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Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

Posted by dreambuilder (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 26, 12 at 15:20

I know there are several posts relating to this. Lots of great responses from david_cary--wondering if he or others have options for me? We are looking to build in the next year. I want an integrated system for whole house audio, security, lighting, heat/air zones? I would like to either use iphones or have touch pads in walls. I don't necessarily need to listen to different songs in different areas but that would be nice. Also, if you have cable through directv, etc...do you run that with the audio system? What is the benefit to tying that in with your audio--just to let you listen to the tv through speakers? Are there other options than cable? I know some people are using apple tv's etc...I don't want to spend a ton of money--$5k or under--is that possible? Bottom line--can you explain to a novice what systems would be good to start with and what types of wiring I need to make sure are included? Thank you!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

We have a logitech squeezebox hooked to an amp that provides our whole house audio. We just have one zone at this time (can only listen to one music source at once, although we have different volume controls in each room) The squeezebox can be controlled through its remote, through two ipads we have in the wall, or through or phones. We also considered using Sonos but we already owned the squeezebox. I like it a lot- it lets me access music on my computer, as well as Slacker Radio, Pandora, Internet Radio, live music and pretty much anything and everything else I could want.

We use Apple TVs and a Boxee to provide our television service. The Apple TVs give us access to all of the Apple stuff including music on my computer (we're an apple family) AND lets me watch stuff that I can view on my iPad on the TV usign Airplay (like stuff from the NBC.com ap that you can't typically access directly on TVS) but I actually like the boxee better (which is shocking b/c I am an Apple fanatic) because I can watch .avis that don't work on the Apple TV. The Apple TV is smaller, has a prettier user interface and I would much prefer using the Apple TV for everything if I were able to play .avi files w/o converting them to mp4. We also have a GoogleTV (from Sony) but the features on that are kind of stupid. It is integrated w/ the TV but the only thing I ever do w/ that TV is use the boxee on it (aka I don't use the Google features, I just turn the TV on and switch the input to the boxee).
I do not miss cable TV at all!

We do not have lighting control, but we do have 2 ipad controllers in the wall through iport. Doing our system was around $15K. This included wiring and speakers to 9 rooms. It did not include the 4 apple TVs, the boxee, or the squeezebox which we bought separately. A lot of that cost was running wires to and getting converters for the TVs that were over the fireplaces so the equipment could be in the basement.


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

"I want an integrated system for whole house audio, security, lighting, heat/air zones. I would like to either use iphones or have touch pads in walls."

What you want sounds like Control4, but pre-wire alone will suck up your budget. Time to reset your expectations.

IIRC, the bid for lighting alone in our 5k sqft build was ~$15K. We passed on it ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Control4


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

If that is your budget Control 4, Savant, Crestron, etc or other high end systems are out of your budget. You may want to look at some other midrange systems which have an element of DIY if you ever want to change anything at a later date. Control 4 and other high end systems are going to lock you out basically and you will have to have the system reprogrammed by the professionals when you want to make changes. This way you can spend your 5k budget on wiring and get the infrastructure in place and then you can add the hardware once you move in and actually decide what you want.

HAI omni pro 2
http://homeauto.com/Products/products_main.asp

elk m1 gold
http://www.elkproducts.com/product_family_overview.html

The are basically security systems that can handle home automation and you can have it as simple or as complicated as your budget will allow.

The link below (3 parts) is very good reading to get you started in dedciding what it is you actually want and what wires that need to be run.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Wiring your new house


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

One nice thing about Control 4 is that a lot of it runs wirelessly, so you can start small and add on to the system after you build. You could start out with just a light switch and a controller if you wanted to. However, I strongly, strongly recommend doing as much hard wire cabling as you can do now. If your budget is that small, you should just run cable everywhere, and add the actual electronic components later as you can afford it. It's not a good idea to cheap out on cabling so you can afford more gear, because it's easy to add gear later but it's very hard to add cable later.

Pick a central place where you could store your a/v, network and home automation equipment. Run cat6 to every room, and to places where you might want control panels, alarm sensors, cameras, wireless access points, phone jacks, thermostats, etc.. Run speaker wire to any place you might want speakers. Run more cat6 to any place you might want a TV (it can be used to extend HDMI). You don't have to connect anything at all to the end of these cables now. But it's much, much, much cheaper and easier to do all that now than it will be in 5 years if you decide you want it. Cable is cheap and the labor is relatively inexpensive if the walls are already open. It doesn't hurt to have the cable there and never use it, but you'll be very sad if you don't have the cable there and then decide you want it.

