I am in the process of putting all my audio and video equiptment into one room of my house and distribute throughout the house from there. I understand most of the equiptment needed, but need help on suggestion of the distribution unit that all units plug into and distribute audio and video through the house. Also, a suggestion, is it better to setup as wireless control or wired control?
Wired works. Wireless has trouble dealing with older construction, interference and lack of effective bandwidth. For a single user WiFi works great, but crank out multiple sound or video streams and it really bogs down. Ask anyone trying to pull movies off a Tivo via WiFi, the transfer times are dramatically slower than wired. Sure, there's ways to work around it but wired *will* work, everytime. If you've got the budget and know where you want to put stuff then wired is WELL worth considering.
Several wired distribution systems exist. After a ton of investigating I went with Russound's CAV6.6. The keypads are easy to use and it handles everything. Plug the devices into it, run the wires out to the rooms (CAT5 for control, 16ga speakers and coax for video) and setup the keypads. Works great. Not the cheapest but when you add up the costs of trying to 'build one yourself' it works out pretty well. But bear in mind that it's an AV control system, not whole-house automation. To get into that you're talking a lot more money (ie Crestron).
I like wired keypads. They're predictable. You never have to go scrounging around for the inevitably misplaced remote. You *can* control it via IR remote but I've *never* bothered doing so in the time I've had it. I do use device-specific remotes to control the source (dvd or tivo mainly) but for simple stuff like turn it on, run the volume up/down, and change sources or tracks I just use the keypad.
The most common way to install such systems is to pull CAT5 to where you want the control keypad in the room. Then pull 4 conductor speaker wire to that same place. Some systems will control volume via the keypad. Others won't and you'll just splice from the 4 conductor out to two 2 conductor (one left, one right). Then pull coax to where the TV will be located. It's often advisable to also pull extra lines since the wire is cheap and it'll be a lot more expensive to pull other ones later. If you're pulling wire don't forget to pull a CAT5 (or better) line for phones and/or computer network connections. There are any number of added special cases to consider so don't think this is 'complete'.
For example, if you put a DirecTV Tivo in a room you'd want to pull two coax lines to it for it's dish connections along with a phone line. You might also want to provide a network connection for it. Then, perhaps, you might also want to pull the RF channel 3 signal from it for distribution out to other rooms in the house. But in my case I simply put the DirecTivo in the rack along with the CAV66 and then watch it on the distributed video signal. I also push it out via modulated RF channels. This for rooms not on the CAV as well as for watching it on mute while another source is playing via the room's CAV-driven speakers.
I use an older model Radio Shack RF remote for controlling devices when I'm not in an area that's covered by the IR pickup on the Russound Uno keypads. The remote sends RF to a base station which, in turn, retransmits the IR to the devices in the rack. This does mean I have two ways to push IR into the stack of devices (and two sets of IR emitters). Not a problem in most situations but it is possible to end up with double IR codes being sent. As in, pointing the remote at an Uno's pickup and the RF. Doesn't happen often as I don't tend to use the RF remotes in rooms that already have the IR pickup.
Yeah, my experiences parallel yours. But even if interference were eliminated, as well as blocked signals, it's still be a bad idea for AV distribution because of bandwidth. A wired network, presumably running through switches, is going to be able to efficiently transport multiple high-bandwith streams simultaneously. A wireless network, however, has to share the whole bandwidth among all devices. This *greatly* slows performance when more than one or two devices start streaming content. Wireless works fine For a bunch of office workers doing productivity work or browsing the internet. It doesn't cut it when trying to stream content. I do make use of WiFi for remote control, several touchscreens running NetRemote operate wirelessly. At some point I might add a PocketPC but currently I'm happy with cheap, easily replaced universal IR remotes. JP1 rules...
I think he was asking about wireless control rather than distribution. However I agree with what you write. I learned the lesson about interference soon after installing a WiFi network for audio control - the first time I used the microwave oven, in fact. And I certainly wouldn't want to use WiFi for AV distribution, unless it was absolutely impossible to run wires.
CAT5 is the way to go these days, it's easy to pull (well, easier than HR5 or coax). If youre distributing audio at line level to amps living locally in rooms, use audioaccess's BVD-BVR system. You can distribute on their composite model 2 composite video signals and 2 channels audio over cat5, and they have a component model which will carry a YPbPr and a digital audio (coax). If you opt not to use just one (either video feed on the composite BVD-BVR, or the sigital audio) then you have a pair on the cat5 that you can bus your IR on, using dinky links. That's the cheapest kind of A/V distro you can do. But it works and is smarter than other solutions.