Studio AV-Data System

A deep dive into the networks, functionality and flexibility of the audio-video-data systems in the current studio environment.

Before moving into my current home studio space, I knew that flexibility and future development needed to be part of the planning. This would include not only major objects but especially the audio, video and data systems.

Primary components

  • Centralized AV-data hub
  • Centralized multi-computer center
  • Primary ceiling-based cabling with all Ethernet, speaker and multi-HDMI runs
  • Tethered, wheeled units with extra cable lengths for multi-layout flexibility
  • Expansion options via extra primary cables

AV-Data Rack

The first major element is the AV–data rack. This custom, rolling unit houses the incoming hubs for the fiber–based Internet access in addition to all AV systems and their source inputs. The entire studio space is wired with multiple speakers in every area and all are powered by multiple amplifier systems on this rack. One amp receives all video and audio input options and handles the primary speaker output. The inputs are all HDMI-based and the amp passes along the chosen signal to the other system. An HDMI extractor separates out digital audio as optical input for the second amp.

The data network branches out from the fiber Interface to the ethernet network, which includes the main Wi-Fi router and a large ethernet switch. The AV–data rack uses this for multiple ethernet–powered sources with HDMI outputs. Two wired branches go to the computer center and a second, bridged Wi-Fi hotspot.

Rack Tether

Going to and from the AV-data rack is a 10 foot tether, making it possible to locate the rack in a couple of spots, depending upon what the current project requires. Within this tether there is one primary video output from the rack which leads to a primary 1080p ceiling-mounted projector via an HDMI cable.

Projector/Wall Projection

Harmony Hub IR Transmitters

To simplify some of the control of these different components, a Logitech Harmony Hub replicates the IR output of the different remote controls and automates many of the overall on/off and settings adjustments. This hub can be controlled via a single wireless remote as well as a Python–based computer option.

Computer Center

The computer center is able to support three separate systems, integrating them as needed. The primary Mac mini desktop has USB-C and HDMI video/audio output. Connected via USB-C Thunderbolt bridge is a Mac laptop. This connection offers the fastest data transfer option between them for live NDI streaming and multiple HDMI video outputs. The third system is a Surface tablet PC which can serve multiple functions, including as a touchscreen control interface.
For sophisticated lighting options, an ethernet-based DMX interface sends it output to a wireless transmitter. Multiple DMX receivers are used to extend lighting control across the entire studio and is a very flexible, reliable and electrically-isolated option for protecting the fixtures.

Computer Tether

A key physical feature of the computer center is the redundant cabling in the tether that attaches to the ceiling. Besides power and data, extra HDMI and VGA cables in addition to powered USB extensions are included. This enables multiple video and data signals from the computer center to various components throughout the studio space. Having these extra cables in place makes any equipment changes very easy and time efficient when designing and implementing new projects.

Extra work but worth it…

Although it was a lot of planning and extra work at first, all of this various planned cabling has made it much easier over the years when tackling new projects. It has madeutilizing multiple projectors in different locations a fast change and only required adding a few final distance cables to complete the installs. Compared to re-wiring from scratch for each project, this has been an immense time/effort saver.

Now this article has not addressed so many other features of these interconnected systems, but I had to stop somewhere. I may create additional posts for specific elements of the system, but this one hits the most important items. I hope this was interesting and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Chat it up!