Integrating home cinema and whole-house audio

colinb4987

Novice Member
I'm soon going to be rewiring my house, and am going to run speaker wire (most likely 4x2.5mm^2) to 7 audio only zones (all one stereo pair), one 5.1.2 cinema zone, and one TV+speaker bar zone. Additional empty conduit to all rooms, Cat6a to all rooms, and possibly HDMI to all rooms.

If I can use current equipment, I can spend more on new kit - so making use of a Yamaha RX-A3050 (for cinema) and A-S701 would be ideal. I also have two servers (VMs and Docker readily available) and a 10Gbps network backbone that can be put to use, all housed in a half-empty 42u rack (where I'd like to put any additional purchases)

My question is: if I want to be able to listen to four different Spotify streams in four different zones, what do I need? What if I want to have BBC iPlayer playing different streams in four different zones (cinema, HDMI, and two future HDMI)

I get that I'll need an amplifier per audio zone (leaving me looking at something like a Monitor IA60-12), and a receiver to deal with the cinema/HDMI/additional audio if I have the outputs. Where I'm totally confused is on matrices (or matrixes?) and inputs. Anyone help?

If I had a Monitor IMS-4 running into an IA60-12, does that solve the "four Spotify streams to four different stereo pairs" part of the equation?

Mods, please move if this is in the wrong place; please point me to another forum altogether if this is too deep into DIY-Custom Install territory! Thanks all for any help
 

AmericanAudio

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
In theory, yes.

That is all fine for audio, it is the video content through the speakers that would be more of a challenge.

If you ran apps in the tv's then how do you get the sound back to the amps and counter any delays.

If you have app type boxes in the centre with the amps then how do you get video out to the tv's

Its friday night, i have had a mare of a day and i am several whisky and cokes in! I'll try to have a think over breakfast.

Chris.
AAC
 

colinb4987

Novice Member
Thanks Chris, enjoy the drinks and avoid the hangover!!

I guess I could do something janky like hang four Chromecast or similar off a Blustream 4x4 HDMI matrix, and effectively cast the video?

Alternatively, and I'll need to look into it, bung a few video (HDMI out) cards in the servers, and hook them up to virtual machines in which the web apps run?

Gaaah, I don't know! Back to the wine...
 

colinb4987

Novice Member
Doing a bit more thinking, and I think I can ditch the requirement on 4x HDMI concurrently.

Rationale is that if there's HDMI, there's a screen at one end. Since they'll all be new screens, they'll all have HDMI 2.1 with eARC or better, and have the applications themselves too. Ergo, so long as I cable for that, I can deal with conundrum when it arises.

So something like:
Monitor IMS-4 or NAD CI 580
Stack of power amps, or distribution amp like NAD 9060
Yamaha A3050 or other AV receiver connected via ARC or eARC HDMI to main TV

Works?
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
The Monitor Audio IMS-4 is very reliable - I've never used the NAD so cannot comment on how reliable it is when you want to install, configure and leave.

Remember you need ethernet to the IMS-4 - it doesn't support WiFi. Your BluOS controllers (phones, tablets etc) will need to be on the same network (via wifi etc is fine).

You could run optical to the IMS-4 from each zone, or you could also use CAT6 extenders for your optical link to bring it back to the IMS-4.

In each zone, you get the use of optical/coaxial and then there's an overall shared anaolg input too.

We've installed many in the last year - not had any call backs (other than a little telephone support when the device dropped off their network) which is important when the rest of the family aren't quite as tech savvy.

Pairing it up with one of the install amplifiers makes perfect sense.
The question I would ask yourself:

Are you wanting independent control per zone or are you happy with 4 zones (IMS-4 limit).
You can group zones on the MA amps - so one input to many outputs etc.

Alternatively you could look into an audio matrix and then into an 8 zone amplifier.

