MainLobby/CQC and stereo preamp/receiver?


Active Member
All the device drivers i see on the ML / CQC pages list either full dolby/surround based receivers or higher end multi-zone stuff like RNet, etc... If i only need one zone, is there any supported RS-232 controllable stereo preamp or receiver that i can use as my base. I was going to use my main HT receiver for this, but have decided against it for a couple of reasons (including the wife's decision to change what room with be the HT setup).

Would Like:

1) control selected input via a single Air Panel or similar (FM/Server/Cable/ipod/etc)

2) mute or decrease volume on the the outputs for whole house at once (i.e. upon an incoming call, doorbell for example, or a mute button on the touchscreen)

3) use the CQC with jriver or ML for gui selection (thanks for the tips on previous posts, i'm now sold on this)

4) line level outs would go to russound 12 channel amp - to in wall VCs (no in wall selection/control)

Or do i need to go with some sort of IR-learning PC device for something this simple? I only want the impendence matching round kno VC's in the walls for each room (with maybe a local mute switch). I would not want to control with remotes, only the touchscreen.

One option with CQC (and I'm assuming ML as well but can't say for sure as I've never used it) would be to use something like a USB-UIRT to control a receiver via IR. You'd then be able to control anything via CQC or ML that you would otherwise need a dedicated or all-in-one remote for.

If you go the USB-UIRT route you can control any IR device you want and it won't matter what it is. The downside is that it's a one way communication so you wouldn't be able to get feedback from your receiver but I honestly don't find that to be much of a problem and can't imagine you would either with a single zone setup.
there's some lower-end receivers supported by CQC too. Stuff like the yamaha, denon 3803, etc, can be found for $400 or less. Is that still too much $$?
Thx to all of you...

Ronx - Ya i saw that Denon had a serial port when i looked at the owners manual - so kind of wandering why it is not listed on CQC's list which is pretty specific. According to the serial protocol doc (below), it's the same for the AVR/DRA lines. If it is supported in CQC or in the pending MLDenon drivers, that would probably be my #1 choice. I've had my current denon for going on 15 years and it's been an absolute rock...

Parasound is nice, wish it didn't have video, would probably be cheaper (the P3 is nice looking too)

Also ron, mind if i ask you which controller software you're leaning towards? I've read a bunch of posts and ML seems like it's more ready to go out of the box - important because my wife will be a heavy user of the whole house aduio and she's ready for it yesterday. I also think i could run the ML Server / client on same box, since the airpanel would be a seperate user login right?

Micah - definately an option. The one place where i think two-way is an issue is if i did take advantage of the 12v trigger buttons on the volume controls to turn the receiver/amp combo on or off (i know i can due it on the russound amp, not sure if i could "Y" off of them and create an elk rule to turn off the denon or something too... but if i could, CQC/ML could show the Denon receiver as off, when one of the remote's triggers had turned it on to its last source (i.e. assume no interaction with the touch screen at all). I could go without the wiring the remote, but the idea of my wife being able to quickly mute the kitchen if a phone call comes in seems like a nice to have.

IVB - ya that's not all that pricey, it just seems like wasted equipment and more to go wrong if i can avoid it... But the DRA-697CI is ~600 in stores. So again might be willing to bend...

Shenendoah, the simplest MainLobby solution is to use MainLobby / MusicLobby / J. River Media Center to control the PC sound card. The sound card outputs it's low level audio to our AMP 152 stereo amplifier. This outputs a very high quality audio directly to your speakers. Not intended for high volume purposes, but great for a kitchen, announcements, bedrooms etc. Very clean installation that got a lot of very positive comments from dealers that saw the system at the EHX show this week.
Inexpensive and practical solution that might work for your needs.

Ya i thought about it, but what about having a regular FM tuner (or even HD FM, XM eventually) or time warners digital music?

If it were just one, i could use the PC's stereo line in, but i see an immediate need for 2, potentially more down the road...

