Most Recommended Whole House Audio System

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.

Most Recommended Whole House Audio System

Russound CAV6.6
22
63%
Russound CAM6.6
0
No votes
Niles ZR-4630
1
3%
Niles ZR-8630AV
0
No votes
NuVo Simplese
1
3%
NuVo Essentia
2
6%
ChannelPus MDS-6A
2
6%
Xantech MRC44
0
No votes
Xantech MRC88
1
3%
Others (Please specify in Post)
6
17%
 
Total votes: 35

shaurya
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Most Recommended Whole House Audio System

Postby shaurya » Thu Jun 16, 2005 9:10 pm

Hello,

I just joined the Home Automation College so not much knowledge & experience.

I would like to know which standard Whole House Audio System Forum Memebers have choosen or now want to go with a different one (please explain with reasons, why). I am planning to go with Russound CAV6.6 or CAM6.6 but still not sure as others are more compelling like NUVO, ChannelPlus, ChannelVision, Xantech, Niles...

Some of my Main Criterias are-
1. That it should provide atleast 20 Watts per Channel (all A-bus based audio systems provides around 7 watts per channel)

2. It should have RS-232, So I can control from HS/HAL/Cinemar..

3. Speaker Switching should be supported. Meaning, It should speak only to that room Speaker from where I am issuing the Voice Command by Changing the Audio Source Automatically. If I have a 4 source system then it should swith to source 1 (presuming source 1 is where HS/HAL speaks to)

4. It should automatically set the volume to a desired level (Set by the User either in HS/HAL or in the Whole House Audio System)

5. At least 4 source and 4 zone.

6. Should not cost more than $2000 excl speaker.

7. Any other important point that I may have missed.

I am now doing brainstorming for the right whole House system. I have excluded all the A-Bus based design as I am not able to think of a way to perform speaker switching as none of the available A-Bus products have RS-232 or I am not aware of any other method. (please fill me in if there is a way)

The choices I have so far -

Russound CAV6.6 (Has RS-232)
Russound CAM6.6 (Has RS-232)
Niles ZR-4630 (DB-9, Is it same as RS-232)
Niles ZR-8630AV (DB-9, Is it same as RS-232; expensive for me)
NuVo Simplese (Doesn't have RS-232)
NuVo Essentia (Has RS-232)
ChannelPus MDS-6A (Doesn't have RS-232)
Xantech MRC44 (Has RS-232)
Xantech MRC88 (Has RS-232)
Others (please specify)

Any other that satisfies the above requirements to some extent or something really great that I am totally unaware of. Also any place to shop for these (Other than ebay)

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jss
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Postby jss » Fri Jun 17, 2005 10:18 am

Take a look at the Elan System 6. I went with the System 12, but it's not in the price target you mentioned.

Also, there is a ton of Elan Z-series stuff going on e-bay at blowout prices. It's awesome quality and it's modular, so you add what you want. However, it's only IR controllable so you do have a bit of a headache integrating it.

If you don't want high power (<30 Watts / channel) the Klipsch Zon system looks very intriguing. All the audio is distributed digitally via cat-5 so you don't have to worry about losses or noise in the lines. The amplifier is in the keypad local to the room with the speakers. I think it runs about $800 / zone. I'm not sure what type of external control is available.

-JSS

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Postby shaurya » Fri Jun 17, 2005 10:42 am

Thanks JSS for your post,

I am looking a Elan as I write. Can you also elaborate the effort of integrating it. You mentioned that its only IR controllable and Keypads in room are amplified. This means that it doen'st have RS-232 and I can't perform speaker switching.

I would truly appreicate if you can provide further insight on this system & integration particulary speaker switching.

Thanks,
Shaurya

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Postby jss » Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:04 am

First to clarify:

The Zon system is the system with the amplified keypads. It is a completely different brand and concept from the Elan. I don't know a lot about it, but it looks intriguing.

