New house, new media setup - advice needed

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by matthewharmon10, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. matthewharmon10

    matthewharmon10
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    First off, i appologise for the long post, but i want to make sure i give you all the information i know!

    my parents are moving house, and want to have a fully digital media library. what is needed is a central server, that stores all the movies, tv shows and music. then each tv needs some kind of device to be able to browse and play this media. currently there are 4 tv's. in addition to this, there needs to be hi-fi systems that can access and play music from the server. there will be 3 hifi systems.

    there will also be a sky tv feed to the main tv and one other tv, and the main tv will most likely have sky+HD, and the other just standard sky (this may change to freesat+HD). each tv will have a freeview feed.

    now the house is being build from scratch, but they want to have any cables etc. in place and ready. the TVs will probably be wall mounted, with the cables inside a channel in the wall. ideally the less boxes/cables/remotes the better!

    now the equipment i have reccommended is to have a small rack in the loft, which contains the server, modem and a 1gbps switch, then all the cables (possibly shielded cat5e or cat6) run to the required locations. what i would like is to have 1 box that does everything tv wise, then a seperate hifi system that can play music (philips stremium range is the only thing i have found). the tv feed i have looked at getting exterity iptv, or having a small pc with a tv tuner.

    the pc its self will probably be custom built (unless ther is a pre-made solution i like) but i am not sure of the software needed to enable this setup to work.

    to sum up, there needs to be the following in the house:
    1 large (42"+) tv, with sky+HD (or equivilant), Wii, freeview, 5.1 surround sound and server access
    1 large (42"+) tv, with sky+HD (or equivilant), freeview and server access
    2 smaller (20"-26") tvs with freeview and server access
    3 hifi systems with server access
    2x laptops with server access
    1x ipad2 with server access
    1x server with minimum 2tb storage
    note: when i say server access, i mean ability to play music/video

    there is some existing equipment which may get re-used: 2x 20" LCD TVs (one toshiba, 1 LG) with wall mount brackets. 1x hitachi 42" plasma with wall mount bracket, 1x 42" LG LCD with wall mount bracket, 1x acoustic solutions 5.1 surround sound speakers on wall mount brackets and amp set, 1x teac 2.1 CD micro hifi system with ceiling speakers and sub. I have said it is better to buy new equipment and sell some of this kit.

    remote access via the internet isnt needed, but there needs to be a way of converting dvds and cds to digital copies on the server.

    basiclly i need advice on all aspects of the build. i have a rough idea of what i want, but need to know if there is anything i should/shouldn't do, anything i have missed, anything that wont be possible, any software/hardware i might need and anything else i might need to know
     
  2. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk
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    the key here is going to be the playback machines rather than the server. You have not really mentioned the playback side of things but you are going to need one device per TV and one per hi-fi (unless you can combine the TV and hi-fi into one device).

    Is there any reason to have freeview feeds to each TV rather than having the feed to the server and then distributing to each playback device (would also allow more integrated sharing of recorded TV)

    Are you going to have PC's as playback devices or something else? (Popcorn hour type device or Xbox 360 etc?)

    As for ripping content where would you want to do this? A playback device, laptop or somewhere else?
     
  3. matthewharmon10

    matthewharmon10
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    i think the hifi side i have sorted with the philips stremium system, but you are right, i need 1 device per tv. there just needs to be a live tv feed to each tv, how it gets there i am not sure. they need to operate inependantly, so different channels can be watched on different tvs. the pcs will be as playback devices, but they do not have to be pcs, just a device that can browse and play video files from the server. some of the movies will be in HD, so i was looking at connecting to the tvs by hdmi and running them in 1080p.

    if there is a way of having everything stored at the server end (includint the live tv) and just having a reciever for each tv, that would be ideal

    ripping content can be done from the laptops, or direct on the server, as long as it gets stored on the server i am not to worried.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  4. robbo100

    robbo100
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    As I am sure Jameson will tell you, something like MediaPortal will do everything you need. You can install any number of TV Tuner PCI / PCI-e cards in a server. This server does all your TV tuning, scheduled recordings etc, and manages distribution of the TV channels over the network to client PCs (one client PC for each TV).

    Since the servers resources are shared amongst all the clients on the network, any and all of the clients can tune to different TV channels (as long as there are enough TV Tuners in the server to serve everyones needs).

