Author Topic: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?  (Read 10484 times)

Purplexus

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Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« on: April 07, 2009, 08:42:16 am »
NO! why would you want to?



I have seen numerous requests for linux MCE to control Russound ACA-E5, Russound CAV6.6, Nuvo Multi-room amplifiers

HERE IS A COMPARISON as well as a solution for homes already prewired for these systems.


MULTI-ROOM SOULTION TIP

A lot of Homes are already prewired with Multi-room Audio Matrix amplifiers in mind.

Now lets wire our homes with a Linux MCE system in mind

Lets say we have 23 rooms with 2 speakers in each in mind.  All of the wiring in a typical multi-room system would have 46 Speaker wires and 23 Cat 5e wire wired into a Home theater rack of some sort with these all going into the Multi-room amplifiers such as Nuvo, Russound, Control 4, ETC.

We have to think out of the box when prewiring for a Linux MCE system as our brains for the house.

WE first off have a core capable of 1 HD video out and 1 audio out. Using our typical millionaires house with 23 rooms of sound and 1 home Theatre.... we use the core to run to the Home theatre in this example.
We throw in a 24 port GIG switch and run 23 Media directors off the core JUST to control the other 23 rooms of sound!!!   Sounds expensive...  YES!!!.. but this is the alternative....  Lets assume all we need is 2 channel audio... any barebones computer will do 2 channel audio.  no need to go get something with video needs it is not necessary... now we need 23 2 channel amps  UGH!!! lets assume 23 SONY STRDE-197 200 watt 2 channel amplifiers at $150 a piece... and a cheap barebones computer at $200 a piece.... that is $350 a room. = $8050.

Option 2...  (3) 8X8 multi-room amplifiers.  = $10500 and that is at a wholesalers cost point.  ( I am a Automation specialist)

DIFFERENCE in Options....
LINUX MCE = numerous networked inputs distributed to all 23 Audio zones + your Home theater.
8X8 Multi-room amplifiers = 8 sources to 24 audio zones

Linux MCE is also VIDEO distribution
add your $700 Media Directors for this feature as we need Video quality too.
and if this is an area where you have audio and video keep them combined by running the Audio back to the Sony amp you have located in your centralized closet.  to do this you will need 2 RCA's.... or 1 COAX with the audio now being decoded by a 5.1 AMP... if you have a CAT-5e to spare... there are baluns that convert cat 5e to RCA.  (balun = Balanced / unbalanced).


SOLUTION

The current problem
The home I am currently working on has 10 Zones of Audio and 7 Rooms in which have Televisions planned for Whole Home Audio/Video Distribution.  This home was prewired by a different company which had in mind a Russound (8X8) audio Matrix with a (8X8) video Matrix and (2) 2 channel amplifiers to combine 2 of the audio zones and have in wall volume controls to control the seperate zones.  They also have a Dedicated Theater room in which all of the wiring was run to a Home theater rack.

The solution
In the Home Theatre Rack we are going to have 1 core. and 1 2 channel amplifier with RS-232 control for each zone of Audio that has AUDIO ONLY.  For these zone we attach a barebones CPU loaded with LINUX MCE.  (barebones requirement is an Audio out.  does not matter if it is a 1/8 mini plug or 2 channel RCA.  If your barebones has coax out make sure your amplifier can except coax input and that you set your Amplifier to spit out only Stereo audio) in our case we have 5 Zones of audio only.  we now also have 5 Zones in which have TV's and 2 channel audio.  (For these 5 cases we use a $700 mini cpu which we shall hide behind the TV itself. )   In our special case because the previous company was planning on doing Distributed audio through cat 5 we have cat 5 behind the tv's.  In our case the previous compnay was also going to use IR using cat 5 to the TV we again can use this in conjunction with balun's to send audio back down to our Theatre rack to power up the 2 channel amp in that zone.  Our System also has a 5.1 sound system and a TV in the family room.  Again we have 2 cat 5 for control and video behind the TV.  This time our Mini computer MUST HAVE digital coax out in our to send it again back down to the Rack in the Theatre.  Our last ZONE is the theatre itself in which there is no problem with any wiring as it is all there already.

