The custom electronics pro that helped make this dream rec room a reality says that the family’s two teenage boys “are always down there; if they’re not in school, they’re usually down there.” Who can blame them?
When the homework’s all set, the biggest question is what to do first? They can grab a beanbag and challenge each other and friends to some interactive gaming on the video wall, where the four TVs each have their own Xbox setup. They can head to the other side of the room and fire up a movie, which like the gaming area offers surround sound. They can tap into the 16 A/V sources to find just about anything that interests them. They can turn the place into a mini nightclub on weekends, throwing on party music to the professional loudspeaker system that’s also installed … and press a button so the color-changing lighting goes into effect.
“As far as what they were looking for in a basement, the goal was to have a gaming area for their kids,” says Shane Horner of Mentor, Ohio-based Horner Networks, which designed and installed the extensive A/V and automation systems. “Mainly events down here are geared toward the kids, whether it is parties for their sports teams, birthdays, even if it’s a grownup party it’s geared around kids.”
Parties are when the family literally gets the biggest bang out of their installation bucks. Those occasions present the opportunity to crank up the pro audio system that “will rip your head off,” according to Horner, who wired four Tannoy V8 speakers to hefty Lab.gruppen C 16:4 amplifiers and Biamp Systems Nexia SP preamplifiers. The speakers are built into the walls—as are the basement’s two 5.1-channel surround-sound systems—along with dual 18-inch and dual 12-inch subwoofers (the smaller one’s built into the bar, the larger one’s behind the rectangular gray patch below the wall sconce in the middle of the room).
“I’ve worked for this homeowner in the past so I kind of knew what to expect for this project, but he did push the envelope with sound like he normally does,” says Horner. “It’s all bi-wired, so to the basement we’ve got 800 watts going to the four V8 speakers, and to the subwoofers we’ve got 1,200 watts to the dual 18-inch and another 1,200 to the dual 12—I had to wear earplugs when dialing in the system.”
It’s one of several areas in the home (including the pool area, outdoor kitchen, atrium and kitchen) where Horner incorporated both traditional audio to accompany video as well as pro-grade rigs to shake things up. Meanwhile, one of the inputs on the massive Key Digital 16x32 matrix switcher is dedicated for DJs to use during parties, and like the rest of the sources can feed into the housewide A/V distribution system.
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Other sources include five satellite receivers (for video and Sirius XM Radio), cable box, two Kaleidescape media servers, surveillance cameras and iPod docks. Not to mention the Xboxes and one Nintendo Wii for the video wall, whose 32-inch screens were installed on articulating arm mounts, notes Horner, so they can be angled to deter cheating during “shoot em up” games. When the 5.1 system is in play, the default audio corresponds to the top-left display. Soffits were used to visually break up the various sections of the basement, and Horner says they help contain the audio a bit as well for when some kids want to game and others want to watch movies or sports on the 50-inch Pioneer set. Whatever the choice is, the fun never ends in this room.
Lighting Under Control
With so much to choose from in this wild basement space, family members are able to maintain control thanks to the Control4 home automation system that Horner Networks implemented. Two mini touchscreens plus a 10.5-inch Wi-Fi touchscreen access the room’s tech elements, including a key visual effect that helps turn the room into party central. The family can use the Control4 devices to tweak the Color Kinetics color-changing lights to set the tone for any occasion. Five above the video wall, plus four more above the bar, as well as color-changing perimeter tape yield just about any color combination (there’s plenty more inside and outside the rest of the house) for individual lights or all of them, and different tabs on the user interfaces will trigger certain colors or themes. It takes holiday lighting to another level.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.