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Building Room: IR Repeater or RF? Confused!

945 Views 16 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  MikeSRC
Hi all,

I've just completed the framing stage of my music/HT room. I hope to have all the electrical and speaker wires pulled this weekend. Before I drywall, I need to figure out how to control all my components. Ideally, I want one remote to control the lights and projector in the room, and all the A/V components, which will be housed in a equipment closet outside the HT (about 10' away).

Should I run Cat-5 to the screen wall for an IR Repeater system? Should I go with an RF remote? I'm not sure how this stuff works, but I presume I'll need to run connections to the Lutron light switch, PJ, and each component. Is one system better to use than another?

Thanks for any advise or reading recommendations!

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I'm sure there are many opinions out there so I'll give mine. I have used both options you mention...IR repeater and RF and for me I prefer RF. RF eliminates the biggest headache with IR and that is line of sight, especially if you use macros and who here does not.

When my house was being built I ran 4 conductor 24 gauge (equivalent to CAT5) in my theater. I did this because I was going to install a IR repeater system to control my components which would be behind the seating area. I used a Niles Remote Control Anywhere kit and it worked fine. After a few months of using this I grew tired of pointing the remote at the receiver, especially when I would execute one of my macros...having to remind my family "do not walk in front of the remote until it completes its macro". I also thought if I ever wanted my family to use the theater when I was not there a macro via IR could get very confusing for them, especially if they interrupt the string before it completes. So I decided to make the move to RF...again the IR repeater worked fine and I'm not speaking negatively about that system but for me RF was the only way.

Now I have a Niles Intellicontrol and it's a beautiful thing. I can program any and all buttons and assign a macro to any button. For example, when I pause a movie 2 actions occur:

1. Pause movie

2. Bring lights up (only over the seating area) up to a preset level.

Then when it's time to continue watching the movie the play button...

1. Plays movie

2. Dims lights slowly over a 10 second fade.

These macros may seem very basic (and they are) but it's so much better to push one button and do whatever than pointing the remote and waiting for the string to complete before you do whatever. Now imagine if that macro string were 10+ commands long (with programmed delays) and you'll see why RF is for me.

No matter which way you go you will need some basic things:

IR Repeater:


1. IR receiver

2. Connecting or Control Block

3. Emitters

4. IR control or CAT5 wire to connect the receiver to the block

RF Remote:


1. Remote that can communicate via RF

2. Brains or receiving unit to receive RF commands from the remote

3. Emitters

*Both options will also need a power supply, which should be part of the system.

You will need 1 emitter for each IR controlled component in your system, including your lighting controller and projector. Depending on how far your components are from your control block or receiving unit, you will need to splice into your emitters to extend their length. You will probably need to do this for the projector and lighting controller, everything else should be reachable with the standard length of the emitter.

Sorry for the long winded opinion but I wanted to let you know how I felt since I have experience with both applications. I also am not trying to steer you to any particular brand...I chose Niles but there are others that make good IR repeater systems like Xantech and there are other RF remotes out there like some Pronto models and some Home Theater Master remotes but I don't have any experience with them. There is also wireless IR systems which I cannot speak to.

Here are some links to the various components I've mentioned above.

This link contains information on all the components of a IR repeater system:


This is the IR repeater system I installed before going RF:


General Information:


Have fun and enjoy.

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Thanks Nabs for your thoughtful reply - it's very helpful!

I'm looking at the Home Theater Master remotes (MX-500) which use a combination of RF and IR. I think I'll run Cat-5e to the screen, PJ, and lights and back to my remote station in case the RF has any trouble and I have to rely on an IR repeater.

Thanks again for your response and the links!

The MX-500 does not have RF capability. The MX-350, 600, 650 , 800 and 850 all have RF and IR. All of the "MX" series RF base stations come with six wired IR emitters, each 10' long. The MX-600 is the only one that cannot be set to transmit IR or RF. It transmits both all of the time. The other models also use a better base station than the MX-600 that allows for individual assignment of each emitter.
Thanks Mike.

Can you recommend a remote and station for my set up? I'll be controlling a maximum of 10 components. All my A/V will be in a separate equipment closet. I'd like to find the "best buy" set up, with nothing too fancy.

The MX-600 and MX-350 are the lowest priced of the series. If you need more than 6 emitters, you'll have some issues with the MX remotes since they use a non-standard plug (2.5 mm vs. 3.5 mm). As a result, you either have to splice some other brand dual-headed emitters to them or use a connecting block to distribute the IR further.
Thanks Mike.

I just ordered the MX-600 (Hot Bargain) from you.

Thanks to all for your help!
By the way, what's a connecting block and how would I use it?
well, if your putting your equipment in another room, u dont need the emmitters... just use the brain as the blaster its designed for and face it towards your equipment... only way i would do it,cause the stupid things fall off all the time and then ya gotta E tape them up there and it looks like a$s, so just use the brain as blaster and be done w/ it...

as for use, just open it up when you get it, plug it in, straighten the antenna and face it in front of your equipment and your done...
since it's an inwall cabinet, i don't have a great place to position the blaster station in front of the equipment. how have others done this?
If you don't have room in front of the components to point the blaster at them, use the wired emitters. In some cabinets, the blaster is strong enough to bounce off the doors to control the equipment, but i don't recommend that. Make sure you experiment wiuth the emitter positions BEFORE you stick them on to the components. I use regular tape to find the best position, then use the peel-and-stick pad that comes with the emitter.
thanks mike.

i was thinking of mounting the station on the wall just above the A/V cabinet so its flush with the fronts of the components. do you think this will work? i'll experiment with it, of course.
it would work better if it was in the middle of your componets, so it can blast equaly... does your av cabinet have doors? are they wood? if they are, just take a piece of vinyl sticker from any graphics shop and get it in white and cover the inner door... will help w/ reflection..
thanks magyver,

i am not putting any doors on. that's the thing. i am planning on building in-wall shelves for my A/V gear.
so your comps are gonna face the room there running? you should be ok, if so... cause the remote has mega power and will hit them.. even if yoiu dont point it at them, as well as your brain has a blaster in to too... you should be ok.. but almost kinda wastes the point of the 600 if your stuff is visible...
no, there will be no components in the theater. all of my a/v gear will reside in the bar area, which is a completely separate room across the hall from the theater. sorry to be so vague.

i tried to attach an excel file of my blueprint but it's unable to download it...
It won't hurt to try the blaster of the MRF-100. If you get reliable operation, you're good to go. If not, use the wired emitters.
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