Whole-house audio/video distribution

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by RickJ, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. RickJ

    RickJ Auditioning

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    Hi all,

    I'm trying to complicate my life as much as possible, and thought I'd see if any of you can help me do so!

    I'm in the process of having a Crestron whole-house audio system installed, but would like to do what I can to achieve at least near-audiophile results. The Crestron dealer has made some suggestions, but I'd like a second or third opinion. I'll try to break this down into pieces, starting with speakers first.

    Primary listening / viewing area: The family room will have all B&W speakers, including 803Ds as the fronts with an HTM-1 center channel. I'm leaning towards the SCM-1 on-walls for the rears.

    I'll have B&W Signature 8NT in-wall speakers in both the master bedroom and the second bedroom. I'll also have a single Speakercraft in-ceiling stereo speaker in the master bath. In all, I'll have four separate listening zones (family, MBR, 2BR and bath).

    The family room currently has a Panasonic 42" plasma. I'm going to move that tv to the MBR and get a 50" plasma for the family room. The distributed audio installer is set on the NEC 50", because he knows it integrates well with the Crestron system. I haven't seen the NEC in action, but I know and love the Panasonic, and would lean towards a Panasonic 50" plasma. Does anyone here own a recent model NEC plasma? Any opinions as to how it matches up against the Panasonic?

    Next, the amplifier situation. I own a Sunfire Ultimate receiver, which I purchased maybe two years ago. If possible, I'd like to use it for driving the main system. By doing that, however, I'd need a separate amp to power zones 2-4. The Crestron guy is suggesting a Crestron or similar multi-channel amp (I forget which, but likely a 50wpc 12-channel amp or something else in that general neighborhood). I need to look at the specs on the suggested amp, of course, but my bet is that it isn't going to be of the same quality that I'd like to drive the B&W in-walls. So my dilemma is this - do I try to stick with my Sunfire and find another amp to drive the other three zones? Do I try to find a multi-zone pre-pro and separate amp? Anthem D1 looks interesting, and I know Lexicon has a mutli-zone unit as well... this is where I'm stuck, and I'll be honest, I'm not as up-to-speed in this area as I'd like to be... so I'd appreciate your thoughts.

    Finally, as for video... once I get a 50" for the family room and have moved the 42" to the bedroom, there's the question of how to distribute video. The installer is suggesting a separate cable box for each video screen. The alternative he proposes is a $3k Crestron video switching system. Again, I think there has to be a better way. Maybe this is where an Anthem D1 or similar product might fit the bill. (If I end up wanting / needing to upgrade my Sunfire anyway, I might as well try to fill both my audio and video pre-pro needs as once.)

    When considering an amp, obviously the master bath single-stereo-speaker zone is the least important to me... so if I end up needing a three-zone system for the family room and two bedrooms, with a separate, lesser-quality amp for the master bath, that's an option I'd be willing to consider.

    Okay, I think that's it! Now it's up to you - help me fill my house with music! : )
     
  2. Jesse Sharrow

    Jesse Sharrow Supporting Actor

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    Ok some of this stuff I cant help much with, but I will make some suggestions.

    Me personally I would get a 2 channel sunfire amp and run your speakers in the bedroom off of the 1st second zone. Then I would get a basic 4 channel or 6 channel amp and run it off of the 2nd ...... 2nd zone. [​IMG] Does that make sense? Hmmmm.... I just noticed that you have the B&W's in the 2nd bedroom also. Then maybe get a more powerful, and better sounding multichannel amp. But do you see where Im going. You need something nice for the B&W'S and not so much for the speakercraft.

    As far as the video goes for cable. I would do seperate cable boxes. You can proably rent them from your cable company for like $5 a month. I wouldnt wast your money on an exspensive video switcher.

    Maybe someone else can jump in and help me out.
     
  3. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    I 2nd the recommendation on a couple 6 channel amps ....better quality and cheaper than a 12 channel.
    I have a good switcher for a 2 zone system but think of how many different things do you want playing at once. Few houses are big enough to have more than 2 different playing without annoying the hell out of everyone else.
    I am a huge beliver in all 5 speakers the same for tonal qualities and if you want SACD or DVDA it's even more important,

    MOST IMPORTANT always run extra wire to every room because you never know what's next.
    The farther the run; the more you runbecause it will be next to impossible to add extra later. CAT5 RG6 and whatever else you can.....3 runs of rg6 can turn into a component cable with a couple of connectors very easily!
     
  4. Ted Pugh

    Ted Pugh Stunt Coordinator

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    Look into the Denon 5805. It can handle anything you are looking to do and the sound quality is right up there with anything you can throw at it including the Anthem D1. I just installed one in my dedicated home theater which replaced the Aragon Stage One and there was no comparison. I run my whole house audio off of The Russound system and Uno keypads with high end Speaker Craft speakers.

    By the way I am running B&W 803's, HTM1 and the SCM1's for rears with the Denon. I bi amped the front three speakers with the Denon and the sound is incredible. Hope this helps.

    Ted
     
  5. RickJ

    RickJ Auditioning

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    Thanks to all for your replies so far. I'm leaning towards keeping the Sunfire to power the home theater (after all, it's 200wpc x 7, so why sell it) and getting a separate six- or eight-channel amp for the other zones. Any suggestions? The installer had first recommended a Crestron 12-channel amp, which seems like overkill for my needs (2-bedroom condo, so I'll never need more zones). After a little pushback, his next suggestion is a TrueAudio six- or eight-channel amp, I forget which. Problem there is that I've never heard of TrueAudio. If anyone has suggestions for a low-distortion 6-8 channel amp, I'm all ears!

    If I'm keeping the Sunfire, then separate cable boxes sounds like a good way to go on the video side of things. Stick to getting an amp for the two bedrooms and forget the video switcher (or pre/pro with video switching). So there's an easy call.

    I'm definitely matching speakers, so no problems there. And thanks for the suggestion about running extra wire - that's one thing I figured out as soon as I had the walls opened up - I only want to do this once! I'm having them run cable to a spot in the master bath so that one day I can hook in an LCD. So I have my Nordost spool ready to go for audio runs and plenty of cable for video!

    Thanks again!
     
  6. Richard Beckman

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    In a two bedroom condo I would buy 7.1 or 5.1 electronics for my second system that will support two zones. For example my HK DPR2005 the 6th and 7th channels drive stereo in four zones and independently operate a 5.1 system in the family room. Each of these four zones with stereo have impedance matching volume controls.
     
  7. Dean_S

    Dean_S Second Unit

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    Richard, The Denon 5805 will drive two zones multi-channel and 2 more stereo. Only zone one can use the DEQX MultEQ calibration but you can still do standard calibration on the second HT zone. This would mean one control piece for the entire house. It also 10 or 12 channels of amplification built in (can't remember which) and can be configured to use just any combination of internal amps and external amps to power all the zones (you configure which channels in which zones use what amplifier channels). Sure it's $6000 but it's a damn good investment for this guy since he will actually use almost all the functionality of the recvr. I would never need that much but still like the 5805 for the DEQX but plan to keep my DPR2005 for a while since it meets my current needs.
     

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