Elan has several different systems. Their system6 and Z-series can be controlled thru IR or their own keypads. A system6 is a 6 zone pre-amp and amplifier all in one unit. The Z-series is made up of separate components. A Z-630 preamp which has 6 input sources and 3 outputs. You hook up the outputs to an amplifier. You can buy a Elan Z660 amplifier or any other amplifier you like. Each zone in the Z630 has a 1/8" jack for an IR reciever. If you want to control the Z630 from a non-elan device, you need to provide an IR signal to each zone. I think Xantech makes a device which can recieve RS-232 signals and output IR commands. Otherwise you can use elans keypads which are also regularly available on e-bay.

Take a look at http://www.elanhomesystems.com for more info.

-JSS

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Most Recommended Whole House Audio System

Postby buns » Fri Jun 17, 2005 3:38 pm

I own and have installed for others the CAV6.6. It gives you the most bang for the buck. What makes the difference with the system IS the A-BUS expansion option. It can become a 10 zone system by adding 4 A-BUS controls. Yes the power is low, and yes the tone is flat, BUT if you install them in non-critical areas their great. In my home I have A-BUS zones in the powder room, garage, my wife's home office, and the kid's study where they have a local source adapter to play their own sources(DVD, X-BOX, MP3 etc.). That room has a powered sub-woofer driven off the A-BUS. Their are limitations on the A-BUS: they are sub-zones of the first four zones so some thought should be given to how you map or share those zones. I map the study with the kitchen, the garage with the deck, the powder room with my office, and my wife's office with the master suite. The WAF issue is excellent and kids have zero problems using it. My only conflict now is how do I take advantage of the new HAI direct interface and still control it with MLS? That's another topic. Record my vote for 6.6!

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Postby shaurya » Fri Jun 17, 2005 3:51 pm

Thanks Buns,

Can you elaborate if you were able to perform speaker switching, So HS/HAL can speak only to a particular room. If you were able to accomplish it, does the same thing can be done to the A-Bus Sub zones?

Thanks,
Shaurya

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Postby buns » Fri Jun 17, 2005 4:02 pm

I'm not clear on the why or what of that feature, but only the Uno keypads on the six main zones can be controlled not the A-BUS sub-zones.

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Postby JaySway » Mon Jun 20, 2005 8:49 am

I'll see if I can elaborate --- while it is true that you can only directly control the main 6 Zones, the four A-bus zones can easily be configured as sub-zones that mirror the source selection of the main zone.

For instance, my back patio is an A-Bus zone that is the slave to my sunroom. To change the source for both zones, I just send the source command to the main Uno keypad. The only thing, from my perspective, that this doesn't give me is direct volume control of the A-Bus zone.

I believe, however, that the A-Bus keypads understand the IR commands transmitted over the R-NET network, so, theoretically, there's probably a way to conquer that problem as well.

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Postby shaurya » Wed Jun 22, 2005 1:18 pm

By JaySway
I believe, however, that the A-Bus keypads understand the IR commands transmitted over the R-NET network, so, theoretically, there's probably a way to conquer that problem as well.

Hello JaySway,
I went thru the R-Net & RS-232 specifications posted by Russound on their Doucment Center but could not find something that gives a clue that you can control A-Bus Sub-zones remotely like changing the Source/Volume level etc. Please let us know if you have found something interesting on this topic.

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Postby Phil L » Wed Jun 22, 2005 7:48 pm

The Speakercraft MZC-66 and MZC-88 are definately worth a look.

The MZC-66 is similar in many respects to a CAV66. Its a 6 source, 6 zone system which also switches composite video. A fully outfitted MZC-66 even with a full 3 gang keypad setup is much cheaper than a CAV.

The higher priced 88 adds 8 source 8 zone switching at much higher power. Two of the sources are actually the dual onboard AM/FM tuners.

One cool addition to anyones whole house controller is an Apple Ipod dock station. Speakercraft and Sonance have these types of products. However the newer Sonance Iport offers an "in-wall" dock solution.

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Postby jpimentel » Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:36 pm

I think the key thing to look at here is controlability from Main Lobby. I like the way the speakercraft stuff sounds, but I am not aware of a serial protocol for those units. If you know of a way to control them via serial, please correct me on that and point me to the protocol.

