Virtual Matrix for Entertainment, Lighting and Home Control
Home includes 15 video zones and 23 audio zones.
n addition to having the flexibility to add audio and video components to their whole-house entertainment system, the owners have the option of wireless touchpanels or hardwired keypads to control their music, video, lights and other equipment.
July 18, 2011 by Lisa Montgomery

Virtual matrix: It sounds like a great title for a movie. It’s also the term Shane Nevins uses to describe the type of whole-house audio and video system his company, C-IX, recently installed into a 14,000-square-foot residence in Pueblo, Colo. It’s the type of system, Nevins says, that’s ideal for people who don’t want to commit to a certain number of speakers and TVs.

In a home this large, it’s natural to feel the need to put in a slew of TVs and speakers. Just how many, though, and where, is the question. The owners of this house started out with 15 zones of video and 23 zones of audio, but it’s conceivable that they might eventually add a few more, says Nevins.

The NetStreams DigiLinX system was chosen because it won’t lock these tech-cautious homeowners into a set number of inputs and outputs, as do systems comprised of traditional matrix switches, Nevins explains.
A matrix switch might come preconfigured with eight inputs for source components such as Blu-ray players and media servers, and eight outputs to feed eight entertainment zones. It’s a great setup for homeowners who can accurately predict the types of source content they’ll ever want available to them, says Nevins.

For homeowners who are unsure, a system like DigiLinX can provide a sense of relief. “We can add source components one at a time, at different times, by just adding a “module” to the system.
The owners can step into their system module by module, TV by TV, source by source,” says Nevins.

For now, the owners of this home are content with their current lineup of two Vudu receivers, three Dish Network satellite receivers, two Netgear media players and one Samsung Blu-ray player. Content from this assortment of gear can be streamed to any and all video and audio zones.

As with most whole-house audio and video systems, touchpanels provide the owners control over their entertainment components. Instead of requiring them to select a specific source component, though,
Nevins configured the system so all they have to do is touch a button that describes what they want to do in a particular area, like watch TV, rent a movie, or listen to music. The DigiLinX system makes the connection automatically. For example, listen to music cues Pandora (through a) Vudu app, which is a favorite of the homeowners. “It’s a great solution for people who don’t want to have to associate equipment names or brands with their entertainment experience,” says Nevins.

Photography by John Bosley Photography

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

IP: One Cable Replaces a Bundle

The DigiLinX system in this home is one of a few audio and video distribution systems that utilize a single Ethernet cable to distribute content to multiple TV and speaker locations. Ethernet is the same type of wire that facilitates a connection to the Internet, so these one-wire systems are often referred to as IP (Internet Protocol)-based. In addition to audio, video and data, Ethernet wiring can send commands from a home control system to lights, thermostats and other devices. Two of the biggest benefits: One wire is easier and faster to install than separate cabling for each type of signal, and web-enabled devices (like an iPhone) can be used to control anything on an IP network.

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