Multi Source Multi zone

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Multi Source Multi zone

Postby adccon on Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:01 pm

Hello all...i need some help / advice...

I am new to all of this and have read until my head hurts, so im sure im missing some answers that are out htere already...but...

What i would like to do is create a multi source / multi zone whole house audio distribution system. I have gotten as far as deciding that Xlobby is the best way to go with a number of additional programs, skins and plugins.

The total system would include 8 zones
1. M Bath
2. M Bedrm
3. Office
4. Kitchen
5. Back Porch
6. Living Room (with a dedicated 5.1 receiver)
7. Bedroom 2
8. Bedroom 3

The inputs would be:

1. mp3 library available at each zone (so 8 instances of winamp)
2. external CD player (connected to line in on one of the sound cards)
3. streaming radio (shoutcast / pandora)
4. AM/FM radio courtesy of a pci tuner card
5. potential future ipod / mp3 player connection (just in case someone comes over with an mp3 so can listen to it rather than copying files to music server).


So based on this info my plan is a music / media server running xlobby (Zone skin 5) with winamp instances and multiple creative sound cards per the KX driver site (i am figuring on two of the 7.1 cards). This configuration seems as if it will be difficult based on marbles info, but i shoudl be able to handle if i read enough, go slow and work through it.

My main questions are control at the zones.

1. Is the best way to do this with multiple touchscreens? (i want to use wall mounted solutions so i do not want to have a PPC in each room). As you can see this would be expensive with the number of zones. If this is the best way does anyone have suggestions on the actual touch screens (as far as what and where to get them).

2. Or can i do a couple touchscreens in convenient locations and keypads in the others? I would hope the keypads could at least select the source and control volume. (i am willing to live with having to select the actual play lists at only a few locations).


Any help and advice is greatly appreciated. I just registered, but i have been reading and listening for a year or so.

Thanks again,

rob.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby Grooby on Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:38 pm

Private Message Marbles, he's the zone king...
skinning for the fun of it
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby Marbles_00 on Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:28 pm

I don't have alot of experience with touchscreens, so I'm not too sure how it would all integrate at this time. What I was doing was setting up multiple client screens so I could control a specific area where a client would reside, and only use the PPC as a master control, as there is a ton of information and not enough screen to display it on, which equates to a poor WAF. Doesn't bother me, but I have to take my family into consideration....I guess.

Everything else on your list is very much doable. If your a DIY'er, then the Maytrix circuit would most likely be the most difficult thing to build, but it opens so many different avenues. If your not a DIY'er, then you will have to locate an audio switch. I did look around, but I could only find ones that had video as well...then to control them via RS232 or some other remote means really drove up the price.

The only other real difficult thing to do is to understand how to control the kx drivers via pervtalk. But that's what this forum is for...ask away. I'm not visiting frequently right now as I used to (once a day...opposed to virtually living here), as I'm currently into DIY OTA, but I will try and answer whatever questions you may have.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby adccon on Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:21 pm

Marbles...

It seems (from the calrad site) they have some multi port hubs for touchscreen input...maybe this is something i can look into. Any ideas on where to get "cheap" touchscreens?

Also, what function does the matrix serve?

Lastly so if i understand your setup you simply have a single visual display of xlobby and you control everything directly from there?
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby Marbles_00 on Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:19 pm

It seems (from the calrad site) they have some multi port hubs for touchscreen input...maybe this is something i can look into. Any ideas on where to get "cheap" touchscreens?

That may be a very valid way to go. Wes could give you more details and direction on those multi-port hubs. Cheap touchscreens can be found on Ebay, dis-count websites, or a little lady-luck :D .

Also, what function does the matrix serve?

