Autopatch as Audio Switcher

I have used Autopatch as video switcher for years, but not as a Audio switcher. Does Autopatch provide the same functionality as the old/discountinued AS-16 with switching and audio control individualized per zone output (vol up, vol down, mute)? Does it provide 2 way communication, so we can implement feedback for bargraphs and matrix switching?

Also, what are you guys using for amplifiers? I am looking to have something to replace the also discountinued AMP8s for future jobs.

Any suggetions on the Autopatch and amplifiers???

Thanks,

Ricardo

Comments

  • Reese JacobsReese Jacobs Junior Member Posts: 342
    AutoPatch Audio Switcher

    Ricardo,

    I have used an AutoPatch Modula switcher for audio control in several applications. It has proven to be a reliable switcher except for one power supply failure which apparently was an issue known to AutoPatch (they did not proactively contact customers - they waited for them to fail in the field which I found a little disappointing). They implement a decent RS232 protocol which is easy to work with and there are modules on the AMX web site for use (or for reference). In general, we have found the AutoPatch switcher to be reliable and easily controlled through AMX.

    The switcher (at least the Modula we worked with) has volume up and down (although no support for ramping) but amazingly it did NOT support hardware MUTE and we had to implement muting in software. We spoke with them at CEDIA 2005 about mute and they indicated it was coming in a firmware update but we have not seen it. Some of the nice features you are used to with the AS16 such as levels of course do not exist and ramping has to be implemented in code.

    To get volume control on the AutoPatch, you have to order the switch (at least it is true for the Modula) with their digital volume control card. There are versions of their audio switchers that do not provide volume control unless specifically requested and configured from the factory. They also have some switcher products such as Precis where volume control is standard.

    I can not speak to the other AutoPatch audio switcher products since we have only used the Modula (32x32 application). I have also used large Extron matrix audio switchers and they are similar to the AutoPatch in terms of reliability, ease of protocol use, and features. Unless this has changed recently, the Extron 3200 and 6400 large matrices do not support volume control in the switch and I do not believe they have an option for volume control like the AutoPatch. We have successfully used AutoPatch and Extron matrix audio switchers in AMX environments using NXC-VOL4 volume control cards for volume control.

    HTH,

    Reese
  • shr00m-dewshr00m-dew Junior Member Posts: 394
    We exclusively use Knox for our switching and love them. Cheaper then others and everything they have can get a volume/tone/trim option. Nothing works wonders on whole-house systems like bass/treble/loudness controls. Their control supports full feedback for everything and is real easy to work with. Volume can be +/- or set. We use levels, adjust the levels, and just send the level value to the switcher when it changes. And it does have mute.

    They do have IP control options now that don't require anything special, never drop the connection, and uses the same RS232 protocol.

    Kevin D.
  • Jeff LockyearJeff Lockyear Junior Member Posts: 147
    Autopatch has some new switchers on the way. We're going to be trying the Precis LT w/DSP (8x8 and 18x18). The salesman's already sold a couple (!) so I'll post how they go in.

    I looked up the protocol, and it looks pretty straightforward, except that the first part of the string refers to a "level". What does this refer to when just switching?

    Jeff Lockyear
    Synergy Home Systems, Toronto
  • VLCNCRZRVLCNCRZR Senior member Posts: 216
    audio switching

    we use Extron & autopatch.

    I steer away from using a switcher as a volume control.
    I have never had great success with the ramping and feedback.

    The AMX volume modules make life so much simpler, and the feedback
    for a touch panel is accurate and consistant.
  • VLCNCRZRVLCNCRZR Senior member Posts: 216
    Autopatch levels

    The level designation in Autopatch specifies the specific signals
    that you want to switch (ie: audio, video, RGB, etc).

    This allows breakaway switches.

    For most applications, you would use a level zero to indicate
    switching all audio & video.
  • Jeff LockyearJeff Lockyear Junior Member Posts: 147
    Hey, good to know. Thanks a ton.

    Jeff Lockyear
  • DHawthorneDHawthorne Junior Member Posts: 4,584
    I used to use RF System's matrix switch, but I started having reliability problems. Intermittent connections, fried parts on the board (shipped that way, no less), unreliable operation. It looks like they have been bought out by Clear Blue, and I no longer see as many options as they once had either. They used to offer up to 24x24 matrixes in audio and video, and if those are on the Clear Blue site, they are buried.