Some ideas:

+
 

colinb4987

Novice Member
Ok, so I think i have eight audio-only zones:
  1. Office
  2. Master bedroom + en suite (2 pairs of speakers, wired in series or parallel as needed)
  3. Family bathroom
  4. Guest bedroom + en suite (2 pairs of speakers, wired in series or parallel as needed)
  5. Dining room
  6. Kitchen
  7. Outdoor 1 (1 or 2 pairs of speakers, wired in series or parallel as needed)
  8. Outdoor 2 (1 or 2 pairs of speakers, wired in series or parallel as needed)
And two video + audio zones:
  1. Sitting room (5.1.2)
  2. Playroom (Stereo or soundbar)
I can't see that we would ever need to be playing more than four different streams at ay one time - but I can see that the groupings of different zones has to be flexible e.g Dining Room might sometimes be desired to be playing the same as Kitchen and Playroom, and Outdoor 1+2 have a different but the same soundtrack; other times Dining Room + Playroom + Kitchen + Outdoor 1+2 would all be on the same soundtrack.

That implies to me that I need four network sources, e.g. IMS-4. Ok, sorted.

Where I'm now mixed up is in how to aggregate and separate the zones. Each zone will have speaker cabling run back to the AV/Network rack (which also includes a 48-port PoE switch). Presumably, each zone needs its own physical amplifier (which could mean 8 boxes each containing 1 amplifier, or 1 box containing 8 amplifiers, or any combination thereof)?

(How) Can I achieve the dynamic/"at will" definition of groups of zones?

I'm looking at MA's range, and the IA60-12 looks like it would be a good starting point. From NAD, the CI16-60 DSP also looks sensible. Can those do the job? Or am I looking at one of the Pulse Eight matrices/matrix-amplifiers?
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Well if you went down the Monitor Audio route, the IA60-12 will only give you 6 powered stereo zones whereas the Pulse-Eight amp will give you 8.

Both do the same function - just differently.

The Pulse-Eight is 100w per channel vs 60w on the MA (8 ohmns)
You do get DSP and EQ on the Pulse Eight (plus dolby decoding should you want to run TV's through them for example and not being in a PCM format).

Both would require web browser access to control the groupings to let you dynamically "bridge" inputs/outputs. This is where a control system makes it a little easier with install amps where you start using a matrix etc as it's touch screen / app based that then makes the changes to code on the fly for you.

The NAD works exactly the same as the above too as the Pulse-Eight and the MA, just with a few features clipped (which may not be an issue anyway).

I am wondering if perhaps a rack full of CI 720 v2 which is essentially a Bluesound PowerNode in a CI chassis may be a better route for you as that way it's all app controlled without a control system and thus the user friendliness part is easier to adopt (a big consideration with this stuff!).

We can help with any of the above solutions if you need any help at all.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
The missing, and key, ingredient is how you plan to control the system, how many other users of the system and how you plan to make it easy for those other users.

Centralised systems are great if you have the budget to design and implement a reliable and user friendly control system - otherwise folk will simply try and work out how to bypass the system or constantly be on your case about it not being workable.

Decentralised is/has fast become the norm as you can deliver a more user friendly and flexiable system with local control via the users mobile, tablet or computer.

Ecosystems such as Yamaha MusicCast would allow you to have local control plus a whole house music system when you want to group zones for parties or similar.

Smart TV’s with eARC, ARC or Optical Out provide local streaming with an Output to a local Soundbar or music streamer.

Look carefully at who and how the system will be used and don’t be tied into legacy gear or design trends.

Joe
 

colinb4987

Novice Member
Well if you went down the Monitor Audio route, the IA60-12 will only give you 6 powered stereo zones whereas the Pulse-Eight amp will give you 8.

Both do the same function - just differently.

The Pulse-Eight is 100w per channel vs 60w on the MA (8 ohmns)
You do get DSP and EQ on the Pulse Eight (plus dolby decoding should you want to run TV's through them for example and not being in a PCM format).

Both would require web browser access to control the groupings to let you dynamically "bridge" inputs/outputs. This is where a control system makes it a little easier with install amps where you start using a matrix etc as it's touch screen / app based that then makes the changes to code on the fly for you.

The NAD works exactly the same as the above too as the Pulse-Eight and the MA, just with a few features clipped (which may not be an issue anyway).

I am wondering if perhaps a rack full of CI 720 v2 which is essentially a Bluesound PowerNode in a CI chassis may be a better route for you as that way it's all app controlled without a control system and thus the user friendliness part is easier to adopt (a big consideration with this stuff!).

