Control4 vs ST: whole house audio


(Dave) #1

I am currently building a house with the requirement of a whole home audio system. I have in-ceiling speakers with home runs to a wiring cabinet.

I currently have a quote from Control4 vendor to accommodate 8 zones and 4 sources, along with some automation of control of TV’s.

Since starting the house project (the builder recommended Control4), I’ve discovered SmartThings, and have begun playing around with the Hub2. I have it working fine for thermostat, garage door, exterior door locks, etc.

It dawns on me that ST might be able to be a reasonable solution for whole-house audio instead of Control4. (I presume a Control4 solution would be much more expensive than a ST audio solution.) While I do have all my speakers and cabling in place, I have not yet purchased the Control4 system, and have a couple weeks before I have to make that decision.

Is ST a feasible whole-house music solution? Does anyone have any experience with this…know what components and SmartApps might be required?

Thanks for any advice…


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Interesting topic, but…

  • Comparing Control4 with SmartThings in any category is like comparing Tesla and Prius. If a Control4 solution is a good fit for your home, SmartThings is unlikely to come close at all.

  • SmartThings doesn’t have any fundamental features related to whole home audio (or visual, except camera capture newly added).

  • There a some Community built minimal audio integrations, but seriously… Whatever gave you the impression that ST is a product for whole home audio?

  • Control4 has many excellent competitors for this specific feature (and many up and coming). I can dig up some more names, but Sonos is the most obvious and prevalent; though it is wireless; so you’re in a different and very broad category for wired options…


(Tim Slagle) #3

@pstuart :smile:



(Brian) #4

I love Sonos for whole home audio. And Control4 and SmartThings are in different leagues in terms of pricing especially. I suppose you could kind of approach a Control4 system with SmartThings by adding lots of pieces over time, but I agree with @tgauchat, Tesla vs Prius.


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #5

Apparently I’m the appointed Control4 subject matter expert here on the ST community forums… :smile:

Control4 is an awesome platform for your dealer to install. You will enjoy a reliable shared (or independent) music solution.

ST is NOT a whole home audio system. It has NO built in functions for media, AV control, zones, etc. Heck it barely has a media player device type.

Yes, you can integrate sonos into it.

It is a bit of apples and oranges… Control4 is a great solution that YOU can NOT program. It is dealer installed, supported and controlled. At best you can find a new dealer to take over your project.

ST is new, green and growing. Lots of promise and concepts. I’ve been working on integrating ST into Control4 and was waiting for Hub v2 to have better local hubactions, which isn’t there. Sad, but maybe someday…

If I were doing things over, I’d go with a Sonos (or similar solution, like samsung’s whole audio solution) over a control4 amp and still control it via Control4.

Control4 is a replacement for your media remote with Home automation features, all programmed and set up by a dealer

SmartThings is a cloud based IoT DIY solution that can automate actions off devices. Not really meant to control content or AV equipment. However, people can do it. Not its core business focus.

If you have specific questions on either, please let me know.

What is the most important feature you want?

  • Stability and Reliability?
  • Cost?
  • Audio Quality
  • Video capabilities? HDMI?
  • User Interface
  • Automation
  • Self programming?
  • Hand holding, let someone else do it?
  • One remote to control all devices?
  • Remote access?
  • Offline or local only processing?

ST can only offer a few of these, Control4 offers all, but the self setup (it can be programmed by Composer Home)

FYI, ST costs $99 for the hub. Control4 myHome subscription costs $99 / year just to use remote access and send emails. It is like comparing a Tesla to a Unicycle. Sure both will get you there, but one requires a lot of work and you are missing 3 wheels and probably should wear a helmet.

Just my two cents…


(Dave) #6

Hey thanks for the responses. Really appreciate the candidness, since I’m new to both these platforms.

So it sounds like ST is not [yet] a feasible solution for what I am looking for.

Control4 is a replacement for your media remote with Home automation features, all programmed and set up by a dealer

Yeah, so that is exactly what I was initially looking for and how I got the Control4 recommendation: whole-home audio and automation of home theatre, etc.

