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View Full Version : Advice on Home Theater setup please....




tgara
Jun 26, 2013, 10:58 AM
Hi All,

I am in the process of a major renovation at my house and as part of that renovation I am upgrading our TV and media systems.

Firstly, we are an Apple household. We have an Airport Extreme, 27 inch iMac (2010 model), plus various wireless devices such as iPads, iPhones, a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. I also have several Airport Expresses set up to play music to powered speakers or radios throughout the house.

What I plan to do is the following:

1. Replace the Airport Extreme with a new Time Capsule, and move my iTunes library onto it. The iTunes library has about 4500 songs and about 100 movies.

2. Install a new 46 inch flat screen TV and connect it to an Apple TV. Our cable provider is Cox, so we have a box for that. I will likely be adding a sound bar to the TV to improve the audio, but not any other additional speakers or receivers, at least not for the foreseeable future.

3. My goal is to be able to play any of the media on in the iTunes library wirelessly on the TV or any of the other connected devices in the house.

I believe this will all work, but would appreciate the collective opinions and wisdom of the members here: Does this plan sound reasonable, and what pitfalls could occur?

Many thanks in advance for any advice or opinions.



palmharbor
Jun 26, 2013, 11:46 AM
Anything wireless is problematic...especially wifi in the house.
Denon has a HT Receiver that accepts a USB thumb drive.
You can copy all your music on that drive, play on the Denon.
I think you are setting yourself up for problems...keep in mind most streaming is no different than cable...you pay about the same prices, few sites are free, one called popcorn or something shows old movies free then interupts with commercials about 10db louder than the movie.
Go to accessories4less.com
They sell Denon and have excellent pricing.
By the way, most soundbars are a waste of money. If you don't want to make an investment in good speakers...go with speakers normally used with a computer...you have small Left and Right plus
a subwoofer and it will sound just as good for a much lower price.

Rushli0n
Jun 26, 2013, 12:28 PM
Just note that even if you move your library to the Time Capsule, you'll have to have your Macbook up and running with iTunes open to access the files on your devices.

tgara
Jun 26, 2013, 12:40 PM
Just note that even if you move your library to the Time Capsule, you'll have to have your Macbook up and running with iTunes open to access the files on your devices.

I'll be using an iMac, but yes, I was aware of this. Thanks for pointing it out. The iMac is on nearly all the time anyway.

takeshi74
Jun 26, 2013, 01:48 PM
Anything wireless is problematic...especially wifi in the house.
Poorly implemented WiFi is problematic but you can't make a blanket statement like "anything wireless is problematic".

I hard wire when I can but our ATV is on WiFi and is totally problem-free.

I think you are setting yourself up for problems...keep in mind most streaming is no different than cable...
Where is streaming mentioned in the OP? The OP may certainly be streaming but you're just running off on a number of assumptions.

By the way, most soundbars are a waste of money.
Subjective matter. I generally don't care for them but sound bars have their place and there are some very good options out there these days. The OP didn't even state which soundbar is intended. Again, you're running off on assumption again and imposing your preferences. If you're going to make recommendations then make them fit the needs/wants of the person asking versus using your own as a one-size-fits-all solution.

Ace1024
Jun 27, 2013, 04:30 AM
I have a Netgear WNDR3800 router, and I can do everything wireless on any device (about 7) with virtually no lag - including bluray rips. However, just to be sure, it would be ideal to have the server cabled up to the router, or 2nd best the main ATV hooked up directly to avoid excessive lag.

FreakinEurekan
Jun 27, 2013, 09:53 AM
Hi All,

I am in the process of a major renovation at my house and as part of that renovation I am upgrading our TV and media systems.

Firstly, we are an Apple household. We have an Airport Extreme, 27 inch iMac (2010 model), plus various wireless devices such as iPads, iPhones, a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. I also have several Airport Expresses set up to play music to powered speakers or radios throughout the house.

What I plan to do is the following:

1. Replace the Airport Extreme with a new Time Capsule, and move my iTunes library onto it. The iTunes library has about 4500 songs and about 100 movies.

2. Install a new 46 inch flat screen TV and connect it to an Apple TV. Our cable provider is Cox, so we have a box for that. I will likely be adding a sound bar to the TV to improve the audio, but not any other additional speakers or receivers, at least not for the foreseeable future.

