PC controlled speaker switch

seanv

New Member
I'm not sure if this has been asked before, but I can't seem to find any information on it. Please do not flame if I happened to have missed it during my search. I'm a newbie in Home Automation so please bear with me.

In any case, I'm building a new house and will be installing speakers in each room. There are quite alot of other things I want to do but would like to settle on the speaker switch ability first. I'll list them in the order that I plan to accomplish.

1) Be able to control the speakers (turning them on/off individually or as a group).

2) Select an input source to route to the speakers (I may have multiple input sources).

The following is also something that I want to do but probably at a later time.

3) Control 1 or more cameras.

4) Control lightings and appliances.

5) Control locks and doors (specifically garage door - ability to open and close it).

6) Control window blinds.

7) Control sprinkler system.

I've read elsewhere that I'll need a relay board connected to my PC in order to be able to turn the speakers on or off. Again, I'm a newbie and I apologize for that. There are so many different types of relays out there and not quite sure which one is the right one to get (digital vs analog, low voltage vs high loads).

Let's say that my receiver is an input source for the speakers. Will I have to worry about my receiver been fried?

Please shed some lights as I'm lost and confused.

Thanks,

Sean
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
If you have multiple input sources and multiple speakers that you want to select you may want to look at a canned system such as a Russound.

Look at their CA66 if you aren't switching video.

I did a CES review of their new line HERE.

From memory (read that as the following information may be incorrect) you can get a six source six zone control with keypads for around $1300. I think this gives you 13 watts RMS or so per output, but you can connect a zone or two to an external amp system for something like surround sound for a particular room. Lots of options. Of course this doesn't cover the cost of wire/speakers and of course your sources.

If I were building a new home I would put in a Russound system (for general audio to all rooms) and interface it with a separate amp for my home theater area.

There are cheaper solutions, but not as nicely packaged as the Russound. There are also systems that compete with Russound such as Xantech and Nuvo.

How did you plan on controling/accessing your speakers and sources? At each room? Via keypads? Via computer interface?

What kind of music quality/amplification would you desire? Background music needs?

As far as your other automation needs I would go with an Elk M1 Gold which has input/output capabilities as well as automation control for lighting; or an Ocelot with Rely-8 and SECU16I expansion modules (stay away from the SECU16 module).

The Ocelot does not have the ability to control the newer lighting automation products.
 

seanv

New Member
How did you plan on controling/accessing your speakers and sources? At each room? Via keypads? Via computer interface?

Ah.... yes... I wasn't clear on how I want to control them. All would be controlled from the computer. A canned system is nice but I prefer interfacing from a PC instead.

What kind of music quality/amplification would you desire? Background music needs?

Most of the time, I'll be playing layback/soft music thru them. Other times, I would play pre-programmed/recorded sound files such as telling my daughter to wash the dishes by pressing a button on some sort of computer interface software so the amplification doesn't have to be very high.

I'll check out the other automation links that you have provided.

Thanks,

Sean
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator

IVB

Senior Member
BTW, i'm a relative newbie to all of this as well. That said, i'll second the Elk recommendation. Would certainly make much of life simpler if you were to just start with that in mind for many of your HA needs.

I started down a path where I was doing irrigation and HVAC through my PC without the Elk, and now realize that there's added value had I put it all through the Elk and then to my PC. But, as it's all working, and I have many projects underway already, i'm not about to change something that's stable.
 

Jay C

New Member
seanv said:
Ah.... yes... I wasn't clear on how I want to control them. All would be controlled from the computer.

Most of the time, I'll be playing layback/soft music thru them. Other times, I would play pre-programmed/recorded sound files such as telling my daughter to wash the dishes by pressing a button on some sort of computer interface
Ah...yes... why bother actually going to interface with your daughter face-to-face when you can just press a button. Seems a bit overkill to me :D

Jay
 

jwilson56

Senior Member
Well once you go down this road you will be surprised how much you will want to expand. For instance you will probably want to create a hard drive library of your CD's. You may also want to be able to play a different CD in each zone of the house.

Take a look at this thread.

http://www.cocoontech.com/index.php?showto...&hl=now+playing

I created a 5 zone system fairly cheaply. You can also go down the MusicLobby road and use multizone preamp/amp solutions.

For me it would be a waste of time thinking of using speaker switching. So expensive yet so limiting. Speaker impedience needs to be maintained for the amp. Also you will need to control the volume locally.... yada yada yada....

Search the threads here and you will find that most people give up the 'simple' solutions do to cost, problems and limited functionality. Today there is way too many options to create a truely great whole house music system. In fact its the showcase of my home automation and the biggest wife pleaser.

John
 

Rupp

Senior Member
Not sure what John is talking about but the HACS AB8SS has 2 inputs (Amp/Computer) and can easily control 8 sets of stereo speakers individually from any HA controller. It can be switched via X10, IR, or via a com port connection and it's only $160. I'm not sure you can buy too many receivers for that price. http://www.hacs.com/ab8ss.html

Not only can you do music but you can also use this device to wake up individuals in different rooms in the house at various times. I use a HomeSeer plugin to wake each of my children each day as well as call them down from upstairs when supper is ready. The uses are endless.
 

jwilson56

Senior Member
I was just bringing up the posibilties.

Like:

True Multizone - being able to listen to multiple sources in each room.

Volume control for each room

Touchscreen interface for your music library

Many other funtions....