Control4 is a great solution that YOU can NOT program

I’m not wild about that… I hate subscription, service fees, and the like. I’ve spent my career in IT (coding, networking, etc) so I hate paying others to maintain something I can probably figure out. Though, I don’t mind paying for an initial installation of something I’m not familiar with…

I am really satisfied with moving the home automation components (door locks, garage doors, thermostats, video camera, windows blinds) to my ST hub2. It seems pretty straight forward, inexpensive, and I have control of it and can add at whatever pace I want to.

If I were doing things over, I’d go with a Sonos (or similar solution, like samsung’s whole audio solution) over a control4 amp and still control it via Control4.

Can you explain this a little more? (Also, what’s " samsung’s whole audio solution"?) I still have time to tweak my Control4 solution if need be, outside of the fact that I already have speakers in the ceiling and walls with home-run cabling in place. I think my Control4 quote has a Control4 Audio System With HC-800BL Controller w/[C4-16AMP3-B] Eight Source, Eight Room Amp

We were looking for a robust whole-house audio system, so I’m glad to hear the “Tesla” reference! :smile:

I’ve just started playing with the SmartTiles SmartApp. Is it reasonable to think that I could get a tablet to be used access my SmartTiles HomePage (via web) as well as an interface to the controller for the Control4 system? Maybe a small Windows 10 tablet? (I’m hoping to use a combined tablet in place of that Control4 C4-SR260RSK in my current quote, if that’s feasible)


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #7

If you don’t specifically need or want Control4 for your home automation, then you have a hundred+ great competitive solutions for wired whole home audio (and/or visual). I doubt Control4 is “best in class” for that particular capability or perhaps not the most cost-effective.

If you have a Control4 level budget, get bids from 3+ home A/V specialist dealers in your area. Many of these offer high-end home automation solutions too, but no need to commit to the HA side of things (lots of pros and cons, as Patrick expressed), since your time is short and you should perhaps focus on AV.

I can refer you to my favorite publications and trade organizations… Where is the home located?


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #8

So, I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but too lazy to search so I’ll type it again…

My C4 setup has wired runs to all rooms. In wall speakers and a matrix audio amp for audio only zones (8) and 4 hdmi runs for my main tv areas.

This all works great, until my wife and daughter decide to move rooms around and the one room I didn’t wire (my daughters) now becomes my wife’s office…

This is where the C4 amp became an issue, at 8 max, I needed another, but that was going to cost tons, compared to adding a sonos play 1. Took the gamble on a sonos play 1 in my wife’s office and she loved it.

If I had to do it over, I would put at least one sonos in each room, maybe two to create a stereo pair. Sonos sub where I need more bass. A sonos soundbar where the tv’s are.

All of this still can be integrated into Contol4 with the EV drivers and anyone can play anything anywhere.

With the c4 amp, you have to add sources, like a dvd player, or media player, etc. and if each room wants to play different stuff at the same time, if you don’t have duplicate sources, you run out…

Sonos doesn’t have this limitation, each device is either capable of streaming whatever, or joining another sonos and repeating what that one is playing.

Plus, as you change your house around, just unplug the sonos, and move it to the other room…

Unless you are spending $$$$ in wall speakers suck.No bass response, horrible range and if you rearrange the room, might be in the worst positions… Sonos devices aren’t permanent…

As for the Samsung stuff, don’t know much about it other than it was recently launched.

As for bridging C4 and ST, its in the works, but will require a driver to be installed on C4 project and that requires a dealer to do. My solution will not be free or open sourced. Typical drivers for C4 start around $100 and can run into the thousands with install and setup.

If you go the control4 cost. Ask the following questions:

-What is the cost to come out and troubleshoot something?
-What warranty am I getting? Is it just hardware or labor to replace / fix included?
-Will you add 3rd party drivers or devices I don’t buy through you? If so, at what price?
-Will you support me remotely? What hours? What happens if I can’t turn on the tv?
-Are updates and upgrades free? What about the time to do them?
-Will you allow me to change the root password and not tell you (to the dealer)?
-Will you provide me a backup of my project? Everytime a change is made?

Control4 not only costs a lot of money to put in by a dealer, but also costs a lot to support and update.

The control4 app runs on flash (ewwwwwwww, well techically, AIR) so it will run on any mac or pc. Android or iOS have native apps. Cheap tablets work great for touchscreens. HP Stream 7 is a good choice, or pretty much anything else.

Keep in mind how Control4 does licensing for mobile apps. Make sure you are getting a site license for mobile and not a one off license.

