October 31, 2011
| by Steven Castle
Putting audio and video systems in attic rooms can be tricky. There are often sloped walls, alcoves, dormers and all sorts of twists and turns that can make creating decent audio and video a thankless chore.
So what to do with this space, which features an L-shaped area and a narrow hallway to a window? Designed as one of several showrooms in the Mansions and Millionaires Designer’s Showcase taking place through Oct. 30 at the Chestnut Manor estate in Upper Brookville on Long Island, N.Y., interior designers Angela Leva and Suzan Visconti of Leva & Visconti Designs decided to make a funky music and sitting room out of the odd-shaped space.
They enlisted the help of custom electronics distributor Royal Systems to design a system and New York-based Audio Design Consultants to install it.
The signatures in this cool space are a wall-mounted 42-inch Samsung 1080p plasma HDTV and two Induction Dynamics SolidDrives, which are fist-size transducers hidden behind the walls to effectively turn the room’s walls into speakers.
Using transducers behind a wall to form sound typically involves some hefty compromise in audio quality, but the Induction Dynamics SolidDrives filled the room nicely on our short visit there. Don’t expect to get audiophile quality out of these speakers, but they provide the room with decent mid- and high-end sound.
The transducers are mounted behind the two walls flanking the retro bird’s nest chair. “With the construction of the walls, we couldn’t cut into them, yet there was a small crawl space behind them,” explains Dave Silkin of Royal Systems. The placement was fortuitous, as those two walls are about the only good spots for speakers in the room.
The speakers are also used for the TV audio, though the TV is on another wall. “It’s very hard to locate those speakers when they’re playing, and they have a very big soundstage, so for a mostly music room it’s fine,” Silkin says.
The room also features an Elan g! control system, with Elan’s HC6 processor as the system’s brain, an Elan M86 Multi-Room Audio Controller/Amplifier for audio distribution and an Elan TS7 seven-inch in-wall touch screen for simple user control.
The room has a camera aimed at the door so anyone entering the room instantly sees themselves on the TS7 located next to the doorway. The camera senses motion, and that acts as a trigger through the Elan g! control system to turn on the music system.
Interior designer Visconti advocates that technology not be an afterthought, but instead be integral to the function and layout of the rooms she designs.
“In our design for the Music Room at Chestnut Manor, my partner Angela and I wanted to project a relaxing and rejuvenating ambiance and create a place for the homeowner to get away from it all—watch whatever shows and listen to whatever music he wants or jam on his guitar. We incorporated the highest level of technology to make the room sophisticated and at the same time functional and simple to control.”
Elan HC6 System Controller, $1,950
Elan M86A Multiroom Audio Controller/Amplifier, $1,766
Elan TS-7 7” Touchscreen, $1,700
Elan HWGC18R g! Network Adapter, $420
Induction Dynamics Solid Drive SD1, (2) $510/each
42” Samsung PN42D450 Plasma, TV $799
Hawk-I Hawk131PIR Covert Color Camera, $299
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates