August 21, 2008
| by Lisa Montgomery
Adding to the impact is an automated masking system that alters the shape of the screen based on the format of the chosen video. When Tony selects a DVD movie set in a 16:9 format, for example, a sheath of black fabric rolls down each side of the 2.35:1 screen. The ability to hide unused portions of the display eliminates visual distractions for a more engaging viewing experience. Should a CinemaScope movie be cued from the AMX touchpanel, the masking fabric rolls back up into a slim housing near the ceiling to reveal the entire superwide screen.
As the screen alters its shape, the AMX system revs up the projector, an Anthem surround-sound receiver, and the chosen video source (a high-def DVD player, high-def satellite receiver or Xbox gaming console are available via a touch of the AMX panel). Audio is fed to seven James speakers and three James subwoofers to envelop the 17-by-30-foot space. The volume level adjusts automatically based on the source that’s selected, per settings programmed into the system by Dodson.
Unlike most of the movie theater gear, though, the speakers are indiscernible, having been placed behind the walls and in the ceiling as the room was being finished. For the front three speakers, Dodson designed the wall underneath the screen to angle up slightly, so that the speakers would fire up a bit. “This puts the prize sound through your head all the way back to the snack bar,” says Dodson. “Creating an even distribution of sound was the objective for this theater. We wanted the sound quality to be equal for every seat in the room.”
The rest of the brownstone gets its fair share of awesome entertainment, too. Content from a Marantz DVD player and three DirecTV satellite receivers, each with a built-in digital video recorder, can be routed to TVs throughout the house. There are 50-inch Philips plasmas in the living room and dining room; a 42-inch LG plasma in the master bedroom; 32-inch LG plasmas in three guest rooms, a sitting room and a rooftop patio; and a 32-inch Sharp LCD TV in the master bath. Video signals travel from various equipment locations to the TVs over a network of high-speed Category 5 cabling, a wiring infrastructure that Dodson says is more efficient and less expensive to install than conventional RGB cabling.
Tony can select and control the video sources from either an AMX touchpanel or a handheld AMX Mio remote. “While Tony’s getting dressed in the morning, he can grab either device to have the TV in the bedroom play a show he recorded the night before on the DVR, pause it, then continue watching the show on the plasma TV downstairs,” says Dodson. “No matter where Tony goes, the video can go with him.” That’s quite an accomplishment in a home that towers four stories tall. Add whole-house music, sophisticated lighting, a home theater and a robust home-management system, and it’s clear that Tony’s decision to go beyond the basics was a good one.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.