July 23, 2007
| by Steven Castle
How do you install an audio/video system to complement a huge kitchen space featuring two work areas with sleek, curvaceous forms made from stainless steel and aluminum? A sleek and sexy flat-panel TV would certainly do the trick. So how about two?
“The kitchen had already been done,” says Todd Fuzzey of Enhanced Home Systems about this complete retrofit. “The new homeowner loves technology and wanted the best audio and video system.”
Three pairs of speakers had already been installed in the ceiling, but the rest of the retrofit would present some problems. “The TV was supposed to go in a corner by the kitchen workspace that’s against the wall, but it just wasn’t going to be a good spot to see it from anywhere in the room,” Fuzzey explains. “We thought putting it near the fireplace was a good idea, and we had the idea for one on each side. The homeowner loved it, and the interior designer loved it as well.”
The two video screens would also complement the two contempo kitchen workspaces designed by Pininfarina, the same company that has sculpted Ferrari sports car bodies. In fact, the two HDTV plasma screens would add symmetry and bring the large space together.
But with windows framing the fireplace, where would two plasma monitors hang? It would also be difficult to run new wires in this completed space. Enhanced Home Systems’ idea was to mount each plasma on a metal pole that complemented the look of the round steel and aluminum island in the kitchen. A small crawl space beneath the kitchen allowed wires to be routed up the poles, which were braced from beneath to carry the weight of the video monitors.
Metal fabricator Mark Bouchard did the work on the poles, which don’t extend all the way to the ceiling. Chief friction mounts keep the 50-inch Fujitsu plasmas in place. The best part is, the TVs can be viewed from the seats nearby or from either of the kitchen units.
The plasma screens were set up to show the same video on both monitors, though Fuzzey says they could be programmed to show different video. At least this way there is no conflicting audio through the in-ceiling speakers.
This high-tech homeowner enjoys whole-house music from an ADA (Audio Design Associates) Suite 16 system, several zones of ReQuest hard drive–based music servers, XM Satellite Radio and good old AM/FM radio. He can even hear music from his iPod through the whole-house system.
“The tough thing about the house is that there are hard surfaces everywhere. Using ADA, we’re able to control tone, such as the bass and treble, in the room,” says Fuzzey. “Considering the kitchen is a [reflective] room, we we’re able to get pretty good sound in there.”
Perhaps best of all are the owners’ two Kaleidescape DVD movie servers, one so his kids can call up their own movies on a system elsewhere in the house. The Kaleidescape system stores entire DVD movies to hard drives in a RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) configuration—think of it as modular hard drives stacked up on one another—and has a slick interface that can group movies in a collection by genre, actor, or director, with cover art, all at the same time.
Video is routed to the Fujitsu plasma screens by way of high-speed Category 5 computer cables and an innovative Endeleo video distribution system that can send four HD video sources to a room via one Cat 5 cable, then break it out in component video to connect to the display. The Endeleo system works in conjunction with the AMX control system. “That’s how we sent video to every TV in the house,” says Fuzzey. And that’s all controlled with the AMX home control system. The AMX system also works with the Lutron wireless RF lighting system.
Operation is simple and easy with AMX’s wireless Modero touchpanel, which also happens to have a sleek and modern look. Like the plasma screens and the other high-tech menu items, it fits right into this kitchen.
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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