Sure if you want to go cheap and have limited functionality then switch your speakers. But if you start adding IR capable volume controls then the price goes up dramatically. I paid $50 per zone for my recievers, $100 for the Delta 410 multichannel sound card and $35 for JRMC that supports multizone (and is one of the best database/players out there).

Also I went with a lossless format called APE for the music format. Some people would have used mp3 but I wanted audiophile level quality. I have 200w RMS for each zone and high quality speakers. This is not elevator music in my house.

Sorry to offer other suggestions..... I didn't see other people getting pounced for suggesting zone amps and Musiclobby.

And people wonder why I have gotten quiet on these forums as of late.

John
 

Rupp

Senior Member
John,
I reread my thread and I apologize for the overtone. It absolutely didn't come across as I expected which seems to happen a lot for me. What I was trying to articulate, albeit poorly, was I really didn't know what you were taking about. Your solution is as viable as any other mention and adds functionality beyond what a speaker switch can offer or at least an affordable speaker app. So please ignore what I typed and continue. My one question is how do you control these separates with your automation package? IR?
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
There is an extensive thread on John's "NetRemote Now Playing" metholology. I'll try and find it.

EDIT: HERE is the NetRemote Now Playing thread.

You can get the NetRemote CCF's HERE (look under "netremote").
 

IVB

Senior Member
My entirely personal opinion is that I prefer RS232 communication to IR in as many external devices as possible, because of the bidirectional nature of the communication.

This allows me to paint a UI with the current status of the various zones as well as easily control them.

As I have an RS232 controllable pre-amp/switcher [6zone-8source ZPR68], this means I can tell if they're on or not, current source setting, volume setting, all from the screen I'm on. The ZPR controls my amps via 12V triggers.

For the OP, this is what I mean - hopefully the picture allows you to see where I think it adds value to my setup and my needs. The left-nav & topnav is a common wrapper to all my screens [not just HT, but also HVAC, irrigation, Elk].

VladStudio_Source1_Music.jpg
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I'm not sure I understand how folks are using multizone audio systems for HA announcements and paging. Some things that are not exactly clear from reading the hardware specs include:

Does paging and HA announcing use the zone amps or is there a dedicated amp that overides the zone amp? In other words, how do you page or announce if a particular zone is off?

Can you have your HA system mute a zone for a local announcement without muting the other zones?

Do you keep the multizone amp powered up all the time even when nobody is listening to music so it is available for doorbell, Phone, and HA announements?

Is there any difference in the way various brands (Russound, Nuvo, Xantech) handle paging and HA announcements?

Are all brends controlled via a serial interface to your HA system?
 

IVB

Senior Member
I'll speak to my current plans, redone after some testing. I'll certainly let you all know when it's all done as to how well it worked.
Does paging and HA announcing use the zone amps or is there a dedicated amp that overides the zone amp? In other words, how do you page or announce if a particular zone is off?

I have personally chosen to mount a 2ndary set of speakers [the cheap $9 ones from Elk] for my Elk-based HA announcements, with a concurrent command to mute existing zones. This is because I noticed an excessive delay in my Denon and my Xantech ZPR in switching sources. By "excessive", i mean it was probably 2 seconds. It would be another 1 second if I had to turn the zone on. Most of my everyday HA announcements are going to be doorbell/telephone (primary disabled, will ring only via HA), and perimeter sensor violation chirps (i.e., someone opened the door). I only have a 1650 sqft house, and as folks can usually hear the doorbell when it rings, so if I make them wait 2-3 seconds, they'll probably press it multiple times. If there's a message on the phone that I didn't pick up, waiting 2-3 seconds for the ring will mean I barely have any time to pick it up before it rolls to vmail.
Can you have your HA system mute a zone for a local announcement without muting the other zones?
In my original case where I was trying to use my stereo equipment, yes, that equipment had that ability. Obviously now it's a non-issue as I have a 2ndary speaker system.
Do you keep the multizone amp powered up all the time even when nobody is listening to music so it is available for doorbell, Phone, and HA announements?
In my original case, I wasn't as I had heat concerns in my media clsoet. Now, it's a non-issue.

Is there any difference in the way various brands (Russound, Nuvo, Xantech) handle paging and HA announcements?
Speaking only to the way I was handling via my Xantech and/or Denon: I was using multiple source inputs, so Sources1->5 were A/V related, source6 was HA. Hence, I would have used the same plan regardless of manufacturer - just use a source input.
Are all brands controlled via a serial interface to your HA system?
I know some folks are using IR, but as mentioned earlier I prefer RS232 so I can tell if the zone is on or not.
 

DavidL

Senior Member
I agree with JWilson. Relays is a waste of time for controlling music. Even the speaker output that BSR suggests. For the similar small money, you could do all of what JWilson suggests which a a quantam leap forward in capability and flexibility. You can easily hit a software "Pause" command to mute the particular zone output.

Now, this is how I would do it:
MainLobby 3 / MLServer 3 combo = $179
MusicLobby 3 - $59
J River Media Center 11 = $40
Cheapy IR controllable stereo receivers = garage sale special

or, replace the receivers with a Russound Cav6 = ~$2000 Add MLServer Cav6 plugin = $99

Now, that's a setup that is powerful, glitzy, functional, easy for anyone to use, reliabble, extendable. Not as cheap as JWilson's implementation, but the next notch advanced. Rivals systems costing tens of thousands of $s.
 
Top