Keeping It Clean and Contemporary
This media room uses a 65-inch display with speakers mounted on the sides for an uncluttered look.
Credit: Shayne Hensley
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. 

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
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.

Installer, Equipment List

Systems Design and Installation
Boca Theater & Automation
Boca Raton, Fla. 

Interior Design
Lee Willocks
Signature Interior Designs
Boca Raton, Fla.

Equipment List
Runco XP-65DHD 1080p Plasma Display
Runco Outboard Processor
Marantz SR6001 Dolby Digital EX/DTS ES Surround Receiver
Sony BDP-S1 Blu-Ray Player
Scientific Atlantic Explorer 8300HD HD Cable DVR
DirecTV HR20 HD Satellite DVR
James Subwoofer Amplifier
Leon Custom-Made LCR Speakers (2)
Sherbourn SA-1260 Multichannel Amplifiers (2)
Panamax M5100-EX Home Theater Power Conditioner
Middle Atlantic PD-915R Power Distribution Unit
RTI T2C Universal Controller

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