Behind the scenes with AV Receiver Integration

David Krinker
November 13, 2019

​When we promote the musicBox as providing seamless AV Receiver integration, what does that mean?

Before answering this question, let's discuss the use of AV Receivers in the home, and the issues facing homeowners who try to use these to listen to music.  

AV Receivers are quite popular in the homes, and are often installed in the living room, home theater room, and sometimes, in bedrooms.  These AV Receivers are used primarily to watch TV and movies, but they are also ideal for listening to music, as they typically are connected to the best speakers in the home.  Unfortunately, there are a couple of significant issues when using these to listen to music.  First, they tend to operate stand alone, in their own little world, and are not part of a whole house music solution, and secondly, controlling these receivers for music is often challenging because they require a separate controller and user interface, whether it is a separate remote, App, or both.  

Ideally, we would like these AV Receiver rooms, to operate as if they were simply another room in your whole house music system, which is precisely what the musicBox's AV Receiver seamless integration accomplishes.

Hardware and Software Setup

To integrate your AV Receiver, we must first setup the hardware, connecting the pre-amplified output for the room on the CasaTunes Multi-room Power Amplifier (amplifier) to the input source on the AV Receiver we want to use for the musicBox.  We recommend using the CD input, if it is available, but it can be any analog input.  

Once we have setup the hardware, we need to configure the musicBox software.  We use the CasaSetup utility, which is the CasaTunes web based administrator app, to configure the room to use an AV Receiver.  We use CasaSetup in Advanced mode, select the rooms menu option, select the room we wish to use with the AV Receiver, and check the option to enable the AV Receiver for the room.

Next we select the AV Receiver type, we support most popular brands including Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, Yamaha, etc., specify whether the AV Receiver is controlled using serial (RS-232) or IP control, configure the serial or IP settings for the AV Receiver, and select the analog source input to use on the AV Receiver.  Finally, you need to configure the room in CasaSetup to use a fixed volume, as we will control the volume by sending volume commands to the AV Receiver.

Once you have connected the amplifier with the AV Receiver and configured the room to use an AV Receiver in CasaSetup, we are ready to test it.  

Using the Android or iOS CasaTunes Apps, select the room, power the room on and off,  change the volume, select the player to listen to, etc.  The integration of the AV Receiver is completely seamless.  The room appears and behaves just like any other room, except the music is being played through the AV Receiver instead of the CasaTunes Multi-Room Power Amplifier.

How it works under the hood

Internally to the CasaTunes Music Server, the server software generates an event, for example, a "Power On" event when a room is turned on, a "Power Off" event when the room is turned off, a "Volume Changed" event when the volume is changed, etc.  These events can be used to trigger one or more commands.  The commands can include serial, IP, HTTP, and other commands.  We tie this all together using a Control Module, a simple xml file.

There is a control module for each type of AV Receiver.  The control module specifies the command(s) to execute in response to a CasaTunes event.  So, for example, in response to a "Power On" event for a room, a control module will send a Power On command to the AV Receiver, followed by a command to switch the input source to the musicBox input.

Additional Information

  1. By default the musicBox supports 2 AV Receivers of the same type  (although it is easy to customize a module if you have more than 2 receivers of the same type).  So, you will find an option to configure a Denon1 or a  Denon2.
  2. If your AV Receiver supports multiple-zones, you can setup the musicBox to use each of these zones, so for example, you can setup the Living Room to use the main zone, and the Master Bedroom to use Zone 2.
  3. AV Receiver integration is limited to devices that support serial and/or ip control.  If your AV Receiver only supports IR control, you can use an ip-to-IR device, like a global cache device, but it will require a custom module.
  4. Control modules are known as one-way drivers, they ignore the state, and any status information sent from the AV Receiver.