Ultra-Connected Nantucket Getaway

22 touchpanels, capacious media servers, and some very simple software allow this family to maintain complete control over their modern island paradise.

Nantucket Getaway

What’s the best way to unwind after a long, hard week? For the owners of this 12,000-square-foot Nantucket, MA, vacation home, nothing soothes away stress better than kicking back with a few relaxing tunes.

What’s the best way to unwind after a long, hard week? For the owners of this 12,000-square-foot Nantucket, MA, vacation home, nothing soothes away stress better than kicking back with a few relaxing tunes. A favorite choice on a Friday night after a tough commute might be songs from jazz vocalist Diana Krall. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, the preferred medley might be something completely different, like a compilation of R&B classics from Earth, Wind & Fire.

The family’s impressive library of CDs runs the gamut, giving Mom, Dad and their three kids plenty of variety when it comes to their listening pleasure. Throw in hundreds of satellite and cable TV music stations, an XM Radio tuner, Sirius Radio tuner, two AM/FM tuners and two AudioRequest music servers, and the options are virtually limitless. It’s a good thing the AMX touchpanels, AutoPatch switchers and CineTouch software are there to keep things straight. The technology trio streamlines the process of hunting for music to just a few button presses. Using one of several AMX touchpanels positioned throughout the main house, guest house and outdoor entertainment areas, the family can access music that’s been categorized alphabetically by album title, genre or artist. For a visual reminder, the system displays the cover art of each album.

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The CineTouch software also allowed Michael Alpert and his team of designers at Nantucket Media Systems to create a favorites category for each member of the family. “Right now, we just have a ‘his favorites’ and a ‘hers favorites,’ because our kids are too young to use the system,” relate the homeowners. But that’ll all change in a couple of years. “Our 6-year-old has already figured out how to play music in her room,” the owners say. When it’s time to add a favorites playlist for the kids, all it’ll take is a few button presses at an AMX touchpanel. “[The ability to make changes] is one of best things about this system,” says the man of the house. “The CineTouch software makes it a piece of cake to tweak our music system as we see fit.”

The homeowners can not only choose precisely what they want to hear from any of the home’s 22 AMX touchpanels, but they can also direct the music to specific areas of the house. The residence is divided into 32 distinct listening zones, including several outdoor areas. Using any touchpanel, a user can tell the song exactly where to go. For example, if the lady of the house is in the master bedroom, she can play a song in that room only or add in the master bath, or she can tell the system to send the tune to every speaker on the property. Having such an extreme level of flexibility does make for some lighthearted musical jousting, the owners admit. “We can be in the kitchen and tell the system to play music in the guest house to wake up my friends in the morning. Of course, [guests] can always retaliate and do the same thing to us the next morning.” No matter. The occasional early-morning wake-up calls are a small price to pay for a system that provides everyone with easy access to music from anywhere to anywhere, the homeowners agree.

The owners can even take their well-organized CD library with them on the road. “I can upload the music to my iPod or sync the server remotely over the Internet to our AudioRequest server at our primary residence in Boston,” the man of the house explains. The syncing capability means the owners need only rip a CD once to have it available to them on servers located in two homes.

Must-See TV
The AMX touchpanels also display all the family’s video options. The family picks what they want to watch and where they want to watch it, and bingo: The AMX/AutoPatch video distribution system delivers. There’s a lot of video to choose from, but the layout of the touchpanels makes it easy for anyone to find a specific program or movie.

Each family member’s favorites button calls up a list of his or her top cable TV and satellite stations. The kids’ favorites page might include the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, while Mom’s favorites page lists a more serious fare of stations, including CNN. There are four satellite receivers—one for each family member—so four different programs can play at the same time on different TVs. Plus, each family member can record programs on his or her own DVR, and those programs can be accessed from anywhere in the house. For example, Dad can use an AMX touchpanel to view a list of programs that have been recorded on his DVR, chose one, and tell it to play on any of the home’s 17 flat-panel TVs–including a 65-inch Runco plasma TV, two 60-inch and two 50-inch NEC plasma TVs, plus several surround-sound setups. Meanwhile, Mom can pick out something from her recordings to watch elsewhere. If the entire family wants to watch something together, they can do that, too, perhaps selecting a slideshow of family vacation photos that has been stored on their Apple TV server, or a DVD that’s been ripped to the hard drive of their Kaleidescape video server.

Duplicate Efforts
The family has lived with its versatile entertainment network for just a few months, but already Mom, Dad and the kids know they want something similar for their 125-year-old home in Boston. Given the age of their city home, however, it may be impossible to route the necessary cabling to as many locations as was possible in the Nantucket abode. But that’s perfectly fine with this family. “We’ll use the same touchpanels, the same servers and the same software. We’ll just design them on a smaller scale,” says the homeowner. With the programming already perfected once by Alpert and his team, the owners’ second system should be a cinch for him to set up and for the family to master. Two vastly different homes governed by two identical systems will create a cross-city network of boundless entertainment options for this movie- and music-loving family.

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