AVS Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,


I need some input. I am building a house where I would like whole house audio with multiple sources and 8 different zones. I want to be able to control each zone’s audio via a PDA. I would like to use an audio server to do this. Not only do I want to be able to pull from multiple sources, but I would also like to be able to have the same audio play on all the speakers in the house, if I choose to do so. I would like to do this rather cheap in cost. I know having the server and the audio cards are low in price. And using some kind of PDA is going to be less expensive that using the in wall touch panels. I am not looking to put a computer in each room to stream the audio too. I would just wire all the speakers to a central closet and go from there.


I will though have certain rooms that will have a computer and there I could use some kind of remote abilities to the audio server to feed that room.


To top this all off, I would like the ability to input local source information via cat 5 to the central location, feed it into the audio server then pump it to the room that has tv or whatever the local source might be.


Is there some kind of software solution that is place to do all this?


Thanks in advance.


Perry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,326 Posts
This is a tough one. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I suspect you'll end up with an amalgamation of software and hardware solutions.


One solution might be to use a traditional multizone audio amplifier, preferably one with RS232 control, to route speaker-level audio signals to each of your zones.


Your audio source would be your media server PC. Playback software would be J. River's MediaCenter 9, which is capable of simultaneous playback to multiple zones (but not synchronized playback; that would be accomplished via the multizone amp).


Remote control would be accomplished with either NetRemote or MusicLobby PPC, both of which are designed to work with MediaCenter 9.


To get multiple analog outputs from your media server, go with a M-Audio Revolution or Delta 410 card. Each stereo pair can be dedicated to a particular zone.


NetRemote (and, eventually MusicLobby) can control the multizone amp via RS232.


I'm planning something along the same lines, but it's not fully realized yet.


- Ken
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ken,


Thanks so much for the reply. I have read some of your posts regarding this. Very useful information. Anyway, this idea seems to be a much better and cheaper solution than going with a closed system based on having to buy propriety hardware. I have looked greatly at netstreams, but I think it is going to be one very expensive hardware solution. As i think each of those in-wall touch panels are going to be much more expensive than the Dell PDA. I think I am going to try your approach. As it seems exactly what I am looking for to do.


I do have a question though. I have read that MediaCenter 9 is going to be coming out with the ability to synchronize playback and also have full volume control on each zone? Or can it do the volume control already from the head end via the PDA?


So really all one needs is a multi-zone amp, a server and a few audio cards, the Media Center 9 and the NetRemote?


And with this setup I would get all the ability to play any type of music from different sources and go to either all the zones or different zones and also be able to use local source in the situation all controlled via NetRemote?


Perry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,326 Posts
I've heard that MC9 will come out with a synchronized playback feature, but I don't have any information on when. Once it does, then there would be no need for a multizone preamp, saving you at least $1500 minimum!


But for now, the only way to get synchronized playback is to use an external multizone preamp. But since you will have a centralized system with speaker-level outputs to each zone, you will need to buy a central multichannel amp, so it's not much of a greater investment to get a bona fide multizone preamp/amp combo unit, like one of these:


- Channel Vision Aria A660 (six inputs, six zones; SRS tru-surround; line-level outputs only; RS232 and IR control)

- Russound PR4zi (RS232 control, 4 in/4 out, etc. for $1600)

- Channel Plus MDS-6

- NuVo Essentia

- Russound CAV6.6 (RS232 control, 6 a/v in, 6 out; $2300)


As for volume control, your multizone preamp will handle that. RS232 control is much more robust than IR, so control with Girder (or Charmed Quark Controller) is rock solid.


It is definitely more complicated than it should be, but with careful attention to the control aspects -- particularly getting NetRemote, MC9, Girder, and RS232 control set up -- it should work flawlessly.


I'm in the process of doing the same thing, so I'll let you know how it goes!


- Ken
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
Premise SYS might meet your needs. There is a 30 day trial. It has direct support for a number of RS-232 controlled distributed audio systems. It has stuff built in the software for routing distributed audio to multiple zones, synchronized playback, and a web interface for PDAs. I don’t like the web interface and am planning on hooking it up to myHTPC or MainLobby – but the web interface is generated automatically and gets you up and running quickly.
http://www.premisesystems.com/product/devices


Once you get the audio system built, SYS is ready to control your lighting system, HVAC, security, and everything else…
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,245 Posts
Perry, you need to talk to Mastiff on the netremote forum. King of multiroom audio :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
K-wood,


Let me know how it goes for you.


mjcumming,


Thanks for the advice. I will be posting on the netremote forum this evening.


Kchad,


I will give that a look.


Thanks all for your help. Very intresting stuff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
kchad,


You wrote above that Premise SYS might meet multi-room audio needs. I've been quite interested in the Premise SYS product but really want to stay with MainLobby as a frontend, so I found it interesting that you plan to hook up the web interface to myHTPC or MainLobby. Could you please explain briefly how this could be done with MainLobby?


Thanks in advance!


DLKSF
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
258 Posts
For synchronized playback, I have been thinking about hooking up my MP 3 server to my cable tv coax wire via a modulator. Companies like channelvision now offer MTS stereo gererators for less than $100.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
776 Posts
How about the Powerwave external USB audio amplifier from Griffin. http://www.griffintechnology.com It works on the Mac and PC and doesn't require drivers or configuration. It's 20 W per channel. Not too beefy, but I have seen several multisource, multizone distribution amps with this rating. It has RCA inputs and outputs. I am not sure if audio is is grabbed from the USB (as well as RCA input) or if the USB is just for device control. If you can select which audio ap it is taking music from (ie select which source/instance of Winamp to grab music from), and if you can have multiple Powerwaves for each zone, then you will be able to get multizone, multisource distribution of your music.