The ADA Suite 8 and Suite 16 are sweet products (pun intended). they get my vote if audio fidelity is the only concern. They also support HD COmponent and RGBHV video distribution as well. Another reason I prefer them over the CAV. Perhaps a bit out of the price point of the CAV, but a far superior sounding piece and a very reasonable / reliable serial protocol.

In my opinion the CAV protocol is completely insane and excessively chatty. It gives me a headache just to look at it. I can't believe how far Cinemar has taken that product with their plugin. I mean the plugin excercises every aspect of the device and it is not a simple protocol to implement.
Regards,

John

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Postby jpimentel » Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:38 pm

Phil L wrote: One cool addition to anyones whole house controller is an Apple Ipod dock station. Speakercraft and Sonance have these types of products. However the newer Sonance Iport offers an "in-wall" dock solution.


The Sonance piece is now supported by Cinemar too. 2-way control and a fully customizable UI. Very cool indeed! I'm listening to mine as we speak. The fidelity is actually quite good if you don't compress your music.
Regards,



John

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Postby ricks » Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:27 pm

I would never recommend one unit over another - too many variables to compare. But here is my experience with the Xantech line.

For about the same price as the CAV6.6 the MRC88 gives you 8 source/8 zones at 35 wpc vs 20. I like the sound, especialy through good speakers. I've pushed the 35 wpc pretty hard (or I should say my son has) and it maintained its quality. The tone controls for bass and treble are flexible and broad. Zones 7 & 8 are un-amplified so you can add more power should you choose. I use this for outdoor/patio speakers where I can add a 100 wpc amp to provide a cleaner sound outdoors where ambient noise may squash 35 wpc. Each zone also has an unamplified sub-zone.

It's controllable via RS-232 and I do this with the MLGenericDevice plugin - works well. I don't use VR but announcements are handled by the MLGD plugin: when an announcement occurs MLGD switches sources, selects zones to speak, adjusts volume, bass and treble for voice clarity, returns zones to previous source, volume and tone settings and updates status to ML. Works well but took some lengthy macros!

It's also controllable via ir and will control other ir devices. If you are using additional amps it will switch them on/off automatically when the zone is turned on/off just like Russound.

The down side? Unlike Russound, the Xantech does not automatically update status when a command is issued. In other words, there are commands and inquiries. So when I change volume I send a change volume command follwed by a volume inquiry command. Also, each command requires a .1 second pause between it and the next command or inquiry. This is not noticable but adds to the programing. Xantech has a very powerful (good) software tool called Drag n Drop but is also complex and has a moderate learning curve (bad). You can use this to handle paging but I have never bothered to ramp up on Drag n Drop since MLS handles everything for me.

Another down side is its weight... its heavy. But maybe this is a up side since its carrying 12 35-wpc amps and feels as professional as it works.

The Xantech is expandable by adding another MRC44 or MRC88 and if you don't need the video they offer the MRAudio88 which is exactly the same as the MRC88 minus the video - nice price point for whole house audio.

Since I don't use VR (Russound may be more in line with a VR setup) and haven't personally owned a Russound there is a gent on this forum who I believe is a master of both. His moniker is pkoslow of Santa Barbara Smart Homes and he has some great info on VR and he is a Russound dealer. You may want to search for his posts and then possibly pm him. Hopefully he won't mind my mentioning his name. :?

Hopefully I've given you a handle on the Xantech - quality, professional device but by no means plug and play. It'll take some work as there's no plugin for it.

Good luck with your choice.

Rick

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Postby srgny » Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:07 pm

Give the B&K 610 unit a look. I am more than satisfied with this choice. The unit has been a rock for more than 2 years. It is controlled by ML via a serial plugin that worked "out of the box". It has two tuners and 50 w /ch for six zones. There is a set-up program provided by B&K that gets you up and running quickly. It distributes audio and composite video from 9 independent sources. Programable control panels are available if desired. Only draw back is the unit costs over $3k.

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Postby DGF » Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:13 pm

Another thumbs-up for the B&K 600/610 - I have had exactly the same experiences as srgny. Well engineered and rock solid.

Regarding price - there have been several CT600/CT610s and/or CK1.2 keypads popping up on various auction sites at pretty good price points over the last few months.

- Dave


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