Whole House System Recommendations

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Tim S2

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Whole House System Recommendations
« on: 15 Jul 2017, 03:48 pm »
Hi All,

I used to frequent these boards a lot but got away from it for the past 5-6 years. I am now in the process of building a new house and will be putting a whole house AV system in. Everything will be served out of a central closet running audio and video to about 5-6 zones throughout the house. I'm guessing that since I stopped paying attention all those years ago, the number of systems for doing this have increased substantially. If people have recommendations for good systems for doing this, I would appreciate it. I'm not really looking for DIY rigs as my fiancee will want something with very smooth control over everything. So that is a must. Also, if you have some good recs for in wall and in-ceiling speakers, I would welcome those too. Thanks!

Tim

electricbear

Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: 15 Jul 2017, 05:41 pm »
We have found Savant to be a good whole home platform. Not the cheapest but certainly easy to use.

Phil A


Doublej

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: 15 Jul 2017, 09:12 pm »
What exactly do you want to do?

For multi-room audio there are a dozen choices including Sonos, Bluesound and something from every major Japanese mass market vendor including Yamaha Multicast, Denon, HEOS etc. Multi-room video is a totally different animal. That's likely to require a step up to pro-sumer or professional gear.

On the audio side, I would also look into Chromecast and soon to be released Airplay 2 setups.

Good luck with in ceiling speakers. I have never heard a setup that did not sound like cylinders of sound being projected downward. Talk about controlled directivity in a situation where one wants the exact opposite. U G L Y.

Tim S2

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: 15 Jul 2017, 10:03 pm »
Basically the idea is to have a central closet that distributes audio to several different zones around the house and distributes video from cable box and DVD player to a couple of TVs. HTD.com has a system that seems to do what I would need: http://www.htd.com/Products/Whole-House-Audio/Lync . I don't know if it's any good though. Same for their speakers. I think I recall people liking their freestanding speakers as being very good for the money a while back but don't know if they are actually worthwhile. The 2-channel system I had before had VMPS speakers with a Channel Islands Amp. I don't think I'll be able to hit that quality again, but would like something that doesn't hurt to listen to.

This will all be wired by the builder so Sonos system isn't what I'm looking for and the Denon's of the world wouldn't really be that easy to control for the fully distributed system, unless they've upped their game over what I'm familiar with. The Savant system looks nice. Will have to check into it more. Thanks for the tip! Happy for any others people have found workable.

tvyankee

Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: 15 Jul 2017, 11:26 pm »
Hey.

If I was you I would go this route. It has the easiest solution of the rest of them. If I were you I would not but the video in a closet . Over all the years this solution in my opinion is not a good one. There are many reason why I say this but of I were you o would get the smallest box possible and tie wrap it to the back of the tv. Least amount of problems and easy to service. If I were you I would go the sat route and not the cable box route as they have way better remote options.

Also not to say every sports package under the sun if ur into that.

I am in this world and have been for a very long time. If i can help let me know.

Good luck.

http://www.legrand.us/nuvo.aspx

Tim S2

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: 16 Jul 2017, 03:54 pm »
Nuvo system does look good for music. I understand the suggestion about doing the video locally but I'm not sure how to do that and have it use the same speakers as for the music system. I guess I would have to run the audio cable into the system. Would the Nuvo equipment then handle distributing it back to the speakers? Not clear from the info that it could do that.

It does seem a lot easier to have the cable box with the TV though. I also don't quite understand how it works to have the cable box in the closet either. Would that require one cable box per tv to enable them to watch different things?

Doublej

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: 16 Jul 2017, 08:38 pm »
Some options for video. First is to serve it up locally and route the audio through the whole house audio system as one or more of the sources. You may need to adjust for lip sync errors. This adjustment is typically done through your AVR so in the absence of one you'll likely need lip sync adjustment capabilities in each video source if it turns out to be a problem. Your best bet might be to add a preprocessor at the video setup and switch the video inputs there. Then the audio from the video setup is treated as a single source to the whole house audio system no matter what the video input.

You would have need one of these for each video area. So if you have three TV displays with cable box, Roku, blu-ray player and whatever you'll need 3 sets of equipment.

https://www.cnet.com/news/lip-sync-error-causes-solutions/

The other choice which is may be pricier it to use AV switches and just use the audio portion of them for your audio inputs.

Then you would feed each AV source into a switcher and be able to route it to whatever TVs you want.  So one person could be watching something on Roku while another is watching cable.

No matter where you put your cable boxes you'll need one per television if you want to be able to display different channels on different TVs at the same time.

