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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, as suggested in the What happened to the "How To Rip & Stream Movies for the Average HT Guy"m thread , I'm going to start a new thread that will help me (and others) with what options are available for both whole house audio/video distribution and video streaming to my future dedicated HT. These questions may be better asked in either the HTPC forum or the Home A/V Distribution forum, but I'm only a bit tech savvy, so I was hoping it could be explained in layman's terms.


First a little background. I purchased my house back in 2003 it's a 1950's single story 2 bed one bath house. It used to have a single car garage that was (before I bought it) converted to just a utility room, making the house 1078 Ft^2. We've used the space as a home office, storage area, and a place for our cats to hang out in. Last year we decided to add on to the house essentially doubling the size. That will free up that space for me to make my dedicated HT. Other than the foundation, framing and roof, we're doing all the work ourselves (so its going to take a while), and right now its basically open framing. Part of the dedicated space will be a room to house all the equipment. I also figured this would make a good space for the whole house distributionbut I have very little knowledge on how to, and what I would need to make this happen. One of the problems is that we don't have a ton of money to spend on the distribution project, so I'd like to find the best bang for the buck products.


Also right now we only have one TV, and other than the HT plan on keeping it that way, but want to be able add TV's and such to other rooms.

So without further ado


Here's what I think I want to do (or at least as a future upgrade).

1) Whole house audio with source control and volume control in each zone. I'm pretty sure something like this will work, Whole House Audio (for those of you that are too lazy to click the link, it's the mid-level system from Home Theater Direct), I'm running Cat5e and speaker wire to each zone.

2) Wired distribution of Satellite TV (Dishnetwork) I know this gets complicated with receivers and TV1 and TV2 etc, but I'd at least like to have some functionality, I've run RG6 to each location, but don't know what the other ends would plug into.

3) Media streaming via a NMT (Networked Media Tank, such as Popcorn Hour , for those that didn't know what NMT was). I've started this by (or planning on) running Cat 5e to locations that seemed appropriate, like the living room, HT, bedrooms, and home office.

4) Standard wired Ethernet network. Cat5e runs, to a network switch.


I think that wraps up the house distribution aspect of the project, now about the dedicated HT, which I haven't even fully demolished yet, so I know its still a long ways off, but I've been gathering gear as I can afford it.


The room I'm planning will be a Room within a Room design with an interior of 11'W x 18'L x 8'H, I haven't fully set the room length yet because of the before mentioned equipment room. I'm looking at a 100 to 110 wide AT screen CIH 2.37:1 with a false wall. Probably a Seymour AV DIY. To keep within my limited budget I'm looking at the Panasonic AE3000 and the zoom method for CIH. The speakers I'm going with Emotiva's ERM-1's for LCR and ERD's for surround. They will be powered by a Emotiva LPA-1 (for now), and the Pre/pro duties will be handled by the UMC-1 (when it comes out). For the sub I'm also planning on going with the Emotiva ERS 212 (when they come out). I've also got a Panny BD30, Toshiba A3, Oppo DV 980H, and I've got a Dish ViP 722 that I'll probably hook up out there too. I'm thinking about two rows of seating, one with comfy home theater couches, and the other row more traditional theater seats. I do plan on starting a dedicated thread chronicling the progress, in the future.



So here are some other questions.


I think I want to go with a NAS device for storage (no talk of rips here), is it possible for me to build my own? Or is it cheaper to get something OEM like the one from HP? I've built my last 3 PC's from newegg parts, but don't really know what is required for a NAS. What OS does it run? How powerful of a processor is required, how much ram is needed? Etc. It will need to store and send out large video files of HD quality. Is 100 mb/s fast enough or should I wire for gigabit? Will gigabit run over Cat5e? I'm sure most of these answers I can pick up from the HTPC forum.


I've got a Harmony One remote, will I need IR extenders/repeaters/blasters (is there a difference), to control the equipment in the other room? What should I run cable wise to make sure I don't screw myself?


I'm also running phone lines to one central location. Is there a distribution block that is for telephones? Like a network switch, but different?


Holy crap, I just realized how out of control this post has gotten.
I'm sure more will pop into my head as I go along, but at least it's a start.


TIA for taking the time to read my lengthy post on the subject. Thanks again to CDLehner and his thread that was removed, which would have been a good source for much of this information. So on that note please no discussion of ripping, ripping software and such, I can find that through other means (google).





And to Suntan, at least I didn't ask about GG or bass trapsyet.



Oh and if the mods feel its necessary to remove this thread, or if it need to be moved to one of the other forums, that's fine too.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


Here's what I think I want to do (or at least as a future upgrade).

1) Whole house audio with source control and volume control in each zone. I'm pretty sure something like this will work, Whole House Audio (for those of you that are too lazy to click the link, it's the mid-level system from Home Theater Direct), I'm running Cat5e and speaker wire to each zone.

2) Wired distribution of Satellite TV (Dishnetwork) I know this gets complicated with receivers and TV1 and TV2 etc, but I'd at least like to have some functionality, I've run RG6 to each location, but don't know what the other ends would plug into.

3) Media streaming via a NMT (Networked Media Tank, such as Popcorn Hour , for those that didn't know what NMT was). I've started this by (or planning on) running Cat 5e to locations that seemed appropriate, like the living room, HT, bedrooms, and home office.

sorry, my answer might not be what you are looking for, but just want to point it out that a HTPC could take care all of above for you! while NMT box can only take care your own media files.
Quote:
So here are some other questions.


I think I want to go with a NAS device for storage (no talk of rips here), is it possible for me to build my own? Or is it cheaper to get something OEM like the one from HP? I've built my last 3 PC's from newegg parts, but don't really know what is required for a NAS. What OS does it run? How powerful of a processor is required, how much ram is needed? Etc. It will need to store and send out large video files of HD quality. Is 100 mb/s fast enough or should I wire for gigabit? Will gigabit run over Cat5e? I'm sure most of these answers I can pick up from the HTPC forum.

for NAS, you can buy an off the shelf one, that's the easiest route. but you can also build your own. you can even use some old hardware that you might have laying around for the server build. it doesn't require much of the CPU power nor memory, just a low end modern CPU (let's say from the past 3 yrs), and 'bout 2GB (memory is cheap nowaday, might as well grab 4GB imho). as for OS, unRAID server & Window Home Server is two very popular choice for home server needs. (I went for WHS for ease of use/setup, future upgrade, and also backup the whole house PC/HTPC)


and since you've already ran some Cat5e through out the house, I would opt for a gigabyte switch to take advantage of the cable. yes, Cat5e is fine for gigE network, and that's what I use in my house too. you'll never know what future will hold, so, try to get as future proof as possible! a gigabyte network could stream 6+ full bitrate Bluray movie with no problem at all! (I tested it personally!)


also, HTPC sub forum has plenty of information for pretty much all your media streaming/distrbuting needs! (or you can PM me too.
)


good luck!
 

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Hopefully this will answer some of your questions and have you thinking some more. Based on the beginning statements about the A/V distribution system, it sounded like you were going to have all the sources in one place (an equipment closet) and distribute the audio and video to the remote rooms. Based on some of the questions below, it sounds like you want to keep the sources (Dish boxes, NMT's, etc.) in the rooms.


Which one of these are you going to do? Or are you going to do a combination? Most of the rest of the answers depend on this.


The MCA you linked to only does audio distribution. Were you going to just use this for whole-house music? If not, what are you going to use for the video distribution? If you are going to keep the sources in each room and want to distribute this audio, how are you going to get the audio signal back to the MCA?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


2) Wired distribution of Satellite TV (Dishnetwork) I know this gets complicated with receivers and TV1 and TV2 etc, but I'd at least like to have some functionality, I've run RG6 to each location, but don't know what the other ends would plug into.

Once you have the first questions answered, I can help you with this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


3) Media streaming via a NMT (Networked Media Tank, such as Popcorn Hour , for those that didn't know what NMT was). I've started this by (or planning on) running Cat 5e to locations that seemed appropriate, like the living room, HT, bedrooms, and home office.

Do you want to purchase one for each location or share one or more from a central location?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


It will need to store and send out large video files of HD quality. Is 100 mb/s fast enough or should I wire for gigabit? Will gigabit run over Cat5e?