    The server can then be used to store all your music/films/photos, which will also be shared to all the clients.

    Because your clients are solely being used to relay data from your network to your screen, they can be relatively low power (graphics card will need to be reasonable, but nothing special), and with small hard drives, which saves money on components.
     
  5. matthewharmon10

    matthewharmon10
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    you mean mediaportal as in this software:MEDIAPORTAL - MediaPortal: Find Out More

    The server i was looking at would be custom built, so in theory i could add 4 or 5 tv tuners. If the server is doing all the storage and distribution of both live tv and movies, the 'recievers could actually be something similar to a thin client, but with a locally installed OS (Win7). i have been looking at the suttle xs35gt, which has an atom d525 dual core cpu, 4gb ram, 160GB hard drive, hdmi out and nvidia ion graphics. not sure if this would be up to the job graphics wise, but it is ideal in terms of cost (£170ish) and size

    with the sky/freesat, is it possible to have this streamed over the network to the recievers as well? assuming the server has an input for a sky box, the mediaportal software could use that input and stream it as a tv channel, correct? could i also send IR commands from a remote control over the network back to the server to change channel?

    To be honest, I may leave the sky part to be installed seperatly. Currently they have a standard sky subscription, and it only goes to 1 room. if this is the case, then i can just feed the sky input to a capture card and output it over the network. if they were to have multi-room, i would have 2 capture cards)

    I should explain that the reason they want everything to go over the network is they do not want the cables and boxes under the TV. they want the tv on the wall, with as little connected as possible (the exception is the main tv in the lounge, which will have a 5.1 surround system and wii as well as the pc reciever)
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  6. spyder viewer

    spyder viewer
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    While you are thinking about it, don't forget you'll probably need to distribute WLAN throughout the house as well for laptops etc.
     
  7. robbo100

    robbo100
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    Yes

    That is the right idea. I personally don't know if the xs35ft with d525 is enough, it might be worth posting the question on the MediaPortal forum (if you choose to go down the MP route). Or, others on here may have experience of this kit and may be able to comment.

    Well if you just want freesat, you just get a DVB-S2 card in the server and plug the LNB cable directly into that card, you will then get all the freesat channels without plugging it into a sky box. If it is sky channels that you specifically want then there are two options.

    1) Connect the Sky box to an analogue tuner card and use an IR blaster to change channel on the sky box when a client wants to tune to a specific channel (noting that this route has many limitations and analogue transcoding can be a little bit unreliable (not to mention the poor video)).

    2) Plug your sky card into a card reader on your PC and install some software that will use the card to decrypt the sky channels being received by a DVB-S2 tuner in the computer. With this method, you would only need one viewing card to service all the clients, even if they are all watching different sky channels (noting that this route is against the terms and conditions of your sky contract and if they find out about it they may cancel your contract (and you may be left paying until the end of your contract). It may also be technically illegal though (I don't know), even if you do pay for your service with sky and own a valid sky box. Also MediaPortal do not support the software you need to get this to work and delete any discussions about it on their forum - AVForums are a little more pragmatic and support can be got here thought, and plenty of people do it!)

    With MediaPortal, a single tuner will be able to record/stream not just the single channel, but the whole mux (frequency) using a single tuner. This means that with just one singe DVB-T2 tuner in the server, you could have 4 clients watching a different HD channel simultaneously. This is really useful if you have DVB-T/T2 cards because the channels are sensibly grouped in each mux, but less useful with DVB-S/S2 where there are hundreds of muxes with less content on each mux (it does work out though, because you can watch BBC HD and BBC One HD with a single DVB-S2 tuner, which is excellent). This means that with 5 tuner cards you will probably have all options covered so that you could record about 4 things at the same time, whilst streaming 4 different channels to the 4 clients and you (probably) won't run out of tuners (even though you are using more channels than the number of tuners you own.

    No explanation needed. This is exactly what many of us strive to achieve. See this link to my main-room setup, where the only connection going to the PC (bottom shelf) is a network connection (all the TV Tuner cards are in a server in another room in the house). It is great for giving the minimalist look and the quality of service is excellent: http://www.avforums.com/forums/15979461-post34.html
     
  8. matthewharmon10

    matthewharmon10
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    wow, you guys really know your stuff!
    @spyder viewer: yes, the WLAN also needs to be sorted out. currently there is a BT homehub, but what i want to do is get a switch with a connection to the homehub, then wlan extenders/access points in the house. the laptops are new and both have wireless n, so i may be ok. what i may even do is have an access point for wireless n, and an access point for G (for when family/friends visit with older devices).

