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Old Dec 28, 2012, 08:14 PM   #1
Madmic23
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New home distributed audio / video advice

Hi everyone, my wife and I are building a new home. I'd like to prewire it for audio and video. My main goal was distributed audio to 5 zones of the house with in-ceiling speakers, but I'm also looking at video distribution as well and am looking for some input from others who may have done this.

Since it's a new home, I'm working with a clean slate. I plan on running all of the speaker wire, coax cable, and Ethernet to a central location in the basement. In this location, I plan on putting an amp for the speakers (potentially a Nuvo system), a network switch or router, and my cable modem. My main computer will be located in the office in the second floor.

I want to hard wire AppleTV's to the master bedroom and the main TV room to minimize the strain on my wireless network. A third and fourth AppleTV may be thrown into the mix at a later time.

I'm considering putting a MacMini as a central server in the basement connected to a large external HDD where all of my other connections will be made. It will just run iTunes, and I will manage the library from the iMac in my office.

Does this all make sense, or am I missing something?

Thanks for the input.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 01:13 AM   #2
HazyCloud
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Actually, that sounds about right. Just make sure to add 2 Ethernet lines per room just to be safe. It's cheap enough and now's the time to do it.

I personally wouldn't do any video as each TV can easily have an Apple TV on it which is very easy to do. Speakers, yes, I'd do those. Especially since you can throw an AirPort Express on a receiver and play music to those speakers.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 02:55 PM   #3
scifi451
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Sounds like a great set up! A bit jealous lol
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 04:25 PM   #4
HobeSoundDarryl
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All that sounds good. I've done a similar project. Some ideas: when I bought the bundled cable, the option for 2 runs of optical did not add much to the cost. That could be overkill that you'll never get to use but I'm glad it's there (if I ever get to use it).

2 runs of everything is great advice: 2 RG6 (or better), 2 Ethernet and maybe 2 optical. For stereo, if you'll have access to the runs after installation (for example, if you are going through the attic and there is enough room up there to go back in when the house is done), consider spooling up some extra slack should you ever want to move anything around.

One of the best of these I've ever seen flowed all of the wiring through PVC pipe inside the walls, giving them the ability to go back in and having a clear path through those pipes to flow future cable. A few cords run through the same pipes and you can tie them to some kind of needed new cable in the future, then pull the cords down or up to pull the new cable through the PVC. If I had it to do over, I would have done this too.

If you go with the optical suggestion, you'll probably find that while the cable isn't much, the terminators are pricey. What I did was have the optical (twin) runs terminate behind the wall plates with a little extra backed up into the wall. Then, if we ever get optical anything where I am, it will be easy to open select plates pull the optical out and terminate only where I need it.

AND (it should probably go without saying), make sure you have at least 2 runs of everything to your point of entry (from outside). Run them out there, shield them from the weather in some way and have them available for just about anything that comes along. Slim plastic boxes that can attach to the house can be great weather protection.

AND take it from me, you can't have enough runs of this stuff to your main entertainment area. I thought dual runs of everything (4 RG6, 4 Ethernet, 4 Optical) was overkill but if I could go back and do it again, I'd run at least one more bundle (2 more of everything) to that main area.

AND, one thing I overlooked, be sure to include a few runs of dedicated ethernet and electrical power to strategic points in the attic so that you can have whole home "strong" wifi. A few repeaters/extenders in strategic places would have been much better than trusting that approx. center of the house for the main router was going to be good enough. If I had it to do over, I'd probably have built in 2-4 spots for extenders just to cover all location bases (minimize the dead zones). Then, I could go into the attic to add extenders where the centralized router wasn't reaching (well).

AND, since you're building, consider building a little storage building away from the main house and have a run out to that as well. Then, you could put your time machine drive(s) out there so as to have at least one form of backup reasonably far from the main home. If you ever have a fire or similar and lose the house, the little building would house your backup data.

AND, since you're building, while it's not a cosmetic beauty, a rooftop antenna pulls in much better quality HD "over the air" than you can get through your cable or satt companies. If you think you might ever want to put one up, you'll need the cable there to flow it into the house. Put it in while you are building and you can easily make that decision later on. If you think you might be interested in excellent FM, run a second cable up there for that. Yes, you can run both TV and FM through one cable but 2+ gives you many more options. If I had it to do over, I'd probably run 4 RG6's up there (though that would still be overkill for me). "What? FM? How old are you Hobe?" Went through the eye of 4 hurricanes in 2004- internet and cable were down for days but we got power back reasonably quickly. FM and over-the-air television was the ONLY video/audio for several day periods over several weeks.

