HTPC & PVR questions


Active Member
First off, I have no idea what these are or what they might do for me. So a quick guide for dummies would be greatly appreciated.

Secondly, as some of you might have read, I was messing with my in-laws intercom system while on vacation. WELL...lucky me! My wife fell in love with the idea of music in everyroom, or whole house audio. You gotta jump at the opportunity when the WIFE wants something cool :D

Now to my point! What would you guys do if you could start all over again. I was reading some about the multi-zoned winamp. Just not real sure if that's what I'm after, but then again maybe it's exactly it. As you can see I'm a little confused about all of this.

I did a quick search on smarthome for multizone receivers. YEAH RIGHT. Those kinda prices are way too much. Would like to be able to achieve something like them on a DIY budget.

Thanks in advance for any guidance
I'm doing the multizoned winamp because of it's relatively low cost (one computer, mostly free software, and X-10 keypads which I was gonna get anyhow).

If money was no object, I'd be looking at using PDAs for control w/ J Rivers MC9.

The raining champ on that front is Mastiff over at the AVSForum. You can check out his setup here.

And I wouldn't bother with multizone receivers. I looked into them as well and they're way too much money. Instead I'm going to get 3 stereo receivers at $130 a pop. You can get better pricing if you check on eBay, or like another poster here suggested a local pawn shop.
Also, just for clarification, you probably won't want to have the PC you're distributing audio from as your HTPC. My experience with my HTPC is that they are finicky at best and keeping their workload down seems to be the best way to keep them happy.

Here's a list of my computers and what they do:
HTPC - For playing movies and music in the living room
Server - Storage for movie and CD rips
APC - Zoned audio distribution only

It'd be great to get these 3 down to one PC, but each has a specific job to do and there's no all incompassing hardware/software solution to do it. With the exception of the server each is a patch work of software and hardware.

Not to say it can't or hasn't been done, but I'd rather not have all my eggs in one case.
The winamp setup Micah did a tutorial on is really cool and cheap, I will be doing this myself once I have speakers in every room, maybe also use an ASEL.

PVR's are devices such as TIVO, allowing you to timeshift tv broadcasts. Some of the advantages are that you get to watch your shows when you want, without the commercials, very important to me! (i.e. the SciFi 10 episode series Taken was 2 hours each, about 30 minutes of commercials per episode, that's 300 minutes of time I spent on better things instead of commercial watching!)

HTPC's are basically an expansion of this, they can do the same thing, playing dvd's, video files (such as divx files etc), music, and in some cases surf the internet, play your nintendo games and such, they are great, but since they are PC based, they aren't always as stable. When done right, the are the best setup you can select, since you can customize this, and you have control of everything. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 is a good example of a great HTPC platform.