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Escient FB MX-311: Repair or Replace?
This thread has 6 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Friday March 16, 2012 at 05:55
Lurking Member
July 2008
Hi Everyone;

I am in a quandary about what to do next: I have received the repair estimate from on my Escient FireBall MX-311 for $400. I bought the FB, along with a whole-house audio/video system, during the construction of our house in 2006. From the very beginning (after I had paid for it of course), the installer had problems with the system (in over his head on this job I’ve since learned). Right away, the installer had to send the FB in for repair of a battery (power backup?).

The FB unit has never worked properly in my opinion – it has suffered from the red flashing power button for years and only recently have I had the gumption to send it in for another look by Escient’s authorized service company (Panurgyoem). And now, to be hit with a $400 estimate to replace the entire board leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. For that much money, I could buy something else, or could I? This is why I’ve come back to this site. I have come here many times over the years looking for answers and ideas. I find the information and resources here most valuable!

The biggest problem experienced with our whole-house A/V system has been with the remotes communicating with the Escient FB. We are constantly getting the “command failed” message on the remotes even though I may be standing right in front of the Wi-Fi expanders (and having powered down/on the remotes). This has been a very frustrating experience, especially given how much we paid for it.

Okay, now to the nuts and bolts of my system. Here is a list of the components I have. While, we were “sold” on the whole-house audio and video pitch, we have never used the system for video since it turns out that we could only stream “composite” quality images to our TV’s. That said, the audio portion has been used heavily (I had pre-wired the house during construction for room speakers and wall switches/pots).

-Escient FireBall MX-311
-Sony DVP-CX777ES (400-disk carousel)
-Philips Serial Extender RFX-9600
-Marantz Multi-Zone Selectors ZS5300 (3 each)
-Philips Pronto TSU-9600 Touch-Screen Remotes (2 each – one for each level)
-Denon AVR-4800 Receiver
-TEAC T-R760 AM/FM Tuner
-Sony Blu-ray Player BDP-S550
-BENQ PE8700 Projector
-Monster Clean Power Filter (HTS-3600)
-Microsoft Xbox 360 Game Console (bought to use as a media center extender)
-Western Digital WDTVLive Plus WDBABX (HD Media Player)

I have a wired and wireless LAN network using the following:

-Netgear Router (WPN824v3)
-Netgear Gigabit Switch (GS116)
-Netgear RangeMax Wireless Access Points (WPN802v)(2 each – one on either side of the house to extend the Wi-Fi range to the TSU-9600’s)

I need to know what options I have going forward – pay $400 to repair the FB (and stay with a GUI system I despise), or ditch the FB and for something more user-friendly that can be programmed on the Pronto remotes (even if it means “jail breaking” them). My first thought was to incorporate the Xbox-360 as the media player (may need to “mod” it) and install something like XBMC as the GUI, but I don’t know how that would work with the touch-screen remotes.

I am open to pretty much anything at this time. My family and I have never been pleased with what we have and I think now is the time to turn the page and get it right once and for all – Thank you!!!
OP | Post 2 made on Monday March 19, 2012 at 10:54
Lurking Member
July 2008
OP | Post 3 made on Wednesday March 21, 2012 at 18:49
Lurking Member
July 2008
I am surprised that no one has offered up an opinion or suggestion here... in the meantime, I have authorized the repair of the MX-311 FireBall. I didn't think I had much choice given the system I already have in place on no alternatives identified.

Once I get the FB reinstalled, I would very much like to dispense with the Pronto Edit program if at all possible. As you may know, the Escient FB GUI is integrated or hardwired into the Philips TSU-9600 remotes. The entire layout is poor and is not intuitive. Are there any programmers out there that could wipe the slate clean and provide a user-friendly interface?

Thank you!
Post 4 made on Tuesday March 27, 2012 at 16:12
Super Member
April 2004
I just took an Escient 211 and changer out of my house. I controlled the unit with 1 way communication with an RTI T2C and never had any issues with it. I'd suggest building your own interface and control via IR.

I'm not a Pronto expert but from your post it seems you are controlling it with an IP driver. Never had any great experiences using that interface.
Diplomacy is the art of saying hire a pro without actually saying hire a pro
Post 5 made on Thursday March 29, 2012 at 12:28
Total Control Remotes
Super Member
July 2006
You are not going to replace your Escient & 400 disc changer easily or for a lot less than $400. You can consider these options:

- HTPC with NAS storage
- Full blown HTPC Media Center (Vidabox, S1 Digital, etc)
- Apple TV/iTunes/Cloud storage
- Boxee / Plex / etc.

I don't think $400 is a lot for an Escient board - I had a similar problem and it cost me 450. If were you I would buy a used one on Ebay which are going for less than that.
Post 6 made on Monday April 2, 2012 at 10:35
Select Member
May 2005
Personally I'd ditch the Fireball and Sony player and replace them with a Nas drive and a Sonos ZP-90 (assuming that's the current model). Rip all the CD's into the NAS drive and control the music via your computer or iPhone. You won't be able to use the pronto to select your music. At least not in a nice, cheap manner.
I guarantee I'll tell you the truth and I guarantee I'll tell you what you need to know but I can't guarantee that I'll be telling you anything you want to hear.
Post 7 made on Tuesday October 23, 2012 at 19:35
Lurking Member
October 2007
Sorry to revive an old thread.
I wish I had seen this sooner. I also have an mx-311 that just flashed red and would not boot. I called panergy for service and they quoted me a price around $400.00+ (don't remember exactly), anyways I asked if I provide the hdd would they still consider doing it.

They did without hesitation but informed me they would not guarantee it would be compatible, so I called escient they sent me a list of compatible drives.
End of story, I purchased a hdd for $80.00 (500gb) and $75.00 to panergy which covered shipping as well. Far cry from $400.00
Now you know next time:)
Good luck.

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