Jazz Lover Uses JBL and Elan for Whole House Music

JBL, James and RBH loudspeakers jazz up this whole-home makeover, while Elan and RTI systems make the entertainment smooth and seamless.


This complete home makeover started with some work on a small water closet near the pool. And thank goodness for that, because without it Greg Jackson might not enjoy a seriously jazzy whole-house music system in his 3,500-square-foot home.

“Greg’s a huge jazz fan. He loves his concerts on Blu-ray and DVD, and this played a major role in the design of the overall system,” says Aaron Bayer of Audio Video Systems in Frisco, Texas, which had installed electronics systems at Jackson’s business. This time, though, the high-tech goodies were meant for all play and no business. “The house is set up to get the best sound for music,” Bayer says.

JBL speakers are used throughout the home, including the outdoor space, where they are joined by an underground James Loudspeaker subwoofer and incognito RBH rock speakers. The effect is powerful outdoor music that is heard but not seen. More JBL surround-sound speakers can be found in the family room and master bedroom. And if the doorbell rings, the music throughout the home is turned down, so if Jackson is having a party he can hear his guests arriving.

The lavishly outfitted outdoor area also includes two SunBriteTV 46-inch 1080p HDTVs chosen for their weather resistance. Jackson can listen to XM Radio or audio from any other source, such as DirecTV or the iPod docks, which are piped throughout the house via an Elan distributed audio system.

Entertainment Tour de Force

The JBL speakers star in Jackson’s jazzed-up home: “When I play a video or music, it feels like I am there,” says the proud homeowner. “The JBL speakers provide the exact experience that I was looking for when listening to music and concert videos.”

All that audio is nice, but the home’s technological tour de force may be the multidisplay game room upstairs. Three HDTVs can all play something different, such as Xbox, DirecTV or a Blu-ray, or they can all play the same content. Bayer and his crew accomplished this by using a Gefen Crosspoint 8×8 matrix HDMI switcher, which allows the use of any of eight sources on any TV. Jackson can control what is on every screen by just pressing a button on the Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI) T4 remote control.

The three TVs are from Samsung’s 8000 series, which were chosen for their ultra-efficient LED backlighting and ultraslim profiles; each is less than an inch thick. They also refresh at 240Hz instead of 120 or 60Hz, which is great for viewing fast-action sports. And they are 3D-ready. Thanks to the Gefen HDMI switcher and the Samsung 3D Blu-ray player, Jackson and his guests can watch 3D movies on any of the TVs.

Jackson also wanted karaoke on the game room system, using dual wireless microphones. So Audio Video Systems equipped the space with JBL Project Array speakers with compression drivers to handle the dynamics of a live microphone. (A dome tweeter would have been more likely to blow when used with a live microphone.)

The room is perfect for entertaining or watching big games, especially during the parties Jackson hosted for the 2011 Super Bowl and Dallas Mavericks playoff games. Because he has friends who aren’t able to navigate the stairs easily, the same video feed plays downstairs. In the future, Jackson would like to upgrade by adding this synching ability to the family room and the outside areas.

Planning and Replanning

This project grew from Jackson’s quest for the best. The home was wired in April 2010, in what Bayer calls “the smallest home that he’s ever put this much equipment in.” Most of the preexisting walls came down, and Audio Video Systems was able to prewire and cut holes for speaker locations, rather than having to snake wires through existing walls.

Initially, Audio Video Systems presented Jackson with options for lighting, HVAC and security, but the homeowner was focused on entertainment and chose to forgo some of those systems. He later realized that these systems would make a huge difference in his everyday lifestyle. Luckily, Bayer and his team had planned enough space in the Middle Atlantic racks for future expansion.

One of the systems added was the wireless Lutron RadioRA 2 lighting control system, which is operable through the Elan g! control system (see sidebar). Audio Video Systems gave Jackson different lighting themes in different rooms, with the ability to access the controls on the Elan system. A night mode shines just enough light onto Jackson’s artwork, while pathway lighting triggers when he opens the garage door. “I can adjust it with my remotes, wall dimmers and iPhone,” says Jackson. “I like the ability to direct lights to my artwork and set scenes.”

Another late addition was HVAC control, which Bayer set up so Jackson can control and see a history of his energy consumption, conserve energy and control usage based on time of day. If Jackson is not home, he can set the Aprilaire system to an away mode, and before he comes home he can control the thermostats remotely so the home will be cool when he arrives. “We also relocated his thermostats so he doesn’t have a lot of fixtures cluttering his walls,” Bayer says. Small temperature sensors remain in the rooms, but the thermostats are hidden and controllable via iPad, iPhone or a smaller touchscreen in each room.

Audio Video Systems stayed on site to work closely with the late additions of HVAC, lighting and irrigation control. And Bayer worked closely with the interior designer to coordinate everything from the beginning of the process, which made the changes in plans go smoothly.

The project goes on. Next up? Jackson wants a 46-inch HDTV in the kitchen, an additional 46-inch HDTV in the game room, and more video synching ability.


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