May 01, 2008
by Lisa Montgomery
What happens when the company you hired to design an entertainment system for your home closes shop midway through the project? The owners of this California residence gave their dreams a second chance by hiring a new home systems contractor. Terence Mulholland and his crew at Beyond Home Theater in Santa Monica, CA, came into the half-finished project without a clue as to where to drill holes to get to the wiring that had already been installed. They also had to persuade the homeowners to modify some of the equipment plans laid out by the first company. “They had been promised a 150-inch screen, but that would have been way too big for the space,” says Mulholland.
The homeowners eventually agreed to a small yet still impressive 123 incher from Stewart Filmscreen. Other modifications involved laying a new floor that would help soundproof the 20-by-15-foot space, covering a window with a blackout shade, and building cabinetry that would house much of the equipment, including a Sim2 three-chip DLP video projector, two rear Triad Gold speakers, and a Middle Atlantic equipment rack filled with the components that make this room rock.
In addition to a 200-watts-per-channel amp from B&K, the rack holds a Denon DVD player and Microsoft Xbox 360 with an HD DVD drive. Walls finished with QuietRock insulation prevented Beyond Home Theater from tucking the remaining five speakers and a subwoofer into the walls, so Mulholland did the next best thing. “I contacted Triad to have the speaker cabinets customized to match the rest of the woodwork in the room,” he says.
Getting the room back into shape may have been tough, but controlling it has always been a piece of cake for the homeowners, thanks to a user-friendly AMX touchpanel programmed by Beyond Home Theater. Simplicity was critical to the owners, as the part-time residence is often used by guests. Large icons displayed on the opening screen ask users whether they want to watch a dvd, listen to music or play xbox, for example. Touching an icon instructs the AMX control system to set up the appropriate equipment. And when guests or the homeowners are ready to hit the nearby ski slopes, they can first view the local weather report and check out the lift lines from images captured by a webcam at the ski resort. While the original plans for the space may have changed, the owners of this holiday home theater ended up with a space that was far more enjoyable and simple to operate than they had ever imagined.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.