How to control audio-visual equipment that is in a closed cabinet

Introduction

If you have hidden your audio-visual equipment away in a tasteful cabinet, then you are going to be faced with the dilemma of how to control it. After all, you probably don’t want to have to get up to open the cupboard door (or leave it open), simply to pause, rewind, change channel or set a programme to record.

If you have this dilemma, you have two main options…

  • Use your equipment’s existing remote controls (or a universal remote control) with a remote control extender
  • Use a smartphone or tablet as a remote control (rather than your equipment’s existing remote controls or a universal remote control)

Using your existing remote controls (or a universal remote control) with a remote control extender to control audio-visual equipment that is in a closed cabinet

Remote control extenders are devices which are capable of receiving an infra-red signal from a remote control and re-transmitting that signal somewhere else. These devices are sometimes referred to as infra-red extenders.

Remote control extenders generally consist of three main elements:

  • An infra-red receiver – which receives the signal from your remote control.
  • One or more infra-red emitters – which re-transmit the signal from your remote control to the device(s) you want to control.
  • Some electronics – which process the signal received by infra-red receiver and transmit it to the infra-red emitter(s).

How these three elements are packaged varies between different products – largely depending on the application for which they were primarily designed.

Advantages of remote control extenders

  • Remote control extenders are generally simple to setup. There is no programming to do, so they are pretty much as close to ‘plug-and-play’ as electronic devices get.

Disadvantages of remote control extenders

  • If you have two identical devices (such as two Sky boxes) in a stack of audio-visual equipment where both can ‘see’ the output of a single remote control extender’s IR emitters then there is no way of controlling them independently. If you send a signal via your remote control extender that one of the devices recognises then they will both recognise it and respond accordingly, just as they would if you pointed your remote control directly at your stack of equipment.

Useful links