    More recently, I haver been working with the Vaux product. I like them so far, but haven't used them extensively enough to wholeheartedly endorse the product. I like that I can link a bunch of them together, have full volume, bass, treble, etc., and even built in audio presets. It's the most promising product I have used in this kind of application, and time will tell if they live up to the promise. I did have a bit of an issue with my first one with a firmware bug, and tech support jumped through hoops to resolve it; they had a buffer index set to CHAR that should have been INT (heh, I had to sympathize). But I got the distinct impression it was a one-man show over there. The same person answered for sales, support, everything. If he continues along the vein in which he started, he will definitely give Autopatch a run. It's a product to watch. The 3-4 switches I have running now on jobs are working flawlessly.
  • DHawthorneDHawthorne Junior Member Posts: 4,584
    As an aside, I only use Extron and Autopatch switches when I can't do it with a simpler product. They tend to be priced quite a lot higher, and unless it is a niche application (VGA switching, for example), I can't justify it when a cheaper unit works just as well. On the other hand, I don't think twice about using Extron converters and adaptors - no one else seems to provide anything close to the quality and reliabity for that kind of device, and that kind of peace of mind is beyond cost.
  • AvophileAvophile Junior Member Posts: 70
    Are you able to get true feedback for displaying levels etc. on touch panels from the Vaux switches?

    I was considering using two of their Lattis LE-400HD switches chained together to make an 8X8 HDTV component video and digital audio (S/PDIF) matrix switcher.

    They list this caveat:

    "Component video daisy-chain requires distrubution (sic) amp to split sources."

    I think this means that you will only get 4 inputs max using these switches.

    In that case, you must use their Lattis LE composite video switches to get more than 4 component sources.
  • RicardoSiqueiraRicardoSiqueira Junior Member Posts: 373
    I haven't used any NXC-VOL4 yet. Does it have 4 mono channels? In other words, each NXC-VOL4 handles only 2 stereo channels, is that right? So, in a 20 stereo zone house audio distribution system I will need 10 of these cards. Then, I will need an Autopatch or Extron to switch the inputs x outputs. It sounds like that a built-in solution like the Vaux, Knox or ADA is well better and easier to wire. Any recommendations on the amplifliers?

    Thanks,

    Ricardo
  • VLCNCRZRVLCNCRZR Senior member Posts: 216
    AMX volume card/module

    The NXC-VOL4 does have 4 individual channels in & out.

    For our commercial projects, we dont typically have more than
    8 channels of audio including media and voice zones.

    Obviously, in a residential scenario where there are many more zones,
    this method can be quite costly.

    My preference is to use a "bus" device for volume rather than an
    RS232 device to eliminate constant string processing for feedback
    to be used for bargraphs, etc.

    I would not want a client to be discouraged with their system because
    a bargraph does not keep up with the rest of the system as buttons are being pressed.
  • New Autopatch Switch

    Autopatch will debut a new switch at NSCA next week that should be what everyone is looking for.

    See the following link. http://www.autopatch.com/series_precis/lt_dsp/index.php

    If price and/or rack space is not a problem, I highly recommend the AMX NXC-VOL4 as the most reliable and easy to program volume control solution.
  • pdabrowskipdabrowski Aussie Guy Posts: 184
    VLCNCRZR wrote:
    My preference is to use a "bus" device for volume rather than an RS232 device to eliminate constant string processing for feedback
    to be used for bargraphs, etc.

    I would not want a client to be discouraged with their system because
    a bargraph does not keep up with the rest of the system as buttons are being pressed.
    I have however gone this was by simply dictating to the switcher an implicit volume level from the code and not at any stage relied on its ramping feature. (and disabling any user input panels!)

    My own rule is that the controller tells the equipment what to do, not the other way around.
  • DHawthorneDHawthorne Junior Member Posts: 4,584
    Avophile wrote:
    Are you able to get true feedback for displaying levels etc. on touch panels from the Vaux switches?

    I was considering using two of their Lattis LE-400HD switches chained together to make an 8X8 HDTV component video and digital audio (S/PDIF) matrix switcher.

    They list this caveat:

    "Component video daisy-chain requires distrubution (sic) amp to split sources."

    I think this means that you will only get 4 inputs max using these switches.

    In that case, you must use their Lattis LE composite video switches to get more than 4 component sources.
    Yes, you can get true, asynchronous feedback of all I/O and level states: volume, bass, treble, and balance.

    I haven't used their component switcher, just composite. The composite switcher has a passthrough to daisy chain switchers; my reading of that caveat is that the component switcher has no passthrough, so if you need more than one switcher, you have to distribute the video signal to the multiple switchers. That's not uncommon with any manufacturer. But yes, you would wind up with a 4x8, not 8x8 ... however, the same would be true cascading composite switchers with a passthrough; you double the outputs, not the inputs. If you need more than that, you will have to go with a different switch. I generally use matrix switchers for multi-room distribution, and I have not done this with a component signal. If I need to distribute component, I put it on CAT 5 and do the switching locally.
  • TurnipTruckTurnipTruck Junior Member Posts: 1,485
    I have a few Autopatch 1Y-16 setups of my own. They work quite well. Although there are some audio boards that offer input and output gain, I have never tried them.

    The "standard video" board with a rated -3dB bandwidth at 50MHz passes 1080i component video perfectly.

    The voltage regulators can run quite hot on the i/o boards but, as of yet, I have seen no problems related to them.

    The protocol is painfully simple too.
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