100 mb/s is fast enough for current 1080p. However, I don't know if that will hold true for deep color, new audio codecs, 4k, 8k, etc. It's not much more to wire now for gigabit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


I've got a Harmony One remote, will I need IR extenders/repeaters/blasters (is there a difference), to control the equipment in the other room?

The MCA keypad you linked to has a built-in IR receiver. I would also run a CAT5 to any locations where you might want an IR receiver in the future (you can keep it buried until the time you need it).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


What should I run cable wise to make sure I don't screw myself?

This depends on the first questions. Also, make sure that you read the manual for instructions on how to wire for the MCA system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


I'm also running phone lines to one central location. Is there a distribution block that is for telephones? Like a network switch, but different?

Yep- here's an example:
http://www.onqlegrand.com/products/1267062-01


Here's the one I have in my house for phone and CATV



CJ
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ICBM99 /forum/post/16856560


Here's what I think I want to do (or at least as a future upgrade).

1) Whole house audio with source control and volume control in each zone. I'm pretty sure something like this will work, Whole House Audio (for those of you that are too lazy to click the link, it's the mid-level system from Home Theater Direct), I'm running Cat5e and speaker wire to each zone.

2) Wired distribution of Satellite TV (Dishnetwork) I know this gets complicated with receivers and TV1 and TV2 etc, but I'd at least like to have some functionality, I've run RG6 to each location, but don't know what the other ends would plug into.

3) Media streaming via a NMT (Networked Media Tank, such as Popcorn Hour , for those that didn't know what NMT was). I've started this by (or planning on) running Cat 5e to locations that seemed appropriate, like the living room, HT, bedrooms, and home office.

4) Standard wired Ethernet network. Cat5e runs, to a network switch.

Sorry I haven't posted sooner. I must have missed this one, too busy painting the basement


Anyway, here are my opinions, in no particular order:


I am not a fan of trying to get one device (most likely a computer) to do video playback for multiple locations around the house. You can make it work, but it ends up being a hassle and looks more than a little Busch League when you have to run out to the other room and fix something at the computer because the overly complex control system you have hackneyed together isn't working right *this time.*


Questions about doing it this way (one computer for all media playback throughout the house) come up every once in a while in the HTPC forum and you can look through it to get more background.


Here's one: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ghlight=suntan


Here's another: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ghlight=suntan


I am personally a big proponent of one *playback device* per TV. Ultimately it allows for the least hassle and most flexibility.


Now as for your specific desires above, a computer running SageTV server software and Sage HD200 extenders would fit your needs quite well. SageTV is first and foremost a TV/DVR application for computers. You plug a couple of TV tuner cards into the computer and Sage schedules recordings, playback, etc. Sage will run by itself on the computer and you can use that to directly run DVR on one TV if you just want a self contained setup.


However, Sage also runs as a server that allows you to plug other PCs (clients) or HD200 extenders (like a PCH but it runs specifically with the server PC) into it over the local network. Therefore, you get the same interface, and the same controls on the client and extender TVs as you do on the server TV. You can schedule recordings from any room, delete shows from any room, start a show in the livingroom, hit stop half way through to get ready for bed, then hit play in the bedroom and it will start up again right where you left off, etc.


A lot of people prefer to run the Sage server PC headless (not really hooked up to a monitor for watching, just running remotely and hooked up to your network) and connect all their TVs to either client PCs or extenders. This way, if your server PC has a lot of drive storage, it may make a good deal of noise and heat so you can put it down in the basement and not have to worry about it. Then you just have a little extender sitting in your entertainment system but still have access to TBs of TV, DVD and BD media. Oh yeah, Sage extenders fully support DVD file structures including menus and mostly supports Blu ray playback (no menus you just play the main movie, and it can't send TrueHD or DTS HD-MA to capable receivers it sends the DD/DTS stream instead.) In addition to having access to DVD/BD rips played back from your HDDs, they also supports the playback of physical DVD/BD discs that are loaded in the disc drive of the server PC so you can watch a movie you bring home from Hollywood Video on the extender too.


