Gold Winner
Inflatable Screen, Custom A/V Create Ultimate Party Pool
This outdoor oasis features a 16-foot inflatable screen, waterfalls, a gazebo, fire pit and bar.
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Photo by Alexia Forder
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May 29, 2007 by Arlen Schweiger

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound? Apparently it does, when it’s loud enough to wake the neighbors.

That’s what systems ithe installation firm Criteria of Naples, FL, found out when it remotely loaded the control programming for this Florida homeowner’s lush outdoor space. Unbeknownst to technicians Chris Locadia and Rich Magliozzi, as the system was being programmed that morning from their office, it was also booting up at the home—with no one there to turn it off.

Fortunately for the owner, the volume had only been set between 60 and 70 percent as the system ran until Criteria had finished its operation. No one called the cops to complain about the noise, but one neighbor did inquire later if a raging party had been going on.

Not that time. But since the homeowner debuted his outdoor setup with a Super Bowl party, the space has been overflowing with music, movies and guests.

“He likes his music videos and concert DVDs,” says Magliozzi. “This house plays music all the time. He’s single, so it’s kind of a Yo! MTV Raps party house.”

The outdoor space includes a swimming pool, fountains, gazebo, bar area, fire pit and master bed lanai. And from just about anywhere outside, guests can watch videos on either the 40-inch Sony plasma display at the bar or the (gulp) 16-by 9-foot Open Air blow-up screen that’s easily viewed from the pool.

The giant screen takes less than two minutes to inflate, according to Magliozzi, and acts almost as a wall for the pool, which features a waterfall on one end and a drop at another that creates the illusion of an edgeless border. Incorporating a permanent big screen by the pool, with an elaborate method for concealing it, is in the works—but Criteria didn’t want to reveal too much.

The combination of a drive-in theater–size screen and a video projector doesn’t necessarily translate to a quality picture, though. Criteria installed a Panasonic 4,500-lumens LCD projector in an effort to optimize the viewing experience. “We picked that projector because it gives a really bright picture, and we’re trying to see it as close to daytime as possible,” Magliozzi says. “As soon as the sun starts setting, you can fire it up and see an image on the screen.”

Despite the fact that they’re not enclosed rooms, both viewing areas simulate the surround-sound experience, something that was high on the music-loving homeowner’s priority list for the entire residence. The outdoor space comprises two of six surround-sound areas, including the den, master suite, indoor theater and family room.

Sound fills the bar area in 7.1 style through a Boston Acoustics in-ceiling configuration of loudspeakers and a subwoofer. The setup is a little more intricate for the inflatable screen: There are two Rockustics Stonehenge II speakers and one Boston Acoustics sub at both the left and right of the screen, while in-ceiling speakers at the master bed lanai and gazebo areas become the right- and left-rear channels.

The homeowner can access his music and movie content through an Escient DVD management system and Sony 400-disc CD changer, and he also has satellite, cable and digital video recorder (DVR) capabilities. The 300 gigs on his Escient hard drive are almost full.

“We set up a DVD management system, and after we installed it, he went to the store and bought about $6,000 worth of DVDs on the first day,” says Magliozzi.

When the homeowner is relaxing in his pool, he can grab a waterproof Crestron remote to activate the system, calling up the audio regardless of whether the blow-up screen is in use, and control all of the related sources. Criteria tried simplifying and hiding the audio and video component wiring by including a port in one of the flower beds.

More than 100 people showed up for the outdoor system’s unveiling during the Super Bowl party, and the owner has taken advantage of his party pad on several occasions since. “I think he had some high expectations; he definitely was overwhelmed,” says Locadia. “I hang out with him a lot and travel with him a lot, so I’d hear it if it didn’t turn out [well]. There’s not a party that goes by that someone doesn’t come over and say that this space is incredible.”

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

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CONTACT
Systems Design & Installation
Criteria
Naples, FL
239-593-1700
www.criteriahifi.com


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