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What Would You Have In A New Build?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Building DIY' started by NEW SELF BUILD, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. NEW SELF BUILD

    NEW SELF BUILD
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    I am very uneducated in the world of AV, and after posting this will be asked never to darken your doorsteps again.

    ... But we are embarking on a self build project and although would like all the latest home automation gadgets, the cost of this seems astronomical and all we really need is a reasonable CD player/ tuner with speakers here there and everywhere and also we would like to transfer the TV, video, DVD and Satellite signal to all TV's and be able to control them from each room.

    Now we would like to keep all of the equipment (apart from the TV's), out of sight. Is there a system that we could use to do all of this on a budget, keeping reasonable sound/ picture quality. I have heard that the BOSE lifestyle systems would be able to do this for around £1600, is there anything else, any ideas tips would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. baldrick

    baldrick
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    I personally think the way forward is media PCs (HTPC)!!

    We too are embarking on a 'self' build (technically the contractors do the building bit ;) ) and are planning on wiring for multi-room goodness.

    The perk with HTPCs is that one machine can do music, movies, TV, internet etc... and you can share the content from one machine to another.

    I haven't finalise my plans yet, but I'm aiming to have in-ceiling/in wall speakes, a screen and some form of remote (wall panel or wireless) in each room, and then an HTPC in the hub.

    One option I've seen for the wall panel is a 7inch LCD touch screen for about £200ish. This would run on the VGA feed from the room's HTPC and would allow you to control music/volume etc... without the need to turn on the main screen!

    There are just some many options for this sort of system coming onto the market that it's more and more difficult to decide!!!!

    I'm hoping one of the many threads on this topic that start may grow into a full discussion!!!
     
  3. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    I'd definitely recommend the HCPC route, have a look at that forum for some more ideas. They do require a bit of setting up and more effort than out of the box solutions but in terms of quality/customisability they can't beaten.

    The specific answer to your question would depend on what exactly you want in each room, how many rooms are involved and what your expectations are in terms of quality of sound/picture.

    A simple HCPC setup to watch DVDs in a lounge and maybe play music in that room plus in the kitchen would be fairly easy to setup. You could consider this as a basic system and build upon it as your needs dictate.

    If I were building my own house I'd want computer network cable to each room (at least 3-4 runs per room), wiring for ceiling speakers in rooms like bathrooms/kitchens and specific wall socket outlets for speakers in my main rooms.
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I'd also recommend an HCPC,having had one for a few yrs now,and wouldnt go back to a pile of separates.

    Just a word on the other choice you mentioned.....whilst they do offer very convenient single-box solutions,the price/quality issue is usually somewhat out of proportion in that you can do a lot better for less outlay than with that particular manufacturer....IMHO.
     
  5. baldrick

    baldrick
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    One key factor nowadays is that you can purchase baluns that allow you to send video over Cat5. Therefore you can wire the house with lots of Cat5, running feeds to points above ceilings or behind walls which would then facilitate projectors or wall mounted displays.

    Running all of these Cat5 cables back to a central hub will then allow you to route anything anywhere.

    Similarly, for speakers you can save a lot of money but using twin & earth power cable rather than speaker cable.
     
  6. dobbin

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    Baldrick
    Can you give me some more information on this?
    Is the price difference that much?
    What is the quality like?
    Ta
     
  7. baldrick

    baldrick
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    Dobbin,

    I personally haven't used twin & earth but from reading around on here it's comparable in sound quality to £4 or £5 per metre cable.

    Even better quality is Cat5 but you need three lengths of Cat5 for each speaker.

    Twin & Earth can be bought for about 25p/m so if you are wiring a house with either in wall/in ceiling speakers or speaker wall connections you will save a lot through using twin & earth.

    One option is to run all of your wiring through some form of ducting. This will make changing cables far easier as you can attach a rope, pull through the old cable attach the new cable and reverse the process.

    As a guage, from screwfix, 100m of 2.5mm twin and earth is £25 and 30m of 40mm pushfit waste pipe (ducting) is £16

    As I said, Cat5 will give you a better sound quality, but requires three times the amount of cable and it has to be 'manufactured' by yourself.
     
