Silver Surfer Creates Fantastic Family Room
This family room has it all - big screen, green technology, professional recording studio, and a life-size visitor from the Fantastic Four.
Silver Surfer Theater
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November 04, 2008 by Steven Castle

It may look like a contemporary family room with a surround-sound system. But this “Texas industrial deco” space doubles as a recording studio for homeowner David Ronn’s rock band, Plastic Farm Animals. Oh, and there’s the plastic and fiberglass Silver Surfer hanging on the wall.

The Silver Surfer has always been one of David’s favorite comic book characters, so when the “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” came out, David went to eBay and got his hands on the item used to promote the movie in theaters.

As if that isn’t enough, the room is also very green. We’re talking bamboo floors, a recycled rubber floor in the adjacent control and equipment rooms, a control board table made from recycled sunflower seeds, recycled denim insulation, biodegradable acoustical panels, and solar panels on the roof to generate electricity. The house has been awarded Gold status as part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Home program.

“We were building a house and looked around at how much energy was costing, so we built a green home,” David says. “I also wanted to build a studio and wanted to do it all in a green fashion.”

So the house was built with insulated concrete forms that are 10 inches thick, which helps the family save energy. A metal roof deflects heat from the attic, and blown-in insulation keeps that space only 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the house—a feat in Houston’s heat. Two high-efficiency cooling systems, one for the house and a separate one for the studio, curbs energy use as well.

The 3-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof provides about a third of the home’s electricity, David says. That’s certainly good news when it comes to powering up the home theater system or recording studio.

The 30-by-20-foot room has a commercial-grade Pioneer 50-inch plasma monitor—which David says is very efficient—on a track so it can be manually relocated when converting the room to a studio. The couches also roll out of the way when it’s time for the Plastic Farm Animals to jam.

On-wall Sunfire speakers and a center-channel speaker mounted below the plasma monitor provide the surround sound. There are two subwoofers as well: an 8-inch Sunfire and an in-wall NHT unit.

For live music, the band plays through two Bose systems with a single bass subwoofer, also located in the room. Sound reflections from the sustainable bamboo flooring would pose a problem for both the band and home theater sound, so Dallas-based custom studio design firm Suffolk Studio Design added a 1-inch-thick Auralex S-Core cotton-based acoustical wall system all around, with Auralex’s Elite fabric stretched over the panels for a smooth look. In addition, Suffolk’s custom-made 15-foot-long convex and concave acoustical “clouds” hang from the ceiling to help absorb, reflect and diffuse the sound. “We did this to make the room really sound like a professional studio,” says Bob Suffolk of Suffolk Studio Design. And all the acoustic treatments are recyclable, he adds.

In addition, Lutron’s Sivoia QED motorized shades darken the room when it’s TV time, while an electric glass system makes the control room window opaque.

David says he hasn’t done any recording in the studio yet, but it’s ready—along with the fully equipped control room.

Click here to view more pictures of this room.

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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.

Equipment List

Apple 24” iMac
LaCie d2Extreme with Triple Interface 250 GB hard drives(2)
Digidesign Music Production Toolkit
Digidesign 003 Rack
Alesis RA300 300W Stereo Studio Power Amp
Presonus 900 Central Station
Presonus DigiMAX LT 8 Channel Mic Preamplifier
Presonus Central Station Remote Control
Presonus  HP4 4 Channel Headphone Distribution Amplifiers
Samson S Patch Plus 48-Point Patchbay
Monster Power Pro 2500 Powercenter
Digidesign Factory Bundle
Digidesign Pro Tools LE 7.3
Digidesign Pro Tool Ignition Pack 2 Pro

Rode NTK Tube Condensor Mic
Shure SM 58
Shure Beta 58A
Shure SM57 (multiple)

Yamaha NS-10M Studio
Sunfire CRM-2 Speakers (6 sides and one center channel)
Sunfire Super Junior 8” subwoofer
NHT in-wall passive subwoofer

Home Theater
Sunfire Theater Grand TGR-3 A/V Receiver
Pioneer PDP-507CMX plasma display
Trak-Kit Television Mounting System with sliding arm system
Control4 Media Controller
Control4 16 Channel Amplifier
Control4 SpeakerPoint
Control4 Dual Tuner with XM
AudioSource Amp100 Power Source Amplifier
Denon 1730 DVD Player
Magnavox MDV56OVR DVD/VCR player
Sony 400-Disc DVD Carousel
Lutron Sivoia QED Motorized Shade

Live Performance
Bose L1 Model 1 Systems (2)
Hartke Systems Model 1400 Bass Amplifier

Yamaha DC3A NEO Grand Disklavier Piano
Steinberger XL2 Basses (2)
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster V Neck Daisy Rock Butterfly guitar
Roland TD-10 V Drums
Roland JX-8P Synthesizer

Systems Design & Installation
Aveon, Houston, TX

Studio Design
Suffolk Studio Design, Dallas TX

Evergreen Design Studio

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