September 01, 2006
| by Lisa Montgomery
Joe and Pat Farinacci have lived many places: Chicago, New Jersey, Dallas, North Carolina and New York. But their favorite, by far, has been Dallas. “The people there are wonderful,” enthuses Joe. “Plus, our children and grandchildren all live there, and we like being in a climate where we can enjoy the sun all the time.” Given the Farinaccis’ affinity for the lone star state, it was the obvious locale for their retirement home.
In keeping with the Texan spirit, the Farinaccis did their dream home up big. Just a couple thousand square feet would have felt enormous compared with their previous home in Long Island, but the couple went all out, building an 11,000-square-foot abode with more than enough room for the entire Farinacci brood to sprawl out. “We’ve even decided to host our son’s wedding here in October,” says Joe.
The home is also big when it comes to technology. A whole house music system, a dedicated media room, a wireless computer network, hard-drive based media servers and custom-crafted loudspeakers are just a few of the high-tech amenities that occupy the residence.
Professionally designed and installed by the Farinaccis’ friends at Eric Grundelman’s CoolAV (the company installed systems in Joe and Pat’s home in 1993), the systems keep the couple’s friends and family constantly entertained and coming back for more.
Whole-House Audio, Satellite Offer Music Everywhere
Whether the Farinaccis are inside or outside the house, they are never without music. An ADA Suite 16 system pumps out the family’s favorites to every section on the property. A combination of in-ceiling and in-wall SpeakerCraft speakers and Rockustics rock speakers blanket the areas with fantastic sound. Using sleek keypads mounted to the walls, Joe and Pat can choose from a wide assortment of tunes: FM radio, XM satellite radio, Sirius satellite radio or something stored on the AMX MAX hard-drive based music server.
What’s playing at the Farinaccis depends on the time of day, says Joe. “Sometimes we’re listening to music from the ‘60s and ‘70s; other times we put on something classical. And I have to be alone when I’m listening to Frank’s Place [on XM radio].” As for Pat, she’s more interested in hearing Howard Stern on Sirius satellite radio. “I’m his number one fan,” she says. “I’ve been listening to him for 20 years.”
But it doesn’t really matter who’s home, what room they’re in or what type of audio they’re after. The Suite 16 system is able to deliver different music simultaneously to as many as 16 areas.
The “7.8” Audio System: Seven Speakers and Eight Subwoofers
Aside from the pool and lanai area, one of the Farinaccis’ favorite spots to enjoy audio is the media room. Maybe it’s because the speakers in this room are so fine. Eric Grundelman’s CoolAV asked speaker manufacturer California Audio Technology (CAT) to custom build the speakers and subwoofers for the space.
“The people from CAT can come out to the house and engineer the speakers on sight, based on the parameters of the room,” explains Bill Skaer, Eric Grundelman’s CoolAV president. “The Farinaccis wanted a great media room, and using top-quality, custom speakers was the way to do it.”
The quality of the speakers and subwoofers is only one aspect that puts this media room in the upper echelons of home entertainment. The sheer number of units is enough to send an audiophile’s head spinning. “It’s a 7.1 system with a twist, something we call a 7.8 system,” explains general manager Randy Presley. “That means seven speakers and eight subwoofers.”
Seven-speaker arrangements have become fairly common in many home theaters, but eight subwoofers in one room takes the cake. “We had good reasons for doing it, though,” says Skaer. “We’ve found that in rooms with just a single sub, one person hears all the bass while the another person hears nothing. The way the bass rolls through the room, there are usually several hot and cold spots. Spreading eight subwoofers throughout the room ensured that everyone got an equal amount of bass.”
Although the media room is brimming with speakers and subs, you’d never know it. All of the units are hidden behind fabric-covered walls. The fabric is acoustically transparent, allowing the sound to drift into the room unaffected.
Fabric also plays a big role in the video presentation. An elegant red drape covers the 123-inch Stewart screen, creating a look that’s reminiscent of palatial old-time movie houses. On command from a portable AMX ViewPoint touchscreen, the drape lifts, gathering neatly at the top of the screen. The effect gives Joe and Pat just enough time to select a movie.
While it may take a few minutes for the family to agree on a flick—after all, there are some 700 DVD titles to choose from—finding the DVD takes seconds. The speedy selection process is made possible by a Kaleidescape video server. Instead of having to paw through piles of DVDs, the Farinaccis simply look at the screen of the touchscreen to view their movie choices. The movies are categorized by actor, genre and other criteria to help the family whittle down the list. “[The Kaleidescape server] is the Rolls Royce of DVD management,” says Skaer.
