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Steve Hammond

New to Control4 and need help/advise

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Hi there,

We just bought a new house that was fully equipped with a Control4 system.

From what I can see, the Control4 system I have is on OS2 (Version 2.8.1.514313-res) and I ask the local vendor and he told me that the system I have do not support OS3.

We have a home theatre, lights controls in most rooms, and speakers in wall as well as around the hot tub and the swimming pool. The system also includes multiple TV setup working with the Control4 remote. 

So far, I’m a bit happy and frustrated. I have let a Control4 sales tech come in my house to configure the basics things with my account. Things are working not too bad as for the lighting and all TV’s, including the big screen and projector in the home theatre, but the music is another story. 

Question 1:

My music was ripped with iTunes using the AIF format. While my SONOS system sees everything without any issue, the Control4 system is not seeing any file, except a few that are in MP3 format. I saw old post dating from 2016 on this forums that AIF support was coming soon, but nothing saying when it was released if ever. I cannot understand that a 200$ SONOS speaker PLAY:1 supports this format, but the Control4 would not. Is it still the case in 2020?

My Music is on a Synology NAS if that makes anything more specific for the answer.

Question 2:

On my iPad, I saw that I can create or modify existing scenes in the Control4 app. That option is not available on my iPhone, or at least, I couldn’t find it anywhere. But when I try to adjust the lighting on my iPad, by moving the sliders, the application Kinda resets to default and all the sliders disappears. The only way I found to adjust a scene was to adjust the lights with the wall controls, then hit the learn button and save. But even there, sometimes, the save button is not enabled, so I cannot save. What’s wrong? The vendor told me that my system could be updated to 2.9 and that may solve the issue, but he was not even close to be reassuring. 

Question 3: 

The vendor told me that they are the only one who could make changes to my system. For example, when I asked to add my NAS to MyMusic, I had to call them. Something, again, I can do all by myself on the 200$ SONOS. Now, since it is not working, I also have no way to investigate what’s wrong. If I call again, they charge me 85$/hour for any changes, that is unacceptable. I have the feeling my house is under control by a stranger, and nothing I can do without being held by my hand.

On Control4 website they uses terms such as « you’re in control », but I do not feel that. I feel like I’m control by the number of dollars I have in my pocket. Is there any application or web software that Control4 let open to the end user to self serve a minimum of control (hey, it’s call Control4 after all)? I’m looking forward to expand my home automation eventually, but I’m asking myself if I’ll do it with the Control4 system, or if I will trash this and start from scratch with something brand new. 

Last question (4) for today:

Is there a way to have the Control4 stuff added to Apple’s Home Kit and control a few things with my phone or tablet?

Thank you all for the time you’ll take to read and answer my questions.

Steve

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re: os2 and OS3

That would depend on the hardware.  is the house new to you or a brand new build?  If it is a brand new house and a brand new build I would be hard pressed to think the equipment in there is not upgradable to OS 3.  Do you know what controllers you have - aka what are the major C4 devices re: controllers and any touch screens?

Question 1 and 2 I'd only be guessing on so I'll leave it to others.  But in OS2 there is an iTunes driver so I would have to think AIF files could be played if you are running an iTunes server on your Synology.

Question 3 re: ownership - you own the project, you own the code.  If you are technically include you can buy Composer Home Edition.  1x cost of $150 and it comes with 1 year of 4site which is $100 on its own so basically the software is $50.  runs on PC only.  You can do 90% of the programming a dealer can do.  Basically you cannot create rooms, you cannot create projects and you cannot add/bind hardware.  You can find online dealers who can likely help you for a fraction of the cost to add the hardware.  And us here on the forum can always help with programming tips.  or  a remote dealer can do all the programming for you as well.

Question 4: re homekit - I am no expert but you can buy this set up (3rd party driver and a hub) or I think he has directions on how to make your own hub: https://www.blackwiredesigns.com/store/varietas-apple-homehub-driver/ - and that will give you some homekit control and if you need something to read tonight - 10 pages worth of discussion on the driver: 

 

welcome aboard

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Couple things 

your dealer can easily be changed to another dealer located anywhere. You can also turn off remote access from your dealer in your customer.control4 account 

as far as you making some changes. , yes there is 4sight then when then and also you can purchase composer for home users. 

