Audio Video System Control


Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010

Call this a rant... Or maybe I am not "au courant" of the latest and greatest in Remote Control.

We are at an interesting juncture. Digital has taken our lives. Equipments are all touch-based and some screen is in our face every second of our lives. Yet I find most user Interfaces to be lacking. They are all different and in most instances far from evident (Microsoft is one HUGE perpetrator of this sin, they started with having to click on "Start" to end a session and continued to Win 8 (not 8.1 mercifully) where you had to go tosettings to turn off the PC .. Of course there are zillions shortcuts but they are so numerous that most people only a use a few f these exept for the ultra-geeks for whom it is a badge of honor to know them all ...:rolleyes:

Anyway I recently had to confront a control system for my current place of residence. We have a SONOS , Apple TV, various TVs (Samsung, Vizio), various Setop boxes some several per room (Satellite, Wireless Cables, etc) and soon a pair of Devialet Phantom (interim while waiting for a real person music room and system :), then we will add 3 more phantoms that will be moved to a real Home Theater then and aided by a few subs). My fiancee casually asked me how I would control the whole thing or better how would She control the whole system since it does things that are of interest to her too, like listening to music, a normal human activity lest we forget it , watching movies or just chilling ... I showed her a stack of remotes to which she laughed (still laughing by the way :D) then an Harmony Remote ( Laughed for a while but it has somewhat subsided... now only annoying and suspect giggles accompanied by eloquent rolleyes ...) The technical person that I am turned an launched the SONOS app but it may or may not control the TV and will not control the Devialet for sure .. Of course there is the Harmony App but it is not integrated fully with the SONOS ... For that you need the SONOS app which as we mentioned earlier doesn't control everything ... so ... And each has its own user interface complete with appropriate and maddening Learning Curve ...

I launched myself in researching for a product that would tie all of these together and I am at the beginning of my search which so far doesn't look exceedingly promising :( ..
So I decided to turn to my friendly collective for answers, recommendations or only experiences whatever will help normal people use this system. Of course I know of Crestron , AMX and Control 4 but they are in themselves serious (read complex) products and you might (will) end up in a situation where the sauce cost more than the fish (Literal translation of a French Proverb) .

I believe whomever comes with a simple way to control our digital accessories will make a fortune. Apple is the most likely company to pull this off. The low usability of NFC (that thing that Samsung is pushing in which devices transfer data by just :rolleyes: touching their backs is one vocal and noisy proof that Google doesn't hold a candle to Apple when it comes to ergonomic which also may explain why Apple Pay is progressing than GooglePay ... I am not sure how NFC works to this day (Sorry) I seems to require an app. I have activated on my HTC One M8 and my fiancee Samsung S5 .. so far we have not been made aware of this :p ...

Anyway looking forward for your replies, answers, experiences .
Sep 1, 2011
I've sort of reached the conclusion that to be really really useful, a control platform should be IP/webserver-based and open, so that one can custom-code whatever they need and eliminate the rest. One of the largest drawbacks to usability is the manufacturer's temptation to include everything by default in the interface. To control my stereo, I just need power and volume for the most part, and access to play/pause, etc., and rarely input interface. I created my own remote control interface using a sliced up photo of the device and its remote control, which I made into a web page with links, and it sends commands when you tap (click) the relevant part of the image (like the power button).

The other thing is at least in my household, most people want the convenience of a physical remote.

The Harmony Smart control gets this right, but unfortunately it isn't an open platform, so takes a lot of reverse-engineering (like py-harmony).


Member Sponsor
Feb 24, 2015
Greater Phoenix Area
The standard quote is "The easier it is to operate, the more expensive it is to build".
Crestron and AMX even Control4 you are paying someone to set you up. The buy in if you want to "become a dealer" is very steep with long term commitment.
You can buy Control4 but only a licensed installer can program it.
Crestron is the shiznit but complicated to program, you need someone who lives it to truly make it work and design a system.

If you try to coble together a system off Fleebay you will get no support from any of those three, they know where every piece was shipped to and will kindly hang up on you.

Look at Savant or RTI or URC even Elan if you want to tinker yourself.

If you want something to stop your fiancé from giggling from the bottom of her belly, hire a firm to get it done. That way you have a way out. She can just call "The Guy".

Charmed Quark is an open platform system.

If it is in you means, hire someone to do this and continue to enjoy your hobby.

The first time you sit down to "snuggle up" and watch a movie and she hits play and nothing happens, well, you are spending the evening tinkering and believe me "nothing" is going to happen.
Sep 1, 2011
However, if you are married with 3 kids and communicate primarily through invective and bitter sarcasm, tinker away!

My own compromise -- a Harmony Smart hub with dumb remote for them, a Redeye (RIP) and mac mini to do the fun stuff for me.

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