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Focus On Residential AV: Smart Choices for a Smart Home

With the ready availability of powerful control systems, it's no surprise to learn that today's dream home is, almost inevitably, a smart home. On the recommendation of their builder, the owners of a 5/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern

Focus On Residential AV: Smart Choices for a Smart Home

May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jack Kontney




This exquisite custom home demanded a sophisticated, elegant AV design. The great room features a 65in. Sharp Aquos LC-65D64U LCD TV on a Chief PDR 
dual swing-arm wall mount. The master controller is a Via!2 touchpanel by 
Elan Home Systems. Photography courtesy of San Diego Sound and Video

This exquisite custom home demanded a sophisticated, elegant AV design. The great room features a 65in. Sharp Aquos LC-65D64U LCD TV on a Chief PDR dual swing-arm wall mount. The master controller is a Via!2 touchpanel by Elan Home Systems. Photography courtesy of San Diego Sound and Video

With the ready availability of powerful control systems, it's no surprise to learn that today's dream home is, almost inevitably, a smart home. On the recommendation of their builder, the owners of a spectacular 6000-square-foot residence in La Jolla, Calif., engaged San Diego Sound and Video to create such a system for them. While the primary goal was whole-home integration of computers, video, and audio, the owners also wanted control of lighting, shades, the swimming pool, and the security system.

“This is clearly the trend in new-home construction,” says San Diego Sound and Video owner David Wood. “We work closely with a couple of custom home builders in the area. Over the past few years, we've built up a level of trust with them, and they brought us in to bid on the job.”

One of those areas of trust is in working with other subcontractors.

“Obviously, we're focused on audio and video,” Wood says, “but that infrastructure can be used to control the systems we don't specify. Project management is how we really provide value.”

To ensure a smooth, seamless integration, early involvement in the building process is critical so the house is pre-wired to meet all possible contingencies.

The control system for the house is based around the System12 (S12) multi-room AV controller by Elan Home Systems. The S12 handles both composite and component video sources along with massive audio connectivity. With its RS-232 and IR control ports, it also provides the ability to interface with a wide variety of third-party systems. The backbone of this system is two S12 controllers, each paired with an Elan D1650 audio distribution amplifier. This provides full-power stereo sound for up to 16 independent zones, 15 of which are in use. In addition, the house contains two large video rooms, each with a dedicated surround sound system. Video signals are routed through an Elan V883 video controller.

“The Elan S12 is a self-contained rack-mount system, and has great flexibility in terms of programming,” says senior systems designer David Greenstein. “And it has the highest-quality amplifiers on the market, especially in the home-audio arena.”

PRIMARY AV

The showpiece of the residence is the upstairs great room — roughly 40'×40' with large glass walls east and west. The visual centerpiece of the room is the wood-paneled south wall, which houses a 65in. Sharp Aquos LC-65D64U, a 1080p high-definition LCD television, above a large fireplace. To accommodate the desire to allow TV viewing from anywhere, Wood specified a Chief PDR dual swing-arm wall mount. This allows the massive Aquos to be pulled 3ft. off the wall and rotated for viewing from either the west-facing front patio or the pool and barbeque area on east side of the house.

“With so much ambient light, we knew the Aquos was the right choice,” Wood says. “The screen has a very matte finish, and we needed the lighter weight of an LCD.”


Focus On Residential AV: Smart Choices for a Smart Home

May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jack Kontney




Control for this smart house comes primarily from Elan Home Systems, with two System12 AV controllers and two D-1651 16-channel power amps (lower left) providing both brains and brawn.

Control for this smart house comes primarily from Elan Home Systems, with two System12 AV controllers and two D-1651 16-channel power amps (lower left) providing both brains and brawn.

The room contains two loudspeaker systems — one for video surround sound and another for stereo listening. Anchoring the audio is a Sunfire Theater Grand Receiver 3 (TGR3) AV receiver, flagship of the XT Series.

“Sunfire is Bob Carver's company, so you know you're getting cutting-edge quality,” Wood says. “The customer left it to us to select the best for this system, and the Theater Grand Receiver is a great piece of technology.”

The room's open layout called for a 5.1-surround deployment. The center, left, and right front channels run through an Atlantic Technology FS-5000 Front Stage loudspeaker system mounted beneath the Aquos. The FS-5000 sports three separate compartments, each with twin 4.5in. woofers and a 1in. tweeter for full-range response down to 70Hz. The rear surround is from Atlantic's IWTS-20e SR in-wall loudspeakers, hidden in a sweeping wine bar located in the back of the room that offers ideal positioning for the surround field.

Powerful lows are provided by dual Sunfire D-10 subwoofers hidden below the fireplace. For audio-only listening, a combination of IWTS-10 and ICTS-6.2e loudspeakers by Atlantic Technology are hidden in the ceiling.

