Multizone System: looking for config advice (long)

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Tammie N-S, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. Tammie N-S

    Tammie N-S Auditioning

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    I'm starting out on my first home theater project. I won't be making my purchases right away, but I still need to configure the basic system now. We are doing some home renovation and I want to be sure to get as much into the walls as possible. The drywall goes up in less than two weeks! Before I can tell the electrician what cabling I want inside the walls, I need to have a plan for the system itself.

    I have a somewhat limited budget and want to build a multi-zone system. I don't need recommendations for particular brands or models yet (altho if you want to throw that my way I will make note of it); at this point I just need to know that my plan will work.

    Here's what I'd be connecting into my A/V receiver:
    Video Inputs:
    * Cable (digital comcast)
    * Tivo (already have it)
    * DVD (will get a new progressive scan)

    Audio Inputs:
    * DVD (for CDs)
    * XM Radio (already have it)
    * (Plus the AM/FM Tuner from receiver, obviously)

    Other Input:
    * Playstation
    * I really want to be able to get tunes and photos and home movies etc. off of my PC. But I am not ready to take the full plunge into a Media PC. For PC connectivity I'm thinking of using this nifty $100 gadget I found called MediaMVP from Hauppauge.

    Here's my zone plan:
    Zone One (the home theater itself):
    TV (right now I'm leaning towards the Panasonic TH-42PD50U 42in Plasma . . . but not really interested in starting an HD vs ED war here :)
    Surround sound (I'm thinking 5.1)
    Would also like to link in two speakers on the porch on that same zone (you can see the TV from the porch)

    Zone Two:
    Six (pair) Speaker Selection System
    (I was looking at the Russound SS-6 IMPEDANCE MATCHING/6 PAIR SELECTOR)
    1. Basement pool room
    2. Basement play room
    3. Kitchen
    4. Back Yard
    5. Porch? (I'm thinking that for max flexibility I would need to have the porch on both zones)
    6. Open

    Incidentals:
    I will also have a TV in the basement; the soon-to-be demoted 27 inch tube. It will have the digital cable set-top box. It doesn't seem worth the cost to link it to the full system. However, I saw YANG (yet another neat gadget) for $140 that will send the signal (wireless) from the one TV to the 2nd. I can't post the link since I'm new to the forum; it's RF Link, and I found it at amazon.

    If you're still reading, THANKS. I welcome general opinions. But mostly I have the following questions; answers to one or more of these would be most welcome!

    1. It seems impossible to anticipate the location of the surround sound speakers when I don't have any of the equipment, furniture or even at this point the floors walls or ceiling. I'm thinking of having the electrician drop speaker wire to a jack in the general area where each speaker should be, then I can run a short wire from there when fine-tuning. Does that make sense?

    2. If I set up zone 1 for the home theater and zone 2 goes to the speaker selector . . . which input can be directed to zone 2? Sounds like it's pretty standard in a mid-range a/v receiver that zone 1 is truly "a/v" but that zone 2 is strictly audio. Does that include the audio portion of something that is "a/v"? If MediaMVP connects to the a/v receiver via an S-composite and stereo audio cables, will I be able to send the MediaMVP audio through to zone 2? I'm assuming that this would be analogous to being able to play a CD in the DVD player and the audio for it would (should, I hope) be able to go through to zone 2. I hope I worded that question in a reasonably intelligible fashion. This is really my most pressing question.

    3. If I want the porch to be able to play either the sound from whatever's playing in the home theater OR the audio that's running through to zone 2, do I need to have four speakers in there, two for each zone?

    4. Pardon if this is a really dumb question, but can you play the same thing through zone 1 and zone 2? E.g, if you're having a party and just want all the speakers to play music, can you send the same music through the surround sound theater speakers and all the zone 2 speakers?

    5. It seems that it would be important to be able to control the volume or at least have mute capabilities from within the remote room. My basic understanding of speakers is that there are "active" speakers with their own amplifiers and that those are either small (e.g., computer speakers) or more expensive high end speakers. But do passive speakers ever come with a "mute" button? It seems that this would be easy to implement; the button would simply (temporarily) break the circuit. However, in my quick web searches I didn't see anything like this.

    6. I have some time to assemble all my toys; I anticipate that I'll be putting it all together in October. Any bargain hunting sales-watching advice? Just found the "shopping/buying/choosing" section of the FAQ and I'll check that out of course . . .