Also while you're here can you verify my question above on using one box both as the ML Server/Client?

brad, yes, absolultely you can run both MainLobby client and MainLobby server and J. River Media Center on one PC. If you expand your system significantly in the future, you can divorce them to dedicated boxes when you are ready. Yes, we have a turn key system that will play music (and movies) right out of the box. Look on our website for the MLServer Controller. Act fast if you want one, because we sold a bunch at the EHX show to dealers who need one to get going fast.

You can use a PC Tuner card that supports FM.

MusicLobby 3 already supports Internet Radio selection and play.

Announced at EHX was Cinemar's SAT-1 Sirius radio PC solution. Installs internally in the PC similar to our USBIR6 6 zone IR send / receive / learn card and our AMP152 amplifier. So, we are ready if you want satellite radio as well.

We also have a RS232 Toslink switcher that will be available shortly and multichannel matrix switching capability near finished to meet your other needs. Details to follow shortly.

Let me know if you need some additional info / help.
OK, i think i like that approach. (i'm not a windows fan, which is my big hesitation, but i do not intend to build anything but audio/minor lighting and elk access into ML. I'll rely on Elk for most automation (sprinkler/pool/security, etc)

So my final setup is looking like the following:

Phase 1

Audio Hardware
russound 12 channel amp R1250MC 850
niles volume controls (7) VCS100R 490

Total: $1340

Brands unknown - been reading good things about audiosource's value for whole house/casual listening... I generally like polk/infinity/jbl/boston and other misend stuff, but haven't been impressed with any of 6" round ceiling ones on display at best buy... Any strong tips here from anyone? If my tastes help, I want to here the guitar licks in Def Leppard's "armageddon it", all of Tom Scholtz on Boston's "I think i Like It", Celine's "if you asked me too" should sound awesome! and i should still hear enough low end to Geddy's riffs in "Rush's Time Stand Still". (Also throw in some country, contemporary Christian and anything but rap in the mix :D

in ceiling speakers (4 pair)
in ceiling dual voice coil speakers (2)
outdoor (1 pair)
in wall / another pair of ceiling for living (1 pair)
Subwoofer ?

Total? unknown - anywhere from $700 and up

So roughly $2K for the hardware/audio portion alone

I am probably going to setup my old Denon receiver with the Russound/VCs and speakers for now just to make sure everything shounds good. And go with the server/ML later as this package is competed with funds for building the kitchen cabinets..

Phase 2

The cinemar packages:
cinemar mlserver 99
cinemar mainlobby 99
jriver jriver media 40
cinemar musiclobby 60
cinemar elk integration 99
cinemar zwave 50
cinemar weather 60

total: $500+ish

The ML Server/Client

Dave, i like your box, but it seems loaded with a lot of things/option i don't need (your amp 152 is cool, but i really want something more powerful esp for my living room and pool/porch areas).

So thinking either a dell poweredge or something equivalent with raid, etc maybe NAS. Any strong recommendations here - NAS is impressive, but i'm not ripping dvd's multi-terabyte storage might be overkill?

- or a custom built box with raid like: -

windows XP Pro 150
viewsonic v110 airpanel 300
antec p150 case 120
asus M2N32 275
AMD athlon 64 dual core 100
WD 320GB HDs 200
asus nvidia 7600GS 140
pinical PCTV Tuner 70
key/mouse 50
audio card
(Will share existing monitor for main access)

Total $1400+

So another $2K - i could actually steal my wife's pc for this and reduce to $800 for the ML software and the airpanel only.

In addiiton to the above, my other remaining questions:

1) would the MB's onboard audio be good enough to feed to the Russound? If not, what would recommendation be for a sound card?

2) if i were to locate the MLServer or maybe down the road a client in my outbuilding/office, although i have gigabit ethernet in the house and the outbuilding, the two sides of the lan are connected via 100BT/fiber converors on both ends to the switches. I'm assuming that will fast enough for my needs of serving audio and the screens?