Note:For this setup, all your speaker cables will have to originate at the music server so the Powerwave(s) can connect to your speakers.

If anyone knows of any other external (or internal) PC audio amplifiers let us know.


hjackson
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Perry,


Was grappling with this one for a little while myself. here's what i did. Built a PC server with onboard audio and 6 PCI slots. Loaded up all but one with audio cards - this is also a home theatre PC. Then using some software from here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/wafdotnet/

(I am using the Windows Media Alpha) I was able to access my audio files via each card, managing them as zones. There's a flash interface that runs on any PC as well as an iPaq movie that works very well. Next I wired the rooms (new construction) with speakers and local audio volume controls and ran all leads back to a Russound 6.12 amp (6 zones with shared bus to accomplish all on one if you wish). I have an 802.11g network running and a Toshiba e750. There's a service running on my XP system that listens on a port and the flash movie let's me select lists, songs, etc and play them on whatever zone I want. It also leverages the PPC hardkeys to control volume etc. Should do most of what you're after. I too went through the amplify local/amplify remotely and landed with remotely for cost and quality reasons. I am sure you have seen Yamaha's Musicast - good idea, but closed and a wee bit pricey. You can also do this with Netremote - you'll find posts here - using Mediacentre, but to date I have found the flash movie easier to manage.....for me, and more importantly...my wife.


Love to you hear where you ended up. I am just embarking on the video management and routing end of the system at this point.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
254 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Scoutie,


Due to cost and how much the builder seems to want to charge for pre-wire of the speakers with volume control, I am just going to have all the speaker wire run to a central closet that will have all my servers etc. Non of the rooms will have in wall volume control. This so far is how far I have gotten and figured I did not want to donate an arm and a leg to afford the pre-wire. Besides those in-wall things are very expensive if you go multi-source. I figured I could get a few Dell PDA's for the price of just one good in-wall thing.


I think by the time the house is done, there should be more solutions out there. It will not be till sometime in Feb. that will be looking for the hardware to support this solution. But, once I do, I will setup a web site showing what I tried to do. And maybe others who want to share what they have done. I do not believe in paying some crazy amount of money for something that should be rather basic and much less expensive. This industry in general feeds on the people that do not know any better. OH well.


Perry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
It won't work for pumping anything back to the central server, but you could easily put a Slimp3 player in each of your zones. You'd have control from both your PDA and from individual remotes in each room. You can sync up as many of them as you'd like.

http://www.slimp3.com


kiwi
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Perry,


the volume controls that I put in were actually cheap. about $30 CDN, impedance mathcing controls that I inserted between the speakers and the amp feed to each zone. though you can use the PPC to control the audio levels as the cards are preamps. I didn't want the expense of needing multiple PPCs when we have several computers already....I also wanted the ability to have a local over-ride just in case.....nice thing about good old analog volume controls....they always work. all in all it was a relatively inexpensive installation. i did the wiring myself...which was hard work but a great way to bond with the trades working on your house. i also opted to put cat5 everywhere in addition to the wireless network because, well, 802.11 sucks sometimes. if you're in the thick of the build check out thathomesite.com. it's a great resource.


i 'd be happy to give you a full list of materials etc and the process of wiring a 3500sqft house took me a day to do....so your electrician could likely do it in half that time. happy to give you some suggestions on speakers etc as well if you like. My motivation for doing this was very similar to yours and given that i am actually in the business of building software for systems like this i was shocked to see the stuff was so expensive and relatively complex. with the work that some of the guys like wafdotnet and netremote are doing it won't be long.


best,


keith
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
70 Posts
DLKSF,


This doesn't seem that easy, but I am just learning so there might be a better way. SYS comes with a DLL that allows you to write code that controls SYS or is controlled by SYS. So I could write an application that takes command line parameters to send events to SYS. myHTPC can call an external application with specified command line parameters. I'm pretty sure MainLobby can too.


Jukebox minibroker interface
http://premisesystems.info/conf.dll/...d=E6A1D4D0DF6F


control of soundcards on different computers
http://premisesystems.info/conf.dll/...d=DE55616E6140
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Thank you very much for your reply, kchad. I'm not much of a programmer, unfortunately, so your solution may be beyond my abilities... however, I also posted this question on the Cinemar forum and was told by Mario, the developer, that a Premise SYS plug-in is in the works for MainLobby. Unfortunately, he didn't have any sense of the completion date. Mario & his colleagues have been INCREDIBLY responsive to requests, though, so if he says the plug-in is coming, it's definitely coming.


Thanks again!


Deb K.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
I struggled quite a lot with trying to get several pc:s to syncronize and finally gave up. I settled for the Slimp3 solution as suggested above. Synchronization works perfect and you get a nice display and ir-receiver for each room. As I understand it it should also be possible to write some code that actually relays other ir-signals via the slimp3 to the server and on to control other components.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,326 Posts
One (major, from my perspective) problem with the Slimp3 approach is that it is only capable of playing mp3 files. AFAIK, it can't handle wavs. Also, I don't know whether you would be locked into its library and file management system, or whether you could use MediaCenter 9 with it. But the inability to play recorded wavs is a deal-breaker for me, as I have two reasonably high-fidelity playback systems in my place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
your are right the Slimp3 only plays MP3 quality although it's possible to do on-the-fly conversion from other formats on the server. I haven't tried that option but I guess it's more of a compatibility issue than sound quality. However I found that the sound-quality from Slimp3 with high bitrates are amazingly good and I also have some high-quality equipment (TagMcLaren preamp and amps with Martin Logan Request speakers). It's good enough for me when it comes to casual listening. When I sit down and really listen, unfórtunately not to often these days, I prefer to listen from the CD.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top