Parade of Home Technology

Media room, whole-house music and iOS control

You might think that luxury home builders would know exactly what they wanted when it came time to get a luxury control and entertainment system installed in their own home. The owners of this home knew they wanted music throughout their new house. A media room with a big screen was also high on their wish list, but they depended on their custom electronics pro to guide them to the best solutions.

The decision to go with WeeBee Audio Video in Lancaster PA was an easy one. As home builders, Sara and Dave Costello, of Costello Builders, had worked with Lee Rambler and WeeBee several times in the past for client homes. They’d seen the home theater systems he installed, and knew it was time to get a system like that for themselves.

Rambler began working with the Costellos on this system from the early conception stage, so WeeBee was able to get in and do important pre-wire work before the walls were finished. That was critical because with 14-foot ceilings and a lot of features built from reclaimed barn wood and beams, wiring after the walls were finished would have been difficult, “but not impossible,” notes Rambler.

For an example of a Total Control system in a retrofit home, go here.

Custom homes like this always come with their unique challenges. In the media room, for instance, HVAC ducts prevented the projector and screen from being centered just the way they wanted it, so Rambler suggested building a false wall to reorient the room somewhat. WeeBee also framed an extra section of a closet to accommodate a subwoofer, then added a false HVAC vent for the sub.

Aside from having a great system to enjoy in their home, the owners also wanted to include the house in Lancaster’s Parade of Homes event. A professionally-designed media room would be a real attention-getter.

The control system Rambler recommended for the Costello’s was URC’s Total Control. He liked that it was all IP-based and easily scalable to different sized homes and complexity levels. The homeowners were attracted to the iOS interface since they had iPads and iPhones with them nearly all the time.

The heart of the house is the Total Control MRX10 processor. That’s the unit that ties together all the other systems, including the main media room, additional TV locations, whole-house music system, lighting and thermostat.

In the theater room, the owners watch all their video sources, such as Blu-ray and DVR, on a 92-inch Dragonfly screen which is filled by a Sony SXRD projector. Audio processing and power come from an Integra receiver, and the room’s speakers are from Episode.

To get music piped around the house, WeeBee used a Total Control SNP1 streaming music player and a Total Control DMS1200 multizone amp. The family mostly uses Pandora as their music source via the SNP1, but satellite radio and stored iTunes music can also be played.

Beside the main media room, the home includes another full-surround sound room. In the great room an LCD TV mounted above the fireplace is the focal point. WeeBee had to use some creativity to hide all the speakers, since large windows and reclaimed barn beams didn’t leave a lot of places to mount in-walls. The subwoofer, for example, is hidden under a stairway.

The entire integrated system can be controlled by any of the family’s iOS devices. A wand-style URC remote is also available in the media room for when the family prefers more traditional buttons.

The entire home project took about 9 months, but WeeBee’s part was 6 days, including programming.

The Parade of Homes event, by the way, was a big success.

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