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Q: Surround sound "combiner" required ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
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Subject: Surround sound "combiner" required
Category: Computers > Hardware
Asked by: davepies-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 16 Oct 2003 06:35 PDT
Expires: 15 Nov 2003 05:35 PST
Question ID: 266858
I'm looking for a box that will allow me to connect at least 3 sets of
5 audio channels in one side, but only have one set (again of 5) as
the output, according to whichever I select.

Request for Question Clarification by clouseau-ga on 16 Oct 2003 08:52 PDT
Hi davepies,

I might be able to help and there might be more than one solution for
you, but I need to know a bit more about what you are trying to
accomplish.

I *assume* these are all analog audio channel outputs, correct? And I
also assume that you are not looking to mix these together, but select
from them. In other words, 3 sets of 5 analog audio channels that you
will select by set - not mix or combine in any way? What are the
sources of these audio channels? Where are you trying to route them
to?

Give me a few more details please and we'll see if I or another
researcher might be able to find a solution for you.

Regards,

-=clouseau=-

Clarification of Question by davepies-ga on 16 Oct 2003 10:22 PDT
Hello clouseau, right - some clarifying...

I have 5 speakers (ignore sub for now) to power - but I don't want
them to get mixed up concerning what to play.

The components making the noise are:
1. A universal DVD player (includes SACD and DVD-A) - A denon DVD-2900
2. A HTPC - 5 phono outputs (same FL, FR, C, RL, RR)
3. Sky - some decoders have 5 channel surround sound - again 5 phono
outs

I only need one of these to be activated at once, ideally according to
dry contact switches e.g. if A and B closed - select ch1, if A closed
and B open - ch2 etc.

david

Clarification of Question by davepies-ga on 16 Oct 2003 10:29 PDT
Oh yes - forgot to say...

If the system has a decoder for either coax or SPDIF inputs (in
parallel to the 'phono-in's), then that would be nice but not a killer
feature.

David

Request for Question Clarification by clouseau-ga on 16 Oct 2003 11:04 PDT
Hi David,

What are you plugging into -  a receiver or pre-proc? I assume this
has only one set of analog 5.1 inputs.

I assume also that the reason you are considering the analog outputs
of the DVD player is for SACD and wish to maintain that rather than
taking the digital out for two channel. Consider also, you might need
bass management here as the analog outputs from the DVD will most
likely NOT have bass management.

Closest I have found to solve this need is a 2x1 switcher with three
sets of 6 inputs/outputs that will allow you to switch between 2 sets
of 5.1 inputs, but none yet that has 3.

Just saw your last clarification. Does that mean that you do not have
a receiver or pre-proc yet? If so, I could see if one with multiple
analog 5.1 inputs plus this aforementioned switcher might be your
solution. If not, I shall continue to look for a 3 sets of 5.1 in
switcher, but likely not to find one that is not much more than you
need and very expensive such as a broadcast quality router.

I'll post if I should find anything promising.

-=clouseau=-

Clarification of Question by davepies-ga on 16 Oct 2003 12:25 PDT
I was planning on plugging this device straight in to another black
box, and then a multi-channel amp. I figured I wouldn't need an AV amp
since most of the sources are very local enabling me to use the
demodulated phono signals straight from the sources. (?)

I have missed a bit out which I am prepared to offer as a seperate
question (you sound as though you know what you're talking about - so
if you are able, then let me know how I can offer you a better better
description than the one that follows for an additional higher rate,
(you might let me know on david_in_2003 at yahoo.co.uk)).

Anyway.

To add to what I've just described is the fact that I will sometimes
need 2 channel audio going to the front two speakers.  This audio will
come from (amongst other places) the stereo outs of the sources I've
previously mentioned, but will be channeled in to a single stereo
source by a QED systemline (a kind of audio switch).  Some kind of
logic will then be used to decide whether the 5 channel "wins" or the
2 channel from the systemline.  This is why I'm keen on contact
closure for selection.

cheers,
david

Request for Question Clarification by clouseau-ga on 16 Oct 2003 15:28 PDT
Hi David,

I am very knowledgable about audio and home theater which is why I am
concerned a bit about your plan. Any system like this either requires
an AV receiver or a Preamp/Processor between sources and power
amplification. To play a DVD, for example, you need to be able to take
the digital output of the DVD player and have that decoded into 5.1 in
the preamp to set the proper routing of channels. Some people, such as
myself, will NOT have a center channel and some people, though VERY
rare, will have front mains that need to be set to large sending ONLY
the effects to the subwoofer. Much more common is setting even what
appear to be large front speakers as small and sending everything
below 80Hz as well as effects to the sub. This is referred to as "Bass
MAnagement" and is done in a Reciver or Processor.

