Breathing New Life into Old Equipment

Economical Entertainment Upgrade

A tech-savvy couple marries existing A/V equipment with new systems for an economical entertainment upgrade.

Jan. 17, 2008 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Most people own at least one piece of decent audio and video equipment, be it a beefy stereo system or big, bright, flat-screen TV. The owners of this recently remodeled 5,000-square-foot home were no exception. They had already been using several flat-panel and rear-projection TVs, a few audio/video receivers and three 400-disc CD mega-changers in their home prior to its makeover.

Seizing the Moment
The modest assortment of components had served the homeowners well for many years. So when it was time to update their house with a new kitchen, master suite and media room, this practical-minded couple wasn’t about to swap their trusty A/V equipment for a completely new set of gear. However, they were eager to expand into new features and functions. And like most tech-savvy homeowners, they knew that if they were going to do it, they should do it while their home was undergoing a major renovation.

At the recommendation of their interior designer, Lorraine Gordon of L. Gordon Designs in Charlotte, NC, the owners contacted a home systems professional to help them with the technical details. They had a good idea of what they wanted; they just needed someone to set the wheels in motion. “The owners came to me with a six-page outline of their needs and expectations,” recalls Bryant Moore of Matthews, NC–based Moore Audio Design. “It was the most comprehensive wish list I had ever seen.” That list included amenities such as a system that could play music throughout the house, several surround-sound setups, surveillance cameras that could be accessed remotely, and devices that would let the homeowners control their entertainment components from anywhere on the property. They also wanted to be able to integrate most of their existing equipment into the new systems. This last request would end up saving them thousands of dollars on the cost of the electronics project, says Moore.

Economical Advantages
Committed to keeping costs under control, Moore and installation specialist Tad Popple selected an Escient FireBall E2-100 music server to manage the owners’ 1,000-plus CDs already loaded into three existing Sony changers. The more expensive alternative would have been to replace the changers with a hard-disk media server, Moore explains. By skipping the server, Moore figures the couple saved at least $15,000. Despite the dramatic cost savings, not an ounce of control or convenience was compromised. Thanks to the FireBall, the owners can view the titles of their CD collection on the screen of any TV and use a basic handheld remote to enter a song selection. The FireBall automatically catalogs the CDs by artist, genre and other categories to simplify the search process. And when the homeowners want to take a CD with them on a road trip, the FireBall’s TV-screen menu can tell them exactly in which slot in the changer to find the disc.

Most important for the homeowners, the FireBall music management system has eliminated the strain of trying to keep their huge music collection organized. Before Moore set up the system, they did everything manually, painstakingly loading the CDs into the changers alphabetically and cataloging the titles in spiral notebooks. Now the FireBall does all the work for them, pulling all the pertinent song information from the Internet, categorizing the music and updating the data each time a new CD is loaded into a changer. 

To leverage the benefits of the FireBall, Moore tied it to an Elan music distribution system. This connection allows the CDs to be played over speakers located throughout the property. After the owners enter their song selection, the Elan system can distribute the tune to any of six independent listening zones. The owners can turn on each zone from any wall-mounted Elan touchpanel or keypad in the house.

iPod Joins In
If it weren’t for their gigantic CD collection, the owners would mainly use an iPod for their listening pleasure. A special docking station in the media room connects the portable to the Elan music system. The touchpanels and keypads display the titles currently stored on the iPod and invite the homeowners to select a tune to play throughout the house. With the Elan touchpanels running a respectable $400 each, Moore was able to install a unit in several rooms, including the kitchen, master bathroom and rec room. He complemented the touchpanels with basic Elan Z-100 keypads and Elan volume controls in the dining room, foyer and outdoor kitchen. The homeowners hope to soon add a $3,500 wireless touchpanel. The Elan VIA! 2-8.4 touchpanel will be able to display the same music data as the wall-mounted units but will offer the homeowners the convenience of being able to carry their information and controls with them. “They’ll even be able to take the touchpanel outside,” says Moore.

Candid Cameras
Video is pushed around the house, too. In this case, it’s not movies from a remote DVD player or TiVo recorder the owners are viewing on every TV but images captured by four Panasonic surveillance cameras. A click of a remote pulls up the footage on whichever TV they want. The same remote can zoom, pan and tilt a camera for a better view of the chosen area. The cameras can be also accessed remotely from any Internet-enabled device. 

A Sea of TVs
Outfitting a home with 11 TVs, most of them large plasma or LCD models, would seem like a costly endeavor. But Moore was happy to use the homeowners’ eight existing sets.  He rounded out the current video inventory with a few high-def units to create three distinct movie-viewing areas, each with its own 5.1 surround-sound system and DVD player. The most impressive arrangement occupies a newly constructed media room, where a 73-inch Mitsubishi 1080p DLP HDTV takes center stage. Custom cabinetry was designed specifically to hold three front Monitor Audio speakers, a Velodyne subwoofer, a Denon receiver and a Denon DVD player.

Panasonic plasma TVs and Elan in-ceiling speakers were the choice for the great room and master bedroom. Both sets, measuring 58 and 50 inches, respectively, were mounted above a fireplace to establish one main focal point in the room. A combination of LCD and plasma TVs were installed elsewhere in the house, each with their own DVD player, cable TV box and remote control—a very simple setup that helped keep the budget in line.

Pride of Ownership
Technology may evolve at the speed of light, but the owners of this renovated home prove that it’s possible to breathe new life into old equipment by joining it with a few state-of-the-art control systems and without busting a budget.

Whole-House Music System
Elan System6 multizone controller/amplifier
Escient E2-100 digital music server and manager
Elan Olé LED touchscreen keypads (3)
Elan Z-100 keypads (4)
Elan VS-100 volume controls (3)
Elan Z660 multichannel amplifier
Elan VIA! 2-8.4 wireless touchpanel
Elan VIA! 2-SS1 system control station
Elan MP800C in-ceiling speakers (16 pairs)
Elan OM650 outdoor speakers (1 pair)
Elan VIA!migo iPod docking station
Sony 400-disc CD players (3)
Sony 400-disc DVD/CD player

A/V Components
Mitsubishi 73-inch 1080p DLP HDTV
Panasonic 58-inch plasma TV
Hitachi 50-inch rear-projection HDTV
Panasonic 50-inch plasma TV
Panasonic 42-inch plasma TVs (2)
Olevia 32-inch LCD TVs (2)
Olevia 27-inch LCD TVs (2)
Sony 27-inch Trinitron TV
Toshiba 20-inch TV/DVD player
Panasonic VHS/DVD player
Toshiba VHS/DVD players (5)
Denon AVR4802 home theater receiver
Denon AVR1802 home theater receiver
Denon DVD800 DVD player
Denon DVD2800 DVD player
Monitor Audio RS5 main channel speakers (2)
Monitor Audio RSLCR center-channel speaker
Monster Power HTS2600 home theater reference power center
Pioneer Elite VSX-59TXi home theater receiver
Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD cable boxes (4)
Velodyne SPL1000R subwoofer
Universal Remote Control MX-900 remotes (4)
Universal Remote Control MRF300 RF base stations (4)
Universal Remote Control MX3000 touchscreen remote
Universal Remote Control MSC400 system controller

Surveillance System
Panasonic pan/tilt indoor network IP cameras (4)
Panasonic network camera management system
Panasonic network TV adapter

System Design and Installation
Moore Audio Design
Matthews, NC

Interior Design
L. Gordon Designs
Charlotte, NC

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