May 03, 2010
by Stephen Hopkins
This elegant theater can control the entire house. Most of the time it’s bad when the tail wags the dog, but this elegant theater space serves up audio/video and control of the whole house with composure and class.
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When you step through the first set of custom-made brown leather tufted doors, you might think you’re on the wrong side of a bouncer at a trendy club. A red velvet rope separates prying fingers from Middle Atlantic racks serving audio, Kaleidescape video, Blu-ray and DirecTV DVRs (one for each family member) to any room in the house.
The entire rack, including components, was assembled, programmed and tested off-site for easy on-site installation. The theater, along with the rest of the home, is driven and controlled by a Denon audio/video receiver and a Crestron Infinity automation system.
Step through another set of doors and you immediately forget everything in the adjacent room, as you marvel at the elegance and detailed craftsmanship of this dedicated theater. With a JVC HD-ILA projector flashing against a 120-inch Stewart Studiotek 130 screen hiding Paradigm Studio speakers, you’ll just as quickly lose yourself in a classic film or high-def sports action.
“The homeowner had a very clear vision of what he wanted, including all design, construction, and equipment functionality,” says J.W. Anderson of electronics installer The Integrated Home in Charlotte, N.C. The builder, Arcadia Homes of Charlotte, N.C., was instrumental in the craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Items like the custom doors and ceiling finish were selected and arranged by the homeowner, who was extremely hands-on throughout the process. This forethought and focus on priorities led to very few changes and a final cost close to the original budget.
Value speakers, an audio/video receiver and a projector, along with an entry-level Samsung Blu-ray player, were selected for their high performance-to-price ratio, as they could be upgraded at any time.
More expensive items, such as the Kaleidescape DVD server and Crestron control and A/V distribution system, were used because there were few or no other options with the same functionality desired. Room construction and home integration took precedence over pure A/V performance. The custom Crestron interface is identical throughout the home, and all A/V sources can be navigated and selected from any display.
While the homeowner doesn’t have any immediate upgrade plans, there is one major thing he would like to do over. “The homeowner enjoyed the entire build process so much, he says he would love to do it all over again,” says Anderson. He enjoys the theater and control system, but he enjoyed the design and build just as much.
Balancing the Budget
The homeowner and installer focused the budget on room build, automation and equipment not easily upgradeable. A tight balance of modest A/V equipment with strong price/performance ratio kept the room looking and sounding great, while putting the bulk of the electronics money toward automation and distribution.
The Kaleidescape DVD server and Crestron system controls that feed A/V sources throughout the entire house couldn’t be easily integrated later, so they were prioritized as higher-cost items. Speakers, receivers and Blu-ray players are value models, and good candidates to be hot-swapped down the road.
Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.