If you post all of your sources (audio and video) and all of your destinations specifying audio or AV it would be easier to specify the list of equipment you'll need to make it happen.

You may also want to peruse or post to AVS forum where this problem is more familiar to the community.






tvyankee

Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: 16 Jul 2017, 11:30 pm »
Hey.

Ok as for lip sync the only real time you run into that is really in the digital domain.  If you plan on just doing stereo back to the nuvo that now worrying about lip flap.

As for audio it's a lot easier to run analog audio back from each tv location then HDMI cables from rack room to tv. HDMI is a little flakey plus we are coming into a new era of video like hdr and 4k and beyond. .

If I were you I would run cat6 as well as audio to each location. Even if you don't use the cat6 it's cheap and it's a great back up for everything.

Make it as straight forward as possible. Adding little black boxes everywhere makes a lot of problems you don't need.

Tim S2

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: 17 Jul 2017, 01:26 pm »
That is all very helpful. The builder has a professional installer who will be doing the wiring so I will talk to them about how to get all of that setup properly. Thanks everyone for your help!

For the record, the setup will be pretty simple. I will have a central music system to serve multiple zones. For video, I'll probably have cable run to 3 TVs where I want to share the DVR between them. There will be maybe one blu ray player and then internet streaming for each. The latter, I guess I could do with just hooking a Chromecast to each TV easily enough. If the blu ray player could switch to any of the TVs that would be great but if it adds on a lot to the expense, not necessary.

deadhead

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: 17 Jul 2017, 02:38 pm »
I've gone 2 ways with my whole house system.  I had Control4 installed.  Awful company to do business with.  Software is wonky and doesn't play well with other sources.  Hardware upgrade required after about 5 years at a cost of over $5,000. 

I opted for the following:  I use a Sonos connect as a pre amp/streamer and a 12 channel Parasound amp to drive 6 sets of speakers.  I have Niles volume controls for each set.  It's highly manual but simple is best for low maintenance.

tvyankee

Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: 17 Jul 2017, 02:59 pm »
Sonos, great product love sonos but for easy integration with a nuvo just go all in. As for bluray player i would opt out of those and get like a 4k streaming device roku or Amazon Fire TV | Streaming Media Player each location and strap it on to the back of the tv moiunt as any bluray you have can be seen on Netflix or some service like that.  one thing about both of the devices is you can hard line them instead of just wireless. it has been my experience that if you stick in a cable then do it because its better then wireless.

I am not sure about time you have but in one weekend taking your time and a cooler full of beer you can save yourself a lot of money by doing the runs yourself . its very easy and if you do it you will where everything is and how it was done. Cable is cheap labor is expensive.

Also if your thinking of a lighting system that runs on ios look at ketra. good stuff.












Norman Tracy

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: 17 Jul 2017, 10:14 pm »
Hi Tim S2,

You have received some good advice. I like the way you are headed:

“For the record, the setup will be pretty simple. I will have a central music system to serve multiple zones. For video, I'll probably have cable run to 3 TVs where I want to share the DVR between them. There will be maybe one blu ray player and then internet streaming for each. The latter, I guess I could do with just hooking a Chromecast to each TV easily enough. If the blu ray player could switch to any of the TVs that would be great but if it adds on a lot to the expense, not necessary.”

Also I note you said this:
“The builder has a professional installer who will be doing the wiring so I will talk to them about how to get all of that setup properly.”

Before adding my opinions and experiences the caveat is that it has been about 12 years since I did this type of work professionally. I spent 5 years working at a company that after decades as a high-end audio dealer morphed into whole house A/V and lighting control integrator. We did everything from hanging plasma HDTVs on walls to many systems in multi-million dollar homes where just the whole house A/V and lighting control had +$100,000 budgets. The big changes in the 12 years after I moved on is the rise of streaming content over IP and HDMI replacing analog video.

We are posting this on a site dedicated to HiFi talking about Whole House Systems. Once past the fact speakers and amplifiers are involved there is little overlap between these worlds. For example as audiophiles knowing I need to put my preamp on input 1 to listen to music on my DAC is a trivial detail, a given that is not even mentioned. If a user of your whole house system is forced to think in those terms that is an epic fail right out of the starting blocks. Therefore my first advice is when discussing the system plan with your builder’s ‘professional installer’ ask first about the user experience of the completed system, those requirements should drive the pre-wiring. Control can be from buttons on a wall mount keypad, dedicated touch panel displays (Crestron is the gold standard) or apps on your smart phones and tablets. Regardless of the physical form of the human interface it should present activity functions NOT devices. The buttons should be labeled for functions like ‘Watch TV’, ‘Watch Movies’, ‘Listen to Music’ NOT source devices like ‘CD’, ‘FM’, ‘Cable Box’, ‘Blu-ray/DVD’.  Behind the scenes this means the installer/programmer is dealing with the minutia of power up/down, source selection/control, and routing that to the room(s) desired. Lots of devils in lots of details there, you want the installer to deal with that once and program it into the system. The alternative is keep your phone handy to answer the text message “why is there no sound on the TV in the family room, again?!?!??”

