October 04, 2010
| by Steven Castle
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to design and install a new home entertainment system in this family room, incorporating a contemporary look with clean, sharp lines. No cables will show, and no bulky equipment will be exposed. There will be no clutter on the wall or ventilation issues. You will also use the best audio/video equipment available.
If you were custom electronics contractor Boca Theater & Automation (BTA) of Boca Raton, Fla., you might self-destruct at the end of this message. However, BTA persevered, and the result is a clean, contemporary look with all the equipment, sans the flat-panel TV, completely hidden (and keep in mind that this installation is a couple of years old, so imagine what they could have tried today).
“[The homeowners] were hot for a big, native 1080p display as soon [as that] hit the market,” says Jeff Galea, CEO of BTA. “And if they were spending the money, they wanted high-quality, reputable equipment that would last.” So BTA chose a 65-inch 1080p Runco plasma. An LCD was considered, but the biggest at that time was a 70-inch Sony going for $32,000, well out of this couple’s price range.
The custom-made Leon two-way LCR speakers on each side of the plasma were selected to convey the look of just a plasma with speakers hanging on the wall, instead of cluttering the space with in-wall left, center, and right speakers. These two speakers also do the job of a center channel, as Galea explains. “Each speaker is two speakers in one. The left speaker is ‘left’ with an isolated center, and the right is made the same. The centers of the left and right speakers are paralleled together to create a phantom, yet present and pronounced center channel. We’re fond of this speaker configuration in cases such as this because they eliminate problems associated with locating the third speaker, yet they provide a real center channel.”
The big innovation here, though, was the custom-constructed console beneath the screen. The console is made from poplar that was painted, finished and buffed to a high-gloss, marble-like sheen. Even better, it conceals two equipment racks—one on each side—plus a subwoofer. On the left side are a Marantz surround processor, Sony Blu-ray player and other source equipment; the right houses a Panamax power conditioner, James Loudspeaker subwoofer amp, and the James subwoofer. “A bulky box off to the side or a panel of speaker mesh was not an option, so a James PPT1000 Power Pipe subwoofer was customized to fit the console with a toe-kick port beneath the right-side rack,” says Galea. Both Middle Atlantic racks can slide out for servicing.
The homeowners came up with the console idea and saw it through; BTA added the rack concept. “The homeowners are involved in the building and design industry. The husband is the owner of a home building company, and the wife is the owner of an interior design company,” says Galea. Together with BTA, they made this a mission accomplished.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates