Upgrading From Tech Trepidation to Tech Savvy
These homeowners liked the benefits of their original custom electronics and automation install so much they wanted a whole lot more, like improved audio distribution.
FINALIST: Best Before and After
August 26, 2009 by Arlen Schweiger

A lot’s changed since 2005, not only for these homeowners but as far as technology goes. For one thing, they’re no longer intimidated by technology or things like 1080p and Blu-ray—they even have a TV hidden in one of their bathroom mirrors now.

With the help of the custom electronics pros from New Jersey-based Digital Surroundings, the homeowners have gone from some basic remote controls and ease-of-use automation installed to more sophisticated systems, and now have control and multiroom A/V down to a snap at more than one home.

“We initially met the homeowners in the summer of 2005 at the Greenbrier Resort and Sporting Club in West Virginia,” says Digital Surroundings president R.C. Wakin. “They were very nervous about new technology. Their main goals were reliability and ease of use. This down-to-earth couple loves to entertain in their home as well as listen to music. They also wanted an intuitive solution that could be easily used by guests in their absence without the need for training related service calls.”

So Digital Surroundings went with integrated, but basic, remote controls and some AMX automation. However, the homeowners developed a desire for something even more savvy.

Their goals for an upgrade could also now incorporate goodies like 1080p video and Blu-ray, to go with more control options as well as more comprehensive distributed audio.

“We ended up integrating two [AMX] MVP-8400s into their existing system. We then added an Antex XM 3000 Triple Play. This unit gives them a diversity of music sources they were previously lacking. They are also huge NASCAR fans and love the content it offers along with how easy it is controlled by the touchpanel,” says Wakin. “We also integrated a new Escient Fireball Music Server. They never fully utilized this product until we implemented it onto the MVP-8400s and into their existing NI control system. Now they have their favorite music available anywhere and anytime they need it.”

And another fun new feature to enjoy, aside from the newfound flexibility? Up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, according to Wakin, who integrated the i-Weather feature on the MVP-8400, which delivers real-time Doppler radar screens with presets.

“Since the integration we have now completed two additional projects including their lake home and their primary residence,” he says. “All solutions are upgrades of the past (before) technologies to a common solution based on the Greenbrier home (after).”

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

Installer/Equipment List

Systems Design & Installation
Digital Surroundings
Lawrenceville, NJ

MVP-8400 (2X)
NI 3000 control processor

Pioneer Elite:
PRO 111FD 50” 1080P Display (2X)
BDP-95FD Blu-ray player

TV Mirror

XM-3000 Triple Play XM/Sirius tuner


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