When the exterior was your main impetus for buying a house, you can bet you’ll apply a big chunk of the automation budget to the outdoor areas. For the owner of this 22,000-square-foot beachfront house, having high-quality music around the swimming pool, decks and other spots on the sloping 2-acre property was a must. The custom electronics (CE) pros at Cantara, Costa Mesa, Calif., delivered by peppering the landscape and hardscape with dozens of Sonance weatherproof speakers and six subwoofers, plus a pair of Rokustics speakers—enough to create eight distinct listening zones. No matter where the owners happen to be on the property, they are just two button presses away from access to an extensive rack of audio components inside the house.
The selection of the music sources and control of the volume is handled conveniently through either a 10-inch AMX touchpanel mounted in a custom decorative kiosk or one of two iPad Minis running AMX’s TP Control App. There’s plenty of music from which to choose, as the rack includes an Autonomic music server with Pandora and other streaming sources, as well as the homeowners’ entire iTunes catalog. To make it quick and easy to choose something, Cantara created special playlists for the family based on their listening tastes. “The curation of Pandora music is just another service we’ve provided to make the music system effortless and enjoyed everyday,” says Cantara president Jason Voorhees.
Music isn’t the only type of audio that’s distributed throughout the property. A pro-grade Shure wireless microphone system was integrated so that the owner can make toasts and announcements during the many parties that are hosted outside. Guests who happen to be inside can also hear music and verbal broadcasts, as the audio distribution system includes the home’s indoor speakers, too.
Of course, it takes more than great music to get a party started, and this is where the AMX home automation system comes really shines. Programmed into the system software by Cantara are several SmartScenes, one of which is titled “Evening Party.” This SmartScene and others, are displayed on the on-screen menus of the AMX touchpanels and iPads. Tapping it sets the music to one of the curated Pandora stations at the prefect volume level, turns on the waterslides and pool fountains, activates underwater LED Color changing lights to a softly shifting aqua-lavender, starts the outdoor heaters, and sets the exterior lights perfectly. Included in the lighting setup is a powerful floodlight that illuminates the ocean. In seconds the entire hillside is able to transform into a breathtaking entertainment venue.
The view is so amazing, that often passersby on the beach think the property is that of a resort, says Voorhees. It’s tempting to come check it out, so Cantara paired an extensive perimeter security system with automated surveillance cameras. Should someone step onto the property, laser beams are triggered, which signals the AMX system to activate the surveillance camera closest to the security breach. The image from the camera pops onto the screen of every AMX touchpanel inside the house. Meanwhile, a prerecorded verbal warning to leave the premises plays over the outdoor audio system.
To ensure that every command issued from an iPad Mini and other wireless control devices are delivered reliably to the AMX processors inside the house, and that the owner can freely roam with a laptop and still have reliable Internet access, Cantara designed and installed an enterprise-grade Wi-Fi network, which includes an outdoor-rated Cisco wireless access point, several Panasonic digital phone antennas, and a WiEx cellphone extender system for total coverage over this complicated and beautifully automated terrain.
We can always depend on Cantara for over-the-top custom home automation and home theater projects. Check out some more here: Masterpiece Home Theater, $3 Million Theater, Beachside Dance Retreat.
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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.