3. My goal is to be able to play any of the media on in the iTunes library wirelessly on the TV or any of the other connected devices in the house.

I believe this will all work, but would appreciate the collective opinions and wisdom of the members here: Does this plan sound reasonable, and what pitfalls could occur?

Many thanks in advance for any advice or opinions.

It'll work, however I would suggest putting your library on an external drive on the iMac, If your iTunes library is on the network, you're doubling network traffic every time you stream to an Apple TV (it has to go from the TC to the iMac, then from the iMac to the ATV). Having the media already on the iMac (on an external drive) eliminates the first half of the network traffic.

I have a similar setup - my media library is on my Mac Mini on an external USB drive, my Mac Mini is cabled to my Airport Extreme via Ethernet, and my ATVs are connected via wifi. Everything works smoothly, including 1080p content.

T'hain Esh Kelch
Jun 27, 2013, 10:54 AM
I also heavily suggest not doing the TC part. It will be slow, expensive and clog your wifi. No advantages what so ever.

Irishman
Jun 27, 2013, 11:01 AM
Hi All,

I am in the process of a major renovation at my house and as part of that renovation I am upgrading our TV and media systems.

Firstly, we are an Apple household. We have an Airport Extreme, 27 inch iMac (2010 model), plus various wireless devices such as iPads, iPhones, a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. I also have several Airport Expresses set up to play music to powered speakers or radios throughout the house.

What I plan to do is the following:

1. Replace the Airport Extreme with a new Time Capsule, and move my iTunes library onto it. The iTunes library has about 4500 songs and about 100 movies.

2. Install a new 46 inch flat screen TV and connect it to an Apple TV. Our cable provider is Cox, so we have a box for that. I will likely be adding a sound bar to the TV to improve the audio, but not any other additional speakers or receivers, at least not for the foreseeable future.

3. My goal is to be able to play any of the media on in the iTunes library wirelessly on the TV or any of the other connected devices in the house.

I believe this will all work, but would appreciate the collective opinions and wisdom of the members here: Does this plan sound reasonable, and what pitfalls could occur?

Many thanks in advance for any advice or opinions.

If you're set on a sound bar, I would wait for this one, as it just got announced by Pioneer.

http://gizmodo.com/pioneers-new-soundbar-is-beautifully-simple-and-wonder-585654401

Pyromonkey83
Jun 28, 2013, 03:23 AM
If you're set on a sound bar, I would wait for this one, as it just got announced by Pioneer.

http://gizmodo.com/pioneers-new-soundbar-is-beautifully-simple-and-wonder-585654401

That looks like a nice-ish soundbar, but the lack of surround emulation really turns me off for watching movies on it. My current sound bar, the LG NB3530A, sounds really fantastic for such a thin unit, and the faux surround is really quite good. I'm no super-audiophile, but I like things to sound good, clear, and free of distortion, which the LG fits all of those points nicely. It also happens to over $100 less in price as the Pioneer you mentioned (depending on where you buy).

Depends on the OP's preference, but in my opinion, if you don't plan on going for a full 5.1 setup for whatever reason (space, price, complexity, etc) the LG soundbar is the best way to go for both movies and music.

rdas7
Jun 28, 2013, 04:19 AM
In my experience, iTunes Library on a wifi-connected disk (like Time Capsule) is not a great solution: there's a lot of latency. That means when you click to change playlists, or play a song, or start a movie, there's a delay of a few seconds (even up to 10s sometimes). That might not seem like a big deal, but if you're doing something and you just want to change song, it can be distracting to keep clicking, waiting, oh what was I doing?

If the network drive is connected over gigabit ethernet, then that's not really so much of an issue anymore (assuming you've got a desktop computer like an iMac or something), but for me since I was using a laptop having a "network drive" meant I had to be connected with a cable to use it effectively... which kind of negates the point of a network drive (just use USB/Firewire?)

Your mileage may vary, of course.

The biggest game changer (again, for me) was iTunes Match. Signing up for that means that now all my music is accessible wirelessly, plus from my iPhone/iPad (not just my Mac). Don't quite know how they've done it, but the latency is pretty low select a song and it starts playing almost immediately.

Ditto for movies and tv shows *anything you've purchased on the Store is available to all your devices anywhere.

