Backyard Music System Pricks Up Ponies’ Ears


SILVER WINNER: Best Outdoor Space

This three-zone system's horsepower covers the pool, patio and the owner’s two ponies.

May. 03, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The ponies have their own music, 24/7. It could be pop music, classical or even talk radio. 

They also have their own security system. Cameras inside and outside of their barn are visible on touchscreens and TVs in the main house. And when their gate is opened, a voice prompt over the security system alerts the homeowners.

(Click here to view additional photos.)

“They wanted to do something really nice outdoors. Then we found out they wanted to have pony barn out there,” says Netzer Martinez of Sixth Avenue Electronics, the installation firm for this northern New Jersey project. 

“They wanted to make sure ponies had music,” Martinez says of the homeowners. Apparently, the two Shetland ponies, Summer and Autumn, like company. The family also wanted to option of what the ponies would listen to.

So the ponies have their own independent audio zone, one of three that is outside of this home, delivering a constant stream of an FM station. (We just hope they don’t really have to endure talk radio.)

The other two zones cover the pool/patio area and the cabana, which features a 50-inch Panasonic plasma TV.

The cabana is enclosed with glass doors, making it a four-season entertainment retreat. There are no independent speakers in the cabana, however. The family just uses the audio from the TV. Though if they’re watching a baseball or football game, they can route that audio to several hidden speakers in the pool and patio area.

The ponies, however, don’t have to listen to the big game if they don’t want to. They have their music. (We hope.)

The pool and patio area get their sound from Rockustics OmniPlanter and Rock series speakers that—you guessed it—are designed to look like flower planters and rocks. The two pairs of Planter speakers fire their sound downward and out of ports on their bottoms, while flowers bloom merrily on top. One pair is on the patio, while assorted Rock speakers surround the pool, spa and waterfall area.

All of this audio comes from an Elan System12 multizone audio system, with the homeowner’s music collection is stored on an Elan VIA!dj hard-drive-based system. Elan also provides control with a 4-inch N800 touchpanel remote outside and touchpanels in the house.

One of the challenges faced in an extensive outdoor electronics project such as this is planning and running the cables to all the speaker and video locations. (See sidebar below.) Sixth Avenue used separate 2-inch conduit for each of the power, security, and audio/video wiring to the pony barn and cabana. From a closet in back of the cabana, connections to the pool area speaker locations were added later. 

The carefully planned prewire allows one more TV in the offing outside. Guess where? Yep, the ponies were smart enough to wire for video ahead of time. They may end up with a better A/V system than that in the cabana. 

Outdoor Plans
What to think of when you’re planning to have electronics systems outdoors? 

Have an idea ahead of time. “The best jobs I’ve done come from the customer’s ideas, and if you really want to do something, stick with it. The end project much is usually much better than what I envisioned,” says Martinez.

Run the wires now. This is a good idea, even if you’re not going to do something for years. The pony barn on this property is already wired for video, for instance. “We went back and forth on this project several times, and ran several different conduits to the barn, pool and cabana,” Martinez says.

Be flexible. The pool in this project got moved, and Sixth Avenue had to be ready for it. Not knowing quite where the pool area speakers would be located, the electronics installer ran conduit with speaker wire to a closet behind the cabana and later made connections from there to the speaker locations in the mulched garden areas. 

Protect your electronics. The Rockustics speakers in this pool and patio area are made to be outdoors. Make sure any electronics that will exposed to the elements or even splashes from the pool are weatherproof or waterproof (there’s a difference). The plasma TV is not made for the outdoors, but Sixth Avenue made sure it would be protected from the weather.

Systems Design and Installation
Sixth Avenue Electronics
Springfield, N.J. 

Equipment List
Elan system 12
Elan D1651
Elan com2r
Elan n800
Elan ss1
Panasonic 50” display
OmniMount 1N1L
Rockustics Econorocks
Rockustics Omniplanter
Elan MM650C
Middle Atlantic Racks
Sony Blu-ray player
Panasonic phone system
Linksys WAP
Netgear 24 port switch
Elan VIAMigo
Comcast cable boxes
Elan V883
HAI Lighting
Elan E36
Elan c36h
Monster power center
Monster cable wiring

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