Multi-Room Advice, please?

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HBEaker

Thread Starter
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Mar 31, 2006
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Hello, oh wise gurus of satellite television...

I have had DirecTV for about 10 years, using a Sony MRD-D1 to distribute the signal multi-room (to 5 rooms). The signal has changed over the years, from the original SAT-A3 (?) to a current DirecTIVO, but the MRD-D1 has been constant, and allowed us to watch anywhere in the house. I also have an old SAT-B1 on there so if my wife and I want to watch two different channels, we can (though only one can be Tivo), and we have an HD in the basement with its own receiver (a SAT-HD2000). Mostly, we're happy with the setup, but I am impatiently waiting for the Home Media Center so I can DVR HD content and distribute throughout the home... But I digress.

The MRD-D1 is dying. No matter how hard I try to fine tune her, the televisions throughout the house have a nasty buzz on the audio, and a white bar that cycles across the screen. I would like to replace this unit.

Couple things. I don't want to spend a ton, since this will become obsolete with the Home Media Center that has been "coming soon" for the last two+ years ;) . I almost converted to Verizon FiOS, since they have the multi-room HD DVR available today, but I am somewhat loyal to DirecTV. I asked tech support at SmartHome for a recommendation, and they recommended a modulator that wasn't quite right. I need the IR return path, since my DirecTV receivers are colocated with the MRD-D1 in a closet. Without the return path IR, my remotes won't work.

Can anyone recommend a good replacement for the MRD-D1 that is: A) relatively low cost, B) includes return path IR, C) is preferably digital (I hate fine tuning the darn thing with a teeny flathead screwdriver), and D) has 2 channels? It would be much appreciated! 10 years ago, stereo wasn't a big deal in the bedroom, but if the price is only a nickel more, I'd prefer stereo to mono.

I know there are a lot of resellers on this board. If you wish to sell me something directly, please send me a private message. Much appreciated!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Sony MRD-D1, it is a 2-channel mono modulator that Sony OEM'd from either Channel Plus or Channel Vision (I always confuse those two). It has 6 outputs (2 "local", and 4 "distance") and 2 sets of RCA inputs, and includes 2 channels of return IR. IR targets are placed in-line at each television location, as opposed to using separate wiring for the IR.

(This is my first post - I've been a 'lurker' on this board. My apologies if this post is inappropriate in any way).
 
S

Slump Buster

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 14, 2005
44
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I've been modifying Hughes HDVR2's for a few years now. It is a legal modification (I am a 10 year D customer) ... the only downside is that you break your warranty on that box (they are very cheap now anyways). My HDVR2's are on my home computer network (some wired, some wireless) and they can all "see" each other (I can also do other cool things like play mp3's off of my computer, transfer video and download video to my pc. If you're somewhat computer literate, you can do it fairly easily. If not, you can buy them from resellers or ebay.

EDIT: I'm not sure if you're looking for a new remote or a true MRV option. I am talking about the latter. I should also note that not all of my HDVR2's are active. For example, I have one in my workout room. I can't watch live programming (I could if I activated it) but I can stream music to it and I can pull video from other HDVR2's that are active, or from my pc.
 
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H

HBEaker

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Mar 31, 2006
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Thanks, Slump Buster, for the info. Unfortunately, I have the DirecTV R10, not the Hughes. I'm really looking for a simple, multi-room distribution solution such as that offered by the MRD-D1 for right now.

Once DirecTV comes out with a true Home Media Center offering (as they've been talking about for ages), I'll evaluate that and most likely get it at that time, provided the price is right. It better include a 'lease' option, because I'm not about to drop $$$ on outfitting 5 SD rooms and 1 HD room with all brand-new equipment!

The modulator to replace the MRD-D1 is just to tide me over until the media center is out.

Thanks again,
 
S

Slump Buster

SatelliteGuys Family
Mar 14, 2005
44
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You hit the nail on the head! I can't imagine that directv is going to do this any time soon (if at all), especially now that they split with Tivo. Also, it seems that many of their programming efforts are with the HR20 (which I have an love) but even that seems a longshot for MRV.
 
DirectMan

DirectMan

SatelliteGuys Family
Oct 9, 2005
64
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Maybe yor can find an old MRD-D1 on Ebay.
 
Brewer4

Brewer4

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Mar 12, 2005
4,022
0
Hartford Connecticut
Here's my setup. All units in my basement.

2 HD Tivo's
1 HR20
1 HD DVD Player

All connect to CSM42 Ultra Wideband Matrix Switcher. This allows me to switch between the 4 units (using component) to 2 different outputs at the same time. Its full matrix so they can be the same or different boxes viewed at same time. HDMI boxes can do this but the matrix ones are really really expensive.

I have 3 TV's 2 are HD and 1 is SD. I run an RF coax line to the SD TV. Only use the 1 Tivo in that room. I have a manual flipper but dont use it. But I run 2 component lines to the 2 HD TV's. I ran them through the basement. One was short run and the other is about 100 feet. No signal loss.

If you dont want to run actual component wires, you can use component to Cat 5 converters that use 1 to 2 Cat 5 wires depending on what converter you use. I used the Muxlab ones but decided to to run component wires since the quality appeared better. I do use the Muxlab to deliver my digital audio over RF coax.