3) If i put the server in my office though and client (including the airpanel were in the house), besides the wifi strength (which is non-issue, my wireless router is centrally located in the house), are there any other risks? Obviously, i'd need to get the audio back to the house (probably use a pair of 2 channel Baluns over one of the cat6 runs i have between the buildings).

thx everyone for all your advice, especially dave - nice to know companies like elk and cinemar really care about the people who buy their products

Brad -- HTD has a 6 zone kit for $1400 that is pretty nice... supports telephone/doorbell paging, keybads with built-in microphones for whole-house paging, etc... except that there's no RS232 port. Includes the controller, 12 channel amp, and 6 wall panels. If nothing else, you can pickup their 12-channel amp for a SONG.

HTD says that they're trying to make their next-gen unit have an RS232 port as well...

As for inexpensive options:
I'm leaning towards the M-Audio delta solution (Card is around $200) tied to JR and Winamp, and buying a few cheap amps to power my speakers.
Ya - problem is i'm paying for zones i really don't need (this was my problem with the russound and other solutions). Though the flexibility to have 3 zones (downstairs living/master/pool&porch) is nice, its not worth the added cost in my opinion. It's far more likely someone will use a different source in the HT area upstrairs (not including in whole house) vs a selection downstrairs. We have the pool open to the living room generally when we're using it anyway. So a master/living split might justify two zones, but not at that price.

I saw some other posts on the older m-audio card which was highly recommended. But in my case, again i really don't need the multi-zone.

Regarding the only other area i mentioned in some of my posts (outbuilding),
I might want another zone in my office/workshop, but doubtful... First, i don't think i want a touchscreen in the dusty environment and if i put the ML Server in the office (as in my last inquiry), i could open the client interface right there and get the output though my PC's speakers (older but very nice sounding altec lansings with a sub).

You should buy the MainLobby combo to save a few bucks.
The PC specs you reference are fine for MainLobby.
The audio card works fine with MusicLobby. I recommend M-Audio Delta 1010LT if you need more inputs/ ouputs and control.
a 10/100 or gigabit LAN is fine.
For your shop, you can use a NEMA washdown rated touchscreen like those that are used in manufacturing environments. Sealed from the elements and of course a bit more money than a standard touchscreen. We had one of these at last week's EHX show on display and used for our demos.

You can put another PC in the barn (like I have in mine) and run another instance of Media Center / MusicLobby Server there for your barn audio needs as another zone to your system controllable by all other zone client displays. Can be an older P4 PC. Doesn't have to be a touchscreen.
shenandoah75 said:
The cinemar packages:
cinemar mlserver 99
cinemar mainlobby 99
jriver jriver media 40
cinemar musiclobby 60
cinemar elk integration 99
cinemar zwave 50
cinemar weather 60

total: $500+ish
Looks like you've got your plan, congrats.

I do find it curious that after all the abuse heaped upon Dean for raising the price of CQC and how expensive CQC is now, it takes a relatively small system to match the cost. (no offense meant) Of course, an infinite # of clients, servers, and all drivers are built into the $495 base CQC price, so there's obviously tons more headroom there.

This thread seems to reaffirm that CQC is actually not the highest priced option out there.
To be fair, the $500 base price for CQC does not include any of the options that one would typically get, event server, app control, media services... My opinion, after asking many dumb questions, is you *can* get started less expensively with ML for a modest system. For you IVB, where you automate a great deal, the cost of plug ins would definitely balloon the cost past even the full price for CQC. So, I think its a case of one size doesn't fit all. There is cost, future upgradeability, ease of use, aesthetics, etc. I think one thing is for sure, lots of us wish we could of gotten CQC at the old price!

:) <----me

Yeah, I'd agree with that. If you're only looking to do 1-2 things, then ML is definitely cheaper.

But seriously, how many cocoon'ers are the type to be happy only doing 1-2 things? I know most CQC'ers end up with these hugely bionic systems. My setup isn't really that far off the average CQC install - most of us end up automating at least 4-6 of the common HA disciplines, because it's so dang easy to do.