The purpose of the Maytrix is to allow for each soundcard to have its own independent external source. As example, in my system, I have an external AM/FM Tuner, CD player, and the motherboard soundcard line-outs. If I didn't have the Maytrix (or some other matrix switch), then I would be confined to only having one external source that would have to be shared between the two soundcards. Meaning if I wanted to listen to my radio in a main floor zone, then anyone in another zone would have to listen to the radio as well if they wanted to listen to the external input. With the maytrix, each soundcard can select what external source to listen to. It's not quite zone dependent, but it is floor dependent. Driving the motherboard line-outs through the Maytrix allows for zones on each floor to also share the same mp3 source in perfect sync. It also can be used to perfectly sync all the zones for a party setup too...something I wasn't able to achieve between two soundcards before...close but they were always a little off.

Lastly so if i understand your setup you simply have a single visual display of xlobby and you control everything directly from there?

Yeah, I primarily use the PPC for control. I do have a laptop in the kitchen now, which I can use as a thin client, and can bring up full screens, which make it a little easier. I have also experimented in setting up client windows for my MediaPVR in the living room, for just controlling that zone, but they haven't been completed yet.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby adccon on Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:52 pm

Marbles (or anyone else)

Can you provide any comments on sources or what / where i should be looking for on the multi-channel amp side.

It appears the BSG amps are not still available.

Thoughts?

Also ( i know stupid questions) but do i need a BALD? In my case the server and amps and external equipment would be positioned in the same cabinet. From the cabinet i would be running speaker wire directly to the rooms.

Thanks.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby Marbles_00 on Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:02 pm

adccon wrote:Marbles (or anyone else)

Can you provide any comments on sources or what / where i should be looking for on the multi-channel amp side.

It appears the BSG amps are not still available.

Thoughts?

Also ( i know stupid questions) but do i need a BALD? In my case the server and amps and external equipment would be positioned in the same cabinet. From the cabinet i would be running speaker wire directly to the rooms.

Thanks.

For amps, look at ebay, or keep searching around. The BSG amps were from an ebay sale. Some guy had a platter of them, and they have worked out great in many systems. Sooner or later, you will come across some sort of sale. If you want really good sound at an affordable price, then look around for and older NAD 906 or its later replacement the 916. Rotel also has an equivalent amp from back then (don't remember the part number). A couple of years back Phoenix Gold had a sale for a 12 channel amp for around $400 (+shipping). So the deals are there, you just gotta find it.

The BALD, or Balanced Audio Line Driver, is really only need for extreme cable runs. In all reality, I didn't really needed to use that circuit for the run that I used it on, but since I'm a DIY'er, it was just fun to build. It also meant running one long cable (off the shelf CAT-5), instead of two long cables, which would have been more expensive. Just wish I knew about this in my car audio days. Running one CAT-5 from the head unit to the trunk, and eliminating engine noise on top, I would have had the best sounding system in the neighborhood. Oh well, I will give the advantage to my kid's when they get to that age. Anyways, back to reality, if everything resides in the same cabinet, then it isn't worth the hassle. Just run normal interconnects.
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are all discussed.

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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby rembetis on Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:29 pm

adccon wrote:Any ideas on where to get "cheap" touchscreens?


At the risk of these selling out before I have a chance to grab one... Here are some used 12.1" touchscreens for $60 each. That's hard to beat. Only 800 x 600 but with the right skin that's adequate.

adccon wrote:Can you provide any comments on sources or what / where i should be looking for on the multi-channel amp side.

It appears the BSG amps are not still available.


Those BSG amps were quite possibly the best audio deal ever found on ebay. You're not likely to see that kind of thing again anytime soon. If you are willing to DIY your own, and don't need lots of watts, you might consider some of the inexpensive Tripath-chip based options on ebay. Here's one for $80 shipped. Alternately, you could use a beefy 2-channel amp and an impedance matching speaker switch or impedance matching volume controls.

Hope that helps. If you do end up buying something from PartsExpress (fantastic company!) and don't mind sending a tiny commission my way, you can visit my website (link below) and follow the PE Daily Deals ad.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby Marbles_00 on Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:59 am

Here are some used 12.1" touchscreens for $60 each

EERRGGG!!! All the GOOD deals never want to ship outside of the states!
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Mayhem Creations
where my:
    -Music Distribution
    -HTPC
    -MediaPVR
    -UnRAID box
    -OTA
are all discussed.