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I've reached out to Steve to offer up my remote services.

I doubt this is a new home build since his equipment is running OS 2.8.1 so it must be pretty old...would be odd if they put old gear in a new build but who knows.

There is also this (somewhat indirect) way to integrate Siri with Control4, although to be honest I haven't tried it-

https://drivercentral.io/platforms/control4-drivers/utility/generic-tcp-command-control4-driver-chowmain/

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regarding AIF - I haven't tried it personally, but I do see it as one of the file formats available to scan under Media scanning options, at least in OS 3.1.3.  Not sure when it was added exactly, or if it indeed works as one would expect.

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15 hours ago, Steve Hammond said:

Hi there,

We just bought a new house that was fully equipped with a Control4 system.

From what I can see, the Control4 system I have is on OS2 (Version 2.8.1.514313-res) and I ask the local vendor and he told me that the system I have do not support OS3.

We have a home theatre, lights controls in most rooms, and speakers in wall as well as around the hot tub and the swimming pool. The system also includes multiple TV setup working with the Control4 remote. 

So far, I’m a bit happy and frustrated. I have let a Control4 sales tech come in my house to configure the basics things with my account. Things are working not too bad as for the lighting and all TV’s, including the big screen and projector in the home theatre, but the music is another story. 

Question 1:

My music was ripped with iTunes using the AIF format. While my SONOS system sees everything without any issue, the Control4 system is not seeing any file, except a few that are in MP3 format. I saw old post dating from 2016 on this forums that AIF support was coming soon, but nothing saying when it was released if ever. I cannot understand that a 200$ SONOS speaker PLAY:1 supports this format, but the Control4 would not. Is it still the case in 2020?

My Music is on a Synology NAS if that makes anything more specific for the answer.

Question 2:

On my iPad, I saw that I can create or modify existing scenes in the Control4 app. That option is not available on my iPhone, or at least, I couldn’t find it anywhere. But when I try to adjust the lighting on my iPad, by moving the sliders, the application Kinda resets to default and all the sliders disappears. The only way I found to adjust a scene was to adjust the lights with the wall controls, then hit the learn button and save. But even there, sometimes, the save button is not enabled, so I cannot save. What’s wrong? The vendor told me that my system could be updated to 2.9 and that may solve the issue, but he was not even close to be reassuring. 

Question 3: 

The vendor told me that they are the only one who could make changes to my system. For example, when I asked to add my NAS to MyMusic, I had to call them. Something, again, I can do all by myself on the 200$ SONOS. Now, since it is not working, I also have no way to investigate what’s wrong. If I call again, they charge me 85$/hour for any changes, that is unacceptable. I have the feeling my house is under control by a stranger, and nothing I can do without being held by my hand.

On Control4 website they uses terms such as « you’re in control », but I do not feel that. I feel like I’m control by the number of dollars I have in my pocket. Is there any application or web software that Control4 let open to the end user to self serve a minimum of control (hey, it’s call Control4 after all)? I’m looking forward to expand my home automation eventually, but I’m asking myself if I’ll do it with the Control4 system, or if I will trash this and start from scratch with something brand new. 

Last question (4) for today:

Is there a way to have the Control4 stuff added to Apple’s Home Kit and control a few things with my phone or tablet?

Thank you all for the time you’ll take to read and answer my questions.

Steve

@chopedogg88 and @msgreenf really helped me when I went thru upgrading my system the last few months. OS3 has a much better user interface. 

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Welcome Steve,

Control4 is not a DIY product. Let's get that out of the way. A dealer is required to add devices to systems. With the home edition of the software, you can make a lot of customizable programming, but you'll still need a dealer from time to time. You can pick any dealer, and several on here work remotely. There are many threads here that debate the issue, so I won't go into any of that here, have a search.

Depending on the processors, if they can run later software, it would be smart to go as far up as possible. Lots of added streaming services and stability. If they're HC800 and HC250 processors then you can go upto 2.10.6. If there's HC300 or HC200s then you're limited to 2.91. There are more barriers to goto OS3, touchscreens being the most expensive part typically.

