New to HTPC, need help and suggestions on the basics.

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Akt, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. Akt

    Akt Auditioning

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    Hi, I'm currently in the process of renovating my bedroom, and I'm looking to incorporate a HTPC setup into my room.

    Currently I have a few separate forms of media devices in my room, my computer being the main, that I use for listening to music, surfing, gaming, ect. A 5 year old 3 disk changer stereo that takes up way too much space imo, a smaller TV I watch cable, on. And a larger TV that I use for console gaming and watching DVD's.

    I would like to combine all of these different forms of entertainment, into a smaller HTPC network. I plan on getting rid of both TV's, and buying new one to serve the purpose of watching TV, movies and console gaming. I am getting rid of the stereo in favor of a smaller cd/dvd changer. I would also like to add a surround sound setup to the whole equation.

    What I would like to be able to do is, at the click of a button or mouse, be able to change the speaker and audio output for TV/DVD's, PC, and Music.
    For example, if I want play a game on my PC, using my surround sound speakers as the audio source for the game, while I have my mp3s playing in the background using my smaller computer speakers, then at the click of a button be able to switch them and have my mp3's being played in surround sound while my gaming audio is coming through my smaller PC 2.1 system.

    Obviously, I would like this for my CD/DVD/TV also, with the ability to change speaker outputs without moving wires around.

    Basically what it comes down to is I will have 3 different speaker setups. The 5.1 surround sound, the component TV speakers, and my PC speakers, that I would like to switch back and forth, on and off, depending on the situation with the click of a button.

    Here's a list of things im looking at, let me know if they would work for what I want to do and what else would be needed to make this work. Any suggestions or improvements on my idea are greatly appreciated.

    TV:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...lance&n=172282
    or

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...lance&n=172282

    CD/DVD changer:

    http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Sony-...oductDetail.do

    Beyond that, im lost.

    Suggestions on surround sound speakers would be nice, wireless or wired, doesnt matter. Also suggestions on anything else that I have left out that I would need to make this work.

    Specs on my PC: 7800gt, AMD 3800 64 athlon X2, DFI lan party nf4 SLI-D mobo, CD/DVD player/burner, i've forgotten what sound card I have honestly, i believe its a creative audio sound blaster audigy, 2007fpw, and creative audio 2.1 speakers

    Again, I would like to combine my PC, TV, CD/DVD changer into a simple HTPC setup, anything I've left out that I would need to make this work (hardware or pc software) or if my questions or ideas are confusing let me know. I know some of it may seem down right stupid but I'm totally new at this [​IMG]

    Thanks in advance [​IMG]
     
  2. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Connecting your gear to one central speaker system/amplifier isn't hard, just use digital connections (SPDIF) from all the other stuff. The amp/receiver for your surround system would then act as the switcher, just pick a source and listen.

    However, switching back and forth between multiple speakers and multiple devices is a whole different level of difficulty. Offhand I don't even have any real hardware suggestions on how to do that, but I'm sure its doable. I'm also sure it will cost money. LOTS of money, at least if you want to go with more than two independent sound outputs.

    You could do most of this by getting a multi zone amp/receiver. That should give you the ability to play two things simultaneously out of two sets of speakers, selecting freely between your sources (PC, CD, DVD etc). This can be done for humane amounts of money, but you'll need a higher-end receiver to get the multizone functionality. You may also need a second amplifier to power the additional speakers for the second zone, depending on what receiver you get.

    If you want more than two sets of speakers to output to simultaneously, we're talking a custom setup with a multi-source preamplifier and distribution amplifiers. We're also talking five figures, most likely. I'm not sure if your budget is at those relatively stratospheric levels... if it is, talk to some professionals who can do this. If not, you may have to "settle" for a dual zone setup.

    You could do worse, for instance, than to build your system around a NAD T773 multi-zone receiver - that would give you multiple sources in, two of which can be played at once with independent volume settings for both sources. This would do your gaming-with-surround + music from the computer scenario, for instance, with just the receiver and appropriate cabling.
     
  3. Akt

    Akt Auditioning

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    Thanks for the reply, this is exactly the type of information I was looking for.
    I'll continue to research it based of the information you gave me.

    My budget isn't anything astronomical, as you can probally tell from my selection of TV's, but to give a figure I would say around $2000. Mabey I was getting a bit ahead of myself, but I'm still open to any ideas and suggestions.
     
  4. Jason Kirkpatri

    Jason Kirkpatri Second Unit

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    Let's be innovative or challenge some assumptions.

    What if...

    you had two computer systems - one for MP3 playback (a music server) can be done CHEAP. No need for high end power. The other for PC gaming.

    Requires two receivers in addition to your two sets of speakers, but may ulitmately be cheaper and easier.

    Yes, and....
     
  5. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Not sure if $2000 is doable, especially if you mean for all the hardware, but you can always research what is available. Dual receivers is a possibility too, of course, or just the one surround setup and using PC speakers for the computer, but that doesn't give you the choice of selecting what device gets the "good" speakers and switching that around.

    You could also do it in stages and pay more but over a longer period of time, and get one nice juicy bit at a time, I guess, for an eventual payoff in the form or your "dream system".

    Assuming you get a decent but affordable TV (and if I were you, I'd be looking at widescreen machines which are better for movies - but that's just me) you then need to research what AV receiver you can get that is dual zone capable (or prepared to do it with the addition of external amps). There is also the speaker system(s); you'll need to come up with something there too.

    Maybe you should just focus on the one TV+receiver+surround-setup at first but with the option of adding some more speakers and an amp for the dual zone functionality later, if that can be done reasonably well at your budget. This would still allow you to switch in all your gear, one at a time, directly.

    Up to you. [​IMG] They are probably other options too that I haven't considered.
     

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