July 02, 2007
| by Lisa Montgomery
Aside from a dedicated theater downstairs, the kitchen is where Jeff Kalish and Cindi Baptiste prefer to do most of their entertaining. It’s no wonder. Any song from their 600-plus collection of CDs is at their fingertips from anywhere in the space. They can pull up a random selection of jazz tunes while they prepare dinner, then switch to piano classics while they dine. There’s also pop, instrumental, rock and other genres to select, and thanks to special software installed on the family PC, Jeff and Cindi can group together a variety of songs for a special event at a moment’s notice. “The system is a great icebreaker when they have parties,” says project designer Jamie Wedel of the Home Theater Store in Kennesaw, GA.
Wedel ripped and categorized all of the couple’s CDs onto a Control4 Media Server when he first set up the system. Although the Control4 setup is used for managing various systems throughout the house, in the kitchen the focus is solely on providing jukebox-style navigation and control of music. From either a portable 10-inch Control4 touchpanel or the screen of a 42-inch Samsung plasma TV in the adjoining family room, Jeff and Cindi can view the jacket covers of the CD titles stored in the Control4 server and play whatever strikes their fancy, be it an entire CD, a certain song or a preset playlist. They can dig even deeper, pulling up detailed information about the CD, such as who produced it, where it was recorded, the length of each song and even the liner notes. If the owners are looking for selections from a particular artist, search parameters allow them to pull up music by artist, genre or CD title.
The music travels over speaker wire to a pair of round Paradigm speakers mounted in the ceiling. Using the touchpanel, the homeowners can add rooms to the music network so that the same song that’s playing in the kitchen can be enjoyed elsewhere. Or they can opt to sequester the tunes to the kitchen—a good choice when someone’s playing a movie through the 5.1 surround-sound system in the nearby family room.
Jeff and Cindi can also use a smaller, hard-button remote to operate the hard disk–style whole-house music system. With a few button presses, the 42-inch plasma in the family room can display the same CD jacket covers and information available through the Control4 touchpanel. Thanks to embedded WiFi technology, the touchpanel and remote can communicate with the Control4 server from anywhere in the house, which means Jeff and Cindi can keep their music collection with them wherever they go.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.