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The Big House

Aug 11, 2009 8:00 AM, By Dan Daley

Systems integration brings a gigantic residential install under control.

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Home automation

Standout features in this megahome include two Clarex Blue Ocean rear-projection screens. In the home theater/gym, a Sim2 D30 RTX55 projector provides video, and two 22in. Sharp LC-22SV2U LCDs mounted on either side of the screen offer additional video from other sources.

Nearly two years later, they returned to do the trim phase: systems installation and integration. However, in that timeframe, the homeowner, who wanted the house to be as technologically advanced as possible, had become intrigued by a projection screen technology he had read about. The Clarex Blue Ocean screen leverages technology developed by high-end commercial aquarium manufacturer Nippura into a rear-projection screen that sandwiches screen material between two sheets of rigid, optical-grade acrylic that expands the viewing cone and elevates contrast and color intensities. The owner chose the largest standard size available—100in. The home theater had originally been specified and wired for a ceiling-mounted front projector, so the switch to the Blue Ocean screen meant coming up with a rear-projection solution. In this case, a Sim2 D30 RTX55 projector. Directly behind the screen wall of the theater is what was originally planned to be a 15’x20’ home gym—a good size, but it had a window.

“Normally, with rear projection, you would want to put the projector into its own light-sealed room,” Ackerman says. “Any ambient light is going to dilute the quality of the projection. So we had to have the exercise room double as a projection booth.” That was accomplished by installing BTX 5060 motorized blackout shades and drapes on the window. These are automatically activated along with the shades and light dimmers in the theater itself when put into operational mode by the user. With the window uncovered, the room still functions as a gym. When the shades and drapes go down, the projector fires up.

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The Blue Ocean screen, is another one of the crossover points between commercial systems’ installations and high-end residential ones, Ackerman says. (There are also two 22in. Sharp LC-22SV2U LCD screens mounted on either side of the main screen. These can dial in any of the video sources independent of the main screen.)

The home theater has stone flooring, and several things were done to counter acoustical problems stemming from that including absorbent wall coverings. Triad Silver/4 Omni series loudspeakers are used throughout, with three for the LCR array in front below the screen, and six Silver/4 Omni loudspeakers in the ceiling in the rear for the surround channels. Two Triad Bronze/6 subs are mounted in the front wall and one side wall of the 10-seat theater, creating what Ackerman dubs a 9.2 system.

“The thinking is to use more speakers to get better coverage, and that way, keep the overall volume down,” he says, adding that the setup also helps minimize reflections.

Home automation

In the indoor/outdoor pool area, heavy-gauge chains support another Blue Ocean screen with material sourced from a Sim2 HT3000 projector recessed into the wall behind it.

The Pool

There is a second Blue Ocean screen in the home: a 72in. screen hung from the ceiling using heavy-gauge chains rather than an off-the-shelf mounting product at one end of the home’s indoor/outdoor pool. A Sim2 HT3000 projector is recessed into the wall behind it 10ft. off the floor, and it uses as dedicated Denon DVD-1600 DVD player as its source as well as cable TV. A pool area is naturally going to be damp and humid, so the projector box has a commercial-grade dehumidifier connected to it. Sixteen TruAudio CP-6 weatherproof loudspeakers are mounted in-ceiling in two stereo pairs and draw from an Escient Fireball E4000 hard drive loaded with music, though no one was really concerned about how good the stereo imaging was going to be.

“The pool area has a stone floor and a lot of glass surfaces, so there are going to be reflections,” Ackerman says, adding that they used the same approach as they had in the home theater with multiple TruAudio CP-6 and CP-8 in-ceiling loudspeakers distributing the sound without needing high volume levels.

The house has its own IP address, and the lighting and security systems can be accessed remotely—although one wonders why residents would ever want to leave. But the fact is, high-end residences of this size are only made manageable through systems integration, which cost a total of $210,000 for equipment and installation/integration in this case. But it still has its own unique necessities.

“When you design a system of this type in a home this size, you need to think a bit differently about cable management, space, ventilation, and power requirements,” Ackerman says. “The line between treating this as a residential versus a commercial space, from an infrastructure standpoint, is definitely blurred. What is clear is that a home this large really needs to have a certain level of integration and automation for it to be manageable for homeowners.”

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