If you do all that, you can pretty easily add Control 4 or Crestron or Savant or whatever down the line.


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clarifying RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary ple

I should clarify, because I didn't write clearly (a common problem for me - maybe I should re-read these things before I post them instead of after!!!!!)

Because a lot of control 4's stuff runs wirelessly, you can piece together a system later even if you don't run the cable. But with control 4 (and any other system), wired will always be more reliable than wireless. If you have a choice, you want to hard wire stuff. And you have the choice right now, so take it!


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

Like others have said, $5k won't give you all your wish list.

But - lighting is more of a gimmick - impress your friends kind of thing IMO. Whole house audio is something almost anyone appreciates. Whole house video is nice and slick but adds cost a lot. HVAC control is tough because there is no basic easy solution that doesn't cost a lot of money.

If you DIY, you can do a lot more. This is a luxury (ie high profit) item. If you run $1.5k in wiring, you will be pretty set. After that, a logitech squeezebox is about $400 and an amp is $1000. Speakers are cheap for basic stuff. But you are close to your budget already. Lighting - even DIY is about $5000 for an average new house.

Cocoontech - wiring 101 - a good read but it might make your mind swim.

A complete system for what you want installed professionally is pushing $30k. DIY could be done for $10k.


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

So do you run all these wires through conduit? I've heard of Smurf tubing? Would an electrician be willing to do this or do they not mess with this type of wiring and I have to have AV people do it? Honestly, I don't even know what the benefit is to whole house video? Can't you get the same features through direct tv of watching the same thing in different rooms (but just pay a hefty monthly fee)? This will be our first "nice" house so will probably do as you say and run the wiring and then add features as our budget allows. Also, how do you vent your AV closet? If it is on the first floor as people say to do, do you vent through the attic to the roof? Is that enough? Other thoughts? I appreciate the input!


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

I wanted to piggy back on the OP's question (hope they don't mind) with the folowing questions:

1) What type of cable is needed to handle delivery of A/V signal & data via a server?

Plan are service delivery to all the rooms:
a) Comcast video signal into server
b) DVR into server (most likely using server as DVR)
c) BlueRay video into server (most likely ripped)

Thoughts?


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

Usually it isn't electricians that do LV (low voltage) work since it doesn't require a license so it can be cheaper labor. Although around here, it is actually more expensive because the LV people charge more than an electrician's assistant.

Whole house video - hide the boxes, single internet connected bluray player in the house, limit cable boxes (we just have 1 running 3 tvs) - with $10+ monthly fee you go get some savings, HTPC (home theater PC) with DVD collection burned to it with viewing anywhere in the house .... None of it is necessary but for some families there are advantages.

You don't need/want to vent to outside.

PBX2
- You can't imagine how complicated that answer is. Cable boxes are copy protected so you won't be able to pipe it directly into a server. There is a component to HDMI available from overseas (I think because it is borderline illegal). There are computer based tuners with a cable card so you can lose the Comcast box - best solution. The challenge is the cable companies resistance to cable cards. Then you need to use the Server as the DVR.

Bluray is easy - just rip it.

Server to house TVs is best by HDMI. I tried component and the loss on splitting was terrible. HDMI at longer lengths just requires good cables. Switching from component to HDMI after construction has not been fun....


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

david_cary (My Page) on Wed, Jun 27, 12 at 21:02

PBX2
- You can't imagine how complicated that answer is. Cable boxes are copy protected so you won't be able to pipe it directly into a server. There is a component to HDMI available from overseas (I think because it is borderline illegal). There are computer based tuners with a cable card so you can lose the Comcast box - best solution. The challenge is the cable companies resistance to cable cards. Then you need to use the Server as the DVR.

Bluray is easy - just rip it.

Server to house TVs is best by HDMI. I tried component and the loss on splitting was terrible. HDMI at longer lengths just requires good cables. Switching from component to HDMI after construction has not been fun....

thanks for the info D_C!
I've been reading about the HomeRun Prime Series of Cable card multi-tuners.

Is it CAT6 or is it CAT5 that will be used with the HDMI?
I'm thinking I need to serve data along with Audio & Video.


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

Cat5e will work fine for HDMI, and indeed, probably for anything you'd need in your house. That said, the primary expense in cabling is the labor, not the materials, so running Cat6 is generally not dramatically more expensive. I personally prefer to run Cat6 for future proofing, unless the cost is dramatically different. Cat6 is somewhat harder to work with and terminate properly than Cat5e is, so you'd want to make sure your installers are capable of doing it correctly.