As if the 123-inch screen at the front of the room and the 7 1/2-inch screen by the CinemaTech Valintino chairs weren’t enough to make this room rock, there’s another screen at the back that’s got the whole family talking—make that singing. The 27-inch LCD monitor displays the song lyrics of 10,000 songs stored on a special karaoke music server. Anyone is welcome to take the stage and belt out a tune, says Joe, although it’s typically his daughter and sisters that grab the mic.
The media room gives the Farinaccis the special space they wanted for watching movies and singing songs, but there are plenty of other areas where they can see a show. There’s the den, with its 70-inch Sony Grand Wega HDTV; the master bedroom’s 46-inch Samsung DLP; the playroom’s 42-inch Sony Grand Wega HDTV; the kitchen’s 20-inch Sharp LCD TV; and two portable 12.1-inch Sony wireless TVs that can be carried anywhere, even outside.
All of the TVs can access the digital satellite receiver and VCR in the media room, but the movies on the Kaleidescape server are strictly off-limits. “We didn’t want the grandkids to be able to access the system,” Joe explains.
“If they want to watch a DVD, they have to do it the old-fashioned way: load it into the DVD player.” (Each TV has its own DVD player and digital satellite receiver.)
Media Management and Network Access Via AMX Netlinx
Joe may be retired, but he’s not quite ready to hang up his trusty laptop just yet. These days, though, it’s not exactly business that he handles when he hits the keyboard. Because his home is networked through an AMX Netlinx system, Joe can use the laptop from anywhere in the house to cue a movie in the media room or add an MP3 or CD to the music server. He can reorganize his collection of videos and music or create a completely new category of entertainment.
Computer access is also helpful to the design and installation team at Eric Grundelman’s CoolAV. Without ever stepping foot inside the Farinaccis’ house, they can tap into any system remotely to tweak settings or fix minor problems should they occur. Remote management gives the Farinaccis opportunities to easily expand their entertainment systems, but for now, they’re completely satisfied with the setup.
Says Joe: “Now that I’ve have these systems, I can’t imagine living without them.”
Installation firm Eric Grundelman’s CoolAV was tasked with blending high-end technology into this home’s elaborate decor. Photo by Graham Hobart.
Using an AMX touchscreen, the homeowners can select a DVD to watch. All of their DVDs are stored digitally on a Kaleidescape video server, which resides with the rest of the A/V equipment in a custom-crafted entertainment rack. Photo by Graham Hobart.
The home’s chefs can catch up on their favorite shows via the small LCD television housed above the stove. Photo by Graham Hobart.
A red drapery lifts to reveal a 123-inch screen from Stewart Filmscreen. Photo by Graham Hobart.
Whole-House Music System
ADA Suite 16 whole house system
ADA MC-6011 Rapture keypads (13)
ADA PTM-1645 8-zone amplifiers (2)
ADA PTM-6150 THX amplifier
ADA TuneSuite multizone tuner
Rockustics Rocky II rock speakers (2)
Rockustics Stonehenge II rock speakers (4)
Sony STSE-370ES AM/FM tuner
Sony CDP-CA70ES 5-disc CD player
SpeakerCraft dual-tweeter speakers (4)
SpeakerCraft CRS8Three speakers (12)
SpeakerCraft CRS8Two speakers (14)
SpeakerCraft MT8Three speakers (4)
SpeakerCraft outdoor speakers (4)
T2 4-channel modulator
AMX Viewpoint 7.5-inch touchscreen
Stewart Filmscreen 123-inch screen
Runco VX5000D video projector
Runco DHD video controller
California Audio Technology 4.0 Sub
Miramar subwoofers (4)
California Audio Technology 4.0 Laguna in-wall speakers (3)
California Audio Technology 3.0 Catalina in-wall speakers (4)
California Audio Technology custom sub enclosures (2)
CinemaTech Valentino chairs (8)
ADA PTM 8150 amplifier
ADA PBA2000 bass amplifiers (2)
ADA Suite 7.1 preamp processor
Denon DVD2900 universal DVD/SACD/DVD-A player
DirecTV HR10250 HDTV satellite receiver with TiVo
Kaleidescape DVD video server
Sony SLV-N900 VCR
http://www.sonystyle.com/ 70-inch Grand Wega HDTV
http://www.sonystyle.com/ 12.1-inch LocationFree TVs (2)
http://www.sonystyle.com/ SLV-N900 VCR
Samsung SIRS300W DSS
Samsung SIR-TS360 HD DSS receiver
Sony DVP-NS-725P progressive-scan DVD player
DirecTV D10 satellite receivers (2)
DirecTV H20 HD satellite receiver
DirecTV HR10250 HDTV satellite receivers with TiVo (4)
Philips DSX-5500 satellite receivers (2)
AMX NI-3000 Netlinx controller
Linksys wireless router and hub
Middle Atlantic racks
Nortel phone system
Panamax surge protectors
Eric Grundelman’s CoolAV
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.