Need Help: Whole Home Audio and 5.1 in Main Room

Discuss with other members how to distribute and setup whole house audio and video. Let everyone know what combination of products you are using to accomplish this.
RonP
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Need Help: Whole Home Audio and 5.1 in Main Room

Postby RonP » Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:09 pm

I'm looking to use Main Lobby for whole home audio and am struggling with choices, including

- Russound 6.6
- Simplifi
- Denon Receiver with Multi Zone
- Analog output to Straight Amplifliers

I have 3 rooms plus the main room that is 5.1 sound. So I'll need 12 channels of amplification. The main room is 5.1 but I'd also like to be able to play music to each zone or in party mode.

My concerns are synchronization and also using multiple receivers / amplifiers for different zones and introducing complexity into the process.

I've read the manuals, these forums and J River's forums and am still stumped with which way to go. I looked at the sample configuration 6 for Russound where you use relays to be able to share sources but it isn't clear if you can share speakers and whether or not that makes sense. I'm also at a dilemna how to drive 5.1 effectively to enable Dolby but to be able to run in through one of these multi-room solutions. Here are the top of mind questions I have:

1) Seems like I'm going to need two sound cards, does that make it harder to synchronize? What if one sound card is driving multiple rooms via analog outputs, won't that introduce synchornization within those zones plus across sound cards?

2) How do I set up surround sound in the one room but also have that participate in a multi-room audio solution that is well synchronized?

3) If I want to output 5.1 digital and then analog through the rest of the house then I've got to run two amps / receivers, right?

4) How hard is it to get everything synchronized (TheaterTek to main room 5.1, J River to main room and other rooms each on different sound cards with different amps but synchronized, etc).

Anything else I should consider? I've read all the posts and haven't found anything that talks about the nuances of 5.1 in one zone and stereo for other zones. Any help would be greatly appreciated including pointing me to posts that address similar questions that I might have missed.

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mcascio
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Postby mcascio » Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:46 pm

Ron - welcome to the forum. Looks like you've only got a few posts.

At first glance, it appears you are trying to do what I've done in my main living area.

I also have the Russound CAV6.6. I wanted to have full surround sound in the living room plus share the two inwall speakers with the Russound for Whole House Audio.

What I believe you are looking for is the Russound AB3.2 auto sensing switcher:
http://www.russound.com/ab3.htm

All video and digital audio is run into a Video Storm Matrix Switcher. All stereo sound is routed into the Russound CAV6.6.

Cat5 video baluns are used to distribute component video and digital audio to the receiver in the living room. Now that we have rs232 control over the Yamaha Receiver I could relocate it into the basement with the other equipment but have yet to do that.

When a movie is playing, the audio over rides the whole house audio and uses the rear speakers for rear surround. This saved me from putting in separate inwall speakers for the 7.1 surround and another pair just for the Russound whole house audio.
Mario Cascio
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http://www.cinemaronline.com

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Postby bigDvette » Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:12 pm

I have done exactly as Mario, but I used the same kind of device from a different manufacturer. I don't know about the russound, but you do need to put the surround sound channel as the one that interupts the normal signal and you may have to fiddle with the senstivity setting as you don't always get a lot of output out of the surround channel and nothing is more annoying than it flipping to the hose house sound with the surround signal gets soft.

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Postby RonP » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:57 pm

Thanks for your feedback. I was all over the place when I begun thinking through this in terms of what equipment I need to buy. For what it is worth, in case anyone else stumbles upon this, here is what I concluded (feel free to correct if I'm off base / wrong).

Simplifi versus Russound versus Multi-Room Amp (such as Denon):

- Simplifi is just that, an amplifier. If all you are looking to do is amplify PC output then it would work and actually has more power than Russound. Simplifi doesn't do any switching so if you eventually want to switch other devices to various rooms you'll have to do that through inputs into the computer.

- Russound is a switcher and amplifier. Let's say that you route an HD PVR to your bedroom and you also have a TV there, you could route the video to the TV and have the Russound switch the audio output from the PVR to the speakers in that room. Similar with a DVD changer, CD player, etc. This is where Russound and similar devices shine as you can take inputs and send them out to various rooms of output. If all you are doing is looking to output multi-zone from your PC (using J River) then this is overkill but you gain a lot of future flexibility with Russound.

- Denon and other Multi-Room Receivers: They have a lot more power and are great to be able to run the main room in 7.1. These amps will act as a switch for the 2nd and 3rd rooms but only provide power if you are running the main room in 5.1. They can't support as many zones, don't have power to all zones and can be limited in what inputs can be output to other zones (for example, video switching of HDMI in can't go to component out). These work well if you are primarily focused on one room and part of a larger set up of amplifiers. They give you some functionality similar to a Video Storm switcher as well.

For me, I think I've landed on the Russound as the right solution that has the most flexibility. My primary objective is multi-room audio and in the main room 5.1 or 7.1 -- For the main room, I'm leaning toward the suggestion Mario made in using a auto sensing switcher (I'm not setting this up until February).

One other path I may try is to have my PC sending digital out to my surround sound receiver and all other zones via analog to a Russound. That way, I get full 5.1 in the main room with a lot more power. I just don't know if that will be synced correctly or if there is any other reason why I shouldn't do this.

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Postby DavidL » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:56 pm

Some additional decision criteria:

A Russound / Nuvo / Etc type systems include keypads typically. For command and control with a Simplifi setup, then you likely would want a touchscreen at that command location. Bigger, more expensive per station, but very ull featured compared to the limited control UI of a keypad. But, keypads are hard button'd which makes the basic functions simple (volume up / down / mute).

For the Theater, you can use a Receiver, or you can put higher amplification seperate amps in the theater connected direct to a high quality PC sound card. That is how my current setup is...XFi Elite sound card (top shelf) direct to multiple high powered amps (a couple multichannel Parasound / Carver Sub amps in my case). This surpasses the sound quality of any of my previous setups including a Lexicon sound processor to same amps and multiple prior generations of higher end receivers (Denon / Yamaha, NAD, etc). I was very suprised at just how much better it sound now (it always sounded great).

The PC acts as video processor and audio processor. With an additional sound card, it can also act as an audio source for the whole house audio system. Audio takes very little CPU so can dual task easily with a decent HTPC rig.

The PC low level sound output can also feed into a matrix switcher and then to amps for distributed audio with multiple input sources (XM, Sirius, DVD / CD changer, etc.).


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