May 01, 2008 by Lisa Montgomery
He wanted a system that would blow his friends away. She wanted an entertainment setup that would be easy for her and the kids to operate. The owners of this contemporary media room found middle ground by calling in the experts at Beyond Home Theater in Santa Monica, CA. “This room would serve as the family’s main entertainment space, but it would also function as an area to socialize and hang out in,” says company owner Terence Mulholland. In keeping with this multipurpose concept, Mulholland and his crew would need to select and install the electronic components for the space carefully—products that would really blow minds yet would mesh with the decor and accommodate the needs of many different users.
The homeowners had already purchased their own TV, surround-sound receiver and subwoofer—a Sony Qualia 70-inch rear-projection set, a Denon surround-sound receiver and a Velodyne subwoofer. Mulholland finished off the system by adding seven Triad speakers; PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming consoles; a Sony Blu-ray disc player; and an 8-inch AMX touchpanel to control the entire entertainment setup. To satisfy the man of the house’s need to see the technology, the front three speakers were installed to float around the display, and for the lady, the rear speakers were planted into the ceiling. A specially constructed equipment rack at the side of display is closed off with a metal mesh door. It’s another design that appeals to everyone in the house. The mesh lets the owners see all the boxes inside, functions as a decorative element and shields the gear from the kids’ probing fingers.
The one piece of technology everyone is welcome to touch is the AMX touchpanel. An icon labeled movie activates the appropriate equipment, dims the lights and lowers the window shades. If the homeowners are using the room for something other than movie viewing, they can press a button like party to have music delivered to the space, and the Vantage lighting system accentuate the artwork. The family and their guests can pick from songs stored on a docked iPod or ReQuest music server, or tap the Denon receiver’s Internet connection to pull music from web radio stations.
The AMX touchpanel puts the family in charge of other parts of the home as well. They can instruct the AMX control system to distribute music to other areas of the house and tell the Vantage lighting system to turn off every light before bedtime, for example. The touchpanel is a pro at issuing instructions, but it can also receive information from other systems. Two Axis video servers, for example, stream images from eight surveillance cameras to the screen, enabling the homeowners to see who’s at the front door or check up on their sleeping kids without leaving the couch. Extending the control of the AMX panel into other areas of the house was something both homeowners could agree on. “They both got exactly what they wanted—no compromises,” says Mulholland.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.
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