For SACD, you HAVE to use the analog outputs, but there is no way on
the DVD player to set your bass management which is the downfall of
SACD right now. It comes from paranoia on the music companies and
their attempt to prevent you from doing a digital copy of the music.
You can get around the lack of bass management here with a separate
box, and I am happy to tell you about that.

But the short story is that without an AV receiver or Processor, you
will not derive what I think you want from your proposed setup as you
describe it. This Receiver or Preamp/Proc will also allow you to
switch to pure stereo, if you like, for both stereo sources or to
downmix 5.1 audio. Even here, your end result will be much better
using the digital outputs of the devices rather than the analog. How
did you plan to decode your 5.1 digital signals?

Google Answers researchers are prohibited from email contact with you
as noted in the Terms of Service. But, I am happy to continue this
dialog and try to help you, so feel free to tell me more and we'll see
where this goes.

Regards,

-=Clouseau=-

Clarification of Question by davepies-ga on 17 Oct 2003 06:01 PDT
Hello clouseau,
because this is quite complicated to explain - i've drawn a picture. 
Please see www.smartautomation.co.uk/picture - there is a jpg called
zone0.jpg in there which is a paintbrush of what I have in mind.

I am trying to create a combined multi-room audio and home cinema
room.  I could have extra speakers to accomodate each, or one of those
manual QED source selector switches - but I'm aiming for something
more elegant than that.  I believe I've sorted out the Video side of
things - which leaves the Audio.

A couple of points concerning the pic
- the Denon DVD-2900 is said to have bass management.  It is also said
to have excellent DTS, Dolby Digital, SACD and DVD-Audio.
- the 2>5 mixer is one of those simulated surround boxes - I know this
is built in to many receivers.
- The systemline is a STEREO multi-room audio product, Zone0 - as I
will call the home cinema - is one of the Systemline zones.
- The HTPC is used for storing libraries of films / programs (and
MP3's) etc.  For sound I can specify whichever PC hardware which makes
sense. I was expecting to buy some kind of sound decoder meaning that
like the DVD player, the sound is 'ready to go' - i.e. just needs
amplification

cheers,
david

Request for Question Clarification by clouseau-ga on 17 Oct 2003 11:29 PDT
Hello David,

I have looked at your diagram and must confess I can not understand
still why you are trying to do things this way. I must be missing
something, but as I see it, you need a good processor which will do
all you want, need and desire and MORE and do it better than your
proposed system.

I am assuming that the HTPC also has a digital output, as well as the
Sky Digital, but if not, even that can be overcome. But a good proc
will:

-Manage bass individually for all inputs. You might wish a different
setting for Home Theater and Music, for example.

-Do a better job at Dolby and DTS decoding than the DVD player.

-Have Zones to send off two channel music to other rooms and amps.

-Have Remote Control over volume, input and output selection and a
myriad of other features.

And on and on...

As I see it, the only time you would need 6 (5.1) analog inputs is for
SACD, and a pre/proc would handle that as well. In my system, for
example, I can select 6 channel or 2 channels or 3 channels for music.
I can send a different input signal to another room or set of rooms. I
can have the sub set "hot" for HT and a few dB less for music. I can
tell my programmed remote to play a DVD and it will set the monitor to
the correct input, automatically sense DTS or Dolby, set levels as I
have the preprogrammed, etc. It also handles AM/FM, phono, CD, DAT,
VHS and 8mm all through the same controller.

So I can not imagine why you would want to build a system without a
pre/proc and use the analog outputs of devices better served by
keeping the signal digital. It is more complicated to do and
definitely would not have the functionality of a proper pre/proc. And
just one more, many people, (not I as I do not like to mix Audio and
Video in the same device) even use the pre/proc to switch the video
sources. So that selecting DVD also send the proper signal to the
monitor or projector as well as routing and managing the  audio.

