Photos by Lisa Quinones
City: Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York
Installer: Harvery Electronics
Real-estate agents will tell you that houses with large windows opening onto expansive views command top dollar. But for custom installers, who are about as fond of bright daylight as Count Dracula, that same layout can mean a video-installation nightmare. That was the biggest dilemma facing system designer Jon Plante when he went to do a high-definition installation in a modern home overlooking the Hudson River in Cornwall-on-Hudson, a small town about an hour north of Manhattan.
The homeowners - commodities traders and long-time Harvey Electronics customers - wanted to convert part of their open living room/family room area into a home theater, but with one considerable caveat: the theater had to blend in with the rest of the décor. Initially they wanted a front projector and a drop-down screen, but given how the room was laid out and how bright the ambient light was, Plante suggested that they go instead with a 50-inch Fujitsu P50XHA10 plasma display ($10,000), which he mounted flush with a wall.
"The side of the room that looks out onto the Hudson is all windows, which flood the space with way too much light," Plante recalls. "Plasma displays are quite bright, so as long as they're positioned so you're not dealing with direct sunlight, ambient light is a nonissue. And the viewing angle is quite wide, so you can go 70 to 75 off-center and still see a nice, detailed image." Plante put a picture frame around the display, creating a clean look that fits in with the room's artwork.
Since the house is near the mountains and outside the range of over-the-air reception, Plante turned to a Sony satellite receiver and a digital cable box for high-def programming. "Right now we're getting three or four high-def channels on cable and seven from DirecTV," he says, "but when we started the installation five weeks ago, there were only three channels available. The increase in programming is encouraging - how long can you watch only HDNet? God bless them, though, because they helped put high-def on the map. HDTV has become a frequent topic of conversation with our customers; in fact, sales of traditional analog TVs have become pretty much nonexistent."
To complement the video installation, Plante opted for a Boston Acoustics Reference in-wall surround sound system comprising three VRi593 Reference in-wall speakers across the front, two VRi553 in-wall surrounds, and two VRiSub82 in-wall subwoofers. A Crestron color touchscreen remote control is used to operate the gear, which includes a progressive-scan DVD player, S-VHS recorder, five-disc CD changer, and Dolby Digital receiver - all from Marantz, and all housed in a Middle Atlantic rack in the closet. (The owners plan to add a JVC high-definition D-VHS VCR soon.) The Crestron's radio-frequency (RF) technology, coupled with repeaters hidden in the room, means commands can be sent without having to aim the remote at a specific component.
In the end, Plante's HDTV installation - part of a $30,000 system - pleased both the homeowners and their interior designers. "That's the beauty of plasma TV and discrete speakers," he says. "We made everyone happy, particularly the wife, who got exactly what she wanted: a screen that's virtually invisible until it's in use, equipment that's hidden, and a remote she doesn't have to worry about pointing in a certain direction - she just pushes the button and it works."
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.