If you enjoy Sonos, you should be able to replace the music part of Control4 in your system with Sonos. Leaving the lights and TVs to Control4 and use the Sonos app for music. While Control4 has some control over Sonos, it's limited by the music companies and Sonos API. Typically limitations are not coming from Control4, but from the other gear's limitations, lots at play in ad revenue, privacy, music licenses, etc.

A good dealer goes a long way. Try and have a chat with yours, what they offer, what your goals are. If they don't align, make some calls. They should be able to explain where your system falls in upgrades, abilities, and options.

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Hi all,

Sorry four the delay, been busy the last few days... But I read and re-read your answers a few times :)

Thank you for your answers. That’s reassure me seeing this forum is very active and with dedicated users. I asked my dealer about possibly another c4 forum that was asking for a dealer ID, probably dedicated to C4 technicians, but never he talk to me about a possible user specific forum. 

That tech never talked either about the Controller HE version, only 4sight at 99$ a year. But considering it would only help me control the lights when I’m not home, for now at least, I did not find any added value in it. But the dealer keeping information from me, frustrate me even more about him. He was probably thinking I wouldn’t me smart enough, and preferring to let to call him and me pay each time I need a small change. That’s the kind of attitude I really hate to start with...

That said, while I do understand that the Controller HE do not permit me to do everything, it is already better than having to call each time I need to change a lightning scenes or such. One question that crossed my mind: One answer said that it includes a one year of 4Sight, but is 4Sight required to use the application if done within the house?

I’m pretty much a Mac guy, but my older Mac Pro is dual boot with Windows 10, so that can be the computer to use for the Controller software. 

How do I find the hardware version of the controller I have? My local dealer also never talked about the 15% discount, but I saw it on the C4 web site. He told me that a new controller could cost around 1500$ CAD, that’s all I heard. 

I’m surprise that some of you said I have a old controller, it has been installed probably in 2016 based on what I was told by the previous owner. I do not know when OS3 was released. Is there any comparison chart comparing the two OS somewhere on the web?

When I talked to the tech about OS3 options, he told me that unless I needed much more (for example he named the intercom feature as not available), there was not so many benefits. 

Maybe Control4 is not a DIY solution as mentioned, but on the other side, I like what it proposed because it is a central solution. When I read articles or listened to podcaster on how they manage their home automation, it sounds like a bunch of apps and bridges you have to mix into the pot to make only one feature working. Each company have their app that works only when their hardware. Control4 have the benefits of centralizing all hardware into one platform. That’s one of the issues I see with home automation these days, everyone trying to implement their own standard and not working on a common ground. 

I’ve attached a few photos of my humble setup.

E515B1E5-94DE-4581-8039-8324D9653E2A.jpeg

BFEC8F5C-9641-42F1-8941-7A1301D296DD.jpeg

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4sight does more than just turn your lights on via an app when you are away.  First it lets you control your entire house when you are away - so it would include audio/video (if left on), check your cameras, control HVAC - maybe raise/lower a temp prior to coming home, etc.  4sight also lets you use built in Alexa and Google Home voice commands. https://www.control4.com/o/4sight-services Will show you everything you get for your $99/year - a lot more than lighting control as mentioned

Re: OS2 and OS3 - the graphical interface was 100% redone.  There is more user ability to also custom create their screens.  There are other enhancements too around the intercom feature and other features.  Is it worth it to you - that is up to you decide on the “value”.  Personally I’d say save your money today, hang around these forums and you’ll read/see plenty of others set ups, pros/cons of upgrading, etc.  I see an HC800 in there and that can run OS3 but the HC250 would have to go and if you have any touchscreens those would have to go too (as also the original DS1).  You need to know if your home was set up in 2016 its already 4 years old.  Apple does not always put the latest features on their 4+ year old devices, yet your main controller can still run OS3 just not some of the other pieces.  