Ok, so I'm totally off topic now.

Going back to the home theater setup, if it's any help, I've got an Apple TV plugged in to the tv, with an optical out going to a Logitech Z5500 5.1 THX system, which is great quality for the price. Really great audio.

Irishman
Jun 28, 2013, 07:27 AM
That looks like a nice-ish soundbar, but the lack of surround emulation really turns me off for watching movies on it. My current sound bar, the LG NB3530A, sounds really fantastic for such a thin unit, and the faux surround is really quite good. I'm no super-audiophile, but I like things to sound good, clear, and free of distortion, which the LG fits all of those points nicely. It also happens to over $100 less in price as the Pioneer you mentioned (depending on where you buy).

Depends on the OP's preference, but in my opinion, if you don't plan on going for a full 5.1 setup for whatever reason (space, price, complexity, etc) the LG soundbar is the best way to go for both movies and music.

The OP did not mention a preference for surround simulation. The Pioneer bar is designed by Andrew Jones. Speaker afficionados will know the name for 5-figure TAD speakers, but he started designing a more budget 5.1 set for Pioneer 2 years ago. They've won all kinds of awards for neutral, balanced sound (far outclassing sets costing 2-3 times as much). The MSRP on that set is like $600-$650 including a sub, but you can find it online for less. It appears as though Jones has brought a lot of the same lessons learned from that set to bear on this new bar.

So, uh, yes, it's a nice-ish soundbar.

tgara
Jun 28, 2013, 11:38 AM
Thanks for all the replies, guys. This is really helpful.

Just a couple of points of clarification:

1. My iMac will be connected via Ethernet cable to my wireless router (Airport Extreme or Time Capsule). FYI, I stayed with cable because when I tried wifi about a year ago, my iMac kept dropping the wifi connection when it went to sleep. I think this was a 10.7 Lion issue, but I stayed with an Ethernet cable since upgrading to 10.8 and will continue to do so. The laptops connect wirelessly to our wifi network, of course, but they will not be the main source for the music/movie library.

Question to Freakin', rdas7, and Thain: Does this fact change your view that the network will get clogged if I move my iTunes library from my iMac to the Time Capsule and stream to the Apple TV? In theory, I suppose I could move the library from one storage medium to another and experiment to get the best performance.

2. I have iTunes Match. As rdas7 pointed out, this lets me access any of my iTunes music or movie purchases from any device. I'm not sure how this will work with an Apple TV, but I'll just figure it out.

3. I'm like Pyromonkey... I'm not an audiophile, I just would like to have nice sound. That said, I have to balance that sound quality against cost, space, and room design. First, this room is not a media room or a theater. It's our main living room where we live, entertain, and just hang out. Second, I gave my wife free reign to decorate the room however she wants. She will not want a ton of audio gear filling up bookcases, walls, etc. I also can't spend a fortune because she wants to buy furniture. You know how girls are about these things..... :D That's why I'm not planning on ceiling speakers or an A/V receiver, but rather trying to keep this setup relatively simple and at the same time sound decent for the room size and purpose. Tradeoffs, ya know.....

From the views so far, I think what I've got will work for us. I appreciate everyone's input.

dugbug
Jun 28, 2013, 12:21 PM
Thanks for all the replies, guys. This is really helpful.

Just a couple of points of clarification:

1. My iMac will be connected via Ethernet cable to my wireless router (Airport Extreme or Time Capsule). FYI, I stayed with cable because when I tried wifi about a year ago, my iMac kept dropping the wifi connection when it went to sleep. I think this was a 10.7 Lion issue, but I stayed with an Ethernet cable since upgrading to 10.8 and will continue to do so. The laptops connect wirelessly to our wifi network, of course, but they will not be the main source for the music/movie library.

Question to Freakin', rdas7, and Thain: Does this fact change your view that the network will get clogged if I move my iTunes library from my iMac to the Time Capsule and stream to the Apple TV? In theory, I suppose I could move the library from one storage medium to another and experiment to get the best performance.

2. I have iTunes Match. As rdas7 pointed out, this lets me access any of my iTunes music or movie purchases from any device. I'm not sure how this will work with an Apple TV, but I'll just figure it out.

