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#31 ano

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Posted 01 February 2016 - 12:59 AM

Instead, modern set top boxes, dongles like ChromeCast, 'smart' TVs and DVRs have largely eliminated a lot of the reasons I'd bother with a matrix.  Their upsides greatly outweigh the real-world complications of IR handling and source format collisions.

1+  Considering how cheap the dongles are, and Blu-ray players, and how many HDMI inputs on most TV's, the switching and wiring for a matrix wasn't worth it in my book. Same with audio actually. Directv and others let you watch programs in one room, then start where you left off in another. Everyone can watch what they want, assuming they aren't using their phones or iPads anyway.



#32 wkearney99

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Posted 01 February 2016 - 08:54 AM

I've noted a lot of things lately that have moved 'out from under' the technologies.  In the short span of ~100 years we've gone rapidily shifted no electricity, phones, limited plumbing and more.  Meanwhile the methods for a lot of those has likewise changed dramatically.

 

Live TV viewing, networks, tapes, discs and the like all dictated a fairly rigid structure for their consumption.  Very little of which has ANY influence at all anymore.  So use of a distribution matrix in the face of cheap dongles, tablets, phones and high-speed networking, almost seems laughably quaint.  Don't get me wrong, if it worked, I'd love the idea of minimizing all the junk that goes out behind each TV.  But I'm guessing matrixes aren't going to get the kind of development necessary to make it happen.  All because the market just zoomed right past them.



#33 ano

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Posted 01 February 2016 - 01:00 PM

The switching matrix never disappeared, just today its called an IP router. The reality is that IP is a really BIG switching matrix, and every router and switch is part of it. Video and audio have been digitized, so that it can all be switched with IP. You can use IP within your home to distribute audio and video, but it also exists outside your home, and it can basically get anything to/from anywhere.

 

This may seem obvious to many people, but if you really want to future-proof your home audio-video distribution, you need to keep this in mind. Granted, all the pieces are not in place just yet, but in the next few years they will be. I can guarantee it. 



#34 wkearney99

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Posted 01 February 2016 - 09:31 PM

Well, kind of, but that's potentially a slippery slope leading to lots of disappointment.

 

IP networking is not really designed for simultaneous display devices.  Even mere milliseconds of audio delays are immediately detectable to the human ear.  So playing multiple TVs through an IP router is likely to be disappointing.  The sound overlapping between rooms gets out of sync and even the most technically dis-inclined will notice it.

 

And let's not forget WiFi networks are nowhere near capable of it.  But lots of folks are merrily pitching wireless as a 'solution'.  Yeah, right.

 

Yes, an IP network CAN be configured for multicasting, but that's a beast that VERY few people understand how to configure reliably.  And likewise few router vendors include it in a fashion that's useful for such a purpose.  

 

It's one of those bits of technology that seemed to hold such incredible promise.... that never got delivered.  Don't go guaranteeing it, because in the 20+ years it's actually been possible, very little has gotten implemented in the field.  Quite often because it's genuinely hard to do, and with that comes cost.  Which doesn't appeal to a wide enough market that would help build enough volume to drive down the price.

 

And, yes, some devices appear to get around this, but they do so by delaying things, often by quite a bit.   Which runs afoul of the main reason a lot of homeowners would want simultaneous displays... sporting events.  



#35 Neurorad

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 06:29 AM

JAP has been around a few years now, and their AV distribution over IP products are improving. A few other manufacturers have recently arrived with similar products.

JAP uses a dedicated IP switch for a matrix.

For me, the whole house DVR has resolved the need for a dedicated matrix switch. But, we just don't watch TV much.

#36 batwater

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 03:57 PM

For our home, we're empty nest, there is likely never going to be a need for more than 2 different sources running at once.  With this in mind I selected a Yamaha Aventage receiver that can output all HDMI input sources to 2 separate rooms. Room 1 = our media room, Room 2 = the rest of the house and is run through a 1x4 matrix. HDMI over cat6 extenders are working great. Extender has IR return loop back to the media closet built in. All source switching is handled through the receiver, using multiple methods, IP, IR, Harmony Hub , front panel, etc.



#37 wkearney99

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 10:45 AM

For our home, we're empty nest, there is likely never going to be a need for more than 2 different sources running at once.  With this in mind I selected a Yamaha Aventage receiver that can output all HDMI input sources to 2 separate rooms. Room 1 = our media room, Room 2 = the rest of the house and is run through a 1x4 matrix. HDMI over cat6 extenders are working great. Extender has IR return loop back to the media closet built in. All source switching is handled through the receiver, using multiple methods, IP, IR, Harmony Hub , front panel, etc.

 

Ok, so what audio format does the AVR select when you have both rooms/zones active?  Presumably room 1 is being amplified through the AVR itself, to speakers.  What's handling the audio in room 2?  The TV?  

