 1K. Deals on used "newer" stuff is out there if you keep on top of it.

Are those bipad units cresnet only? So would he need a processor and Crestron software?
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post #25 of 35 Old 09-07-2019, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
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AV suggested Russound. I got a quote from HTD that would probably meet our needs just fine. We use Amazon echo devices now for background music and to be honest I think music from Amazon, paging/announce function etc of the echo devices would be what we used 90% of the time. I'm tempted to just put echo dots in ceilings everywhere, the HTD amps with priority sensing input, and wire everything back to equipment closet to add WHA matrix later. Would be nice to have local speakers play sound from TV in a zone. That's probably the biggest use I could see. Might occasionally play local music if someone brought a CD or something.

As for stereo/mono, I could see anywhere from 3 to 9 of the zones being mono depending. Some mono or a single dual channel speaker would both be fine.
Why not just do that and skip the matrix? If you want TV audio into in-ceiling or in-room speakers you can always use a TV that has a variable 1/8" output into an amp behind the TV or run it back to the WHA amps.
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post #26 of 35 Old 09-07-2019, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Why not just do that and skip the matrix? If you want TV audio into in-ceiling or in-room speakers you can always use a TV that has a variable 1/8" output into an amp behind the TV or run it back to the WHA amps.
Yeah I think this is becoming more early the default plan. We like the Amazon devices, I'll use the dual input priority sensing amps, and hopefully have enough cabling run to send audio back from TV's if needed (currently have 3 cat 6a and 1 rg6 called out).
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post #27 of 35 Old 09-09-2019, 09:57 AM
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He can do 40-50 input/24 output for a few hundred bucks with older bi-amp gear, with software available to the end user. Not sure how that's pricey? This equipment has a learning curve but is a good choice if you need a lot of zones, want to do both stereo/mono and want to DIY.
Along with the wiring that must be taken care of for it. It's not bad if you find all the units, but it's not inexpensive. I like, and use Biamp regularly, but wouldn't do it in a home with consumer gear as a first route.

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Are those bipad units cresnet only? So would he need a processor and Crestron software?
Yes, but the processor and 3 units would be under $400 and I would be happy to help him figure out the rest. A program to allow him to name the inputs, pick the source for a room, adjust volume for a room, and switch between stereo and mono modes would be an interesting project to run through. It would also be insanely reliable.

Processor: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CP...IAAOSwM0RdWgx8
Bipad8: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CN...temCondition=4
and
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CN...temCondition=4

Under $200, will need a power supply as well...
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CN...ry!20152!US!-1

Yes, used Crestron gear, despite the very high quality, can sell for next to nothing on eBay and this particular setup is ideal for this particular option if centralized audio distribution is desired.

But, the Biamp stuff is really good as long as audio can properly get figured out between the different chassis and the wiring and such is dealt with properly. Used quality Biamp gear still can carry a pretty solid price tag.

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post #28 of 35 Old 09-12-2019, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post
Along with the wiring that must be taken care of for it. It's not bad if you find all the units, but it's not inexpensive. I like, and use Biamp regularly, but wouldn't do it in a home with consumer gear as a first route.


Yes, but the processor and 3 units would be under $400 and I would be happy to help him figure out the rest. A program to allow him to name the inputs, pick the source for a room, adjust volume for a room, and switch between stereo and mono modes would be an interesting project to run through. It would also be insanely reliable.

Processor: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CP...IAAOSwM0RdWgx8
Bipad8: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CN...temCondition=4
and
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CN...temCondition=4

Under $200, will need a power supply as well...
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Crestron-CN...ry!20152!US!-1

Yes, used Crestron gear, despite the very high quality, can sell for next to nothing on eBay and this particular setup is ideal for this particular option if centralized audio distribution is desired.

But, the Biamp stuff is really good as long as audio can properly get figured out between the different chassis and the wiring and such is dealt with properly. Used quality Biamp gear still can carry a pretty solid price tag.

What do you mean wiring? If you're referring to having to "Y" source outputs etc with analog cabling this is a non issue. These units have nex-link where you can stack up to 4 units and route audio between them with a CAT5 patch cable and makes for a very clean install. All of your sources can be wired to one unit and sent to all the outputs.

As far as pricing, I'd say looking at sold Ebay listings Nexia CS averages about $100 for 10 in/8 out. That's $400 for 40/24. Biggest plus is these are DIY and will do anything you need them to.

I won't argue Crestron stuff is extremely cheap and an absolute bargain on Ebay - BUT - you know the reason for that. Most of it is a boat anchor if you don't have the software, which is very difficult to come by.
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post #29 of 35 Old 09-13-2019, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Both of those solutions look intriguing and the cost is obviously attractive. The elephant for me is control. We are going to want either a keypad/wallpad that looks nice and can control a local zone, and/or integration with cqc or some other automation system for more comprehensive touchscreen control. Ugly wallswitch or phone app only are out.
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post #30 of 35 Old 09-13-2019, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Bigus View Post
Both of those solutions look intriguing and the cost is obviously attractive. The elephant for me is control. We are going to want either a keypad/wallpad that looks nice and can control a local zone, and/or integration with cqc or some other automation system for more comprehensive touchscreen control. Ugly wallswitch or phone app only are out.
This is where Crestron shines as it offers a number of keypad controllers, some of which you can pick up online (search: crestron keypads) as well as new models which are available. Touchpanels, phone, and tablet control are all available as well.

As for software, you just need to know the right person to talk to.

I use Biamp regularly, and it is a solid option for getting audio mixed, but it doesn't offer the best control options and wiring generally doesn't use RCA inputs. Though, I haven't played with their Nexia PM which has 6 stereo inputs and 3 stereo outputs. Which remains a concern that Nexia products tend to have limited outputs. The CS is 4 in x 8 out (all mono, so stereo zones occupy 2 channels). The PM offers 16 in x 6 out. But those are their largest Nexia units on either side without going to a card based unit. My concern is that you may not get the final result that you want as a possibility if you exceed the NexLink connections (they aren't unlimited) and then you still need to have a control interface for it which is acceptable.

In relation, I have 12 button keypads in all my audio zones. I have hard button remote controls in all my TV zones. I have iPad control and I have iPhone control. Yes, it took some time to put together, but we make very few changes every year to our system so I rarely touch the system. I've installed similar in other homes where they just use the system. The key with Crestron is that if you intend to make changes all the time with equipment, then it may not be the right solution for you. Even though it's crazy reliable, it takes some experience to make it all work.

AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology installation in the Washington DC metro area.
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