Musically Adapting to a Whole-House Audio System


Credit: Olson Photographic

A housewide Crestron audio system expands with the changing needs of a family of five in this 6,000-square-foot home.

Apr. 23, 2009 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

It’s a warm autumn afternoon, and there’s a whirlwind of activity in the yard of the Lucker residence.

With pigtails flying, three little girls are zooming up and down the driveway on their bikes, getting in one last sprint before Mom calls them in for dinner. Dad’s out there too, watching for wipeouts while tinkering in the garage. This bustling outdoor area has become a popular hangout for the Luckers, and since they’ve started using their whole-house music system, the time spent outside as a family has become even more enjoyable. 

Audio Attraction
Music has always been a big part of the Luckers’ life. “We’re really into listening to all different kinds of music and we entertain a lot, so there’s always something playing in the background,” says Mrs. Lucker.

In the “old days” having music close by meant either carting around a boombox or blasting the stereo. Neither were very elegant solutions, the homeowners admit. So while their 6,000-square-foot Colonial home was being built, the Luckers brought in the experts from Audio Video Excellence (AVE) in Thornwood, N.Y., to install a system that would be able to feed a variety of songs from several components stored in the family room entertainment cabinet to dozens of speakers strategically positioned all over the property.

Of course, the yard was one of the first places the Luckers thought of when considering their housewide audio plans. Weather-hardy Paradigm speakers were mounted to the deck and garage, and a Niles volume control was installed inside the garage. Those few additions—integrated into a Crestron whole-house music system—simplified matters dramatically for the family.

“My husband can crank up the tunes or mute the music without stepping foot inside the house,” says Mrs. Lucker.

Ready for More
It seemed like the perfect arrangement—until the Luckers lived with the system for awhile. A few months after they moved into their house, the family was craving greater control over their music—and the Crestron system accommodated. AVE swapped the garage volume control for a 4-inch Crestron touchpanel. From this one interactive display the Luckers can pick out exactly what they want to hear and set the volume appropriately. One day the song of choice might come from the kids’ Hannah Montana CD; the next, something from their compilation of R&B stored on the hard disc drive of their Crestron media server.

The ability of the Crestron technology to adapt to their changing needs and lifestyle is something that immediately attracted the family to the system.

“They wanted to stay within a certain price range to begin with, but be able to easily expand and add on new features to their home in the future,” explains AVE designer Chris Johnson.

Because Crestron offers so many different types of products, the Luckers were able to start by putting in just a few small touchpanels in the key areas of their house with the understanding that they could always incorporate additional touchpanels—as they did in the garage—or exchange the original 4-inch units for larger displays. They would also be able to add new drivers to the system so that the lights and thermostats could be controlled from the touchpanels. And, because the Crestron system is driven by customizable software, it could be reprogrammed by AVE whenever the family was ready for a change.

For now, the Luckers feel that they have most of their bases covered. They can send songs from their iPod, media server and cable box to any of eight independent listening zones. Different songs can be directed to different areas, or one song can play throughout the entire house. To make it easy to find the perfect tune, the family’s collection of music is categorized by genre, artist and album title. Those lists can be displayed on any of the home’s six in-wall touchpanels.

“I just go to the panel, touch it to wake it up, choose the source, then select what I want to hear,” Mrs. Lucker explains. Because music is such an integral part of their lifestyle, they’ve gone so far as to create their own custom playlists. “It’s a simple matter of going to the computer and picking out songs you want and choosing and assigning the group a title,” explains Mrs. Lucker.  “We have a playlist for party music, kid’s music and dinner music.” Every time a new playlist is created, it appears on the touchpanel along with all the other music choices.

iPod Access
While it’s been fun for the Luckers to fiddle around with their music, their favorite and most used part of the system is their iPod docking station in the kitchen. The instant an iPod is clicked into the dock, its songs are added to the housewide music network. The titles are displayed on the touchpanels just as they would appear on the screen of the iPod and those songs can be played through any and all speakers.

And it’s not just the Luckers’ iPod that gets in on the action. “A friend can bring over an iPod and introduce a whole new variety of music to listen to,” says Johnson. Whether those iPod tunes are playing in the kids’ playroom in the basement, the master bedroom or the yard, the Luckers are never more than a few steps away from a touchpanel—where they can summon a different song whenever they want.

Click here to view additional photos.

Systems Design and Installation
Audio Video Excellence
Thornwood, N.Y.

Interior Design
Maggie Nielsen Interiors
Chappaqua, N.Y.

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