 

I ask this because it's always been possible to distribute 2-channel stereo via HDMI matrix units.  The challenge lies in getting a single source to output it's best audio format AND to also distribute that via a matrix switch.  Most of the time you can't, because HDMI depends upon making negotiations between the sources and the displays and will dumb it down to the least-common-denominator.  That is, unless, you have a higher-end (read: $$$$) unit doing conversions, often for each display.

 

I seem to recall at least one AVR than had the ability to properly transcode (as in, convert) the audio for a subzone.  Trouble is you're then faced with a bunch of hassles trying to make sure the AVR stays properly configured.  



#38 batwater

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 02:41 PM

For HDMI on the Yamaha RX-A2050 I can set it up to pass HDMI audio through to the 4th zone (assigned to 2nd HDMI out.) I have sound bars hooked up in 2 of the remote locations for audio playback which would do the decode. For other audio sources on the receiver I would have to switch it to zone 2 output and it down samples to 2 channel PCM (not concerned about this.) I have not connected output 2 to anything yet as the 1x4 matrix just arrived. If same HDMI source selected for both zones then it will down sample to 2 channel PCM. Will report back once I get everything hooked up. 

 

Main viewing room will be 9:2 audio.


Edited by batwater, 06 February 2016 - 02:43 PM.


#39 wkearney99

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Posted 06 February 2016 - 03:42 PM

Ok, so with HDMI the displays have to communicate back to the source to tell it what audio format to send.  If you use HDMI pass-through then it'll send back the 'least capable' format to the source.  Most typically that means stereo.

 

However, there's nothing that would 'prevent' an AVR maker from putting something inside the receiver to down-convert.  Nothing other than making the unit more expensive due to added components AND licensing fees.  So most (none?) won't do it.  

 

Which won't matter if you don't care about what format your AVR gets for the main room.  But if you DO care then the only real solution is to make sure the AVR zone 1 is the only thing using the source.  That and PRAY the source will understand how to re-negotiate it's HDMI handshaking.  Various source devices do a bad job of this, often necessitating doing full and complete powering-down of any gear connected in the chain of devices.

 

Thus I circle back to the notion that it's just a lot less trouble to never plan on sharing any of the sources you use in a theater with any kind of other displays, splitters or matrix switches.



#40 dementeddigital

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Posted 08 February 2016 - 09:10 AM

After reading all of this and thinking about it more, I'd love to see someone hack some Chromecasts to act as a local HDMI network of sorts.  We'd need some similar device to take the HDMI sources in and convert them to an IP stream.  The receiving Chromecasts could select which local IP stream to use.  There are very few HDMI input devices on the market, though.

 

At the end of the day, it's easier to just pay Verizon for another couple of boxes...



#41 wkearney99

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Posted 08 February 2016 - 09:25 AM

Transcoding various sources into HD streams continues to be a pretty expensive proposition.  There's no decently priced HD-modulators out there.  At least not last time I checked about a year ago.

 

I despise the Verizon set top boxes.  We've been using Tivo DVRs for over a decade and they've been much nicer to use.  Price paid has been worth it.



#42 Swancoat

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:07 AM

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm going to chime back in here...

 

I've now got my matrix switch up and running and frankly, it's pretty smooth and transparent. I decided to just leave the sources on all the time, and that seems to work fine. Any TV in the house can pick up and turn on with no issue.

 

I definitely understand the argument with DirecTV's multi-room viewing as well as streaming boxes, but the maintenance of that setup can get annoying too. Every DTV box has it's own guide (and I'm fussy and like to have a custom channel list just to cut out a lot of the garbage I'll never watch... but it needs to be maintained as DirecTV adds and removes channels sometimes - on each box). Admittedly, not a huge deal, but just a thing that always annoyed me. Same with the streaming boxes. We kept buying them for different rooms and stuff and they all have credentials that need to be managed, etc... Now none of that really justifies replacing the whole setup with a matrix. As wkearney suggests, you're definitely trading one set of problems for another (likely larger) set. So from a 'simplicity' or management point of view, there's not much of an argument here.

 

I was interested for a couple of other reasons though. I have plans on adding a couple of more TVs in the near future. With the matrix, this means one new $200 receiver box, and I get all the sources. Done.

 

Same for if I buy a new source of some sort (not sure what that might be right now). I plug it into the matrix and get it everywhere.

 

Again, this still doesn't make the case for a matrix switch, but they definitely help.

 

There were a couple of other small uses that I really liked too. When the kids are upstairs and watching TV, I like being able to just turn on to the same source and see what they're watching (even if I just mute my TV) - how much time is left, etc...