COMPARING COSTS

Linux MCE system costs (equipment only what would be relevant to switching to a Multi-room system (speakers and tv's etc would eb the same regardless)
5 Barebone computers at $200/ cpu = $1000
5 mini computers at $700 / cpu =$ 3500
10 (2 channel) amplifiers @ $150 =$1500
1 5.1 Amplifier @ $800 = $800
1 7.1 Amplifier @ $1800 = $1800
5 (pairs as you need one on both sides of the cat 5) RCA baluns @ 60 = $300
1 (16 Port) Gb switch @ $215 = $ 215
5 remote controls @ $1500 = $1500

TOTAL COST = $10,615

Multi-room cost (note these are at My companies cost yet. If you are buying retail expect these prices to be marked up %40 or so
(8X8) multi-room amp with 40 watts per channel no keypads = $3600
2 (2 channel) amplifiers @ $150 = $300
(8X8) video matrix switch = $2100
zone keypad @ $420 each = $3360
media server(pictures and cd's only) = $3200
400 Disc DVD changer = $1500
RF Controller @ $1400
5 Remote controls @ $500 = $2500

Approx (40 hours for non profressionals to program this) $3000 or more for you to get a pro to do it for you

TOTAL COST $17,960 (and it still doesn't even compare to what the linux mce system can do!!!!)
RETAIL APPROX = ($25,144) + 3000 for remote programming
$18000 more for a much lesser system.


I'm SOLD!


colinjones

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2009, 08:58:15 am »
I'm sorry, I ran out of energy to read it all in detail :) I assume the precis is "I like LMCE"? If so, can I move this to the Users forum?

Another alternative (from what I think you are doing!) would be to consider getting SqueezeBox Booms for the audio only areas where you don't need ultra high quality (they are still very good for their tiny size!) Or for those areas where you do need high quality sound, the basic SqueezeBoxes plugged into an amp and speakers. This would significantly reduce the cost for those areas as you then don't need to have a MD/PC at all, LMCE can happily control those devices and send media to them... what's more, they are wireless, so no need for Cat5e cabling; and the Boom is self contained with amp and speakers so completely portable too!

tkmedia

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2009, 06:46:35 pm »
Sounds great in concept .... not sure where you are located but...

A couple of issues to consider.

1. Do you have the experience and expertise on the linuxmce side?
2. Will you be able to support LMCE.
3. Are you aware of licensing issues.
4. If in US are you aware of Guide data issue.



HTH

Tim
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tschak909

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2009, 07:23:57 pm »
That is probably one of the best cost benefit analyses I've seen on this forum.

Very well done, thank you.

And yes, you should get in touch with Pluto to get a license agreement to sell the systems, the per unit licensing (as far as core and media directors) aren't much

As for support, we do recommend spending at least a year with a full system yourself, before supporting others.

-Thom

krys

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2009, 07:32:31 pm »
One thing that you are not taking into account which could be a major deal breaker depending on the house layout is getting the music in each room to sync. One of the reasons I am sticking with my multi-zone speaker system is because all zones are precisely in sync, I do still have a MD in the major entertainment areas, but if I use them to play the music then each room could be out of sync by as much as a few seconds. In my house this is a HUGE annoyance because I have a very open floor plan, I easily hear one zone from another (except for my back porch zone). If the rooms were on opposite sides of the house this wouldn't even be an issue.

jhammond

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2009, 09:04:14 pm »
If audio is your primary concern, I'd suggest the squeezebox. From what I've seen, they work excellently with linuxmce and on their own.
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Use_network_audio_players_for_a_whole-house_music_solution
They also handle syncing automatically on their own, though, if they're all just used as output devices with LMCE, they might just be speakers for the Media_Player and suffer from the same sync issue. I do know that, using the slimserver software, they work like a charm:
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Upgrading_SlimServer

jhammond

tschak909

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2009, 09:14:32 pm »
The Slim Server Streamer device needs some work to alter commands when there are multiple destination EAs that the Streamer can potentially handle.

It is possible to extend this properly, Will somebody please tackle this issue?

