Mark has been trying to support an acquaintance of his for many years. The client had an AMX system installed more than 10 years ago and, since then, the original dealer had moved away and was no longer working with AMX. Mark had helped with putting in eero mesh points (in bridge mode) to improve Wi-Fi and installing Sonos for whole-home music. Unfortunately, he could not do much to help with the TVs or video distribution since he does not know AMX and the system consisted of an AMX processor and AMX 8×8 1080p video matrix for 6×5 system.
The client had been having issues with the video distribution system for years — he disliked using iPad minis all the time and not having handheld remotes; the matrix had to be rebooted more and more frequently; and he could not replace any of the TVs or install any new sources. He finally realized it was time for an upgrade. Mark put together several pricing scenarios, some with a traditional 8×8 matrix and some using AVoIP. He looked at AVPro, Key Digital, and SnapAV. AVPro, while exceptionally reliable, was more than the client wanted to spend. Key Digital’s traditional HDBT 8×8 matrix (the KD-Pro8x8D) fit the bill and the budget and since Mark uses Key Digital for all his HDMI extenders and HDMI switches, he felt very comfortable integrating their matrix. The only drawback was that the matrix only did 4K60/4:2:2 and 10.2 Gbps. Mark explained the tradeoffs to the client of the KD matrix resolution vs full 4K60/4:4:4 18 Gbps. For the price difference, the client preferred the slightly limited resolution. Mark did not even present the SnapAV MOIP solution, because it had the same resolution deficiencies as Key Digital and was at a higher price point.
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After a month or so, the project was greenlit by the client. When Mark went to order product, he learned the Key Digital matrix had been discontinued in the time since he priced it out and the client approved everything. Instead of going back to the client with more options, Mark looked into MOIP. While at MSRP it was priced more expensively than Key Digital, Mark realized he could discount it to compete with Key Digital in terms of retail price and still make a similar margin. Since the resolution was the same, the client was happy, especially since he would now be getting a more modular, upgradeable solution.
The installation and configuration of the MOIP system was a breeze. The instructions on the SnapAV website are step by step and very clear. Being able to use a SnapAV 210-series switch, which is what they term “websmart,” helps keep costs in check while still providing the management capabilities and POE requirements necessary, especially since MOIP transmitters and receivers only draw 7.5 watts each.
The only part of the instructions that were a little confusing was IR routing for power and volume control of the TVs. There are two ways to do this with MOIP and Control4. The first is to bind the MOIP receiver IR output to the TV IR input in Control4, and physically plug an IR emitter into the MOIP receiver and let the system handle it completely virtually. This is what Mark started with, but it proved a little unreliable. He then went into the MOIP configuration UI and set static IR routing from a transmitter to a receiver and physically connected IR feeds from Control4 into the transmitters (there already were physical IR emitters plugged into the receivers from the virtual configuration). Then he just bound the Control4 IR output to the TV IR input in Composer. This seemed to work more reliably.
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The system is extremely stable so far and the client is very happy with the handheld remotes, especially because he already has Control4 in his second home, so he is familiar with it. His kids love that they now have a dedicated streaming device each, instead of AppleTV1, AppleTV2, etc. And we have integrated the gaming systems into the control system, so they are not unplugging the Xbox or Nintendo Switch to plug in the PlayStation or vice-versa, which they had to do because no one could program the AMX system to get another icon on the source screen or have the TV switch to a different input.
There are some great benefits to using MOIP and, like any product, there are areas for improvement.
- It is as simple as adding another transmitter or receiver to add a source or display, respectively.
- HDMI Loop Out. Each transmitter has an HDMI output. While not used on this project, I can imagine this would be great for an AVR, with each transmitter going into an AVR input and a MOIP receiver at the TV for video. This way surround sound rooms can get full surround without having to dedicate a MOIP receiver for the AVR and then run a traditional HDMI extender from the AVR to the TV.
- MOIP is competitively priced compared to other solutions.
- Ease of installation. All there is to do is change a few settings on the network switch and plug in the controller, transmitters, and receivers. Click “Discover” and everything comes up. To make life easier, record the MAC addresses ahead of time and note which MAC address is connected to which source or display, and then all you have to do is name the transmitters and receivers for the device they support, and everything is up and running.
- Overall Performance. Switching is quick, easy, and pretty seamless. There have been no resolution issues, since the resolution was fixed to 1080p in each MOIP receiver (all TVs are 1080p on this site at this time).
- Installation ease. The receivers are very slim and easily fit behind the TVs, even those mounted on slim mounts.
- Servicing and Troubleshooting. If necessary, troubleshooting will be easier since MOIP provides a snapshot of what each transmitter is receiving from the source device. If a source device is turned off, the thumbnail in the MOIP interface will show “no signal,” making it easier to talk the client through the solution.
Opportunities for Improvement
- The biggest opportunity for improvement — and probably the biggest issue holding us back from using MOIP on more projects — is the resolution limitation. Clients do not want to pay thousands of dollars to be obsolete on Day 1. Right now, in our opinion, MOIP is a niche product, solely for this reason.
- More EDID selections. Currently there are only five EDID selections available: 1080p/60, 1080p/50, 4K/30, 4K/25, and pass-through. There isn’t an EDID setting for the highest resolution MOIP is capable of sending, which is a huge issue with devices like AppleTV and Roku. SnapAV recommends setting the resolution in the source device for the highest resolution supported by MOIP. However, if the resolution is set in the source device, upon a reboot it will often go back into “auto,” find the sink resolution, and set to that, which is likely 4K60/4:4:4, which will result in no picture. Most devices have 15 or more EDID selections. Having the highest resolution supported by the distribution system is critical and is a huge oversight, in our opinion.
- Deeper integration into OvrC. Currently the only things that can be accomplished via OvrC are setting a Static IP address and setting the time zone. Everything else requires logging into the system remotely using the login credentials. While not a big deal when in the office and with full access to all documentation, it would be easier, faster, and a better client and dealer experience if we could see thumbnails, change EDID settings, change IR settings, and access other troubleshooting tools directly from the OvrC interface, particularly when we are in the field and on a mobile device.
Overall, the installation went very smoothly and we are happy with the results. With a few tweaks, MOIP could easily become our go-to media distribution solution.