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Multiroom A/V Essentials
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October 25, 2006 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Of all the electronic amenities available to a new home, none are quite as enjoyable as a whole-house music system. Distributing tunes from one stereo system to speakers in far corners of a house is nothing new.
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Posted by Scott  on  11/08  at  04:30 PM

I installed a multiple zone system in my house with speakers in 6 rooms, including the back patio. I have options for up to 3 inputs, creating 3 “zones”, which I’ve defined by (1) Lower level, (2) First Floor, (1) outdoors. The zones can be the same or different, and I have controls in each “zone” that allow that selection. What I’m looking for now is a remote operation solution that I can do without re-wiring the whole thing. I want to get a digital media server - basically a big MP3 player - and I’m hoping to find a way to control it over my homes wireless network, eliminating the need for keypads, IR remote repeaters, or similar. I’m thinking a PDA with WiFi can connect to the network, and if the Media Server I buy has either wired or wireless network access, then all that’s missing is the software. Any ideas on how to make this happen? I can’t find any product like this, and my dealer says he’s never heard of anything like it.

Posted by Matt  on  11/11  at  12:49 PM

Scott,
I have setup similar to what you describe.  I use a Windows MCE PC as a PVR and music server that sits in my AV rack.  I use a small tablet PC running VNC to remote into the MCE via the 802.11b/g network. From there I can control all functions of the PC (change channels, tracks, adjust volume)  My HP Digital Entertainment Center came with IR Blasters that are normally used to control an external cable box but might be able to be used to control other AV hardware such as a receiver.  If Logitech can put software on a Harmony remote control that can do it, someone can write the code for a PC to do it! Question is whether that has been done yet or not…

Hope this gets you on the right track.

-Matt

Posted by Alison  on  11/16  at  11:39 AM

Are there any companies that specialise in setting up these sorts of ultra-high-end systems?
Thanks,
Alison

Posted by Rob  on  11/16  at  11:45 AM

Alison,

There is a list of installers in the US and Canada right on this site - you can access it by clicking on the “Installers” link at the top right of any page from the site…

Regards,

Rob

Posted by Alison  on  11/16  at  11:49 AM

Ah, thanks. Are there particular ones you would cite as being best-known across the US, most established, award-winning, etc?
Bset,
Alison

Posted by mac  on  11/21  at  08:36 PM

Alison—In general, integration firms focus on a specific segment of the country, so local companies are usually the best place to start. Beyond that, you can check with the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA)—http://www.cedia.net—for licensure and accreditation information.

Hope that helps!—mac

Posted by Julie  on  11/30  at  07:10 AM

You can also check CEA Techhome and HTSA for good integrators

http://www.techhome.com/search.aspx
http://www.myhtsa.com

Posted by dave  on  12/11  at  10:21 AM

scott,

Consider the NevoSL remote. it allows any computer to become a server of audio and works over wifi.

Posted by Scott  on  12/14  at  11:10 AM

So what I ended up doing was buying a software package for about $20 off of the net (shareware) that is a pseudo remote-control package for Windows CE to Windows XP. I set up a basic Windows XP PC with 512MB RAM, 2 300GB hard drives, and a CD-ROM drive. It’s connected to my TV for those times when I need a “monitor”. I run Windows Media Player with a few dozen playlists and all of my CD’s ripped into it. I can control it all through my wireless network in the house using either my PDA or my cell phone, which happens to be a Windows CE phone. I can select a song, a playlist, skip, rewind, stop, start, shuffle, and all of the important functions from anywhere in range of my wireless router - including the patio. I have volume controls in each room already, so it works great.

The only downside - The PC sometimes gets cranky when I wake it up via the remote control software, and I have to go and manually reboot it. Oh, well… not perfect, but it only cost me $20 plus the recycled PC parts.

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