-Thom

donpaul

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2009, 10:06:54 pm »
Why not combine both technologies, which is exactly what I am doing in my home. I do not like LinuxMCE's intercom feature due to the lag - it is pretty much useless. Also, the music/video is not synced among Media Directors throughout the home. I am installing a nutone intercom system that will also function as a whole house audio system (but very inexpensive). I will have a dedicated audio only MD plugged into the aux input of the intercom system. I can then control the intercom audio from any Orbiters (including volume). Also when I speak to the house during an alarm event, it will be heard through the intercom speakers, and mics around the home will pick up audio. The possibilities are endless

Anyway, LinuxMCE is fantastic but shouldn't be used as a whole house intercom/audio system - you will be disappointed. Use it with a whole house intercom/audio and you'll be blown away! It would be great if LinuxMCE had some functionality built in for integrating with intercom systems - maybe down the road.

tschak909

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2009, 10:22:30 pm »
Why not actually help and get the internal bits to be lower latency?

It's more than possible, the leg work just needs to be done.

-Thom

tschak909

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2009, 10:23:55 pm »
I would like to add that I _AM_ using the internal phone systems, with a proper echo cancelling microphone and speaker loop, and it works wonderfully.

But, whatever.

-Thom

donpaul

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2009, 11:01:34 pm »
The phone systems are great, and I also use those with a good mic. But using it for intercom/audio is painful in a home where you notice the latency. I would love to help if it is possible to improve on.

totallymaxed

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2009, 01:09:46 pm »
If audio is your primary concern, I'd suggest the squeezebox. From what I've seen, they work excellently with linuxmce and on their own.
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Use_network_audio_players_for_a_whole-house_music_solution
They also handle syncing automatically on their own, though, if they're all just used as output devices with LinuxMCE, they might just be speakers for the Media_Player and suffer from the same sync issue. I do know that, using the slimserver software, they work like a charm:
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Upgrading_SlimServer

jhammond

In bigger installations we use Squeezeboxes and CAT5 matrix switches to achieve this. 4x8 or 8x16 is the most used combination for us. This allows us to route any or all of 4 or 8 inputs to any of 8 or 16 outs. Each output then would drive a zone of a multi-Zone amp or localised in-ceiling amplifiers in each room. We use either rs232 or IP controllable Matrixes. This allows us to route one source to all outputs/zones and gives us perfect sync too. Conversely we can control the Matrix to allow for say several zones on the ground floor to receive the same source while each zone upstairs receives separate sources.

Matrixes are expensive but they do provide an enormous amount of flexibility and do keep video/audio perfectly in sync. We'd rather do all this internally, and digitally, inside the system...but for now this seems a little out of reach.

In some installs we also use Matrixes for switching video sources too... but thats another story.

All the best

Andrew
« Last Edit: April 08, 2009, 01:14:52 pm by totallymaxed »
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nite_man

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2009, 01:38:33 pm »
Quote
In bigger installations we use Squeezeboxes and CAT5 matrix switches to achieve this. 4x8 or 8x16 is the most used combination for us. This allows us to route any or all of 4 or 8 inputs to any of 8 or 16 outs. Each output then would drive a zone of a multi-Zone amp or localised in-ceiling amplifiers in each room. We use either rs232 or IP controllable Matrixes. This allows us to route one source to all outputs/zones and gives us perfect sync too. Conversely we can control the Matrix to allow for say several zones on the ground floor to receive the same source while each zone upstairs receives separate sources.

Matrixes are expensive but they do provide an enormous amount of flexibility and do keep video/audio perfectly in sync. We'd rather do all this internally, and digitally, inside the system...but for now this seems a little out of reach.

In some installs we also use Matrixes for switching video sources too... but thats another story.