You can get a couple of Hauppaugge (SP?) HD PVR 1212s (google for HD PVR 1212) which are HD capable capture cards. You would plug the audio/video output of your cable/sat boxes into them and then the Sage Server computer will tune and then record shows off of them according to your selections inside of Sage. I don't get cable/sat (I watch OTA TV) so I can't say how well the HD PVR 1212s work, but others on the sage forums have reported good results with them.


So in a theoretical setup, you would have a couple of cable/sat boxes connected to a couple of HD PVRs connected to the Sage Server computer down in the basement (or in the electrical closet) and it would then send all the media to the extenders plugged into each TV via your CAT5e so all you would have is an HD200 extender hooked to each TV.


The weakest link would be your whole house audio. Sage does not have the most robust music playback/selection setup. For sure you can listen to all your audio through extenders (I have all of our music accessed through it, but we don't usually use Sage for that) but the menu navigation for playlist creation, etc. isn't Sage's cup of tea.


However, what you could do is get a copy of J. River Media Center and run it on the Sage Server PC (if you ran the Sage server headless you could use its audio out for music and not have to worry about wanting music in one room while the server PC was also supposed to supply TV audio at the same time.) J. River is kind of like what Itunes should be if Apple would stop using it as just a means to sell songs and Ipods. It has very flexible playlist creation, cover art, yadda yadda. But it also has the ability to set speakers up into different zones and control them independently. If you had a 7 or 8 channel soundcard, you could route two to the kitchen, one to the spare bedroom, 2 to the livingroom, etc. With a decent multi-channel soundcard put in the server PC, you could connect each channel from the soundcard into a basic multichannel amplifier (or a receiver with multichannel line inputs) and then run the speaker wire from your media closet to the installed speakers throughout the house. J. River also has various provisions for controlling it, including wifi from a windows mobile device, etc. I really don't use the multi-zone feature in J. River (I just use it because it wipes the floor with Itunes for basic music playback operation) so I can't comment further. You can read up on it at their website, and Jim, the author of the program, does hang out in the HTPC forum from time to time. He goes by the login of jriver if you want to PM him and ask him about how a guy would set up whole house audio with J. River.


Anyway, I suppose I should get back to work here at the office. I will end with saying that the above is just one way of doing it. I run Sage, and although it is not perfect and other setups including PCs and other NMTs have some features Sage doesn't (yet) overall I think the integrated nature of Sage (each TV shows you the exact same thing and they all talk together) makes it more polished and higher in WAF than a lot of the other options.


As for your theater build component list, my only suggestion is that it is good to build with certain components in mind, but don't build such that you are completely reliant on the specific model (vs. keeping your build somewhat flexible for other choices) and don't buy the components until you are ready to install them. For one, it is highly likely that a better version will be released before you are ready, and two, a lot of theaters around here have stalled out with lawn chairs sitting on uncarpeted risers because they made the mistake of hanging the projector half way through the build and then had little desire to finish off the last few details.


Oh yeah, your question about telephone line hookups. Telephone lines are pretty forgiving for hooking up. They just need to all be connected together. My house was built with one of these in the media panel. All the telephone runs come to it, as well as the run coming in from the demarcation. Its pretty self explanatory if you go take a look at it in the store. http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100479532


I would still run CAT5e for all your telephone lines. It will work fine for telephone and then you will have another CAT5e run available once you finally get rid of your wired telephone connection.


-Suntan
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJO /forum/post/16946719


100 mb/s is fast enough for current 1080p. However, I don't know if that will hold true for deep color, new audio codecs, 4k, 8k, etc. It's not much more to wire now for gigabit.

CAT5e will run gigabit just fine.


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
CJ,

Wow thanks for the input.


The way I have been planning it is to have the sources in each room (except the whole house audio), but have a NAS and other HT equipment in an equipment closet. I would like to have the feed from the satellite dish come into that room also, connect into some sort of splitter, then be able to put dish boxes in what ever room I want (assuming dish will let this happen).


My plan is to have a separate whole house audio, not dependent on having the source in the zone. But I want the capability to watch Sat TV or streamed movies in certain rooms (via a NMT). Not necessarily the same zones as the whole house audio. I was thinking of one NMT per location, but is it possible/feasible to have one in a central location?



