Cool Homes
Big Audio and Lighting System in Little Rock
Media room, whole-house music and lighting control
February 17, 2014 by Grant Clauser

We’ve heard similar stories before—a client gets in touch with an audio/video and control installer for some small project, which then turns into a large project. This home in Little Rock AR is one such story.

When Jeff Jenkins of FX Pros was first brought into the project on this home, all the owner had in mind was for some new speakers in the media room then under construction. Once Jenkins and the client got talking, they soon realized the home had a lot more potential and that a complete control, music and lighting overhaul was in order.

This 8,000 sq. ft. home is a show piece in Little Rock. It’s like a small private resort sitting on about 5 acres with elaborate gardens, ponds and gazebos for entertaining outdoors and spacious rooms with fine art and high ceilings inside. Several times a year the client hosts parties of 200 to 400 guests.

Because the homeowner is a music lover who wanted music in every square inch of the property, Jenkins suggested a whole-house music system that would allow multiple streams to be piped wherever the user wanted. For that, Jenkins went with Russound, specifically a Russound DMS 3.1 network music streamer. That component provides AM/FM, Pandora, vTuner, SiriusXM satellite radio plus inputs for more traditional sources such as the homeowner’s Denon CD player. Two Russound 8-zone amps power the music.

Because interior design was important to this homeowner, Jenkins used in-wall or in-ceiling speakers in most cases. Episode HT speakers compliment a 65-inch Samsung LED LCD TV in the main media room. A pair of Episode 700 speakers are hidden out of site in the room’s tray ceiling. Two powerful in-wall Episode subwoofers are also installed in the front of the room. Jenkins notes that despite the large glass windows on one of the room’s long walls, the sound performance is excellent.

The custom-built cabinet which houses all the components is vented through the back wall into the garage, and additional cooling fans draw air in. The result is silent operation and components that won’t overheat.

More Episode speakers were installed throughout the house, but the main event happens outside. Among the courtyard, garden paths and cabanas Jenkins installed more than 30 outdoor speakers divided into several zones so not everyone at the party needs to be listening to the same music. Each zone has independent source (8 sources) and volume control. In fact the system is configured so that in some areas guests can even connect their own iOS devices via Apple AirPlay to share the music they brought with them.

Find an installer for your new automation or home theater system HERE.

Because party hosts sometimes like to make announcements, Jenkins installed an input on the audio system so the homeowner can plug in a microphone to speak through the loudspeakers. To do this he presses a button titled “Attention” on one of the system’s control panels, which cause’s the property’s lights to flash, alerting the guests that an announcement is forthcoming.

With a property the size of a Costco, a lighting control system is a must. A previous installer had put in a Lutron Grafik EYE QS system, but it hadn’t worked as the owner expected. Jenkins fixed that by integrating it with a home automation system. He added several custom scenes to control all the property’s lights as well as the special color wash feature—a series of hidden LED lights that project on a white ceiling to create spectacular color effects. The user can pick specific colors to project or set it on a loop so the room rolls through a rainbow of colors.

Tying everything together is RTI, led by the RTI XP-8 processor. The RTI system controls the lights, thermostats, IP surveillance cameras and all the audio/video components. The homeowner especially likes the RTI KX7 in-wall touchpanels because the interface could be customized. As a design-focused person he had requests not only for how the GUI worked, but for how it looked. In fact, Jenkins says the owner uses the touchpanels more than the iPad app for control—something we don’t hear much anymore.

More pictures of this home can be found here.

Electronics System Design and Installation:
FX Pros
501 831 2257

More on home control and lighting:
5 Up and Coming Technologies for the Home
What Can Your Lights Do?
How to Add Lighting Control to Your House

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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