All the best

Andrew

Sounds interesting. Can you give some real example of using Martix, please, if it isn't secret of course?
Michael Stepanov,
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colinjones

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2009, 04:19:20 pm »
If audio is your primary concern, I'd suggest the squeezebox. From what I've seen, they work excellently with linuxmce and on their own.
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Use_network_audio_players_for_a_whole-house_music_solution
They also handle syncing automatically on their own, though, if they're all just used as output devices with LinuxMCE, they might just be speakers for the Media_Player and suffer from the same sync issue. I do know that, using the slimserver software, they work like a charm:
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Upgrading_SlimServer

jhammond

In bigger installations we use Squeezeboxes and CAT5 matrix switches to achieve this. 4x8 or 8x16 is the most used combination for us. This allows us to route any or all of 4 or 8 inputs to any of 8 or 16 outs. Each output then would drive a zone of a multi-Zone amp or localised in-ceiling amplifiers in each room. We use either rs232 or IP controllable Matrixes. This allows us to route one source to all outputs/zones and gives us perfect sync too. Conversely we can control the Matrix to allow for say several zones on the ground floor to receive the same source while each zone upstairs receives separate sources.

Matrixes are expensive but they do provide an enormous amount of flexibility and do keep video/audio perfectly in sync. We'd rather do all this internally, and digitally, inside the system...but for now this seems a little out of reach.

In some installs we also use Matrixes for switching video sources too... but thats another story.

All the best

Andrew

Have you guys thought about the suggestion I made of revamping the xine/DCE into 2 separate xine DCE devices - client and server? In another topic http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=7657.0 this would increase the flexibility of the system, make it more modular, but most importantly ensure that all video and audio was always perfectly in sync and not need to go through that process of starting from the beginning and jumping to the right spot each time you split/moved the stream.... :)

totallymaxed

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Re: Multi-room Sound Systems Even possible?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2009, 08:27:56 pm »
If audio is your primary concern, I'd suggest the squeezebox. From what I've seen, they work excellently with linuxmce and on their own.
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Use_network_audio_players_for_a_whole-house_music_solution
They also handle syncing automatically on their own, though, if they're all just used as output devices with LinuxMCE, they might just be speakers for the Media_Player and suffer from the same sync issue. I do know that, using the slimserver software, they work like a charm:
http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Upgrading_SlimServer

jhammond

In bigger installations we use Squeezeboxes and CAT5 matrix switches to achieve this. 4x8 or 8x16 is the most used combination for us. This allows us to route any or all of 4 or 8 inputs to any of 8 or 16 outs. Each output then would drive a zone of a multi-Zone amp or localised in-ceiling amplifiers in each room. We use either rs232 or IP controllable Matrixes. This allows us to route one source to all outputs/zones and gives us perfect sync too. Conversely we can control the Matrix to allow for say several zones on the ground floor to receive the same source while each zone upstairs receives separate sources.

Matrixes are expensive but they do provide an enormous amount of flexibility and do keep video/audio perfectly in sync. We'd rather do all this internally, and digitally, inside the system...but for now this seems a little out of reach.

In some installs we also use Matrixes for switching video sources too... but thats another story.

All the best

Andrew

Have you guys thought about the suggestion I made of revamping the xine/DCE into 2 separate xine DCE devices - client and server? In another topic http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=7657.0 this would increase the flexibility of the system, make it more modular, but most importantly ensure that all video and audio was always perfectly in sync and not need to go through that process of starting from the beginning and jumping to the right spot each time you split/moved the stream.... :)

We're always thinking about streaming media and keeping it in sync ;-)

...and yes i have thought about that discussion. But I am still of the belief that, and this is particularly true of video, without special hardware it will be near impossible to achieve full quality and sync that scales from low-res up to full 1080p (Blueray quality) playback. Audio is definitely more achievable overall as even the highest quality streams are not stressful to any of the software we already have access to...so I guess it would audio where this might be worth some effort.

However for now we can get 'off the shelf' audio/video switching with full control from inside the system that delivers full quality for both audio & video... and the costs scales nicely for both Forum members who want to build down to a tight budget and for those who have a more 'money is less of an object' approach.

All the best

Andrew
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd

Read My Blog; http://ellipticalcurve.com

Contact me for Smart Home consulting advice here;
@herron on Twitter, inquiries@ellipticalcurve.com via email or PM me here.

Get a Dianemo License: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.msg100221#msg100221
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