June 09, 2009
by Steven Castle
When this home overlooking historic Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., was originally purchased, it was already equipped with a distributed audio system, volume controls in various rooms, a multidisc DVD/CD player and a multitude of remote controls.
But over the course of a decade, those technologies became outdated, and the homeowners grew disgruntled with their system’s inability to keep pace with new entertainment options. Wires were strung about the house for Internet access. TVs had poor and intermittent reception. The in-coming satellite antenna cabling was wrapped around the electrical service conduit feeding the house. And control cabling was unavailable at any volume control location.
A lot had to be addressed in this high-tech upgrade, including a structural redesign of the family room entertainment hub. Making it all the more challenging was a tight deadline: The project had to be completed in two weeks while the family was away on vacation.
Electronics systems contractor eLifespaces of Charleston, S.C., went quickly to work. A technician who was upgrading the security system identified efficient cabling channels for structured wiring, including Category 6 data cables and RG-6 video cable, as well as for control system wire to two strategic locations. After that, control would be wireless.
The top portion of a wall that cramped the home entertainment system space was removed, opening up the area, and the old cabinet and A/V gear was taken away. In went a new custom cabinet that holds the home’s Crestron control processor and audio/video gear, including a Crestron iPod dock. The cabinet is topped with a 50-inch Pioneer HDTV plasma screen and is vented by an Active Thermal Management fan, through slots on the countertop and on either side of the TV.
Three Sonance Cinema Ultra II front speakers were mounted in the wall behind, and a Sonance Cinema subwoofer was placed behind the cabinet’s storage drawers and ported through the cabinet’s kick plate.
Speaker wire runs behind crown molding en route to two Sonance Ellipse in-ceiling surround speakers, and another Sonance subwoofer in the back of the room. An Integra DTR-8.8 receiver controls the 5.2-channel system and the Inteset music and movie media server.
Although the homeowners knew their home needed a systems upgrade, they really didn’t know what was available.
“They had an idea about what they wanted in terms of aesthetics, but they didn’t have a clue about entertainment,” says Fred Fabian of eLifespaces. “They didn’t know about the iPod control [through the Crestron control system] or the Inteset media server, and they love that.”
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates