For some, music is just background noise. For others, it’s a passion and a way of life. For this Chicago homeowner, thanks to a multizone audio and home automation system, that passion—and his huge music library—can now be tapped into just about anytime he wants, anywhere he wants whether it’s simply to play in the background or rock out at concert-level decibels.
His extensive music collection, which includes a boatload of classic rock concert recordings, was meant to be unleashed. But not as a digital pile of flattened MP3s; he wanted a way to enjoy the tunes throughout the house, with little compromise to their original CD quality. So that wish would become part of a much larger, all-encompassing home technology project for which the husband and wife enlisted local custom electronics firm Procom Enterprises.
Under the overall guidance of a Control4 home automation system, Procom provided this gem in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood with a wealth of tech systems, including a robust security and surveillance system, automated lighting and shading, HVAC controls and 10 zones of audio.
“The owner loves music and desired a good quality, balanced, full-range reproduction,” says Procom president Jacek Zaworski. “His music collection contains over 2,000 CDs and a huge library of rare, recorded live performances. His wife best described his passion for classic rock as, ‘the louder, the better.’ That’s why the goal of our project was to be able to individually control the treble and bass of every zone—to make the house feel like his own personally recorded life show.”
In order to maintain the fidelity of the music collection, Procom outsourced the ripping of the CDs but made sure they were not compressed MP3s. Instead the discs were ripped onto network-attached storage drives in the FLAC (free lossless audio codec) format to then be routed throughout the home under the Control4’s mesh-networked automation platform. FLAC is a lossless file compression format—it’s compressed but without losing quality, as the information bits are maintained during playback (think of a zip file for a similar compression scheme), as opposed to MP3s that suffer from data loss.
(Click here to view a slideshow of this home tech project)
To give him the sound quality throughout the house to match, Procom went with Bowers and Wilkins speakers, which are mainly architectural (in-wall/in-ceiling) models with the exception of the media room, which has a full complement of B&W freestanding speakers up front (surrounds are in-ceiling) powered by an Integra DTR-40.4 A/V receiver so the owner can crank up music or TV shows and movies. In some cases, Procom had to get creative with the speaker installation—like the living room, whose ceilings are incredibly high and obviously ruled out in-ceiling speakers; instead the in-walls are low and at seating level, to the point where depending on how you look at the room they would be concealed behind chairs.
Video distribution was not on the must-have checklist, but Procom did make sure that surveillance camera feeds would be displayed on all of the home’s six TVs. A GE burglar alarm system was installed, with four vandal/weatherproof dome cameras strategically placed around the home.
“This project challenged our team to meet the high standards of the homeowners. Space was an issue so we ended with two [equipment] headends where we were able to accommodate all required equipment. The property is a beautiful residence with minimal integration of technology, but with all the features our clients wanted,” says Zaworski, whose company worked with Chicago-based interior designer J.P. Regas & Associates on the home. “Custom modes including lighting, climate, security and entertainment settings were created based on the couple’s daily routine and a sophisticated security system allows monitoring of the alarm system and CCTV cameras via mobile devices. All of the home’s control functions are available remotely as well.”
Indeed, there’s a plethora of ways the owners can control all of the tech systems in and out of the home. Commands for the security, A/V, lights, shades (the home features several tall window panes, so motorized Lutron Sivoia shades are especially helpful) and what not can be made through the universal Control4 interface on iPhones, iPads, a 7-inch in-wall touchscreen, a 7-inch wireless touchscreen, computer or one of four hand-held remotes. It makes for a very simplified operation that even the decidedly not-so-tech-savvy wife is comfortable with.
“At the end, she said the things she did not care for initially she likes and uses the most,” Zaworski notes. “Especially, all remote features of the system which she can control via iPad or iPhone. Every night before going to bed she takes one last glance at the cameras and turns the lights off from her cell phone. She loves her new iPhone and forgot her quest to avoid technology.”
Also check out these great home installations from Procom:
A Home So Smart It Talks
New Setup Lets Owners Jam to 2TBs of Tunes
Smart Home Helps Owners Observe Shabbat
Systems Design & Installation
Elk Grove Village, Ill.
J.P. Regas & Associates
Control4 Master System Controller HC1000 (1)
Control4 System Controller HC300 (3)
Control4 7” In-Wall Touchscreen C4-TSWMC7-EG (1)
Control4 7” Wireless Touchscreen C4-TSMC7-EN-BL (1)
Control4 MyHome Site License (1)
Control4 Universal LCD Remote SR250 (4)
Sony A/V ES Series Receiver STR-DA3700ES (2)
Integra A/V Receiver DTR-40.4 (1)
Control4 4 Zone Audio Amplifier C4-8AMP1-B (2)
Bowers & Wilkins Speakers
Binary HDMI Baluns B-200-1CAT-HDIR (4)
Apple TV (3)
Samsung Blu-Ray Player (2)
Cisco 4 Port Wireless Router w/VPN (1)
Wirepath Digital Video Recorder H.264 - 9 Channel WPS-300-DVR-9CH (1)
Vandal/Water Proof, Day/Night SENS Technology Dome Camera (4)
GE Security Burglary Alarm System NX8-E (1)
Lutron RadioRA2 Main Repeater (1)
Lutron RadioRA2 Auxiliary Repeater (1)
Lutron RadioRA2 600W Dimmer Switch (9)
Lutron RadioRA2 1000W Dimmer Switch (10)
Lutron RadioRA2 Remote Dimmers (10)
Lutron RadioRA2 600W Adaptive Dimmer Switch (2)
Lutron RadioRA2 6 Button Hybrid Keypad (4)
Strong 42U Equipment Rack System w/ side panels (1)
Strong 21U Equipment Rack System w/ side panels (1)
Samsung LED televisions (6)
Lutron Sivoia QS Wireless shades (4)
Lutron Sivoia manual shades (4)
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.