Mary Stovall grew up on classic rock. Zeppelin, Hendrix, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, AC/DC—stuff that’s meant to be played loud enough to shake books off shelves. Listening to it on the same components and speakers for 15 years can get a bit stale, though, so when Mary won Electronic House’s Ultimate Home Theater Sweepstakes, it was like she won a ticket to a concert featuring all of her favorite bands. “It’s a big difference,” she says. “If we ever had a block party, we’d be providing the music. The louder it gets, the better it sounds.”
Now Mary and husband Ronnie Overstreet can blare the music from a Paradigm Cinema series system connected to a Yamaha A/V receiver. But music is just where the fun begins, the Hampton, VA, homeowners are discovering.
Their winning package also included a 42-inch Vidikron plasma TV, DVDO iScan video processor, Omnimount articulating wall mount, Universal Remote Control MX-3000 remote, Monster power conditioner, Ethereal wire and cable, and Salamander Designs Synergy System cabinet. While the tunes have a renewed vigor on their system, watching TV and movies has left Mary feeling a little like Dorothy when she steps from black-and-white Kansas into the Technicolor world of Oz.
“The picture is just fantastic,” Mary says of the wall-mounted plasma, which replaced an old Samsung rear-projection DLP set. “It’s more lifelike and not blurry like the big screen I had before. I love that you can tilt it and turn it left to right. It’s not hard on my eyes.”
The wizard that helped make everything happen in this case was systems design and installation company Savant Living of Virginia Beach, VA. Coordinated by the company’s director of operations, Tom Wilson, Savant’s team of Cary Morris, Justin Sgambelluri, Charles Watrous and Torrance Zeiler wired, mounted, hooked up and programmed the system in one day.
<b;Prep and Install
After scouting the 50-year-old brick ranch home, Savant and the homeowners worked on a room rearrangement to optimize the setup. The old TV was a previous-generation big-screen set that hogged floor space in front of the living room’s large pane windows. Savant decided to hang the Vidikron and front Paradigm speakers on the opposite wall, place the couch in front of the window, and mount the rear speakers at a 4-foot height flanking the couch.
The first half of the day consisted of running the wire—for which an enthusiastic Ronnie even lent a hand, according to Mary—and mounting the speakers and TV. “We were kind of limited on what we could do with the speaker placement and furniture,” says team leader Morris. “Whenever we go with an Omnimount, we try to put the speakers up too because the less equipment on the floor, the better.”
Below the TV and speakers, Savant stowed the rest of the electronics within the Salamander cabinet. They placed the MX-3000 RF base station on top for easy charging and an interference-free signal reception. Mary says she’s not only thrilled to have a more open living and entertainment space, but she’s also already taken Savant up on its interior decorating advice. “I’m elated, because the room looks a lot bigger,” she says. “I’ve gotten one of the walls painted as an accent wall in burgundy. I’d never tried colors on a wall, but they said a warm color makes [viewing] easier on your eyes.”
Touch of a Button
Of course, to enjoy their new entertainment system, the homeowners needed to know how to operate it. Remote controls can be daunting, so Savant gave Mary and Ronnie a full walk-through. Before the installation, the homeowners had provided a list of favorite music stations and TV channels to incorporate as presets, including the Food Network and HGTV for Mary and Boomerang, the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon for their 6-year-old grandson and 5-year-old granddaughter, who visit daily. “The installers were very professional and explained everything. They programmed my favorite channels, so just a touch of a finger, and that’s it,” Mary says.
She notes that Ronnie is more of the TV maven in the family, and on weekends, the house has become a popular place for the neighbors to join in and watch football and NASCAR. “The races in surround sound are awesome—it’s like you’re in the bleachers,” says Mary.
HD will also be coming before long, though for now the combination of Vidikron plasma and DVDO processor serves as a marked improvement in Mary and Ronnie’s eyes. “I still can’t believe it,” she says. “We are very pleased with everything, and that’s definitely an understatement.”