So, I am afraid David that I MUST be missing something that explains
why you are not consdiering using a pre/proc and simplifiying the
design of the system while using the best possible outputs from your
sources. Do let me know if I am missing something or if I can tell you
more about pre/procs and system design at all.

Best,

-=clouseau=-

Clarification of Question by davepies-ga on 19 Oct 2003 05:17 PDT
clouseau, fantastic reply; well above, over, beyond, past what I
expected.

There were several reasons I came up with the design you saw;
-Systemline delivers stereo to all the rooms, including the home
cinema room, so I needed something to fit in with that
-i wanted to share the speakers for audio/video
-I considered the fairly high end decoder found in the denon DVD
player would be superior at decoding that a pre-proc
-(main reason) wasn't aware that bass could be controlled by a
pre/proc to the extent you described (i.e. per source)
-I decided to start from the ground up with the design, i.e. do it a
bit differently

1. You say that your pre-proc can route sound (/ video?) through to
any room; this is something in which I am very interested, which model
is this? Is it a normal feature?
2. I'm also interested in how the pre/proc understands that you've
just pressed play on the DVD player - does it simply detect the line
signal?  What if you wanted to play a DVD in to another room in this
way?
3. A device with RS232 or some other means of 2-way control is
interesting.
4. I am interested in a device that will handle video as well as audio
- since the video design (which you thankfully didn't see) is a bit
more of the mad scientist...

If you can make some device recommendations that I can check out, I
would be obliged.  Can you reveal where you are based by the way?

cheers,
d.

Request for Question Clarification by clouseau-ga on 22 Oct 2003 11:52 PDT
Hi David,

Let's see if we can clear up a few more details before I recommend
equipment for you.

Do you already have power amplification or are you planning on
purchasing that? I ask because that will dictate whether you require a
pre/proc or an integrated A/V receiver. And power requirements, if not
already met, are determined by the speakers you own or will use. Their
input impedance and efficiency are the important parameters here. In
general, disregard any power handling notation from the manufacturer.
What blows a speaker is too little power, not too much. But I digress.


Next, I am not familiar with Systemline. Do you already own this? If
so, I would not use it to feed the home theater speakers. Rather, use
the Zone capability of a pre/proc or AV receiver to feed the
Systemline for the other rooms in your house while the pre/proc
handles all the HT needs.More on this in a moment.

-i wanted to share the speakers for audio/video 

Not a problem. I do just that using very high quality speakers for
both applications and placed properly for optimum imaging in my
listening/viewing room. A good pre/proc will use only the speakers you
desire for a particular application. For example, all 6 (or more)
speakers for DVD and just mains and sub for CD, if you choose. Then
use all again for SACD. Trivial to program this way.

-I considered the fairly high end decoder found in the denon DVD
player would be superior at decoding that a pre-proc

Generally not. The dedicated pre/procs have excellent decoders usually
superior to a stand alone DVD player. There are exceptions.

-(main reason) wasn't aware that bass could be controlled by a
pre/proc to the extent you described (i.e. per source)


Yes indeed, though depends on the particular model. Some let you cross
over the sub at 80Hz for HT (standard) and then at 30 Hz (or a another
freq of your choice) for Music. They also allow different levels of
low freq for each source selection. Not all have these features, but
some do, indeed.

Now, as to video routing, most people hook up all of their audio and
video sources to their pre/proc. Switching from one source to another
then switches not only the audio, but the video. I prefer not to do
this, but I am by far in the minority. My thinking is that high
frequencies from video running through the same box as my audio
degrades the audio signal. This may and may not be perceptible by the
average person, but I am an audio purist and prefer it this way. So,
all of my audio goes to the pre/proc and all of my video is directly
connected to individual inputs on my display device. I require more
inputs than most people to accommodate cable, DVD, VHS, 8mm, etc.

