Backyard Becomes Outdoor Electronics Showpiece

Talk of a tiny TV in a Tiki hut grew into a project delivering 3,000 watts of audio and 102 inches of high-def, rear-projection video.


Editor’s Note: This profile of one of our Home of the Year winners originally ran in May of 2012. We’re highlighting past winners in anticipation of the May 2013 release of the new Home of the Year winners. You’ll want to check back in May, because the new winners are awesome.

It all started with the idea of building a Tiki hut in the backyard … oh, and maybe putting in a nice TV to catch a few sports clips. But after a chat with their neighbor, Mark van den Broek, who just happens to be president of the Sarasota, Fla.–based custom electronics and design firm SmartHouse Integration, the owners of this bronze-winning outdoor space grew their plans for a backyard overhaul to include a ton of cutting-edge technology. “The ideas just kept flowing the more we talked,” says van den Broek.

“We talked about installing a drop-down screen so the yard could function like an outdoor theater, we talked about LED lighting, and we talked about control.” With the exception of the drop-down projection screen, all the above—plus much more—were incorporated. With limited space and located right on the ocean, the property was a good candidate for a rear-projection system—a setup where the video projector could be completely concealed and protected within a specially constructed, air-conditioned and insulated “shed” behind the screen. This arrangement would also preclude sunlight from washing out the images from the DPI M-Vision video projector and the 102-inch Stewart Filmscreen StarGlas display—a big plus for a family that wanted to be able to watch TV outside during the day. “The kids can throw a movie into a Blu-ray player and watch it in the afternoon as they swim,” says van den Broek.

The Samsung Blu-ray player, as well as components including a DirecTV receiver and Sonos Z90 wireless music player, are all fairly accessible, having been stowed in a specially constructed closet in the pool house—a space that boasts its own entertainment system featuring a 40-inch LED Samsung TV. An Elan M86A amplifier drives four pair of Niles and Elan speakers inside the pool house, and two pairs outside.

Near the big screen is where SmartHouse Integration pulled out all the stops, choosing top-of-the-line Crown CDi 1000 and CDi 2000 amplifiers to deliver a whopping 3,000 watts of power to two JBL CBT 70J speakers by the front of the screen, two JBL C25 speakers for the rear of the viewing area, and one JBL C250 subwoofer. “I just wanted to make sure that the family could hear the audio from anywhere in the yard,” says van den Broek. “And we can rattle the dishes if we want to.”

The owners use a special home control app from Elan on their iPads and iPhones to select a source, direct that audio and video signal to a particular zone, control its volume and operate the Jandy pool and spa system, LED landscape lighting and the thermostat in the pool house. In addition to being iPad/iPhone friendly, the g! system from Elan is robust enough to operate any type of electronic device inside the house, something the owners plan to do eventually.

See Also:
Interior Design for Outdoor Audio
Backyard Theater includes Hidden TV
Impressive Rooftop TV Installation
Serious Sonance Speakers for Big Yard

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