  8. dobbin

    dobbin
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    NEW SELF BUILD

    What about the Opus Octopus 4V - Complete Four Zone Audio and Video System (OpusOctopus4V)
    You can get it from a number of different suppliers.
    See here for one example
    http://www.simplyautomate.co.uk/productDisplay.asp?prodId=5584

    There is more info here
    http://www.simplyautomate.co.uk/prodinfo/manuals/Octopus_Multi-Room_User_Guide.pdf

    Opus also have some excellent multimedia stuff explaining their systems here
    http://www.opus-technologies.co.uk/octopusmr/#

    It seems to provide most of what you want and doesn't look too difficult to set up.
    It is something that I am considering using (along with Cat5e throughout the whole of the house).

    There are many more systems available. So many it can be very confusing!
    Good Luck
     
  9. dobbin

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    Baldrick

    Thanks for the information.
    It sounds very interesting. I have a friend who can get me a supply of Cat5e cable ;) so that might be a good solution. It is going to make a very thick speaker cable tho! If you don't bind each set of 3 then I think it will be very confusing trying to find the correct set of 3 cables.
    But twin and earth also sounds very promising.

    Thanks again.
     
  10. baldrick

    baldrick
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    Dobbin,

    The octopus system only supports composite video which isn't good enough given the roll-out of hi-def content over the next few years, after all whats the point of having a cutting edge HTPC and s****y hi-res LCD panel if can only run a composite video signal between the 2?

    As I said, in a previous post my plan is to build some HTPCs and a server and have these all in a hub along with amplifiers sky digiboxes etc... There will be one HTPC for each room I want to have indepentdent control in.

    Each room will have recessed speakers and I will use a variety of control interfaces (my nevo, wall mounted 7" touchscreens etc...) to manage the system and everyone is happy. You can watch any movie, listen to any song or watch different TV channels in the wired rooms.

    You can also scale up the system by adding more HTPCs etc...
     
  11. dobbin

    dobbin
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    I think the Opus system may be what NEW HOUSE BUILD is looking for.

    You seem to have got a handle on exactly what you want to do. It sounds excellent. I just get a bit confused about how to control all of the equipment, what equipment to choose, whether to site it centrally or locally etc.
    I have just started using a HTPC and have had a few problems with Win XP MCE2005.

    My initial view is that I am not impressed but I am still investigating.

    Let me know how you get on.
     
  12. NEW SELF BUILD

    NEW SELF BUILD
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    Thanks very much for all the advise.

    I think that the Opus system looks very good and looks like it will do the job.

    The only question I have is the comment re high def content, what is this and would anyone really be able to tell the difference?

    Also will be investigating the HCPC route, with the 7" touchscreens, the questions I have around this are :

    What brand makes these screens for £200?
    Are there package systems similar to the Opus, but as a HCPC package?
     
  13. vex

    vex
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    Any of the A/V distribution matrix systems that use CAT5e as a distribution medium are limited to composite video with audio and IR control or component video and nothing else.

    This is because the cable is just the medium and signals are not actually transmitted as a digital or IP based (computer) format.

    The other issue with the Opus and some others is the IR control. These systems tend to broadcast an IR signal to all the source equipment attached to it. The problem with this is that if you have a couple of freeview receivers or even HCPC's then a 'change track' instruction will effect all of them. Ideally you need a system that offers 'targetted IR' and routes the IR instructions only to the device that you are watching at the time.

    check out www.avnex.co.uk as a system that offers this. Hopefully we will have a new version to launch at the Home Building & Renovating Show at the end of the month.

    Chris
     
  14. baldrick

    baldrick
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    This difference between hi-res and standard picture quality is staggering!! Once you've seen hi-def content you will definately be salivating at the prospect of hi-def DVDs etc...

    The touch screens I mentioned are these:

    http://www.xenarcdirect.com/store/product.php?productid=16136&cat=249&page=1

    A good quality graphics card will have a DVI out, a VGA and a multi-format port that splits to component, s-video and composite. In theory you can take the DVI and/or Component to you main display in a room and feed the VGA signal to the touchscreen.

    The whole concept with HTPCs is that you can add more as and when you want. The key is to make sure you pre-wire the house!!

    Other things to consider on the HTPC front are the likes of the new xbox 360. Along with being a games console this will be a media player for a Windows Home Entertainment system so you can watch/listen to the content stored on your server, via your xbox, over a wireless link...
     

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