The well-traveled owner of this outdoor oasis has visited a number of vacation resorts, and like most vacationers, he enjoys relaxing with music by the pool deck. It was an experience he wanted to replicate in his own backyard (in Connecticut and not the Caribbean, mind you), but with certain upgrades.
“He wanted to have something extraordinary,” says Chris Ursin, president of Natural Audio in Tolland, Conn. “Not just your typical rock speakers arranged around the pool.” Per that request, Natural Audio set out to find the finest sounding outdoor speaker on the planet. Its pick: James Loudspeaker speakers and subwoofers.
To fill every square inch of the backyard with sound, Natural Audio installed a total of 34 James speakers and four James subwoofers throughout the half-acre property. Some speakers were attached to the pergola, others were positioned within the landscape, and a few were suspended 30 feet up in the branches of the trees. “The idea was to make the speakers as inconspicuous as possible,” Ursin explains. The subwoofers went where they were designed to go: directly into the ground. “By adding some bass, we really rooted the system to the property,” says Ursin.
Not all of the speakers do the same thing, though. Natural Audio divided them into four independent listening zones; so while the speakers by the pool can crank out rock tunes, the ones by the deck can softly play a selection of classics, for example. The homeowners activate the zones, choose their music and adjust the volume via a variety of Crestron controls located both outside and inside the house. A ReQuest music server, AM/FM tuner, XM and Sirius satellite radio tuners and DirecTV receiver are all accessible through the Crestron remotes.
Music isn’t the only way to entertain here. A 46-inch SunBriteTV outdoor LCD TV receives video from an indoor DVD player and cable box via high-speed cabling planted underneath the lawn. Although the display is designed for the outdoors, Natural Audio felt it needed some extra protection. A specially designed weatherproof cabinet was crafted to house the set when it’s not being used. On command from a Crestron remote, a motorized lift raises the TV, as well as the granite that covers the top of the cabinet, into view.
The display switches automatically to the owner’s favorite cable station and audio can play through either the two speakers that Natural Audio attached to the sides of the TV or through every one of the 30-plus speakers in the yard. Let’s see a tropical resort do that.
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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.