My remote is where MY magic comes in as it always knows what devices
are powered and what inputs are selected. I turn on my system and it
defaults to viewing cable TV. It turns on the Pre/proc, amps, cable
box and TV and selects the proper inputs on all devices. If I then
select "Watch DVD", it turn off the cable, switches TV input, switched
Pre/proc input, etc. with one click. If I then select Play CD, it
turns off the DVD and TV, switches inputs on the pre/proc, switched to
2 channel, etc. This remote is programmable over the Internet and even
hold 2 weeks of TV listings!! It costs between $200 and $300 depending
on model.

Without a "Smart" remote like this, one has to switch the TV and
pre/proc and sources with their remotes, an all in one remote or a
macro. But macros do not know the state of the system as my remote,
and can not be written for all possible transitions for mode to mode.
This is why HT setup seem complicated as one must know what inputs are
for what sources and modes. It can be done VERY easily as I mentioned
above.

"What if you wanted to play a DVD in to another room in this
way?"

Now you are getting very complex as you need to route video as well.
Easier to have another, inexpensive DVD player in the second room. Not
impossible, but problems can happen here. Even if you are wanting to
view the same DVD in both rooms at the same time.

"If you can make some device recommendations that I can check out, I
would be obliged.  Can you reveal where you are based by the way?"


I'm in California. And happy to make recommendations if you can tell
me what equipment you already have and what budget you are working
with. And where you are! (Country is all I need)

As you can see, I am still posting in Clarifications rather than as an
answer as I believe the question you originally asked is not what
really needs to be answered. If you have your sources and your power
amps and Systemline, you probably only need a good processor (within
your budget and feature needs) and a good understanding of how it all
functions. And perhaps a pointer to a remote that will make the
operation seamless after a little time spent programming it properly.

So, how would you like to me assist you further?

-=clouseau=-

Clarification of Question by davepies-ga on 27 Oct 2003 16:47 PST
--Do you already have power amplification or are you planning on
purchasing that?

I plan to get everything on paper before buying any of this.  I’ve
already bought Premise Systems (SYS), some Global Cache controller, a
Lantronix controller (both work with Premise), A Crestron CP2E and
TPS2000 touchscreen.  Everytime I buy something I discover something
else which kind makes what I’ve bought redundant.  This is the reason
for me wanting to wait.

--Next, I am not familiar with Systemline. Do you already own this?

Nope, but to me the multiroom audio is even more important than the
Home Theatre, and a fair amount of research has led to this.

-If so, I would not use it to feed the home theater speakers. Rather,
use
the Zone capability of a pre/proc or AV receiver to feed the
Systemline for the other rooms in your house while the pre/proc
handles all the HT needs.

Now I’ve embraced the receiver idea, especially the multi-zone
receiver idea, I can see the benefits of using the phono/RCA out of
zone 2 of the AV receiver for one of the Systemline sources.  This
takes care of the music in the rest of the house. (will need to be
able to switch zone 2 to play either the same as zone 1 or any other
source connected to the AV receiver.  As for getting stereo from the
non-AV receiver stereo sources into the HT room, well one way would be
to use one of the Systemline zone outputs (RCA/Phono) for that room
straight (back) into the AV receiver… (you may have already said this)
 All this means (after a significant think) is that one would never
want to select source 1 (the AV Amp) whilst in the multiroom audio HT
zone (no point!).  I would accomplish this by only allowing non-HT
rooms to control zone 2 of the HT AV Amp (because wars may otherwise
ensue)

--Not a problem. I do just that using very high quality speakers for
both applications and placed properly for optimum imaging in my
listening/viewing room. A good pre/proc will use…

Nice to have this confirmed!

--My remote is where MY magic comes in as it always knows what devices
are powered and what inputs are selected…

Since “Control” is key with such a complex system, I’m happy to report
that the Systemline will route any IR pointed at it (at the
wall-mounted keypad) to wherever the selected source is – and of
course play the music in that room.  I can use any remote for this,
including the Harmony smart control – or any others (I love simple).

In terms of video switching – RF may be the way to go – i.e.
modulating all the TV signals (DVD, VHS, CCTV, HTPC) to RF.  Then the
only difficulty is tying up the TV channel and the audio source.  A
more expensive alternative is a Kramer video switch which integrates
with the Systemline to do both tasks.
 
