It usually doesn’t work this way, but in this house she insisted on the great audio speakers. He just wanted TVs for video in every room.
The result in this three-building, 8-acre spread? Fifty zones of audio, 26 zones of video, 16 zones of HVAC to stay comfy while enjoying all that media, and 1,200 lighting loads—all controlled by an Apple-based Savant home automation system with on-screen control on all 26 TVs and 17 iPads. There are even special buttons to help a mother-in-law and to keep track of an autistic nephew who visits often. First the audio. The killer sounds the lady of the house wanted are delivered by 43 Meridian digital speakers. Each speaker contains its own amplifier, allowing the signal to remain digitally pure right to the speaker location.
The husband does not like watching TV with the sound coming through in-ceiling speakers, so in some rooms two separate audio zones are utilized. The family also wanted the speakers hidden, so some cool customization was in order. In the kitchen, TV sound is routed through two Live-Wall speakers near the TV and concealed in the wall behind a thin coat of plaster. There are also two Bay Audio subwoofers custom built into the islands, with grilles for the bass near the bottom. The gym features six audio zones alone: Meridian ceiling speakers, headphones for three Runco 26-inch TVs, and a 55-inch TV paired with Meridian DSP5200 speakers. In the billiards room every speaker was custom faux-painted, and for the outside area Leon soundbars match the moldings on the poolhouse and pergola.
Switching the audio to different speakers for music and TV required some programming of the Savant system, which initially experienced some hiccups due to the size of this home system. But Savant released an early version of its upgraded software to home technology installation company Home Theater of Long Island (HTOLI) in Manhasset, N.Y., to remedy the problem.
For future-proofing, each TV is fed a signal via fiber-optic cabling, rather than Ethernet wiring. “They consider this their last house, and one of the things we realized when we had the budget is that [Ethernet] cable can always have issues, while the potential of fiber is limitless,” says Kaloma Smith, managing director of HTOLI. “This house is less about technology and more about meeting their lifestyle.” They just want it to work when they need it to, and produce beautiful audio and video.
For example, the programmers knew where the mother-in-law would be most often, so on some lighting touchpads mom buttons light her way back to her room. And when an autistic nephew visits, the family uses a john button that makes the system easy for him to use and keeps track of his whereabouts. If he ventures outside, an alert sounds through all speakers in the home, and the TVs show a camera feed of where he is. The same happens when someone arrives at the front gate.
But perhaps the biggest technical tour de force in this home is the basement theater space, decked in dark woods and Meridian speakers (see sidebar), plus Meridian’s three-chip MF10 D-ILA (Direct-drive Image Light Amplification) projector and Stewart CineCurve CinemaScopewide screen. Processing comes from Meridian’s superb 861 Reference Surround Processor, and sources include Kaleidescape’s video server and Meridian’s 800 Reference DVD player. For power protection, all electrical panels are equipped with Eaton surge protectors, and the owners receive an email each week when the generator is tested.
Follow Electronic House
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