A lot of Control4 dealers like to put in used or older / show room stuff in new installs, make sure everything is new in the box and with a full warranty.


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #9

The only issue is he might be able to bake the costs of HA into the build costs. Not the best idea, IMO, but if the builder is giving it away, which is typical as a bundle. It might pay to take advantage of the devices…

The C4 amp can be used outside of C4, but not easily. I have mine working basically in ST over UDP (yeah, I figured it out, but it has many limitation)

I agree, get a few AV quotes, even from another C4 dealer. I can recommend some online or in any region. I’ve worked with a lot of them.

Also, look at Crestron and others if you want to get a complete picture of the landscape.

Control4 and ST can co-exist and even eventually interact with each other… But until someone pays me to do it, it just isn’t the highest priority on my list. However, it can be done.


(Dave) #10

If you don’t specifically need or want Control4 for your home automation

At this point, I think just:

  • whole-home audio w/8-zones (stereo) + at least 4 sources including: TV set-top boxes, DLNA, Bluetooth, internet (e.g. - Pandora, etc)
  • using wired speakers
  • automation of TV’s & remotes, AV Receiver, Projector, set-top boxes (AT&T u-verse)

Where is the home located?
Franklin, TN (20 min south of Nashville)

Current Control4 quote is from Interactive Solutions, Nashville.


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #11

So, how many people will want to listen to difference sources?

8 zones with 4 sources, minus the tv set-top boxes, DLNA (how are you doing this?) and bluetooth (again, how?) take a look at the sonos connect as a source. Love mine into the amp to all 8 zones.

All IR devices will require IR buds and connections back to a control4 controller. If you just have one 800, you will be short a few connections, unless everything is home run back to the 800.

Make sure you get the new sr 260 remotes and not the older ones.

If you want the audio from the tv’s and AV equipment in the room to also be streamed out to the other zones, you have to home run that back to the amp as well. This is a lot of cabling…

Keep in mind, Control4 rooms can only have one destination of audio / video. So if you want to do audio through the speakers in the wall and use the tv speakers, you will need 2 virtual rooms and switch between them, or very custom programming.

Also, keep in mind, just because an IP driver exists for Control4 doesn’t mean it will work great. IR is the most reliable only to serial for integration. Especially when it comes to power on/off. Most IP drivers don’t support power on/off.

Will you be doing any lighting or security system integration?


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #12

Great!

Well, forgive my lazy Googling, but it looks like you have dozens of dealers who can help. Your requirements are focused and specific enough that a short phone call should get you a ballpark quote from several, then pick 3 or 4 to cover the low, med, high price range and see who convinces you of the best value (based on assurance your needs are met, service warranty, references, demos, and competitive price, etc.)…

http://www.houzz.com/professionals/home-media/nashville

http://hometheaterreview.com/tennessee/


#13

@pstuart,

How does Sonos do in terms of audio delay? That’s one thing I’ve been concerned about is finding a whole home audio solution that I can potentially use with TVs in various rooms. For my setup, the set top box will be in the wiring closet that everything is run to. I’m looking for some kind of audio matrix that will give me different sources: streaming or other audio, and while watching TV, the audio for the tv. I’m concerned about lip-sync issues. From what I understand, C4 does have some lip-sync adjustments.

Have you heard of any issues along those lines when using the analog in to Sonos for TV audio while using a separate HDMI matrix?

Thanks!


(Patrick Stuart [@pstuart]) #14

C4 has no lip sync adjustment for video endpoints for audio only.

Sonos inside of sonos handles it great, but if you are using a sonos connect and splitting inputs you will have a delay between sonos and non sonos rooms.


(Ben) #15

I looked into a similar situation for a client and a simple Yamaha receiver (well top end but…) will do this! with musicast I think it is called!


(Nate Hales) #16

This is what I used . Also I have a video of monoprice with smartthings on my channel


(Robert Suryan) #17

Not true, Composer Home Edtion allows end users to program just like the dealer except add/remove/setup of hardware in the system, and if you have a good relationship with your dealer most of the time they can remotely add drivers to get the it functioning as long as you can handle any on site requirements and provide information back to the dealer. Plus the new When/Then feature adds a simple end user programming web interface for the non technical people. Don’t confuse setup with programming.