In the master bedroom, a custom cabinet hides a 32in. Samsung LN-R3228W HD LCD television and a Yamaha YSP-4000 digital sound projector, mounted on a Chief CM2L40 automated pop-up lift.

In the master bedroom, a custom cabinet hides a 32in. Samsung LN-R3228W HD LCD television and a Yamaha YSP-4000 digital sound projector, mounted on a Chief CM2L40 automated pop-up lift.

A second theater system occupies the downstairs family room. For this room, Wood selected a plasma HD television, the Pioneer PDP-6010FD, secured on an OmniMount U3 Tilt wall mount.

“With less glare and the need to provide a gaming platform for the kids, this room lent itself to a plasma,” Wood says. “The Pioneers have very vivid lighting and graphics, so it was a perfect fit.”

Surround sound is done in 7.1, with a Yamaha RX-V1700 AV receiver providing the audio. LCR signals are run through an Atlantic Technology FS-4000, while the room's lower ceiling allows the side- and rear-channel surround signals to be directed through ceiling-mounted Polk Audio SC60 two-way loudspeakers. The in-wall subwoofer is by Atlantic Technology, powered by an SA-350 amplifier that lives in the equipment room.

The next design challenge was the master suite, including both the bedroom and bath area. At the foot of the bed, a custom cabinet hides a Chief CM2L40 automated pop-up lift that exposes a 32in. Samsung LN-R3228W HD LCD television on command. Mounted beneath the TV is a Yamaha YSP-4000 digital sound projector. The YSP-4000 houses 42 individual loudspeaker elements and uses digital signal processing to project five discrete sound waves, both directly and off the walls, to create a distinct surround-sound experience from a single component.

Another sophisticated element of the suite is a custom-designed Séura Television Mirror, with a Sharp LC-26D43U embedded behind a mirrored door to allow viewing from the sunken tub or the sauna/shower. When the TV is off, all that's visible is the mirror. The master bath area is also an independent audio zone, using a combination of Atlantic Technology System 10s and Terra CA Series ceiling-mount, weather-proof loudspeakers by Custom Audio Manufacturing of Maine (CAMM).

CAMM loudspeakers are used in several other listening zones as well. The roof over multiple patio/lanai areas holds several 6.5in Terra all-climate models, while the yard area boasts three AC.WF16 single-point stereo loudspeakers, augmented by an AC.SUB in-ground subwoofer in the pool area.

“Even with all the corrosion we get on the California coast, the CAMM Terras just last and last,” Wood says. “We've been working with them for about three years. The elements don't corrode, the cabinets are — to all intents and purposes — bomb-proof, and they fill the yard with a very pleasant sound.”

CONTROL SYSTEM

Back inside, the Elan S12 system keeps everything running smoothly. Both HD theater rooms are controlled through Elan Via! touchpanels. The great room features a Via!2 wireless unit with 8.4in. screen. In addition to audio and video, the touchpad can access and control all other systems — including the fireplace, swimming pool, lighting, and drapery. A one-push “Entertain” command sets appropriate lighting scenes both indoors and out, sets up the music system, and turns on the waterfall feature in the spa.

Via!6.4 wall panels are mounted in the kitchen and master bedroom, while Elan Olé touchpads are distributed throughout the house to provide source and volume control. In addition, every zone has a localsource wallplate to allow MP3 or CD players to be plugged in and played either within that specific zone. Virtually every room in the house sports a pair of Polk Audio SC60 two-way loudspeakers in the ceiling.

Three cable boxes allow live programming to be routed at will to any video system in the house, including the two kids' bedrooms and guest bedroom, and all the home's PCs are networked through a D-Link wireless router and VPN hub. An Escient FireBall MP-200 remote media player, teamed with an AVX-552 media server, offers a huge cache of CDs and DVDs for viewing or listening on command, and can also access media from any computer on the home network. An Elan XM-R3 satellite receiver adds three independent XM Radio signals to the listening options. Audio can be called up from any source and sent to any location — including the laundry room, either of two garages, the west patios or east-facing pool area.

In order to interface with non-AV systems, Greenstein had to do his homework. For the Vantage light-control and Jandy pool-control system, San Diego Sound and Video worked directly with the other sub-contractors to ensure that the proper control systems were included with the systems, then programmed them into the Elan System12.

“The real key is being involved from the start and designing for the future,” Greenstein says. “When we get a project and map how many lines it takes, we'll generally pull two extra pieces of Cat-5. As someone once said, Cat-5 is the magical wire; you can push almost anything through it. That lets us handle the change requests — which are inevitable — without much problem. That creates a lot of good will, both with the other subcontractors and the customer. You just have to know what you're doing and think ahead.”


Jack Kontney is contributing editor, audio for Sound & Video Contractor and president of Kontney Communications, a content-creation and marketing firm specializing in professional audio, video, and electronics. Contact him at www.kontneycomm.com.


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