    @robbo100:
    i have experience with the older shuttle PCs, but not that particular model. according to the website, it is capable of 1080p and can be bought with a blu-ray drive instead of a dvd writer, which makes me think the hardware would be cabable for standard tv and film streams. if not i am looking at building 4 i3 or i5 mini itx systems, but these would be bigger than the shuttle system.

    just so i know i understand you, if i bought a DVB-T2 tuner card, could i realistically run 4 or 5 TVs, all watching a mix of different SD and HD content from one card? recording may also be useful, hadn't actually considered that. are there any advantages of a DVB-T2 card over a DVB-S/S2? you mentioned the channel groupings, but i am not sure i understand how this works or why it is/isnt needed. I may still tell them to put aerial sockets in, the only reason they want to look at sky/freesat is the freeview signal in their area is pretty poor, but this may improve when the switchover is finished next year.

    I am now thinking it may be better to have a seperate AV network, so i dont risk clogging it up with general internet use. i may even look at having 3 seperate networks: 1 for video, 1 for audio and 1 for general use. as long as i can access the server on all 3 networks then it will be fine.

    i think i have got my head around the general idea, but i am not thinking server end what is required. am i better having 2 servers, with 1 handling tv content and one handling films and music?

    really like the setup in the link you posted. i think that is the sort of thing my parents are after, except they will probably wall mount the speakers.

    the advantage of them building a house from scratch is that the cables can all be put in place relativly easily!
     
  9. robbo100

    robbo100
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    OK, just to make sure you understand the terminology (sorry if this is teaching granny to such eggs), DVB-T = terrestrial (via an aerial), and DVB-S is satellite. The "2" refers to the signal encoding method. where DVB-T2 is a more efficient method of compressing the data than DVB-T and can therefore carry more data on a single mux (the same is true for the difference between DVB-S2 and DVB-S). This means that generally you get HD channels transmitted over DVB-S2 or DVB-T2 so that they can cram more channels in. All the Standard Definition channels are generally on DVB-S or DVB-T (i.e. the less efficient compression encoding method).

    The above means, that if you want to get HD TV in the UK, you need to get either an DVB-S2 or a DVB-T2 tuner (with the exception of ITV1 HD on DVB-S, but that is the only exception).

    Many TV cards come with more than one tuner on the single board, but you can only view one mux with a single tuner (although there may be more than one channel on a single mux, if so, you can watch/record all the channels on that mux).

    The best thing you can do, is look at this website at your local transmitter to get an idea of what I am talking about: Freeview on Sandy Heath TV transmitter | ukfree.tv - independent free digital TV advice . Taking my transmitter as an example, if I tune to PSB3 (which is a mux), I could watch/timeshift/record all the 4 HD channels (BBC HD, BBC One HD, ITV HD and Channel 4 HD) using the single tuner. However, I can NOT record BBC One HD and BBC Two at the same time, because BBC Two and BBC One HD are on different muxes. Therefore, to be able to give the clients flexibility to watch/record lots of different channels, in practice you will need more than one tuner because you will find it too restrictive. There are only 6 muxes on DVB-T/T2, so you could simultaneously record EVERY freeview TV and radio channel with 6 tuners (you might want to buy a lot of hard drives though! :laugh:)

    Looking at the satellite list: Astra 1N / Astra 2A / Astra 2B / Astra 2D / Eurobird 1 (28.2°E) - All transmissions - frequencies - KingOfSat you can see that there are many many more muxes, and so it is far more difficult to predict what muxes the clients will want to watch/record. So I can watch BBC One HD and BBC HD (on 10847.00) using a single tuner, but you will need a second tuner to watch Channel 4 HD (on 11127.00) at the same time as BBC One HD.

    Ultimately you are best to buy a PCI-e card which has got a number of tuners on the single board. You can get Dual DVB-S2 cards, Quad DVB-T2 cards or cards with a mix (Dual DVB-S2 and Dual DVB-T2 on the same card). The beauty of this system is that if you find that you are running out of flexibility, you can just add another card and connect it to an aerial/LNB and it will integrate seamlessly into the existing system.

