The birch media console, along with some of the other furniture, was designed especially for the project by Blueprint in collaboration with Philpotts and Associates. The owner wanted to be able to unplug or swap out gear without creating a mess; accordingly, the console's shelves were built so they can be pulled out or rotated, and extra cabling was run so there's enough clearance for components to be removed or installed. "We spent a lot of time on the layout, addressing everything from ventilation to cable management to labeling," Wagner says. "We used a lot of Panduit raceway to conceal the cables, but the covers pop off for easy access."
•Panasonic TH-065PF9UK professional 65-inch 1080p plasma HDTV
•(2) Artcoustic DFF120-43 speakers
•Artcoustic PA-300 amplifier (for passive subwoofers in DFF120-43 speakers)
•(2) Stealth Acoustics FX8 invisible speakers (surround speakers on either side of metallic-blue art piece)
•Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc player
•Sony PlayStation 3 game console
•Nintendo Wii game console
•Apple TV 40-GB digital media receiver
•(2) Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HD high-def cable receiver/DVRs
•Slingbox Pro TV extender
•Sony STR-DA5300ES 7.1-channel receiver
•Sonos ZonePlayer 80 wireless music player
•Sonos CR100 system controller
•Panamax Max 5500-EX power conditioner
•Philips Pronto TSU9600 universal remote control
•Illuminaire PLX318 color-changing LED light-bar kit
Master Bedroom Suite
The media console houses all the gear for the living room - including the Sony ES receiver, a Sony Blu-ray Disc player, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii game consoles, an HD cable box, a 40-GB Apple TV box, and a Sling Box Pro. It also holds the guest-room gear, which includes an HD cable box and a Sonos ZonePlayer. A Philips Pronto universal remote control handles all the gear, the curtains, and the Lutron Homeworks lighting system.
Like the living area, the master bedroom suite is an exercise in streamlined design. One unusual aspect of this room is the choice of the display: a 46-inch Sony Qualia 005 LCD TV, maybe the first commercially available LCD set to use LEDs rather than fluorescent lamps for backlighting. The Sony's fairly robust built-in sound system lets its speakers be used for the center channel. Wagner also installed a pair of Stealth Acoustics FX8 speakers on either side of the TV.
To help tame reflections off the sizable glass doors, windows, and mirrors, he padded the back wall with an acoustical treatment comprised of fabric-covered fiberglass insulation. "There wasn't much in the room that was soft except for the carpet, and the padded wall looks really nice," Wagner points out. All the gear for the suite is located in a media closet in the home office. A Pronto remote handles all the A/V gear except the Sonos system, which is run from a Sonos CR100 controller.
The rest of the installation is more straightforward. The guest room has a 26-inch Toshiba LCD TV/DVD combo and, mounted above the mirror, a pair of Stealth Acoustics FX6 speakers powered by an amplified Sonos ZonePlayer 100 in the living-room cabinet.
This was the first time Wagner and his team had worked with the Sonos system. "The client really got us to take a serious look at it, which we'd dismissed as a Best Buy-type product. After testing it out for a few weeks, we came to realize it's a brilliant system. You can pull out portions of it, and it figures out on its own how to make the remaining pieces work. It's ideal for a condo because we didn't need to hard-wire it."
The Sonos units are connected to a 500-GB LaCie hard drive that holds the owner's iTunes collection. (He also has a Rhapsody subscription.) The main unit pulls the music from the hard drive and streams it via the Sonos wireless network to the other Sonos music players. Both the living room and the master bedroom have passive Sonos ZonePlayer 80s connected to A/V receivers.
The office, like the rest of the apartment, has a hard-wired gigabit network. "We augmented the entire wired network during the installation, and there's also a wireless Apple AirPort network," Wagner says. Along with the master bedroom's A/V equipment, the office closet holds a fax, network printers, the gigabyte network drives, and network switches. The owner, a big fan of Apple, also has several powerful Apple workstations.
Because Wagner and his crew were working in a condo rather than a house, one of the biggest challenges turned out to be the lighting. "All the penthouse units have an awful seven-gang lighting plate in the living room, which was an eyesore," he recalls. After the interior designers got involved, six more lighting circuits were added. As a result, the entire penthouse was refitted with a wired/wireless Lutron Homeworks Series 4 lighting control system, which integrates with MechoShade motorized blackout and decorative shades in every room. In place of the original wall plate, Wagner created a three-gang assembly comprised of two Lutron keypads and a fan control.
He also created macros for various lighting themes. "There are scenes for highlighting the art pieces, there's a dining-room preset, and there's a TV-viewing preset." The rest of the buttons on the keypad are used to control individual circuits. And while the room's perimeter soffits have become another design element, they were built primarily for the new lights and motorized shades, as well as for hiding the cables that link the A/V system together.
All in all, Wagner says, the project was a good experience for his company, which is now in its fifth year. "If I had to summarize it, I'd say that this was a growing experience for us as a company. In many installations, once we discuss the performance criteria, the clients don't necessarily care how we get there. But this was a case where we had a very knowledgeable client who wanted to drive the entire process of system design and installation. We had to step back and realize that the best way for this project to move forward was to act as a resource that the client could use to realize his vision."
Blueprint Audio Visual
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