May 12, 2011
by Grant Clauser
Big TVs can be a pain. Even flat-panel displays can take up a lot of space and protrude from the wall a few inches, interfering with the clean, uncluttered look of a modern minimalist decor.
That’s something that the owner of this New York City apartment couldn’t live with. He wanted a living room that looked like a living room—yet he also wanted a big, cinematic video experience.
Under the guidance of Piscataway, N.J.-based Electronics Design Group (EDG), the homeowner selected a whopping 85-inch plasma display by Panasonic. This TV is bright, allowing for viewing in all lighting conditions, which was necessary in a living room where the family doesn’t want to dim the lights to enjoy the picture.
So what does it take to mount a plasma the size of four 42-inch TVs and not make it look like a beast? “There was a ton of reinforcement work that needed to be done,” says Ross Anderson, senior project manager for EDG. Plasma TVs are heavy, and an 85-inch plasma is one of the heaviest, so reinforcing the wall to bear the 250-pound TV was a challenge. In addition, the homeowner wanted the TV to be mounted flush with the wall. The builder, Rich Churchill, designed a 14-inch-deep recess in the wall to accommodate both the TV and mounting hardware. Electrical lines had to be rerouted, and there needed to be enough space to allow for the connections. “He also created a shroud that keeps you from seeing back to where the mounting portion is,” says Anderson.
Due to the open design of the room—it connects to a dining area and a ceiling that rises from 9 feet in the TV area to 14 feet behind the sofa —speaker placement and audio decisions required some creative solutions. The main left, center and right B&W CT7 speakers were built into a custom cabinet, which also houses most of the components under the television. The rear speakers, B&W VM1 monitors, were mounted directly over the viewers’ seating position, on the wall that rises from the lower to higher ceilings. These are fairly large monitor speakers that can be mounted vertically or horizontally. In this case, EDG mounted them horizontally to blend with the ceiling lines. From the living room area, they’re not even noticeable. An active B&W 500-watt subwoofer is also hidden out of sight on the floor behind a couch.
All of the living room speakers are driven by a Rotel 100-watt-per-channel home theater receiver.
The dining area, adjacent to the living room so diners can view the big TV from the dinner table, has two of its own B&W M1 speakers and is wired as a second audio zone.
Of course, being the family’s living room, this space isn’t just for home theater. A Control4 multiroom audio system supplies music to the room as well as the rest of the house. The system accommodates four iPod docks so the whole family can tap into the music of their choice.
While it was perfecting the living room, EDG also upgraded the audio and video systems in the rest of the house. This included new wireless and wired networks. EDG used a wired network for the control system to ensure reliability.
The home’s bedrooms were outfitted with B&W in-ceiling speakers, iPod docks and Control4 touchscreens. While not yet completed, the bathroom is scheduled to get the treatment in the form of a 4-inch Control4 touchscreen and a Control4 two-way in-ceiling speaker.
The family controls the audio and video system for the living room with a Control4 SR250 remote. Separate 3.5-inch touchpanels throughout the apartment let the owner control the music in other rooms. EH
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.