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Full Version: Multi-channel amp volume controls
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Long time lurker, big time DIY'er. I finally have the funds to start buying equipment that I need to bring my whole house audio/video/automation system to a reality. But have a couple things I can't wrap my head around for some reason. Here's the first:

I plan to have 8 total zones for audio/video distribution, and have been looking at multi-channel amplifiers to power the AUDIO in these zones (video is already figured out using an autopatch). Dedicated speakers will be installed in each room, and NO TV speakers will be used. Also, I am only worried about stereo amplification for 6 zones.

My original plan was to have the sources connect to an autopatch, which would route the desired source to the multi-channel amplifier, then out to the speakers in the zones. Except I forgot about volume control :oops:.

What are my options here for amplification and volume control? From reasearching too much that I'm now confused, I figure I could:

1. Go retro with rotary controls on the wall in each room. Not realistic, as I would need some way to control from a distance (i.e. bed). Plus this adds wall-clutter, which I want to minimize.

2. Use the "common" Russound or Nuvo audio-distribution units.

3. Find some in-between unit that goes between the autopatch and the amplifier, yet would allow volume control through CQC. Does this exist?

4. ????


Option 2 seams the most popular, but my concerns with it are:
- I already have the autopatch unit, so I would prefer to use it. Also, it seams the Russond/Nuvo would be be redundant since it's a matrix unit also. Is that right?

- I want to avoid wall clutter (which is my next dillema for another post). If I use Russound/Nuvo, I would have a wall control that JUST controls the Russond/Nuvo, yet has nothing to do with switching video and source units. I would like to avoid that, and ultimately end up controlling volume via CQC.

Any ideas and/or thoughts on what I could do? If I need to give more deails on setup just let me know.
You can use Russound and Nuvo and not necessarily use their wall pads and control them via CQC. You can use a combination of the two as desired.
I am in the EXACT same boat, and have been trying to answer this question. At this point (unless someone says it won't work), I think this Xantech product will do exactly what you (we) want it to do. It can work with wall controls, but I don't think those are necessary. The unit can take IR commands, and can regulate the volume for all 12 channels. I also have 8 zones, so I'm going to use a 5.1 receiver I have for the living room, and just put 1 speaker in two of the zones, thus allowing the Xantech amp to control 7 zones (5 in stereo and 2 in mono), and my Marantz receiver to control one.

I would love for anyone to pipe in if they don't think it work work. There is a product manual on the page I linked to above.

Target

PS The Xantech can also have presets for the volume in every zones. Pretty neat.
That works, but there is not currently a driver for the 12 channel amp. The 12 channel amp works best when coupled with a Xantech ZPR68-10 multi zone switch. The ZPR provides volume and other audio controls and you use the volume feature in the 12 channel amp to trim the levels. CQC does not control the 12 channel amp directly in this arrangement. The 12 channel amp turns on and off via a signal from the ZPR. For this to work effectively, you need to either have a wireless UMPC screen or several touch screens throughout the home, as your primary volume control is from the screen without having Xantech keypads. In practical terms, that means that if you want to adjust the volume in the bedroom, you better have a screen or keypad in the bedroom.
In my home and the ones I have installed, wall keypads are installed in most smaller zones like bedrooms and bathrooms and wireless touchscreen and a few mounted screens are used in the Great Room, Master Bedroom Kitchen and main entrance areas of the home. This arrangement provides the best overall control. You want to try to avoid controlling the whole home from one screen, as you are then running all over the home trying to select the correct tune or volume per zone.
As to the control aspect, RF remotes aren't too expensive, and these should be able to easily select any source and room combo, and control the volume. I think. Several solutions are being talked about for this very topic on this thread. As that one is longer, it might make sense to merge this discussion over to there.

Target
Good to know the Russound/Nuvo systems could be used as needed. Still not sure about going for it though.....

The biggest thing I don't like about the Russound/Nuvo systems is the built in amplifier. From the specs, it puts out ~35 watts per zone (meaning ~17watts per speaker in a two speaker setup), and can only be used with 8-ohm speakers. One of my zones is the patio and garage, totalling 4 speakers in two different areas -- I was hoping to just run them all from the same "zone", bringing the amplifer down to 4-ohms; the Russound/Nuvo won't like this per specs (does anyone have real-world experience doing this??)


Thanks for the link Target; I like the Xantech PA1235, which is similar to the HTD MA-1265 I was originally going to go with (but has no IR control). It puts out ~70 watts per speaker, and has no problem going down to 4ohms for my patio/garage setup.

I know there is no driver for the PA1235, but it's just IR and according to the documents each zone can be individually addressed. Wouldn't I be able to configure a "volume up" button on each zones CQC page to send out a unique IR code, then use an IR blaster on the CQC computer to blast the IR to the PA1235? Basically there would be 6 different IR codes for volume up, 6 different codes for volume down, etc., with each corresponding to just one zone. This wouldn't need a driver, as it would just use existing IR ones. Am I wrong here?
My research shows that your right, the only problem (in my view) is the reliability issues of going with IR rather than RS-232. I almost pulled the trigger on the Xantech, but I REALLY want to keep all control to RS-232 so that my wife NEVER has a problem.

Target
Target Wrote:My research shows that your right, the only problem (in my view) is the reliability issues of going with IR rather than RS-232. I almost pulled the trigger on the Xantech, but I REALLY want to keep all control to RS-232 so that my wife NEVER has a problem.

Target

I don't think there would be too much difference between IR/RS-232 in our situation. Sure, RS-232 is the preferred choice, but we could also do a direct hardwire IR setup:

- IR codes are learned/programmed directly, ensuring accuracy of the code, and stored in CQC
- THe whole path of the IR signal will be on wires: CQC outputs IR on a 3.5mm IR output jack, which pigtails into common block on 1235. Basically, like Fig. 8 in the instrution manule.

This would greatly enhance the reliability of the IR.
Target Wrote:My research shows that your right, the only problem (in my view) is the reliability issues of going with IR rather than RS-232. I almost pulled the trigger on the Xantech, but I REALLY want to keep all control to RS-232 so that my wife NEVER has a problem.

Target

I would suggest looking at something like the Niles 1230 and controlling the amp with a zpr-6810. I am using this setup and it is rock solid. The Niles is a great amp and you can pick up a zpr-6810 pretty easy on ebay or sometimes on here.

After trying to run audio without an rs-232 device I will never go down that road again. If the above solution is not something you would be interested in I would suggest buying a Nuvo.
You could look at the B&K CT's. They are 4 ohms stable and deliver 55 watts / channel. I picked up on CT610 for $1500 and added another to get up to 12 zones for $1200, but I saw one recently sell on e-bay for $1000. It does not include keypads.

I plan on doing the same as you outside by hooking up 4 speakers to one zone.

There is a beta driver available for it that is very stable.
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