While discussing the desired results with the professional installer come to an understanding on who is supplying the equipment. Are you bringing HDTVs and other gear you already own or all new? On one extreme (the expensive extreme) the system installer/integrator provides everything as a turnkey system. A good one will select that equipment to be automation friendly so the control system will be reliable. At the other extreme (dollars least expensive, your sweat equity bigger investment) the builder and professional installer deliver agreed upon signals to specified locations and the homeowner wires it up.

Err on the side of running extra cables before the sheet rock goes up. We used to run three video coax, a L/R audio twisted pair, and two CAT5 to every drop. In 2017 I would swap that for two coax (or your suppliers favored long distance HDMI solution) and three CAT5/6. The redundancies help recover the inevitable sheet rock screw thru the bundle taking out a cable repair, but more importantly futureproof the install. In 2002 that extra CAT cable allowed IR signals from repeaters to go back and forth to/from the equipment rack. In 2017 multiple runs of CAT allow the smart HDTV plus other wired net connected devices to each connect to a router port. With analog video going away in favor of HDMI coax video is another discussion to have with your professional installer. Natively HDMI does not do well over distances but there are solutions. How many and where the analog audio L/R line level and speaker level cables go has a lot to do with the distribution architecture of the system. A simple system where all rooms play the same music can send speaker level analog to each room’s wall mount volume controls and from there to the ceiling/wall speakers. More complex configurations process control signals at the central equipment rack controlling different rooms/zones receiving unique programs. Those decisions need to be made before the pre-wire stage that happens early in construction (framing done, roof & outer walls on, before sheetrock on inner walls).

Well, that’s a bit of a brain dump. I will stop and see if that is helpful and if you have questions. At this point I see your first task as determining if this “builder has a professional installer” chap is a simple low voltage electrician who will install a bunch of cables OR a provider who will pre-wire the home and then return to install the equipment then program and de-bug the control system.

tvyankee

Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: 17 Jul 2017, 11:33 pm »
Hey.

I would stay away from any one company that talks about automation. Its one thing to do a little music in 6 or zones it's another thing of you think you going to control everything from one control surface. It never really works the way you think it will and you beco me frustrated and not be happy with the end result. Also its Superbowl Sunday you have your friends over you go to use your system and nothing. Now your pissed. Now you call the guy that said call anytime and no response. It's a story that has been told a thousand times.

I don't care how big or great the company is it just happens.

If I were you I would go the most straight forward route and not look back. Even if you need a few remotes to change differ things in the end it will work.  Also really think about other people in the house who will have no idea of anything when they go to use it. Then they start to call,you your busy now their pissed makes for some real fun.

Another thing to ask your guy if you go that route is the warranty not only on cable, termination,programming and equipment setup . If they provide the equipment what is the replacement policy and the markup. If you have them do it don't go onto the internet find a price and then say why is it so much. They put into the price for failure and that cost them in time and travel and parts and they are not doing it for free and then you still need to pay sales tax because their buying and re selling to you.

If you are someone with no time on their hands and extra cash then I would say yes but if not with some research and some time you could do a great job and save yourself a boat load.

Make sure if you go installer route get a warranty in writing and if they don't agree say thanks but no thanks. Also make sure they have insurance and ask for the certificate and call the insurance company. Don't take you gc,s word for it.

If they work under your gc make sure they are listed on the gc insurance and you are listed as a lost payee.

I know thus play I have seen it before and I know how it ends.

Armaegis

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Re: Whole House System Recommendations
« Reply #14 on: 18 Jul 2017, 12:36 am »
Running the extra ethernet cables is a good call. Protocols like Dante and AVB will probably hit the home market in a couple years.

Make judicious use of conduits so you can always lay more/new cabling as needed.

If you're running everything out of a single closet, make it big enough for at least one server rack with working/walking space around it, and install one vent and air return. Also place it somewhere easily accessible so you don't curse yourself trying to haul heavy equipment around corners and stairs.