Country is England.  Budget is 4000 for the Systemline, 2000 for the
HTPC, 3000 for the Network Attached Storage HDD, 3000 for multi-room
speakers, 3000 for HT speakers, 3000 plasma (new Pioneer), and 3000
for receiver / DVD player.  Amps are built into the Systemline, and of
course the receiver - so no more needed. Total is around 17000 =
$25000  (3000 = $4500)

David

Request for Question Clarification by clouseau-ga on 27 Oct 2003 16:54 PST
Hello David,

Just happened to catch your post moments after you made it. I'm on a
brief vacation in Florida at the moment and typing on the world's
slowest laptop. Will be back in full force on Friday, so if you don't
mind, give me until then to think things through and reply to your
latest.

Best,

-=cl;ouseau=-
Answer  
Subject: Re: Surround sound "combiner" required
Answered By: clouseau-ga on 01 Nov 2003 22:34 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Hello Dave,

First apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I have returned
from a brief vacation and was unavoidably detained. That being said,
let's see how we can help design your system a little more
conventionally and with all the function you desire.

A standard Home Theater system uses either a Preamp/Processor or an
integrated AV Receiver. The advantage of a pre/proc and separate amps
is the same as it would be with a higher end stereo system: the amps
have a separate power supply and chassis and large drains on the
amplifier needs do not effect the preamp current supply. All in all,
it should have less noise being in separate chassis with separate
power supplies and you most often can buy much more powerful
amplifiers either in 5 channel designs or 2 channel or even mono amp
designs. An ideal, though costly solution is to have a separate mono
amp located close to each speaker in the system (or even two channel
if you bi-amp your speakers). You have dramatically less power loss
and less high frequency loss in a length of line level cable than in
speaker cable. You want you speaker cables to be as short as possible
for maximum fidelity.

So, if your budget allows, choose a pre/proc and separate amp(s). I
would not be using the Systemline amps for the Home Theater / Stereo
listening system. Use that to distribute the signal to the less
critical rooms. Design the system first to satisfy your audio / HT
needs and then consider the system distribution.

The heart of the system is the pre/proc. Let's look at one of my
favorites: Sunfire Theater Grand III:
http://www.sunfire.com/theatergrandIII.htm

This particular device has a number of features I would be looking for
for your system. They introduce it as:

"Like its predecessors, the Theater Grand III is foremost an
audiophile-grade preamplifier. Bob and his team designed it to produce
a warm and engaging soundstage – both your movie and music soundtracks
will be smooth and dynamic. The Theater Grand III features numerous
surround modes including Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro
Logic II, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS Neo:6, and user-configurable all-speaker
stereo. It also includes an incredible new digital implementation of
Bob's wildly successful Holographic Imaging, which substantially adds
to the acoustic space of any stereo recording.

The control system on the Theater Grand III takes into consideration
the needs of the modern AV system. The Theater Grand III’s remote is a
powerful new preprogrammed and learning LCD-based design (click HERE
to see it). The Theater Grand III includes an RS 232 communication
port to allow easy operation from any custom control system, as well
as an IEEE-1394 (Firewire™) port for future expansion. The Theater
Grand III also includes an AM/FM tuner with 40 presets, an
eight-channel input for DVD-Audio or SACD, eight balanced XLR outputs,
a Phono stage, and much, much more. We urge you to see one right away
at your local Sunfire Dealer..."

As most better pre/procs, not only will it do 5.1 or 7.1 or even 9.1
for Home Theater, but it also will take stereo sources and assign them
to just the two front mains, mains and subwoofer or use a digital
program to add ambience to two channel material and present it to all
of your HT speakers to simulate halls, jazz clubs, stadiums and other
venues. What is important is that YOU tell it what speakers to use and
how to set them for each input. A CD player can be set to use the
mains and sub crossed over at 40Hz, while the HT setup can use 6
speakers and sub set to cross at 80Hz (the THX standard). As a matter
of fact, this unit also has "Full-time digital downmix (that) provides
accurate two-channel output for tape recording, digital outputs, and
second zone from multichannel digital sources.." So anything here can
be listened to or routed in stereo.


As they mention:

"Second zone can play sources independent of the main zone ..."

