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Thread: New multi-room A/V system - Ideas?

  1. #11
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    Hi Rarem,

    Just out of interest, what are your feelings on the apple tv versus boxee of WD TV Live, I know little about them, but I see them on the net being compared, often favourably to apple tv, mainly I think because they can stream from a NAS without the need to go through the jailbreak process (isn't boxee based on XBMC)... Are these better directions to go from the start, or is there some benefit to apple tv that makes it worth going through the jailbreak and XBMC install process?

  2. #12
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    Hi Steve - Trust me any pain you would have in jailbreaking the ATV would be more than offset be how simple things would be after it. WD make nice hard drives but I really think you'd run into more problems with their unit versus the ATV.

    The other great benefit of the ATV is that if your family have iphones or ipod touches you can simply stream media directly from them to the ATV.

    I run an all Mac household. If you do it you won't regret it.

  3. #13
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    Most important thing is the cabling.

    So when you do not know what you want then just run 50 mm cable tube into the places where your TV's and other electronics should be and install the cable rope into it. That way you can later throw everything into the tube (just rememeber to install the new rope every time).

    Also certanly run all the speaker cable you can think of. You can install the speakers later when you find the need but you do not have to take down the plaster again.

    I really recomend you to look into the HDMI distribution. You can buy HDMI in bulk and terminate it where needed. You need special cable, plugs, special crimp tool and cable tester but it is actually not that expensive as it sounds.

    I can not find any usable links from my bookmarks but you could search for "field terminated hdmi" for example. Check also German pages (with .de ending). I try to locate some products when I have the time to dive into my paper catalogs.

  4. #14
    Automated Home Sr Member wywywywy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_m View Post
    a) Sonos Ė But for 11 main rooms plus a further 3 zones, itís going to be very expensive, and still wonít solve visual media, I do like that it gives me access to Napster though, and I donít know if any of the other solutions can do that, can they?
    If you go for a music solution plus an AV solution, the problem you have is that you will have to switch input to your amps every time you change the source... which is annoying and very likely to confuse guests/wife(s)!

    By the way if Sonos is too expensive, have a look at SqueezeBox.

    b) Apple TV Ė Seems to have some potential, put one in each room, give each family member an ipod touch, but I apart from 11 apple tvís and 6 ipod touches, I donít really know what else I need to make it work, presumably some kind of central device with itunes running (can I link 11 apple tvís to one itunes) and can I put home movies and back-up dvdís into itunes?
    Apple TV isn't very good at offline network-shared media, unless you JB it and put XBMC then it is a MAYBE. It is very good for media your purchase through iTunes though - but reading your post I guess you aren't a big fan of that.

    c) Other streaming devices like boxee or xbox360 or ps3 Ė Again, seems to have some potential, with one in each room, though less clear how to control the devices, although seems like they can handle wider variety of media and can use a standard NAS drive at the hub to store everything, but is it a better or worse solution than apple tv? Any thoughts?
    XBox and PS3 are RUBBISH at this task. They do work but so very confusing. The UI is very very sluggish as well (especially the PS3). More expensive too obviously.

    d) A central media server or media PCĖ Getting out of my league to understand these, so much content on the net, so many conflicting articles about how good or bad they are, and not clear to me what combination of central device and client device Iíd need and what costs would be, any support on options here would help, but again, I am looking for a budget solution.
    This is what I went for (okay GOING for not WENT for, yet). A number of cheap nettop boxes, the Acer Aspire Revo in particular, that are small and capable of 1080p playback, using Windows 7 with Windows Media Centre. This has the ultimate flexibility in terms of codecs etc. You can also put USB Freeview HD tuners in so users won't ever have to switch input and all can be done with one remote. The downside obviously is that it is a nightmare to configure and MAINTAIN so many - Windows Update, anti-virus, firewall, codec updates, driver updates, general Windows problems, etc...

    e) I even thought, what about just a laptop in each room, directly connected to the tv, either with itís own local storage, or also still having a NAS on the network Ė But naturally more expensive than b) or c) so probably not best budget option.
    Probably not the prettiest/neatest...

    f) what am I missing, or which of the above would be most stable and easy to use
    Just think about the control. How many remote controls, how to switch source, how to switch on/off multiple devices, how to maintain, what the real costs are (don't forget time). There is also other things to consider such as noise, heat, power consumption, how good do they look, cabling, etc.

    Whichever way, you will need a central media storage such as a NAS or a server.

    2) I need to figure out the cinema room Ė In there I want a projector and screen, and want to be able to watch the sky+HD and the HD recorded media, in HD, and have surround sound, 5.1, so how to integrate this with the rest, but have it in HD? Any ideas?
    Just have its own system that can access the central storage. What's the problem?

