Photos by Doug Wilson
City: Seattle, Washington
Installer: Magnolia Hi-Fi Design Center
So how do you handle the job when the customer, an entrepreneur, has a $300,000 budget and his only request is that you give him all of the latest and greatest gear? For Magnolia Hi-Fi Design Center, the answer was a distributed HDTV system that included three 50-inch Panasonic plasma displays mounted above fireplaces around the house, smaller LCD monitors in other rooms, and (shown here) a dedicated home theater featuring a DWIN TransVision 2 DLP front projector ($10,250) and a 110-inch Stewart projection screen. Miller says the DWIN is the best single-chip DLP projector they sell. They decided to use it here not only because it's simple to maintain and calibrate, but because they could easily mount it in the rear of the room inside the cowling.
"We'd worked with [the owners] before, and they wanted everything they could get - HDTV, satellite, cable, terrestrial, and then some," says Aaron Miller, general manager of Magnolia Hi-Fi's custom division. Maybe the most interesting aspect of the installation other than the sheer number of displays was the customers' request that everything be kept out of view. "As a result, you really don't see much in the way of electronics. The plasma panels are framed and mounted above the fireplaces, and we hid the projector in the home theater by using a custom-made cowl that matches the columns in the room," Miller explains. They even built the home theater's Elan Via controller into the armrest of the theater-style seating.
The decision to go high-def was easy, Miller says. "The house is basically sitting on a hill staring at the HDTV towers." But selecting the right speakers for the various high-def installations, says system designer Wayne Wray, "depended on the location of the room, what we had to work with in the room, and where the listeners were going to be sitting relative to the TV." The home theater uses an M&K S-150 THX Ultra speaker system, which includes six bookshelf-style satellite speakers for 6.1-channel playback, and two powered subwoofers instead of only one, hidden behind a fabric-covered enclosure. The three surrounds are concealed behind wall fabric.
Wray says that there's not much difference between installing and setting up high-def and regular analog TVs, "except that HDTV's higher resolution means you can sit closer to the set, so you can have bigger screens in smaller rooms." Miller adds, "For the same reasons, HDTV is more forgiving because the resolution is so much better and there's so much more to look at. You don't have to be perfectly situated like you did with older TVs."
For Miller, this installation was the ideal job. "It was well managed from beginning to end, the people were easy to work with and open to suggestions, we had plenty of time, and best of all, it turned out great." And the owners now have an HDTV installation that offers a glimpse of what more and more homes will be like as prices come down and digital TVs replace analog ones throughout the house.
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