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    Speaker Matrix Control Device?

    All -

    I posted the below message in a different thread, but it probably belongs here:

    All -

    I've read the posts in this thread and must say I'm more confused than when I started in trying to figure out whether these products could help with what I'm trying to do. Also, the assembly/shipping issues might make the whole question moot.

    In a nutshell, I've installed ceiling speakers on the three floors of my house. They will be used for background music and to make announcements.

    I've written a little web control to select playlists, radio stations etc for each of the seperate "zones" (right now each set of floor speakers is connected to a seperate PC/amplifier - I might move to multiple sound cards on 1 PC down the road).

    Everything is cool when you want to play something different on each floor. The problem is when you want to play the same background music on each floor. I'd like to be able to join/seperate speakers. For example play the Christmas playlist on all 3 floors, or play the 80's mix on floor 1 and 3, but let my wife listen to NPR on the 2nd floor.

    Sounds like what I need is some sort of matrix switch that can be controlled via a serial connection. As I mentioned above, I thought this could be accomplished via Ray's products. Are there other options in the same price range?

    Thanks all...

    K

    #2
    Instead of hardware, you could consider software. J Rivers Media Center application supports sending music to a specific zone (pair of designated soundcard channels), and with MC11beta release, the ability to Synch the music in designated zones.
    Unfortunately, I don' think this synching is yet supported in their API. I have posted a few messages (as have others here) but have not gotten a concrete response from J Rivers.

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      #3
      I like doing this kind of thing with hardware. Take a look on Ebay for matrix switches/mixers... they are usually very expensive new, but can be found used for $200-$500 bucks.

      Autopatch and Biamp and others make some that are controllable using RS-232 which is what you'll need. I think that Collegeboyslive has some of the Autopatch equipment and has installed something similar to what you're trying to accomplish... maybe he can advise.

      Any of the commercially available multi-room/source systems (Russound, Nuvo, ChannelPlus, etc) will also easily do this as I'm sure you're aware. I only mention this because I now have what is a very complex distributed audio system in my house using a mix of Biamp, Russound A-Bus, Bogen, and Bose gear.

      It's reliable, but the "home grown" approach I took ended up very complex... took lots of time to sort out and is less flexible & capable than something off the shelf. If I were starting over, I would purchase the Russound CAV6.6 or similar.

      Heck... I've been thinking for months now about ripping out what I have to replace with the CAV6.6. If you look at the picture of my equipment rack in my signature, you'll see that 1/3rd of it is audio gear!

      Cheers,
      Paul

      Click to visit: www.sbsmarthomes.com
      Santa Barbara Smarthomes

      Authorized Russound Dealer & Installer

      Personal HA Website

      HomeSeer User Profile

      Comment


        #4
        Software Selection...

        That's a possibility if I can find one that will synch multiple sound cards.

        The other possibility (I think?) would be to replace the PC's with Slimp3 devices. A quick read of the documentation says that you can sync the output of multiple devices. I haven't been able to figure out if you can control this sync via external applications, but I'll keep looking.

        Eventually, I'll have a minimum of 5 "zones": 3 floors, front yard and back yard and would like to be able to combine/separate the same music on any combination of the zones.

        Oops. This won't work as I think I would lose the ability to "inject" CID, announcements etc...

        Comment


          #5
          High end devices...

          Paul -

          I figured that there where high end solutions; but, since they are pretty much ALWAYS out of my price range I didn't even look!

          K

          Comment


            #6
            I guess my advice based from experince is that those "high end" systems are really quite a bargain in the end. I think I've invested nearly $2k in what I have setup and the Russound CAV6.6 sells for ~$2400. The advantage is that I was able to build it up over time and make smaller purchases along the way.

            Disadvantage is that its complex, takes up 10+ rack spaces, and probably consumes lots of electricity because of all the separate pre-amps, amps, processors, etc.

            If you hope to expand to a number of sources (including TTS announcement) and a minimum of 5 zones, my opinion is that this will be quite complex to "grow" yourself.

            Here is a link to checkout the Russound just or comparison. It provides 6-source, 6-zone audio with a nice keypad for each zone. The amps are built in... just attach your sources and speaker. It also provides IR funtionality and is controllable via RS-232 so HS can manipulate it. (also, Cool plugin for Mainlobby available and maybe an HS plugin in the works?). The paging function can be used to play TTS annoucements, and did I mention it switches video as well as audio!

            http://www.futurehomesystems.com/rucav.shtml

            Click to visit: www.sbsmarthomes.com
            Santa Barbara Smarthomes

            Authorized Russound Dealer & Installer

            Personal HA Website

            HomeSeer User Profile

            Comment


              #7
              Closing the loop...

              I hate it when I read a thread and the loop isn't closed so I have no idea what the final solution was. So for posterity, here's what I ended up doing to solve my need for multiple audio zones...

              1. Built (building) a small form factor PC with two 5.1 sound cards.

              2. Use J-River Media Center v11 as the media player driver. MC has the ability to split up the channels of the sound card into multiple zones. So, for each 5.1 sound card, I can create 3 stereo zones. 2 cards = 6 zones.

              3. MC supports zone synching so that I can matrix zones together. HOWEVER, the synching is far from perfect. It appears the the media player sort of "pushes play" at the same time for zone synching vs. true synching. I'll have to live with this and hope that later releases of MC improve the synching capability.

              4. MC also has a robust COM interface, so I can use Mainlobby as well as custom pages to drive the process...

              As always thanks to everyone for the education!

              K

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