 

I also like being able to play XBox in any room as opposed to having to close myself up in the media room. The latency is super low, and with wireless controllers, it actually works pretty darn well.

 

So again, ymmv, but so far I'm liking this thing and now that I'm past the setup and figuring out the audio issue, it's working awesome. From a user point of view, I'm pretty sure most users wouldn't know the difference.



#43 Swancoat

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:17 AM

My wife had my phone in the car and read me the update to this thread when it came into my inbox and she told me I HAD to reply to this comment and thank you for recognizing all of the tormented spouses :-)

 

 

 

I use Harmony remotes as well (650's) and decided to just leave all of the equipment on all of the time.  That resolved a number of issues for me.

 

 

Yes, that is exactly what the Atlona HD-M2C units do.  They are not cheap ($300+) but they are rock-solid and this was the ONLY unit I found capable of doing this.  They output a 2-channel digital and analog downmix of the audio stream embedded in the HDMI stream (not sure if they work with Atmos or DTS:X, but I suspect they will since both of those formats also contain the underlying Dolby Digital/DTS surround tracks, as I understand it). 

Also, they have two firmware versions available -- one will output downmixed audio embedded on the HDMI output, the other retains full surround audio on the HDMI output.

 

Can you testify to any added latency from the HD-M2C units? I bought a much cheaper type that just takes digital coax input (available on my matrix) and downmixes it to 2 ch. Works really well, but has a bit of lag. If the Atlona could reduce that lag significantly, I think it might be worth buying one.



#44 tadr

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:28 AM

Can you testify to any added latency from the HD-M2C units? I bought a much cheaper type that just takes digital coax input (available on my matrix) and downmixes it to 2 ch. Works really well, but has a bit of lag. If the Atlona could reduce that lag significantly, I think it might be worth buying one.

 

I have not perceived any lag.  If I am playing multi-channel in one room and 2-channel in an adjacent room, I get some very minor echo effect between the two rooms, but I assume that is due to the physical layout of the house more than any lag in the decoding.  I would check directly with Atlona though -- this is a pretty high end product and I'm sure they could answer your questions.



#45 wkearney99

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 01:48 PM

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm going to chime back in here...

 

I've now got my matrix switch up and running and frankly, it's pretty smooth and transparent. I decided to just leave the sources on all the time, and that seems to work fine. Any TV in the house can pick up and turn on with no issue.

 

I definitely understand the argument with DirecTV's multi-room viewing as well as streaming boxes, but the maintenance of that setup can get annoying too. Every DTV box has it's own guide (and I'm fussy and like to have a custom channel list just to cut out a lot of the garbage I'll never watch... but it needs to be maintained as DirecTV adds and removes channels sometimes - on each box). Admittedly, not a huge deal, but just a thing that always annoyed me. Same with the streaming boxes. We kept buying them for different rooms and stuff and they all have credentials that need to be managed, etc... Now none of that really justifies replacing the whole setup with a matrix. As wkearney suggests, you're definitely trading one set of problems for another (likely larger) set. So from a 'simplicity' or management point of view, there's not much of an argument here.

 

I was interested for a couple of other reasons though. I have plans on adding a couple of more TVs in the near future. With the matrix, this means one new $200 receiver box, and I get all the sources. Done.

 

Same for if I buy a new source of some sort (not sure what that might be right now). I plug it into the matrix and get it everywhere.

 

Again, this still doesn't make the case for a matrix switch, but they definitely help.

 

There were a couple of other small uses that I really liked too. When the kids are upstairs and watching TV, I like being able to just turn on to the same source and see what they're watching (even if I just mute my TV) - how much time is left, etc...

 

I also like being able to play XBox in any room as opposed to having to close myself up in the media room. The latency is super low, and with wireless controllers, it actually works pretty darn well.

 

So again, ymmv, but so far I'm liking this thing and now that I'm past the setup and figuring out the audio issue, it's working awesome. From a user point of view, I'm pretty sure most users wouldn't know the difference.

 

You've tried the Xbox in different rooms?  Because the Xbox One controllers are not known for supporting any kind of decent distance.  Mine I can't walk more than 25' in a completely open room before it loses connection.  Hell, it's more like 15' before audio starts dropping out.

 

Audio lag is going to happen any time there's a conversion.  Video too, but your ears are much more likely to notice it.  Convenience has it's trade-offs.

 

I hear you regarding per-room Guide issues.  But then again, if there's a room where specific people use the TV there's something to be said for having a separate config.  As in, kid and rec room don't have Guide configured for certain channels.  Again, trade-offs.

 

Personally, I've been darned pleased using the newer generation of 6-tuner Tivo Roamio Pro DVRs.  Then slaving their Tivo Mini streamers off it (one time $125 purchase, no subscriptions on the Mini units).






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