Suntan,


Thanks also for your input, I was a bit saddened when you didn't post the first time this thread was up.
Because it was your idea after all.



Thanks for the links to the HTPC threads, I'll look over them also.


I'll have to look how well Sage TV handles Dish signals via the HD PVR 1212s. I don't have any OTA signals here, too far from any metros.


I also know of the pitfalls of setting up the projector too soon. I don't really want my thread to get loganed.
 

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The only sources that absolutely should be local would be disk players (CD players, DVD players, BluRay players) or gaming systems. Rooms with surround sound will also need a receiver, which I would keep in that room. Everything else could be placed in the equipment closet.


Did you want to play the local sources in stereo zones over the room speakers, or are you OK with just having them play over the TV's speakers? If you want them playing over the room speakers, you need to be able to send the audio from the local sources to the equipment closets. For short distances (say 50 feet or less), this can be easily done with RCA cables. For longer distances, you may have problems unless you go to a balanced system, which can get fairly expensive.


Distribution from the equipment closet to the other rooms is fairly easy. For stereo zones, you want to run speaker cable from the amplifier(s) in the equipment closet, through the keypad location (you don't need to cut them, this is in case you decide to go with volume controls rather than keypads), and then to the speakers. For surround-sound zones, you will just run the speaker cable from the receiver to the speakers.


At this time, video distribution is generally handled by a video router. Two brands I have used are AutoPatch and Extron. You can purchase them new over the internet, but I have always had good luck getting used ones on ebay for a good price. I would run 3 RG6 cables (good dual-shielded cables like Belden 1694a, not quad-shielded) from the video matrix to each zone for component video (or you can use just one of these for composite video or two for s-video). These would go either to the TV or the receiver.


Two more RG6 cables should be run for analog audio. These will either send the audio from the sources in the closet to the receivers in surround sound zones, or from the local sources to the equipment closet in stereo zones.


I would also run 3 CAT5e or better cables to each zone so that you can add baluns and run HDMI or some other format in the future. You can run HDMI to each zone as well, but the distribution of HDMI right now is quirky at best.


As I said before, you also need to run CAT5 cables to each keypad location, plus any other wiring that the manufacturer suggests.


As far as Dish goes, I don't have any experience with them, so I don't know how many cables you need to run from your dish to your boxes, how many boxes you can run off of a dish, etc. But, the Dish installer should be able to tell you.


CJ
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJO /forum/post/16953472


The only sources that absolutely should be local would be disk players (CD players, DVD players, BluRay players) or gaming systems.

Why?


I know it is just traditional that the disc/VHS player has always sat right under the TV, but other than breaking away from tradition, why does the disc player have to be in the room?


Is it really *that* big of a deal to go to a different room to put a disc in before watching? In that two hour period between movies, somebody is probably going to leave that room once or twice to take a leak, and once or twice to get something from the refrigerator or get more popcorn. Should I have the min-fridge in one corner and have a crapper installed in the other corner?


I understand if someone wants their components setup in the room, and if they want to display their disc collection in that room. But I don't understand the notion that *having* to leave the room to put a disc in is that big of an issue.


-Suntan
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan /forum/post/16953677


Why?


I know it is just traditional that the disc/VHS player has always sat right under the TV, but other than breaking away from tradition, why does the disc player have to be in the room?


Is it really *that* big of a deal to go to a different room to put a disc in before watching? In that two hour period between movies, somebody is probably going to leave that room once or twice to take a leak, and once or twice to get something from the refrigerator or get more popcorn. Should I have the min-fridge in one corner and have a crapper installed in the other corner?


I understand if someone wants their components setup in the room, and if they want to display their disc collection in that room. But I don't understand the notion that *having* to leave the room to put a disc in is that big of an issue.


-Suntan

Sorry, I wasn't too clear. You are right for rooms close to the equipment closet. I was speaking more of rooms that are a ways away.


In my case, the equipment room is in the basement, next to the theater. As you said, it's no big deal to walk in there from the theater, but it would be a pain to have to go there each time from second-floor master bedroom!


CJ
 
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