So yes 4sight is $99, but Composer HE is 1x $149 and comes with a 1 year of 4sight.  If you already purchased 4sight then buy ComposerHE they just tack on the additional year so you’d have like 2 years of 4sight coverage paid up in advance

I dont know of a website that flat out shows a comparison because its really a major UI difference.  You know what OS2 looks like and what you can (and cannot change) on the screen on your own.  You can look at 3rd party articles such as https://www.audioholics.com/editorials/control4-os3 or the c4 material: https://www.control4.com/os3/ 

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I forgot to mention that my system does not have any touch screen. We visited some houses that had them installed, but not this one.

the reason I said I could control only the lights is because the system controls mostly only the lights, speaker zones, the cinema room and TV’s. There’s no camera either. Nothing I feel I’d like to control when outside. While shutting down external speakers when out and forgotten may prove handy 😀

I’d certainly like to expand the system, for now I’m not too sure with what.  I was thinking about door locks and video door bell. As a first thing  

@eggzlot you mentioned something in my system that can be upgraded and another that can’t be. Maybe that’s what the tech referred too. What is the non upgradable part??

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Oh we have 3 AC’s that may benefit from Control4 integration, instead of using 3 remotes. And some lightning on the deck and swimming pool are also controlled by 2 remotes. That really sucks at best!!

that said I’m in no rush. I have other investments in the way for now. But home automation is in the sight as well. 

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7 hours ago, Steve Hammond said:

Oh we have 3 AC’s that may benefit from Control4 integration, instead of using 3 remotes. And some lightning on the deck and swimming pool are also controlled by 2 remotes. That really sucks at best!!

that said I’m in no rush. I have other investments in the way for now. But home automation is in the sight as well. 

You also need cabling overhaul, it’s macaroni and makes future trouble shooting an impossible task, my advice is to get a good local dealer or you do this by yourself to cut costs and recruit a remote dealer to sell you the new equipment and do remote programming.

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@Steve Hammond - You appear to be in Quebec, see if you can find a local dealer.  If you are in Montreal there should be plenty around. 

You don't really need touch screens, I use C4 remote controls, keypads and my phone.  Integrating the outdoor lights and pool should be too hard as you can replace the existing light switches with C4 switches or dimmers.  In terms of the ACs - are these not controlled by a thermostat and integrated into your HVAC system?  There are drivers here for various types of standalone Air Conditioners, but these often are for markets outside of North America where they are more common.

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You have a Luxul network.
Binary HDMI matrix - distributing AppleTV, Satellite and Blu-ray by the looks, to upto 4 locations.
The receiver is running your theater.
You have an HC250 running the system, and a IO expander for added control outputs.
And a multichannel Control4 amplifier matrix at the bottom.

The HC250's the weakest link. An EA3 would be smart, an EA5 for more audio streams would be best, or even a used HC800 which can also get you to OS3, depends on if there are more HC250's elsewhere in the house for onscreen gui.

If you want to dip your toe in, find a dealer to upgrade to 2.10.6. Get your music files online, and buy Composer HE.
If you like it and want more, upgrade the processor.
If you don't, leave it at 2.10.6, change the audio to Sonos and leave the lights and video control to Control4.

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On 8/3/2020 at 10:56 AM, Amr said:

You also need cabling overhaul, it’s macaroni and makes future trouble shooting an impossible task, my advice is to get a good local dealer or you do this by yourself to cut costs and recruit a remote dealer to sell you the new equipment and do remote programming.

Well, i´ve seen a lot of installations that were much worse.

Most of the cabling going into the rack seem  to be TV and speaker. And most of the cables (if not all) in general seem to be labeled. I think that´s a good basis and just needs some tightening up.

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22 minutes ago, Köhler Medientechnik said:

Well, i´ve seen a lot of installations that were much worse.

Most of the cabling going into the rack seem  to be TV and speaker. And most of the cables (if not all) in general seem to be labeled. I think that´s a good basis and just needs some tightening up.

