Home entertainment (system)

I got asked on Facebook if I’d write up a little information about the kit I’m currently running in the bungalow for my multiroom audio/video distribution so here it is 🙂

Everything pretty much comes back to a central location bar the Raspberry Pi’s which are used within the rooms themselves.

Russound CAV 6.6:
This handles the audio distribution for the house, it has support for six zones which are pushed out to both the bedrooms, dining room, living room, kitchen and finally the bathroom. Each of these zones has a set of ceiling Polk Audio RC60i speakers but only two contain UNO-S2 keypads for in room control.

At present I only have three sources for audio, two Sonos ZP90 units along with the Virgin V+ box so ample room for three more inputs.

Russound VM1:
This was a lucky bargin purchase recently, a new unit retails at just under £2k and I managed to pick one up for £75, it only contains two VMR-1 receivers but I’m sure I can pick two more up at a later stage. Even though the CAV unit supports distributed video, I was most likely never going to use it as it only supports standard def video so this coming up on Ebay was perfect. Full 1080p support over Cat5 out to Composite is perfect and means that I can push the Virgin V+ box out to any room (four at a time) over the wired Cat6 network installed.

These are following rooms and what we can run in each:

  • Living Room
    • Six Cat6 points.
    • Four Coax points.
    • One UNO-S2 keypad.
    • One SRC-2 remote control.
    • One set of ceiling speakers.
  • Dining Room
    • Four Cat6 points.
    • Four Coax points.
    • One set of ceiling speakers.
  • Main Bedroom
    • Four Cat6 points.
    • Two Coax points.
    • One UNO-S2 keypad.
    • One SRC-2 remote control.
    • One set of ceiling speakers.
  • Guest Bedroom
    • Four Cat6 points.
    • Two Coax points.
    • One set of ceiling speakers.
  • Bathroom
    • One set of ceiling speakers.
  • Kitchen
    • Eight Cat6 points (two sets of four at either end).
    • Two Coax points.
    • One set of ceiling speakers.

System control:
From the outset, I wanted simple control over the system from my iphone and as I’m an Apple man, ipad, itouch or whatever else I may get. To do this it was recommended to get a Russound TCH1 which connects via serial to the CAV6.6 unit (which in turn connects to the VM1 over the RNET protocol). This presents a rather crude web app to any i* devices where you can turn each zone on and off, select which source you want and change volume settings along with turning on and off party mode. For the most part this works fine (the TCH1 unit has failed once and had to be RMA’d but this was done quickly and without quibble), however the interface is slow and awkward.

I don’t like slow or awkward so I’ve written my own custom web app which I mainly use now, this interfaces over the TCH1 at the moment but does so quicker than if it was being used natively. It also means I’ve been able to hook the Sonos interfaces into the same web app so you can turn on each zone, select the Sonos unit and play music. It’s basic at the moment and needs a huge amount of work until it replaces the TCH1 / Sonos apps directly.

In the Living room and Main bedroom are UNO-S2 wall keypads which allow control over those rooms either on the keypad or via a SRC-2 remote control. Using the remotes are great as they allow you to control the TV, Russound and any connected inputs that support IR.

The only video source I have at the moment is a Virgin V+ box, however the VM1 supports upto 4 inputs using Component for 1080p. Other versions of the VM1 support upto 8 zones and 8 inputs with upscaling but these didn’t come up on Ebay for a ridiculous price 🙂

Separately from this I also run Raspberry Pis in the Living room and Dining room for local movie content, these are directly connected to the  TVs via HDMI and then into the wired home network over Cat6. This allows full control from any device that has an XBMC app and works great with a shared MySQL library so I can just pop a new Raspberry Pi online and start watching films and TV straight away.

Two Sonos source inputs are used to provide music to all the rooms but allowing two different audio sources. I’ve got a Spotify account hooked into these along with a local collection of MP3s from a NAS. The Sonos devices also support web radio and a raft of other Music services.

What would a home network be without some local storage. A ReadyNas NV+ is my current nas of choice with a total of 5.4TB of space 🙂

Currently this is all running back to a SMCGS24C switch with it’s fan removed to keep the noise levels down 🙂 A Draytek 2830 then provides internet connectivity through a Virgin Superhub (shudder) with two Wireless zones, one for the family, the other for guests 🙂 Four vlans then segregate the network out to keep general web / email use, Media and servers all separate.

A pic of the ‘server room’:

photo (2) 19.56.43

Would I do anything differently?

Of course, in no particular order:

  • No coax – I’ve used one coax run for 12 months but now it’s obsolete.
  • More power points 🙂
  • More space for kit in the cupboard.
  • Probably opt for a cheaper russound unit for audio distribution seeing as I won’t use the CAV6.6 for standard def distribution.
  • Price in 1080p video distribution from day one, how have I got by without so far!
  • Keypads in all the rooms, I’m about to get a couple more for the other bedroom and dining room but won’t wall mount them and instead just have them behind the TV for IR sending and emergency zone control.
  • Ditch the TCH1, I don’t use it’s wireless capabilities as I run everything over wired where I can, in essence it’s a glorified Netgear router at four x the price. You can get Cat5 to Serial convertors cheaper and I’m sure with a better interface.
  • Put more time into the web app, I’ll be able to do cool stuff with this such as hit play on a film on XBMC and automatically shut any music off in that zone.

3 thoughts on “Home entertainment (system)

  1. Looks like a pretty good home setup you have there! Once I get my head around things I want to do the same! so thanks for posting all this up, need to get a few swtiches me thinks.

  2. “No coax – I’ve used one coax run for 12 months but now it’s obsolete.”

    What where the coax points for? Line audio (audio in) ?
    What would you use instead?


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