3. I'm like Pyromonkey... I'm not an audiophile, I just would like to have nice sound. That said, I have to balance that sound quality against cost, space, and room design. First, this room is not a media room or a theater. It's our main living room where we live, entertain, and just hang out. Second, I gave my wife free reign to decorate the room however she wants. She will not want a ton of audio gear filling up bookcases, walls, etc. I also can't spend a fortune because she wants to buy furniture. You know how girls are about these things..... :D That's why I'm not planning on ceiling speakers or an A/V receiver, but rather trying to keep this setup relatively simple and at the same time sound decent for the room size and purpose. Tradeoffs, ya know.....

From the views so far, I think what I've got will work for us. I appreciate everyone's input.

I have a similar setup:

I have a small gigE switch at my home theater, where an airport extreme, apple TV, xbox, tivo, and television hook into. The extreme provides a local wireless access point for good coverage... it is not in bridge mode. It uses the same network id and password as my wireless router. Therefore my iphone silently uses the express when Im near the tv because thats the strongest signal.

My gige switch then connects back to my time capsule (in another part of the house) that connects to my mac and my cable modem.

My time capsule on a drive share has my itunes library. You will have to tell the mac to automount the share as a login script or whatever, and there can be a small delay, but enet connection keeps it going (thus far). This is one (@#*&$( thing that apple should do with time capsule and the airport utility is allow for some easy configuration of mounting and shared drive usage.

Also itunes match streaming is only benefiting non-itunes purchases. Anything you bought through itunes largely will be available on the apple tv to stream from icloud (including movies and tv shows).

Audio out of the apple tv to my home theater is perfect. Im not an audiophile, so I got the wireless 3d surround kit from panasonic as everything I have is panasonic (they all work together nicely).

FreakinEurekan
Jun 28, 2013, 12:22 PM
Question to Freakin', rdas7, and Thain: Does this fact change your view that the network will get clogged if I move my iTunes library from my iMac to the Time Capsule and stream to the Apple TV? In theory, I suppose I could move the library from one storage medium to another and experiment to get the best performance.

Not really. You're still having to move data from the TC to the Mac, then from the Mac to the ATV. Part of it's over Ethernet and part over Wi-Fi but you're still doubling your network traffic.

If you use an iMac or a Mac Mini for your iTunes library, I recommend local storage for your iTunes media. The computer's not moving, and there are lots of benefits (reduced network traffic, faster adds to the library, you can use Time Machine to back it up, less chance of mucking things up by having a 2nd machine try to read the media folder directly). I can see why someone might use a NAS as the media drive if you have a portable (MacBook, etc.) machine as your iTunes computer, because you may not always have the portable near your external storage - but it won't work as well or as reliably, and it's more expensive. With a desktop computer there's pretty much no up-side to using NAS, and plenty of down-side.

tgara
Jun 28, 2013, 12:27 PM
Not really. You're still having to move data from the TC to the Mac, then from the Mac to the ATV. Part of it's over Ethernet and part over Wi-Fi but you're still doubling your network traffic.

If you use an iMac or a Mac Mini for your iTunes library, I recommend local storage for your iTunes media. The computer's not moving, and there are lots of benefits (reduced network traffic, faster adds to the library, you can use Time Machine to back it up, less chance of mucking things up by having a 2nd machine try to read the media folder directly). I can see why someone might use a NAS as the media drive if you have a portable (MacBook, etc.) machine as your iTunes computer, because you may not always have the portable near your external storage - but it won't work as well or as reliably, and it's more expensive. With a desktop computer there's pretty much no up-side to using NAS, and plenty of down-side.

Thank you -- this is helpful. I will try it the way you described.

Just so I'm clear, "local storage" means the iMac's hard drive, right?

dugbug
Jun 28, 2013, 02:13 PM
Not really. You're still having to move data from the TC to the Mac, then from the Mac to the ATV. Part of it's over Ethernet and part over Wi-Fi but you're still doubling your network traffic.

The wired part is going to be negligible. it will move well ahead of watching the movie.

FreakinEurekan
Jun 28, 2013, 08:32 PM
Thank you -- this is helpful. I will try it the way you described.

Just so I'm clear, "local storage" means the iMac's hard drive, right?

Local means a drive on the iMac, either internal or external USB storage. Something not connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.