So here you can take this feed to the Systemline and send either what
is being heard in the main room to your other areas, or a second,
independent signal.

Read about all of the features on the page above and then take a look
at the owners manual here:

http://www.sunfire.com/pdf/Theater%20Grand%20III%20Processor%20Manual%20RevC.pdf

As you will see on page 12 off the manual, not only are there numerous
audio inputs, but composite, S and Component video inputs as well.
What happens here is that the output of the pre/proc goes to your
display device as well. When you switch from DVD to Satellite, for
example on the pre/proc, the appropriate signal is routed to your
video display while the audio is adjusted how you prefer for that
input.

Now, even with the myriad of inputs and outputs offered here, you only
have one set of 7.1 analog inputs - which can be set as 5.1 if you
desire. These are commonly used for SACD which is not available as a
digital signal from your player. Every other source you will have
should have a digital output, which is highly preferable to use, or an
analog 2 channel output.

You might recall I spoke a bit about the problem with bass management
in SACD. Let's take a look over here for a moment:

http://www.audioholics.com/FAQs/bass_management_DVDA1.php

This person had the same confusion:

"Q: I have two questions about my Yamaha C920 DVD player and Yamaha
RX-V530 receiver. They are connected via 6-channel analog for DVD-A.
They are also connected via digital optical fiber. I just added the
C920, a DVD-A capable player. Previously I had a DVD player not
capable of DVD-A.

Here are the two questions:

1. Bass management: should I use the DVD player's or the receiver's
controls to choose large/small/LFE output, etc.?

2. Speaker delay: same question as above -- use the DVD player's or
the receiver's controls?..."

"A: First off, let's clarify a few basics. 


Digital Connection, via toslink or coax, between your DVD-A Player and
Receiver is used primarily for allowing your Receiver to decode DVD-V
DD / DTS Soundtracks or for listening to DTS and/or normal CDs using
the DAC's in your Receiver.
Six (6) Channel Analog Connection is used for high resolution formats
such as DVD-Audio or SACD.
  

Unfortunately, neither your Yamaha C920 DVD-A Changer nor your Yamaha
RX-V530 HT Receiver apply digital delay compensation or bass
management out of their analog outputs/inputs, respectively, for
DVD-Audio. So the answer is, neither units will provide bass
management or digital delay compensation for DVD-Audio.

  
Some Receivers do offer bass management and/or digital delay
compensation on their analog six channel inputs, but at the expense of
converting the analog signal back to digital to process and then back
to analog again. This is usually undesirable as it will result in lost
resolution or added noise. Since there is no agreed upon standardized
digital output for DVD-A or SACD you have only the following options
presented in the table below..."

Do look at this chart.

One of my favorite companies came up with a solution for this and you
will find a good review here:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_8_4/outlaw-audio-icbm-bass-management-11-2001.html

"The first generation of DVD-Audio players hit the marketplace around
mid-2000. While the sound quality to many was a big step up from its
direct predecessor the Compact Disc, the players themselves lacked the
features that customers have grown accustomed to for multi-channel
sources, namely bass management and time alignment.

For Dolby Digital, DTS, and in some cases PCM, our preamp/processors
or receivers can redirect bass as appropriate within the system so
that speakers which might be lacking in the bass department can be
helped out by the subwoofer. They can also add requisite delays across
the speakers so that the relative times for coincident sonic events
remain coincident (the sounds from all the drivers reach your ears at
the same time). Both of these functions are usually performed in the
digital domain, and the algorithms to perform the operations on the
data are well established. But, DVD-Audio and multi-channel SACD don't
have standardized digital outputs at the time of this writing, so for
the most part, our processors or receivers cannot do bass management
or time alignment on these sources...

...At the time this review is being written, second generation
DVD-Audio players are being released which include bass management -
however it is not highly flexible, which is something we've grown
accustomed to over the past few years as our processors have matured.
Further, Sony's multi-channel SACD players also contain rudimentary
bass management. In both cases, this amounts to a single crossover
frequency available - and regardless of whether this is the right
option for your system or not, that is all you get.

So, bass management is the ability to low-pass any speaker to the sub
and have the remaining frequencies go to the speaker. With DVD-A and
SACD players, no can do...

