The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: Ronn Residence, Houston
Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Trevor Boyer
Also to serve aesthetics, Suffolk hid as much of the gear as possible. A MIDI-linked Yamaha DC3A NEO Grand Disklavier piano sits back in the room's alcove so it can be miked separately. He integrated XLR connections for the piano and other instruments into the walls, and these were meticulously channeled into the control room. Because the large room functions as both a recording studio and a home theater, the Pioneer PDP-507CMX plasma television and the window into the control room share a spot at the center of the wall. A 50in. plasma screen makes a better door than a window, so Suffolk specified a Trak-Kit mounting system that integrates the cabling into a track and allows the flatscreen, which hangs 6in.-8in. from the wall, to be moved out of the way during recording sessions. Ronn can manually roll the screen about 60 percent of the length of the room.
There are separate loudspeaker systems for the home theater and for live performance. The 7.2 loudspeaker system for the home theater comprises six Sunfire CRM-2 loudspeakers (plus one center channel) and a 9in. Sunfire True Subwoofer Super Junior. Playing live, Ronn and his band Plastic Farm Animals play through two Bose L1 Model 1 Systems sticks, each with a single bass subwoofer. Soundproof doors and walls mean that the band can play through amplifiers and not disturb the neighbors or others within the house. For recording, the band typically plays directly into the digital audio workstation (DAW), monitoring via headphones. Ronn says that there's no especially energy-efficient audio equipment available, but it helps to keep a system completely digital, as he has.
The control room has Mackie studio monitors. Also in the control room is Ronn's DAW, a 24in. iMac with a 2.33GHz dual-core processor and 3GB of RAM. A Digidesign 003 Rack serves as the I/O interface for the iMac, and Ronn has been learning Pro Tools LE 7.3 for multitrack recording and editing. This system sits on a desk made out of compressed wheat and crushed sunflower seeds that Suffolk custom-designed.
For recording studios, noise related to air conditioning is a challenge. In order to control AC noise better during recording, the multipurpose room and control room share a dedicated air-conditioning system. Of course, for green-leaning Texans, one of the biggest challenges is keeping down energy consumption related to air conditioning. (Electric bills during summer months can approach $1,000 for traditional houses.) “We got a very high-efficiency 21 SEER unit,” Ronn says. The construction of the house has an even greater effect on energy efficiency. The exterior of the home uses insulated concrete forms (ICF), which insulates the space and cuts down on the need for air conditioning. (ICFs, which are recyclable styrene forms filled with cement, also help soundproof the multipurpose room.)
“In Houston, gas really isn't that big a deal. We're running our tankless water heater, our dryer, and what little heat we're using during the year. It's really the electric AC that kills you,” Ronn says. With a good-sized yard, Ronn's also using a lot of water, and these three utilities together total only about $400 a month. “For a 4,000-square-foot home and three-quarters of an acre, I tell people that in Houston and their mouths fall open.”
Since moving with his family into the house, Ronn has been very happy with both the efficiency and the function of his home. After moving the multipurpose room's couches to the side and setting up tables, Ronn says he has hosted several dinner parties for as many as 30 guests.
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