Will, am OCD and I can't stand ever to have cables laying around like that, everything has to be in order, noting is visible at all and also behind TV's, I have 100% neat issues!  But that's me :)

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6 hours ago, Köhler Medientechnik said:

Well, i didn´t say it´s great the way it is, i just say it shouldn´t be a big effort to clean it up. 😀

Don’t worry. That is one of the first thing I saw when I bought the house. This mess of wires really made me mad. The rack is in a small room on the back off the home theatre. Most of the cabling are for the home theatre but the mess of cable has to be clean eventually.

And that is not the only place where I found messy cables: on the back of the TV set on the first floor, there is a spool of maybe 6-7 Ethernet cable not terminated to a proper terminal one the wall, just lying around on the floor. Maybe 7-8 feet of cable let there. The good thing is that I want to expand the Ethernet network, so they were smart enough to cable more than needed. 

But I keep that for later on when fall/winter comes in. 

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On 8/3/2020 at 4:56 AM, Amr said:

You also need cabling overhaul, it’s macaroni and makes future trouble shooting an impossible task, my advice is to get a good local dealer or you do this by yourself to cut costs and recruit a remote dealer to sell you the new equipment and do remote programming.

I learned that the hard way. I was trying to stream the Apple TV over the swimming pool once and could not figure out why I couldn’t hear anything. I finally figured out it was caused by one of the audio cable disconnected from the back of the Apple TV. Took me a few weeks before I could find it. This will definitively be redone eventually to make it better looking and help further investigations...

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21 hours ago, RAV said:

You have a Luxul network.
Binary HDMI matrix - distributing AppleTV, Satellite and Blu-ray by the looks, to upto 4 locations.
The receiver is running your theater.
You have an HC250 running the system, and a IO expander for added control outputs.
And a multichannel Control4 amplifier matrix at the bottom.

The HC250's the weakest link. An EA3 would be smart, an EA5 for more audio streams would be best, or even a used HC800 which can also get you to OS3, depends on if there are more HC250's elsewhere in the house for onscreen gui.

If you want to dip your toe in, find a dealer to upgrade to 2.10.6. Get your music files online, and buy Composer HE.
If you like it and want more, upgrade the processor.
If you don't, leave it at 2.10.6, change the audio to Sonos and leave the lights and video control to Control4.

I figure-out most of the stuff in that rack except for the Control4 stuff for which I’m less familiar with.

The Luxul portion is a wireless network that is distributed in a few rooms in the house. One access-point is located in the baseman, and two at the top floor. None on the first floor. Is it only doing 801.11n wifi, but good enough to for the moment. There is a small PoE Luxul switch used to power the access-points. 

The HDMI Matrix, you saw that right, is redistributing two Apple TV 3rd generation and two cable terminal (the two units under the blu-ray player) to the different TV the the house controlled by the Control4 system. The Blu-ray player is only connected to the receiver for the home theatre. I also have an Apple TV 4th generation connected to that receiver. I eventually think I should replace one of the two ATV 3rd gen by another 4th gen I have, but not connected at the moment...

The HC250 is the part that is not upgradable to OS3 from my understanding. If I’m correct, it is the tiny box on the side of the two 3rd gen Apple TV, below what you describe as the IO extender. The C4 amplifier at the bottom, I figure that out all by myself. It was obvious that this was connecting the speakers in the house. 

Upgrading all the audio zones to Sonos may cost a lot, as I have many of them. Based on my understanding of Sonos, I’ll need to add multiple AMP (one per zone) and that could be costly. 

I will contact my current dealer, probably more in the fall when I get more time to think about this, and see what he can offer. The tech told me that they do not want to upgrade the OS version remotely, because it is risky, so I’ll see if there is something else I can buy and make him come for new installs and that upgrade. There is also the TV set in the baseman that was not ready when he came in the first time, so I will ask him to configure it too. 

EDIT: I forgot to mention, everything is in that rack, nothing elsewhere. 

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9 hours ago, Steve Hammond said:

Based on my understanding of Sonos, I’ll need to add multiple AMP (one per zone) and that could be costly. 

I understand you already have matrix amplifier, so you don´t need the Sonos Amp, the "Port" (previously known as "Connect", need to get used to the new naming...) is sufficient. However, still costly...

How many different streams do you need to stream at the same time? For residential applications, this is usually the number of people living in a home.

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