Pathway to Heaven

This outdoor entertainment haven has a long and tuneful road.

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The covered loggia near the pool has full service, thanks to a Crestron in-wall control panel to call up tunes or operate the pool; in-wall Sonance subwoofers in the columns; and two LCD TVs, in-ceiling speakers, and a kitchen/barbecue area. Photo by

Most of us would be happy with a backyard containing a pool, a patio, maybe a cabana and bar area, and a couple of speakers so we could listen to some tunes while we relaxed and entertained. Not the owners of this Southern California playground. Their backyard entertainment is so extensive, they need a golf cart path to link the 3.5 acres of fun.

There’s the requisite patio and pool—and a spa, a stream, a putting green, a bandstand, a tennis court, a gazebo and a reflecting pond. The entire area is chock full of speakers, lights that turn on and off automatically, and strategically placed video monitors—and let’s not forget handheld controls for easy operation of anything from anywhere. “The homeowners wanted their yard to be an escape from the pressures of life and wanted the feeling of complete relaxation, as if they were on vacation,” says Josh Christian of custom electronics installation company DSI Entertainment Systems. “This outdoor space is truly an entertainment and relaxation paradise.”

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Let’s start our little tour at the patio. Can you say da-da-da, da-da-da!—as in the ESPN theme song? This covered oasis, which the family calls the ESPN Patio Zone, has a 42-inch Panasonic plasma screen above a fireplace, plus two 27-inch Sony TVs at sitting areas at either end of the space, all accompanied by three pairs of Sonance Virtuoso in-ceiling speakers and two Sonance Cinema Two in-wall subwoofers. Why six speakers? Two for each of the sitting areas, which are far enough apart to have separate audio without interfering with one another. A game or show from one TV can be heard through all six speakers as well. DSI engineered a syncing device so that TiVos playing through the system wouldn’t cause a delay from one TV to another. A wireless handheld Crestron touchscreen selects the audio and video for each TV independently. The patio is further served by an in-wall Crestron touchscreen that does the same as the handheld one and that also allows access to the home’s automation system. Oh, and there’s a ping-pong table. Da-da-da, da-da-da!

If that isn’t enough, right inside the door is the main ESPN room with four high-definition plasma TVs, set up so that any of them can be played over the surround-sound system. But let’s stick to the exterior. Perhaps we should take a little stroll down the golf cart path? Heck, let’s just take the cart.

A bridge separates the main house from the guesthouse, and the pathway features Sonance speakers. The pool area below the guesthouse has a covered loggia with more Sonance in-ceiling speakers and in-wall subwoofers. Can’t you just hear the music? It can come from two separate zones of an AudioReQuest hard drive music server, three Sirius satellite radio players in an Antex Triple Play receiver, DirecTV, FM radio or an iPod. (They can plug into an auxiliary jack outside.)

The pool and loggia are also served by two LCD TVs under the outdoor kitchen and barbecue area. In-ceiling and in-wall speakers and subwoofers thoroughly cover this entertainment space with high-quality sound, and the TVs are situated for viewing when guests are in the spa.

The spa area has Stereostone speakers disguised as rocks to blend into the landscape. From there, you can take the stairs down to a golf putting green, and next to that is a bandstand for outdoor performances along with some Sonance Mariner H2O speakers. A Crestron CT-1000 touchscreen at the green allows golfers to putt to their favorite tunes.

There’s a greenhouse on one side of the property, which the golf cart path connects, and all along the pathway, Sonance Mariner speakers are painted black and buried in the soil. “You can walk along the path and hear uninterrupted music,” Christian says.

The stream flows underneath the cart path and ends at a reflecting pond, tennis court and gazebo, where more Sonance Mariners deliver the tunes. An extensive Vantage exterior lighting system runs on an astronomical clock that automatically lights the pathways and illuminates the oak trees at night.

Control of the entire backyard area happens via in-wall touchscreens, a Crestron waterproof handheld remote and a Crestron handheld color remote. Multiple radio frequency receivers are located throughout the property for complete coverage.

The tennis court, pool area, front entry area and front gates are all monitored through security cameras, with video accessible at any TV or video-enabled Crestron touchscreen.

Time to find our way back to the house. We should probably just follow the music.

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