    I wouldn't bother (not that I am a network expert by any stretch of the imagination). I would install multiple network cables (two or three) to each client (just for future proofing the house), but if you use CAT5E or CAT6 cable, then I can't imagine you having any problems running it all from the same network. Any audio network will only use a tiny amount of throughput, as will the general use, and so 4 clients each running HD TV isn't going to come close to topping out a gigabit network.

    Well, if you are using the client PCs to also access the music (which is what I do through MediaPortal), then you can stick it all on the same server (music, TV Shows, Films, Live TV, Photos) - ultimately that is what MediaPortal is designed to do.

    With my setup, the server is set to sleep after 5 minutes of inactivity (i.e. when all clients are off or when there are no active recordings). If a client is turned on, then the server is woken up using WOL (it takes about 7 second to wake everything up and be watching live TV on a client). The server will also automatically wake itself up to record, or to grab EPG etc.
     
  10. matthewharmon10

    matthewharmon10
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    sorry, a bulk of that i already knew, but i was missing bits in info! i dont know if recording will be needed for all tvs, probably just one. one of the issues i am having is getting them to commit to an idea! do quad dvb-s2 cards exist (i couldnt find one on the blackgold website)? a quad DVB-T2 card looks like my best option for freeview, but the aerial would need to be on a pole to get a decent signal (bottom of a hill, surrounded by trees!). I will have to talk to them and give them the options. I havent done much work with satellites, so that side of things is new to me.

    they were planning to re-use a switch, which is 10/100. If i can find one that is not too expensive that is a gigabit then i will do that and keep everything on 1 network (sorry should have mentioned that earlier).

    it would be nice to have the client PCs accessing the music, but i think my parents would prefere a sonos system. in the lounge there is the amp, so i am thinking of adding the sonos connect to that, then everywhere else either have the stand alone speakers, or the sonos amp with existing speakers. I know they will want to keep the ceiling speakers they currently have and move them into the kitchen, so that is why i think a sonos amp is better (unless the stand alone unit can connect and power seperate speakers?) I have also looked and the philips streamium system, but i cant seem to work out if this can play music from a server, or if it has to be stored on a philips stremium device.

    The reason they want the music seperate is so they can have the TV off, client pc off and have just the amp on.

    they are getting the blueprints and designes done now and should have them in a few weeks. this will gave me a better idea of what i am dealing with and what can/cant be done.

    nearer the time you will have to show me how your server is set up, as that soulds like a pretty good setup to me!
     
  11. robbo100

    robbo100
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    You can configure recordings from any client and the all the clients can play back any of the recordings.
     
  12. matthewharmon10

    matthewharmon10
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    i think i will give this media portal a try so i can get to grips with how it works. does media portal run on the client or server or both? i have an old shuttle PC that has Vista on it that i want to use as a server, and an old dell laptop that i can use as a client. i know the speeds wont be up to much, but i mianly want to use it for configuration
     
  13. robbo100

    robbo100
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    Mediaportal comes in two parts, which you select during the installation process (the single installation file comes with both bits). One part is the server side and the other is the client side. You can actually install both parts on the server (called single seat setup) and the the client part on the laptop, that way you can get a feel for how it will work with two clients (using your server as one of the clients, if that makes sense).

    Great idea to test it out on a demo rig before you go buying kit.
     
  14. matthewharmon10

    matthewharmon10
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    ok, well i am in the process of setting up the client at the moment (installing windows xp as we speak).

    having a look at the hardware specs on the MP website, it seems like it will run on the shuttle. the only bit i am unsure of the HD support. It says it has to be an nVidia card that supports PureVideoHD.

    a slightly different option is a bundle with an asrock motherboard and an AMD fusion CPU. The CPU is 1.6ghz dual core, but it does have 8gb ram, a 30gb solid state drive and radeon hd 6350 graphics. it doesnt look as 'pretty' as the shuttle (or other options i have looked at) but considering it will probably be hidden behind the tv is doesnt matter. only concern is that it has fans in. the MP forums dont mention either of the products, but the both meet minimum spec, the reccommended spec is a 2ghz dual core cpu. I dont know if i can get something that powerful for the price (both the shuttle and the asrock system cost about £250) and for the size.
     

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