    Thank you so much for any advice you send my way!
    --Tammie
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Tammie, if you want to get into brand recommendations your thread will have to be moved to the most appropriate hardware-related section. But if you keep the discussion to the basic outline presented here, then it can remain in the Basics area.

    Welcome to Home Theater Forum.
     
  3. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Welcome to the Forum, Tammie. [​IMG]
    No, passive speakers don’t have mute buttons. But any installer worth his salt can rig one up for you. As you noted, all you have to do is break the connection - a heavy-duty double pole, single throw switch will do the trick. You can even get double pole light switches, if you don’t mind the mute switch looking like a regular light switch.

    Good luck with the project. Feel free to return with more questions!

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  4. Tammie N-S

    Tammie N-S Auditioning

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    Hello Wayne, thanks for the great feedback!

    A few follow-up comments/questions.
    1. Thanks for the pointer to a pre-amp (am I using that term properly?) I had posted a specific question about ohm ratings required by the speaker selector to one of the hardware forums and got pretty much the same response.
    2. (I added the emphasis.)

    I definitely want to be able to have a separate source for zone 2 . . . so that we can, for example, watch a movie via zone 1 and listen to music on zone 2. I assumed that most (if not all) receivers which support two zones would support this . . . isn't that the point of the second zone?

    For example, from the specs at crutchfield for a midrange ($399) Denon: (not to discuss this brand/model, but just to show sample specs)
    "dual-room/dual-source output (speaker-level and fixed line-level stereo audio output for second room)"

    I am interpreting that to mean that the first zone would have a/v and the second zone would have audio only. (Am I reading that spec correctly?) That would be fine for what I'm trying to achieve. Especially with your suggested kludge to send video to the basement TV; I can send the zone one a/v to the TV through the record loop but send the zone two audio to the speakers . . . and just pick what you want to watch/listen to at the moment (or both for complete cacophony :)

    I'll take you up on the offer to post the floor plan for the room to the speakers forum! Some time tomorrow, gotta sleep tonight . . .

    Thanks again!
    I love this site!
    --Tammie
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Yes, that’s correct. There’s something you have to look out for here, though. Some receivers will have speaker connections for Zone 2, others will have only a signal output that will have to feed another amp. As I noted, with all the locations you want to second-zone, IMO the latter is what you want.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  6. Tammie N-S

    Tammie N-S Auditioning

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    Hello again:
    Wayne, you had suggested (see full post for full context):


    The distance will be about 10ft from the receiver to the basement TV. (They are conveniently located directly on top of eachother one floor apart.) I can run the cable through the floor, but will need to run it soon.

    Do you have a recommendation for the cable itself?

    At first I thought the distance was going to be greater and was afraid I'd have to build the cable myself. But I found that there are 10 ft A/V cables out there, they seem mostly to be marketed for gamers, but I'm thinking that one would work for this purpose also?

    Thanks!
    --Tammie
     
  7. Paul E V

    Paul E V Stunt Coordinator

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    Just to clarify ....
    Some receivers have a powered Zone 2 (I'm guessing they'd have speaker connections)

    I've had 2 receivers with RCAs for Zone 2 --- the first one was a powered Zone 2 (multi-room/source) but you lost main surrounds with Zone 2 on. The second is just a line out requiring an amp for Zone 2 (but is still multi-room source)
     
  8. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Paul,

    Obviously, a long A/V cable will be the easiest solution, if you can get it inside the wall, because it will already have the plugs on both ends. A problem may be that it might take really big holes in the header and footer boards (the horizontal ones above and below the upright studs). You could get around this by separating out the three cables and drilling three smaller holes, each a few inches apart.

    Another caveat might be finding an off-the-shelf A/V cable rated for in-wall use, if you’re concerned about that – supposedly an insurance company thing. The other alternative is running raw cable stock, but you’ll have to get the RCA’s on them yourself – which typically requires soldering.

    If you want to run cable stock, let me know and I’ll make some recommendations.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  9. Paul E V

    Paul E V Stunt Coordinator

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    Wayne


    Thank you for clarifying, I did see that.

    A secondary amp would be subjected to the same demands though. It seems to me the easiest way around that would be to amp each 'zone' seperately (after the switch) but that can be costly.
     

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