    3) If I can, Iíd like to be able to have a pair of corner speakers in each room, so the sound can either come from the TV, but also can come out of speakers instead, but I am lost how to achieve this (have never used speakers before, only tv). What is the difference between active speakers and passive speakers, how do I get the sound to go from my TV, to the speakers, what do I need in the middle and how much does it cost, or can I directly connect speakers to my TV, if so, what kind? I am not an audiophile, they donít need to be the worlds most amazing speakers, just basic room speakers to deliver a nice stereo sound, better than comes directly out of the TV itself.
    Active = self powered, i.e. built-in amp. Passive = powered by an external amp. It goes from the source device (e.g. Apple TV), to the amp, then to the speakers. Except the main rooms, you probably don't want to buy normal cinema amps, unless you are really wealthy. If you are to buy cheap stereo amps, I recommend the Class-T amps (lots of them on eBay from China, but build-quality varies), in particular the ones made by Muse, as that are EXTREMELY cheap yet the sound is unbelievably good. It will probably beat amps that cost many many times more. Seriously, look up some reviews. Make sure you have speakers with high efficiency though as these amps are quite low-powered.

    Speaking of speakers, you might want to consider in-wall or in-ceiling speakers for some of the "less important" rooms, because normal speakers stand out too much and take too much space. You can get reasonable ones for not much money.

    Hope it helps!

  5. #15
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    I can help a little, although I'm considering the same issue on a smaller scale. About to move into a new house and want TV in several rooms.

    I've used XBMC on Xbox1, PC and AppleTV2. I've also got a WD box and tried Boxee.

    XBMC is great. So many features and options, but it remains wife-friendly with the right remote. The Xbox1 build is starting to get a bit dated, the fan is a little noisy and it doesn't support full HD. The PC version is probably good with the right PC; good ones listed earlier in this thread. AppleTV2 is currently a little sluggish, but the box is cheap, tiny and silent; I hope the software improves; I'd think it would be more usable in 6 months time. Also on the horizon is dedicated XBMC hardware (XBMC on a chip), but I don't know when that's due. WD box is okay, but the interface isn't great and options are more limited. Didn't like the interface of Boxee.

    My current plan is to put a nice XBMC PC box in three rooms in the house. HDMI connections into the TV. Cat5 cabling to a NAS or two under the stairs.

    I'd guess you should plan for £250 per XBMC PC, £500 for a good NAS, £300 for 8TB of storage.

    Hope that helps.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_m View Post
    a) Sonos Ė But for 11 main rooms plus a further 3 zones, itís going to be very expensive, and still wonít solve visual media, I do like that it gives me access to Napster though, and I donít know if any of the other solutions can do that, can they?
    Not entirely sure.... Sonos is a nice interface to do what you want to do but as you say it's costly.... Are you going to hard wire sonos?

    Have you looked into Nuvo, Opus, Audio Authority, RusSound??

    Nuvo's solution offers a music port to integrate to your pc or they do a server. The main benefit with Nuvo is having hard wired keypads in each room...

    Not sure what Control 4's music solution is like....

    Just some ideas

  7. #17
    Automated Home Jr Member i-Home's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by automate-me View Post
    Not entirely sure.... Sonos is a nice interface to do what you want to do but as you say it's costly.... Are you going to hard wire sonos?

    Have you looked into Nuvo, Opus, Audio Authority, RusSound??

    Nuvo's solution offers a music port to integrate to your pc or they do a server. The main benefit with Nuvo is having hard wired keypads in each room...

    Not sure what Control 4's music solution is like....

    Just some ideas
    IMHO Sonos is as cheap as u get for what it gives you.

    To cover the same number of zones, pretty much any other similar level of multi-room audio solution (nuvo, opus, etc...) will cost more, and most also will only cope with the audio side of things.

    I'd suggest wiring for Sonos throughout and fitting out whatever you need and can afford initially, and add more to the system as time goes on. Sonos is good that way allowing you to start small and add zoneplayers whenever it suits.

    HTH

    Stephen

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by i-Home View Post
    IMHO Sonos is as cheap as u get for what it gives you.

    To cover the same number of zones, pretty much any other similar level of multi-room audio solution (nuvo, opus, etc...) will cost more, and most also will only cope with the audio side of things.

    I'd suggest wiring for Sonos throughout and fitting out whatever you need and can afford initially, and add more to the system as time goes on. Sonos is good that way allowing you to start small and add zoneplayers whenever it suits.

    HTH

    Stephen
    Totally agree... I just wanted to point out other options...

    I would ALWAYS hard wire sonos though...

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