Control4 EA-5 Controller Review


Review DateApril 12, 2016

Despite what you would think, I rarely watch movies in my main home theater. I use it daily for testing gear and writing reviews but at night I’m more likely to turn on my VT60 in the living room. The main reason is just that the theater is big, and complex, and a pain to control. The past few weeks I’ve been watching far more movies in there than usual. That’s because I had a Control4 EA-5 system installed in there. Now despite the complexity, even my 4-year-old can operate it.

The EA-5 is the new top-of-the-line controller from Control4. It has a huge number of outputs, allowing you to control even the most advanced home theater. But it goes beyond that, with outputs for 4 more zones of HiRes audio beyond your home theater. It also integrates all the smart home control you want, from lights to locks and more. The Control4 EA-5 serves as the brain for your smart home and does the job well but with some important caveats.

Home Control

Review Date:April 12, 2016
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What sets Control4 apart from other universal remotes is the level of control it offers. The Control4 EA-5 offers 8 IR relays, four RS232 connectors and four 12V triggers for any size home theater. It can also control devices that use IP control. RS232 support, while seemingly outdated, it still the main method of control for many AV components. My Epson 5020 projector and Oppo Blu-ray player both utilize it. The 12V triggers support more advanced home theater features, like a drop down projection screen, that IR may not control at all.


Control4 EA-5 Rear Connections

It also has an integrated ZigBee controller for whole home devices. I installed a light switch in my home theater room and the EA-5 has full control over that. When the movie starts, the lights go down. If I pause the movie it raises the lights up so I can see while I leave the room. Then it turns them off when the movie starts again without any extra work. My furnace is next-door to my theater so I can use the EA-5 to control my Nest. When I turn the system on, the furnace goes off. Turn the system off, and the furnace will start up again.

Control4 also lets you control your whole home with each room as a zone. Instead of different remote systems in every room that don’t interact, any Control4 remote or app can control any zone. I can place Sonos players and light switches in different rooms of the house and control them all through Control4. Now you can control any Sonos zone through the Sonos app, and any of your wireless light switches through their app, but with Control4 they all get tied together.

Where this gets impressive is when you program actions with the Control4 software. My home theater is in a basement, with a hallway and a stairwell to get upstairs. When I’m watching a movie at night, the last thing I want is extra light distracting me so I turn them all off. When I leave the theater, it’s now dark and there are no convenient light switches. You can pro