How do I switch or remote control the receivers? I use the WavecomPro 3262 system. It does video but also remote control. I used these since I had them from a previous configuration but they work great with Harmony remotes. You can use any remote extenders to do this.

So the bottom line. I get 6 recording tuners, 3 viewable sources, can watch in multiple rooms and with a Harmony remote, flips between sources and I can watch anything anywhere. You can go with one big DVR but I like a few units that gives you more recording but also the 6 tuners and 3 screens (I use for NFL Sunday Ticket).

I have a Windows Media Center and was hoping for the direct recording but this setup is much better. I have XBox 360's hooked to my MCE but the quality is not as good as the direct component viewing off the DVRs and the MCE is less stable.

So it is possible to do MRV without special servers or software. A good matrix switcher, a good way to distribute video/audio(Cat 5 or component or HDMI) and a remote extender.
 
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H

HBEaker

Thread Starter
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Mar 31, 2006
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Wow! Brewer4, that sounds like a heck of a setup. I didn't get into my entire setup, but I have done something similar, though not HD and not component. I distributed the Tivo via multiple coax runs (one for digital audio, 2 for s-video) to my two primary viewing locations: a home theater in the basement and an old (pre-HD) big screen in the family room. I still use the modulator's IR return path to control it from these two locations, and the HD TV has it's own dedicated HD receiver (pre-HD DVR, you know, the one I paid $900 for 4 year's ago that's worth maybe $40 on eBay now). But, at least I can watch Tivo with S-Video video quality and dolby digital sound.

For the rest of the house, our requirements are much less, so I just used the mono modulator, and it was working just fine. I guess when a modulator has been on constantly for going on 10 years, maybe there's a capacitor in there or something that might be ready to blow.

Anyway, I thank you all for your advice. I may try to find an MRD-D1 on eBay. That would be easiest and cheapest - a direct replacement, and I know exactly how it works.

I also am considering switching to Verizon FiOS because they have the multi-room DVR today and it's fairly cheap ($19.99/month for the HD multi-room DVR, and $3.99/month or something for each additional TV). I emailed DirecTV customer service about cancelling. I mentioned I was a 10-year sub, and am only considering leaving because of delays with their home media center release. They said someone will call me... I wonder if I just got in on their beta? Here's hoping!

So, Option #1 - MRD-D1 from eBay.
Option #2 - Switch to FiOS.
Option #3 - Early adoption of the DirecTV Home Media Center.

Thanks again!
 
Brewer4

Brewer4

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Mar 12, 2005
4,022
0
Hartford Connecticut
I started out coax throughout the house and SD and it worked. But I had units all over the place. I finally bit the bullet a few months ago and thats when I said all units in server closet. I work from home so I have a server closet cutout for my networking and computers. So I brought all the units down there.

If you can get FIOS, why not try it? I dont have the option but if I did and I was in your situation, I would give it a whirl. I think its easy enough to get out of if you are not satisfied and go back to your D* configuration. Heck, D* may give you HD things to come back. By that time they may have the HMC.

Good luck and dont be afraid to ask questions. If you go FIOS, please give us an update!!
 
H

HBEaker

Thread Starter
Member
Mar 31, 2006
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Hey - a quick update / follow-up question. I found the "CHANNEL PLUS 5525 Deluxe Modulator Series with Infrared Emitter Ports (Dual-Source)" and it looks to be the same as the Sony MRD-D1, only with digital tuning (whoopee!). Does anyone have experience with the 5525 and can recommend for/against? I like that it appears I won't need to change any cabling - my existing IR targets will even still work, so that's the biggest advantage of this unit to me.

FWIW, I decided against the FiOS Multi-Room. Verizon just really ticked me off with their complete lack of customer service recently on an issue with my telephone, and I'd rather not do business with that sort of company.
 
M

Maverick Tech

New Member
Feb 15, 2007
1
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Good choice

I was browsing for some additional parts for existing MRD's when I found Satelleite Guys. I registered so I could reply to your choice of the 5525.
Ten to 15 years ago I had probably installed over a hundred of the Sony MRD's and since they left the market, I have been replacing with Channel Plus or Open House. Same product, just different part numbers. Your existing IR targets are 5 volt and are compatible with the 5525. I still keep a stock of the MRD's on hand because they are simply more convenient to modulate security CCTV onto PIP's or separate monitors within the home. Old CCTV systems have a real problem with new digital modulators.
 
H

HBEaker

Thread Starter
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Mar 31, 2006
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Maverick Tech - thanks for the vote of confidence! I feel good that someone with your experience takes the time to register to reply. I think you'll find many other pros on this web site. I'm mostly a lurker, not a contributor, and find the level of knowledge here to be outstanding.

So far, I've been very pleased with the 5525. The setup was MUCH easier than the MRD-D1. Fine tuning the MRD-D1 with a small screwdriver was painful. The digital tuning on the 5525 was a piece of cake.

My only issue is that occasionally I'll lose audio on one of the modulated sources. I can't figure out how to get it back, but if I unplug everything and re-connect, it fixes it. It's happened twice now over 6 months, so it's infrequent enough it's not a big deal, but I wish I knew what was going on.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply to this thread. I really appreciate it.
 
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