...Enter the people from Outlaw Audio and their cleverly named ICBM-1.
The Integrated Controlled Bass Management device is designed to fill
one of the holes that is missing for first generation and second
generation DVD-Audio players, namely bass management. If your
multi-channel DVD-A or SACD player has no bass management capability,
or you find the options not palatable or compatible with your system,
the ICBM-1 is designed to help you out..."

Read the entire article for much more info.

And this as well:

Home Theater Boot Camp: Bass Management 
http://www.hometheatermag.com/bootcamp/101/

Outlaw will tell you a bit more about the ICBM here:
http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/icbm_about.html

And while you are at Outlaw, take a look at their 950 pre/proc
(probably the best low priced pre/proc on the market), their
multichannel amps and their receiver. They make excellent,
surprisingly low priced products. And armed with some of the
information above and in the manuals you will read, you can begin to
decide on what features are must haves for your system and which can
be expendable.

By the way, I was an early Beta tester for Harmony Remotes. I love
mine and it is tweaked to the nines. There is nothing I can not do and
do better with just this one cell phone sized device that I can do
with the 11 remotes it replaced. It did take me a few weeks to tweak
the XML to *exactly* what I wanted my system to do, but almost
anything can be done. Not so with something like the Pronto, for
example. The Harmony is Smart State and always knows what is on, what
is off, and what inputs and outputs are selected. You can choose an
ACTIVITY and have it turn off unused component and on the ones needed
and switch to all the proper ports. You can not do this with macros
since you would need a separate macro for each of the possible From
Activities and TO Activities. Not possible with a reasonably complex
system.

You mention:

"In terms of video switching – RF may be the way to go – i.e.
modulating all the TV signals (DVD, VHS, CCTV, HTPC) to RF.  Then the
only difficulty is tying up the TV channel and the audio source.  A
more expensive alternative is a Kramer video switch which integrates
with the Systemline to do both tasks."

You want to keep all of your video at the highest possible resolution.
Either you have a display device with enough and proper inputs for all
of your sources, or you use a pre/proc to route the signals. Never go
to RF. It is the lowest common denominator of video quality. Always
use component where possible, S as a second choice and even composite
over RF.

I think I have covered a lot of ground for you here. Let me provide a
list of favorite spots around the net where the experts hang out to
help and where you can get lost for days in the various discussions.
Here are my favorite sites:

AVS Forum
http://www.avsforum.com/

Audio Perfectionist
http://www.audioperfectionist.com/index.html

A subscription publication, but there are two free for the download
and he is the most unbiased reviewer I have ever read. Very
informative stuff!

Harmony Remote
http://www.harmonyremote.com/

Home Theater Spot
http://www.hometheaterspot.com/htsthreads/ubbthreads.php

Home Theater Forum
http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htforum/index.php

A must!

Home Theater Guide
http://www.htguide.com/CFBoards/index.cfm?CFB=1

SVS Subwoofers
http://www.svsubwoofers.com/news.htm

My favorites for bang for the buck. Outrageously good products

AV Guide
http://www.avguide.com/how_to/index.jsp

Home Theater Magazine
http://www.hometheatermag.com/


Finally, a link to a few good pre/proc reviews:

Guide to Home Theater
http://www.guidetohometheater.com/surroundsoundpreampprocessors/

So, Dave, I hope this has been helpful. In reality, the title of your
question: "Surround sound "combiner" required" really has the answer
that what you need is a pre/proc or AV Receiver. These ARE combiners.
And bass managers, time delay devices, signal switchers and routers.
And now I hope you begin to see that the longer you can keep your
signal in the digital domain, the better the end result will be. The
only time for 5.1 analog outs is SACD/DVD-A and the only time to use
any other analog output is when no digital is available. The right
choice in this critical component should solve ALL of the audio and
video possibilities you desire.

If anything requires clarification, do let me know. And good luck with
your system!

Regards,

-=clouseau=-
davepies-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $20.00
Fantastic!

Comments  
Subject: Re: Surround sound "combiner" required
From: clouseau-ga on 02 Nov 2003 07:55 PST
 
Thank you for the rating and tip, Dave. My pleasure to help.

-=clouseau=-

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