Potentially a stupid question - mixing signals and a very simple amp

paulcurtis

Standard Member
Hi,

I'm prepared for this to be a laughable stupid question

But

I have a sony 7.1 av amp, Linn speakers and a variety of optical sources.

What i want is a very simple, quality 2.1 amp and all those sources to be mixed into a single input so that no one has to change *anything*. If two sources are being played then it will sound awful as they'd be mixed together. But in reality, we're either listening to a sonos music, watching appleTV, bluray or Sky. Never all 4.

I just want a volume control.

I don't see why is should be any more complicated then that, i watch my family struggle trying to work out which sources go where, my parents struggle when they're round.

I'm a designer, i like simplicity, i feel that consumer electronics have gone way OTT. We moved from sky to freesat for a while, found the UI so awful that we went back to Sky because no one could use it.

i know, i know, it's at odds with what most of us (as boys) like to do...

But is this actually possible?

cheers
paul
 

dwhite

Distinguished Member
Get a programmable remote (like a Harmony) and program it so it does all the switching for you, so you press a button to watch sky for example, and it switches the TV on, switches amp on, switches to the correct inputs etc, all from one button press.

Going your way, is not gonna be practical, if its even possible.

Does your amp have the ability to rename inputs I found that also helps, so instead of switching to video1 you switch to xbox.
 

paulcurtis

Standard Member
Get a programmable remote (like a Harmony) and program it so it does all the switching for you, so you press a button to watch sky for example, and it switches the TV on, switches amp on, switches to the correct inputs etc, all from one button press.

Going your way, is not gonna be practical, if its even possible.

Does your amp have the ability to rename inputs I found that also helps, so instead of switching to video1 you switch to xbox.

Been there tried it, but doesn't really work on a practical level. Doesn't always switch, can't handle appleTV properly etc,. etc,. And as soon as those things go wrong everything is so convoluted to fix for someone non technical (speaking as someone who's wife nearly put a brick through the screen whilst he was out having a quiet drink because she couldn't watch telly)

I'd thought about the ipod/iphone/ipad controllers where i could customise them completely but nothing really seems to do it. Considered writing my own app (i am an apple developer) but really don't have time.

So can i not pop a simple mixer in front of a single input? Ideally a mixer that would handle optical and coax inputs out to a single optical/coax?

Then i can pop it into a simple HiFi amp, not an AV amp.

thanks
Paul
 

andy1249

Distinguished Member
Most auto switches rely on the presence of an electrical signal to auto switch , you can see how this would be a problem with optical connections.

There are many optical switches on the market of course , but all are either manually switched or switched via remote.

The ones that do have auto switching are usually multi function boxes which use other electrical connections to switch between video sources and the related optical connection , for example , HDMI switch with optical , component switch with optical , and so on.

As suggested , a Harmony remote , set up with the related tasks , is probably the best solution for you.

Setting it up takes about a day , once thats done is simply a question of selecting the correct task and leaving the remote pointed at the system.

My Wife loves ours , its really easy to use and Im controlling 13 devices , including mac mini plex htpc and mood lighting !
Im using the Harmony One by the way , the Harmony remote designs seem to have converged on this particular design , when I originally bought mine there were other models ( 555 , 895 ) that werent nearly as good.

So can i not pop a simple mixer in front of a single input? Ideally a mixer that would handle optical and coax inputs out to a single optical/coax?

No , you cant , an optical signal is a light wave representing a data stream , try to mix the signals just results in unintelligible garbage which more often that not simply shuts the interface down until you reboot.
Considering the reactions you got before , I dont imagine such a situation would go down too well!

As you aiming for a 2.1 solution , have you considered an analog solution , RCA auto switches are very common.
Assuming of course all your devices have analog stereo outputs. Apple TV has , Apple TV 2 does not !
 
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paulcurtis

Standard Member
Yes, i can see that the opticals wouldn't mix unless the mixer was acting as a DAC as well. I do have an optical>coax box that i needed from ages ago and in fact that could be put behind the appletv (v2) which as you point out has no analogue output anymore.

Perhaps just a simple 2.1 amp would suffice with buttons on the front that can be labeled accordingly.

I just have two linn komponent speakers and a sub, i never did get around to 5:1 as i very rarely saw my content being mixed well for it.

Any recommendations for a nice 2.1 amp then?

thanks!
paul
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
You're not actually simplifying anything by ditching the AV amp in favour of a 2 channel amp. The AV amp can be used as a hub for both audio and video and it offers far more options in terms of types of connections used.

You seem to think that the 2 channel amp will simplify matters, but it will only complicate things more!

Connect all components to an AV amp for both audio and video. Connect your AV amp to the TV for video and then invest in a harmony remote. You can switch all your components via use of the Harmony remote and the amp. The amp will have the ability to rename inputs so that what you are switched to will be shown on its display. The TV simply remains on the same input used to connect it to the amp.

I assume your AV amp has HDMI?
 

paulcurtis

Standard Member
I made an attempt at using the amp centrally but it just caused problems.

It's a sony 7.1 'can't remember the code for it'. There aren't enough HDMIs on it to accept what i need and also there was no way to get the signal from (when i set up it a freesat box) in anything other than HDMI.

Plus it never auto switched, whereas cables into the TV direct do auto switch.

I also saw a degradation in image quality (i work in film a lot so have quite a sensitive eye for image quality).

There were other issues not to do with the Amp as such but prevented me from using it as a hub.

For example the aTV relies on EDID information from the TV which the amp wasn't passing through correctly. As it stands i have to stick a device in the HDMI stream to alter the EDID so that i can switch the aTV to the correct Hz for different types of content.

So, ideally, i want the kids to turn the tv on, pick up the aTV or Sky remote turn that on. The TV auto switches (it does) and the sound runs through the TV.

Then when i want better audio i just turn the amp on as well. It would be great if it auto sensed but buttons on the front for each input can be labelled nicely.

I know i sound pedantic. I had visions of setting up some almighty hub but very quickly realised that no one else would have a clue. I also know that some ££££ amp would probably do all that i need. But to spend several thousands pounds to get some audio for 2 speakers and a sub for the amount of use it would get doesn't make sense.

A good example of a system that does work is the Sonos, say what you like but from a consumers perspective it just does what is says on the tin. No buttons, no fiddling with turning things on. Always there.

I'm looking at picking up a second hand cambridge audio azur 640. Seems like it will do what i want so long as i can get analogue audio out of everything (aTV included)

I really appreciate the help though! I just want to simplify.

thanks
Paul
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
So how exactly are you doing to get better audio from a 2 channel amp without having a more complex setup? Two channel audio amps seldom incorporate an onboard DAC so you will need external DACs for all of your optical connections. Also note that the AV amp will not switch automatically in sync with the TV and/or your components. If your amp hasn't the required number of HDMI inputs then where are you going to connect your HDMI components without it? I doubt your TV has more than the amp and a 2 channel amp will have none.

I can't see your reasoning for wanting the 2 channel amp, not if it is intended to simply things and/or make life easier.
 
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