My multi-room TV solution is not the best you can do, but it works for us.

I have coax and network run to each room with a TV, and a Tivo there. That allows me to watch live TV, and I can also watch recordings from any other Tivo in the house, as well as Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu etc. I also have a file server that has some saved video and audio content on it. The Tivos can play that over the network from any room. And I have a blu-ray player in each room for playing discs.

It's not what some would call a "whole house" solution, but it works really well for us. Yes, it would be more convenient to not have to put a disc in every time we want to watch a blu-ray. But the alternatives for that are either a pain or expensive (or both). The coolest way to go is something like Kaleidescape, which gives you a true whole-house movie library with no discs. But it's insanely expensive. You can rip your DVDs, but it's time consuming and most of the solutions for playing them back aren't that great in my opinion, especially if you have non-technical people using it (which is true for most of us, and even those of us who are technical don't necessarily want a challenge when we're kicking back to watch a movie). You could have a central disc player and distribute the video, but then that leaves you having to go there to put in the discs, and the only real benefit is that it saves you the cost of a player in each room. Blu-ray players are cheap.

There are tons of things you can do, but I think a lot of it is overkill for most people. A Tivo and a disk player in each room with cable and network is a good way to go. Or even skip the disc player if you don't watch many discs.


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

@ Northlut thanks for the insights!

Question: Have you check into one of the Synology Diskstation NAS?

That is what I am imagining will be the centerpiece of my AV 'cloud'.

Essentially - DVD/BR will be ripped onto Synology & share space with data files & music assessable to mobiles & other devices throughout the house & on the net.

This will tie into a HTPC which will be able to handle the cable & DVR tuninig & recording.

I know this isn't an elegant solution but my plan is still in the formative stages. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Synology Inc.


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

I have heard good things about Synology, but I don't have personal experience with them.


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

I am most interested in whole house audio systems. I will have a dedicated theater room in the basement with a stand alone system with a projector. But for the rest of the house on the main level we would like something in most of the rooms, probably around 6 zones, 4 min. I have looked at a few boxed systems. Does not need to be elaborate. We are just music lovers and its on constantly. Any suggestions on this area to add to the convos about whole home video?


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

As far as whole house audio goes I just wired my house(before drywall went up)for 10 zones (5 zones & 5 sub-zones). If you are not wanting to spend alot of money because the systems can get pricey I would take a look at HTD.com For the price and features I haven't found anything that could beat it so far. If you are wanting something more high end you can always look at russound, nuvo, etc.

As stated above if cat6 is not that much more in price I would run it but for me cat5e was fine. If ran/terminated right it can handle up to gigabyte which is fine by me and I dont think it will be obsolete anytime soon.

When running you wire you may want to look at running a few chases (I dont have a basement so my chases go from attic to 1st floor) to make running wires easier at a later point. I ran my wire outside of the chases and left them empty for later.

Here is a link that might be useful: HTD Whole House Audio


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

We just finished putting Nuvo in our house. We have five zones for sound (living, kitchen, man cave, master bath, front porch). Our system was a bit complicated because DH put four TVs in the man cave for football season. This with the living TV had to be done a certain way. This includes the ipad remote and some mac-daddy remote for the living room. We have pads on the walls and can operate everything from our phones and ipads. More than likely you DO want to be able to listen to things in different zones. Imagine one of you watching a movie in Zone A and the other being in the bedroom wanting to listen to music and having to hear the movie. Not good.

I briefly looked at the lighting and a/c but there was just no way we could fit that in our budget. This was DH's thing he wanted for the house and was the one thing that pushed us over budget. Our av budget that was built in was $6k.

Anyway, our wiring was a little over $4k. The rest was about $13k when all was said and done. But this included some equipment...several TVs, etc. So in a nutshell, no $5k will not get you. Your av may not be exactly like ours but you are also talking about ac and lighting. This is expensive stuff.


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RE: Audio/Video Planning in a new house david_cary please help!

For whole house audio, I have been very happy with sonos. It has iPad/iPhone control and essentially created its own wireless network to communicate between boxes (zones). Super simple to set up and can access ripped music on networked drives or computers as well as pandora, sirius and most other music services.

Each box can feed an amp, have an amp or have speakers. I have a friend with 4 or 5 boxes and also outside his house.

I have one unit feeding an amp and powering 3 sets of speakers.


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