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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby adccon on Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:40 pm

At the risk of advertising to everyone all the great deals I have found I would comments on two multi-channel amps I have found.

The two front runners (although I seem to change my mind daily or more) are the Niles SI-120 (12 channels) and a Request IQ amp that is rated with 16 channels and 85 watts.

The main goal in my system is to distribute audio the "marbles way" in which input sources form the multi-channel / zone amp are not required. That being said if there was a way to incorporate that would be great.

As far as the two units im looking at both are used, both reported to be fully functional. Neither has a warranty of course and both are approximately the same price.

I feel like the information out there on the Niles is better, I am scittish of the Request but maybe i shouldn't be.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby Marbles_00 on Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:52 pm

Niles is very reputable. That amp will give a very good bang for the buck. Is that a typo though, on their site it lists a SI-1200 not 120. Nothing against the Request amp, as it looks pretty awesome, but I think you will run into issues with the RS-232 port, and controlling it via that way. Unless you can (and you most likely could) control it with Girder and Lau scripts, as I think you won't find a Girder plugin for that amp. Looking at the back panel, it appears to be way...way overkill for what you want to do. But if you like a challenge, then that would be one for sure.

As for the Niles, each input pair has its own dedicated output. It has a master set of ins/outs which you could daisy chain amps together, but not really sure you want to use this feature as the bus setting is hard tied to a set of dip switches on the back.

The other nice thing about the Niles (though the Request amp had it to) was the remote triggering. You can turn this amp on when your music server powers up, or it can be set to turn on to audio signals on any of its inputs. This is a requirement for conserving electricity, or the amp will be on 24/7 otherwise and be a huge waste...which will lower the WAF pretty quick...if she's energy conscience.

Go with the Niles if you can.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby P3rv3rt B3ar on Sat Mar 27, 2010 12:50 pm

Did somebody mention RS-232?

Go with the computer controllable one obviously!

But thats just me though... i wouldnt by a dog without RS-232 port on its backside.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby Marbles_00 on Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:46 am

Did somebody mention RS-232?

Go with the computer controllable one obviously!

But thats just me though... i wouldnt by a dog without RS-232 port on its backside.


I would whole-heartedly agree with you P3rv, if the amp was a Russound, Niles, Yamaha, or any other device that has a ton of support for it. Unless your good with understanding software (like we all know you are P3rv ;) ), you'd want to make sure the device it supported. Especially if your going to move up in the versions of Xlobby, where you can actually take advantage of the RS232 more with getting proper feedback.
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where my:
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    -HTPC
    -MediaPVR
    -UnRAID box
    -OTA
are all discussed.

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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby adccon on Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:16 pm

So i am continuing on my quest for a multichannel amp.

If i were looking into getting a russound component (CAM6.6) would that be easily incorporated into the marbles skin (or another appropriate skin).

Basically i am thinking about using the marbles theory of multiple instances of winamp creating multiple available streams of mp3's. Lets say i allow myself four streams. These are then four of the available inputs on the CAM leaving me one for a CD, one for external ipod and one for the internal tuner of the CAM.

Then i would basically use the CAM as the "switch" that marbles built except i would have less streams of mp3, would be able to use mp3 party mode and would have all sources available (at all times) to all zones whereas marbles had only one source for each "floor".

The question i have is how is it all controlled and how easily or difficult it can be included into an already constructed skin?

am i on the right track or completely wrong?

Thanks.
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Re: Multi Source Multi zone

Postby samsonlov on Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:43 am

I cannot stress enough how EASY it is to control Russound equipment with XLobby, but I'll try:

For the past 3 years I have been using XLobby to control multiple (3 to 5) Russound CAV6.6's in each of my client's homes.

I've got 18 XLobby machines talking 232 (2-Way) to Russound R-Net systems all over Southern CA with no problems, and even though I use my own skin and custom screens, the programming behind the buttons is "based" on the "default" XLobby Russound skin.

I hope this helps.
:)
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