On that topic, don't forget to run what seems like too many runs of RG6 to wherever you might want to install a Satt dish. The Satt companies keep finding ways to need more runs; if you want to be able to control where the dish is located, you need to have enough runs there to cover whatever is needed. Else, they'll be making recommendations and drilling holes in the wall. Getting it from their holes to your whole home central panel tends to be a PITA... a BIG PITA. Study up on dish placement and think about the future (a little tree not in the line of path today will be much taller in 10 years).

Lastly, it's some kind of tradition in building that all plates have to be about 1 foot above the floor. If I had it to do over, I'd position many of the plates I had installed about 3+ feet above the floor. Easier accessibility. I guess the 1-foot up "rule" is probably about hiding wires or something. As a really tall guy, it's a long way down to those jacks for me. I think I would pull most of the electrical sockets up as well if I was doing it over.

Last edited by HobeSoundDarryl; Dec 29, 2012 at 05:22 PM.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 06:26 PM   #5
mmomega
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In my last home I ran minimum 2 CAT6 lines per room and I am in the process of doing the same again in my new home.

I'm sure you have shopped around and you can get everything you need through monoprice.com for a very good price.

The only thing I am doing differently in my new home is that I am running 4 CAT6 lines to every room that has a TV in it.
I am terminating 2 lines behind each wall mount and then adding 2 more, 1 on opposite sides of the room.
In the 3 bedrooms I have an Apple TV and DirecTV box wall mounted with the TV's so they both get hardwired in to the network.

I have a 24port Gigabit switch in the attic, home office where I have the cable modem, time capsule 3tb as the main router and '11 mac mini server which feed the network.

I have a 2nd Airport Extreme in the living room entertainment center hardwired to extend my WiFi and allows 3 more Ethernet ports so I only had to drop 1 CAT6 to that area, this hardwires the DirecTV Genie DVR, aTV and Xbox.

Then a 3rd Airport Extreme in the garage, basically all the routers are set up in a triangular arrangement to fully cover the entire household with full signal, full bandwidth internet. (I found the 2 extra 5th gen AEBS on ebay for around $50ea, which gave a little more versatility than using Airport Expresses being as they were cheaper, better WiFi range and the 3 extra ports)


For me, the aTV's with Airplay do a good enough job streaming music to all parts of the house, inside and outside that I didn't feel I needed to run any extra optical cables. Now for those that want the absolute best sound possible I can understand where one may go for hardwiring everything and using better sound equipment but this works great for us.
My HK AV receiver controls the back patio and living room speakers, my iMac in the home office has the Klipsch Pro Media 2.1, 2 of the bedrooms with sound bars and garage has my old iMacg4 with a cheap 5.1 computer speaker set from BB wall mounted around the garage so with small get togethers it's pretty cool to simultaneously stream the whole house, inside and out with music.

But it does sound like you have your bases covered and I'd like to hear more about your setup once you complete it.
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Old Dec 29, 2012, 07:22 PM   #6
Madmic23
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Thanks for the input everyone. I'm planning in running all the wiring to a central spot in the basement, so if anything changes, I can just switch wires around down there.
We've always wanted a whole home audio solution, which is why I'm looking at the Nuvo or Sonos systems. I thought about just using an airport express in each room, but we want to have the speakers built into the ceiling in each room and not have to have an amplifier in each room. The Nuvo system is nice because you can buy one amp that can indepentley run up to 6 zones. I could do something similar if I bought the Sonos amp, but then I'd need one of those for each zone. At around $500 a piece, don't think that's the best bang for my buck, though it does seem to be a bit more of an elegant solution in terms of iOS device control and streaming music from iTunes.

I liked the suggestion of running extra Ethernet out to second building on the property to keep my backups safe from fire, but unfortunately that won't work in this situation as my house is being built in a small town and the lots are somewhat small. If my house is burning down, so will the shed. The neighbours should be fine though.

I've learned the hard way about not running enough RG6. In my current house, I asked the builder to prewire to a point at the back of the house for a satellite dish. That was great, but then I gt a Bell HD PVR, which requires to runs from the dish. Four if you want to have multiple satellite receivers. That required an ugly white coax running along the side if the house.

I'm definitely going to look at the wifi repeater suggestions. This is a two storey house, so wifi coverage could be an issue.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 08:47 PM   #7
Madmic23
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I've been investigating my options, and I've discovered there's a lot out there in every price range. I spoke to a Crestron dealer and he gave me a quote on a system around the price of a mid size car. That includes video, audio, security, thermostat, lighting, etc. Just about everything. It's totally overkill. I'd like to spend less than $4000.
I think Nuvo is the best bet, but I still like the flexibility in the Sonos system.
I found another alternative, Home Theatre Direct, (www.htd.com)which is an affordable DIY setup, but I haven't heard too much about it. Anyone else heard if them?
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