We can help with any of the above solutions if you need any help at all.
I'm not so worried about the amplification side of things at the moment - I have space in the rack, and finding appropriate power amps isn't of concern (I have a Yamaha A-S701 "spare" at the moment, a NAD 216THX on the way for peanuts, and a line on a 12 channel too) - the matrix and control side is, I think, where my headache is at.

It sounds like, from your perspective at least, the Pulse Eight is the way to go? What are my options for a control system?
 

colinb4987

Novice Member
The missing, and key, ingredient is how you plan to control the system, how many other users of the system and how you plan to make it easy for those other users.

Centralised systems are great if you have the budget to design and implement a reliable and user friendly control system - otherwise folk will simply try and work out how to bypass the system or constantly be on your case about it not being workable.

Decentralised is/has fast become the norm as you can deliver a more user friendly and flexiable system with local control via the users mobile, tablet or computer.

Ecosystems such as Yamaha MusicCast would allow you to have local control plus a whole house music system when you want to group zones for parties or similar.

Smart TV’s with eARC, ARC or Optical Out provide local streaming with an Output to a local Soundbar or music streamer.

Look carefully at who and how the system will be used and don’t be tied into legacy gear or design trends.

Joe
Thanks Joe. You've hit the nail on the head - control. I am in the Yamaha MusicCast system at the moment, and it does everything I would like as far as grouping/ungrouping/streaming.

What I'm trying to get to is having all the equipment (bar speakers) centralised in one place, for ease of administration, ease of connection, so I don't have to put devices in every room, etc.

So why don't I just buy a bunch more Yamaha equipment? That was my original plan - but then I ran into the whole "needing one source for each independent zone" thing, and the struggles of running multiple zones of single receivers, and quite quickly it seemed like that was spiralling. That's sort of why BluOS appealed to me - its adoption by Monitor and Dali, with Peachtree and Roksan in the works gives me hope that it might be getting into a broader ecosystem than a single manufacturer system.

Equally, this doesn't all need to be done at once - but I don't want to get 5 years down the road and have to do a complete pivot.

The users are my wife (not techy, it needs to just work), and children (3 and 1, so it needs to just work). I'm not averse to learning a bit of scripting, or bodging bits and pieces together from github, but I don't have as much time as I'd like to get deep enough into the weeds to come up with a polished solution.

What other control options are out there, especially for something like a Pulse Eight matrix? I like the fact that their API is completely documented, and so open - if I wanted to faff around via MQTT and start to link audio or video to external events, or sensor events, or wahtever, then that potential is already there without needing a dealer to be involved.
 

Yorkshire AV

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
There are a few control options available to you.

We use ELAN here in our showroom and out in installs - it's more "open" than Control4 i.e. once configured and handed over to you, you can modify and add to / remove as you need if you're slightly techie. At least you're not having to write your owns scripts and it's mostly menu driven.

All of the plugins for Pulse-Eight and BluOS (it's not platform specific which is nice - especially when you're thinking larger ecosystem down the road) are free too. Similarly most of the AVR's come with control built into them now too - so switching inputs/outputs is a doddle compared to how it used to be with learning IR codes :D

Firstly....You need to visualise how you want this to work "in the real world".

Namely: are you going to have a single touch screen which controls the home? This touch screen will select source input/destination output for example (including browsing the BluOS library with any connected services - TIDAL for example) and manage the groupings.

Maybe you want to scale up and have a touch screen in each "zone" - each screen tied to it's zone perhaps and then a master unit elsewhere. Similarly, you can control via tables/smart phones via the app too.

You can bolt onto it things such as remote controls too - so in the lounge / your multi-channel cinema room, it can control your sources / screens (some via IP control, others via IR if needed) with a normal looking remote control.

There are many different options for it - but it's one of those systems which is easier talking over the phone than it is trying to fathom it out over messages.

Link to the manufacturers website.

It's not a product you can buy retail - none of the solutions are at this level. But happy to have a chat over the phone with you, map out how this would likely work on how you can scale this up and then look into the appropriate product(s) / controllers and accessories for you :)

It ties into your "central rack" idea too.
 

colinb4987

Novice Member
Thanks! Lots to consider, and probably more than I have time to wrap my head around today. I'll try to give you a call this week @Yorkshire AV - probably Thursday or Friday.
 

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