Bachelor Pad in Upper Santa Cruz turns into a Private Home Theater and Smart Room
Pre-Installation and Setup
When this particular client approached us he made it clear he wanted his room to be fully automated and have a very sleek home theater system which would not overcrowd his room. This room was not ideal for dedicated movie watching and would be used as a mix for music listening with friends and watching movies or sporting events on the big screen. The finished product would be a fully automated man cave for the bachelor who would be making maximum use of it.
To achieve a good sound stage we would need to place our front speakers at a 45 to 60 degree listening angle from our main listening position. In this room this would definitely not be possible as the room was quite long and did not have the same extension in width. We would have to compromise by placing our surround speakers at the rear of the room and keeping our listening area a bit further back then what would have been optimal. We knew that an on-wall or in-wall speaker setup would be optimal for a room where minimalistic speakers which do not stand out in the room. When conferring with the architect the in-wall speaker option would not be possible so we decided to use an ultra thin on-wall solution. Enter the KEF T205 5.1 Speaker Package with a compact and thin subwoofer as part of the package.
We created additional audio zones for the Bathroom. The client wanted to be able to enjoy music while in the dry area as well as the Jacuzzi independently of his bedroom speakers. For the dry area we were able to easily incorporate an in-ceiling speaker which did not affect the aesthetics of the bathroom and was concealed inside the ceiling. The speaker provided a left channel while a wall mount speaker was added to the Jacuzzi area as the right channel. A good balance and decent stereo imaging was possible with these two speakers and they were able to provide more than enough output to cover the entire bathroom space.
One major advantage with placement of electronics was that every aspect of the A/V in this installation was going to be controlled with Control4 Home Automation. That gave us the flexibility to place our equipment in equipment closets, server racks and even custom A/V units within rooms. This was very important for the architect and the client as they did not want any equipment visible to detract from the space. They were able to create a compact and concealed AV Unit next to the bedroom window sill which was also able to nicely complement the design and décor of the room. This AV Unit would be the main storage space for all our electronics, sources, home network and home automation devices.
We wanted to provide a powerful two zone AV Receiver with the latest technology to support the client’s current sources as well as keep him future proofed for later technologies. The client took an audition of the Marantz SR7009 along with the KEF T205 Package and was really pleased with the musicality of the Marantz. It was not too bright when paired with the KEF speakers and gave him a neutral sound stage for both movie watching and music listening.
For the video we recommended the Panasonic PT-AE7000U projector and Da-Lite Contour Electrol Motorized Projection Screen. The PT-AE7000U is a top class performer projector which delivers stunning video in Full HD or 3D. It has amazing picture quality and clarity and provided a vivid image on the Da-Lite Projection Screen. The screen nicely tucked away inside a pelmet and was not at all visible when not in use. The projector was mounted in front of a beam separating the bed from the lounge space and did not distract from the aesthetics of the room.
For the Blu-Ray Player and CD Player we installed the Sony Playstation 3. The PS3 gave the client a versatile player which he could use to stream movies or music, play games, connect digital media through the usb or watch blu ray discs or dvd’s directly on his Cinema Projection Setup. We used the Tributaries UHD-010B to connect the Orei BDP-M2 via HDMI to the Marantz SR7009. An Apple TV 4 th generation is also connected to the SR7009 with a Tributaries UHD-010B HDMI Cable so that the client could watch content from apps such as Netflix, HBO and Plex. This also allowed the client to be able to airplay music wirelessly to his Bedroom or Bathroom Speakers.
With so much equipment in every room we had to install an easy way to control it all. In comes Control4, and gives the client an easy way to choose which device they want to listen to or watch in any room in the residence. Airplay, video streaming, lighting control all become a breeze with the MyHome app on their phone to control their residence with.
We created a movie watching scene for their bedroom room and programmed the lights to dim to 0% over 5 seconds whenever the Projector was put on. We also programmed the blinds to come down whenever the projector came on to give a blackout effect. This created a movie cinema hall type feel and added to the overall ambience of the room.With the Control4 HC-250 Controller and SR-250 remote control in the media room as well, the need to have several different remotes was also removed. One remote could control any device in the room and allows the client to easily control what they want to watch or listen to in that room.
Another great feature the client really enjoyed was having his Split Air Conditioners controlled through his Control4 automation system. He could easily set the room’s temperature to whatever he felt most comfortable and even set sleep timers to turn the A/C off as he went to sleep at night. With a 4Sight subscription, he is able to open his MyHome app from wherever he may be and have turn the Air Conditioners on to start cooling the room before he even reaches home.
In the Bedroom all the lighting was automated and “Friends Over” and “Party” lighting scenes were created. With the press of one button all the lights in the room easily came to the perfect mood setting. We also programmed the client’s favorite music playlists to start when the friends over lighting scene was initiated.
All the Bedroom A/V is also able to be controlled using the MyHome app. You can choose to watch Cable or perhaps the Apple TV and with one button press the TV comes on and gets set to the correct input, the receiver comes on and also sets itself to the correct input, and the source device such as the Apple TV or set top box comes on and is ready to be controlled using the Control4 app on your smart phone or tablet.
A special contact sensor was placed in the sliding door of the wardrobe. When the door was opened the closet lights were automatically turned on. We even programmed an email alert to be sent to the client when the sliding door was opened because some sensitive items such as a safe were in the wardrobe. This way the client would be notified incase someone who should not be accessing that area was attempting to.
Network and Media Streaming
Media streaming needed to be flawless with the high res music collection the client wanted to be able to stream. We stuck with one of the most reliable brands we know for solid network throughput, Engenius. The Engenius ECB350 was set up to serve as an Access Points so that a fast and efficient WiFi Network which can be easily roamed from any location was at the client’s disposal. For LAN distribution we installed the Netgear GS108PE 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch with 4 Port POE.
Components and Cables
Projector: Panasonic PT-AE7000U
Projection Screen: Da-Lite Contour Electrol 96’’ Motorized Projection Screen
Projector Mount: Peerless PRG-UNV Universal Projector Mount
AV Receiver: Marantz SR7009
Media Room Front Speakers: KEF T301Slim Profile On-Wall Speakers
Media Room Center Speaker: KEF T301C Slim Profile On-Wall Speaker
Surround Speakers: KEF T101Slim Profile On-Wall Speakers
Subwoofer: KEF T2 Closed Box Powered Subwoofer
Bathroom Zone Speakers: BIC America MSR-PRO6 White Color In-Ceiling Speaker
Jacuzzi Zone Speakers: BIC America DV32 White Color Satellite Speaker
Automation Controller: Control4 HC-250
Universal Remote: Control4 SR-250
Lighting Dimmers: Control4 C4-APD240- WH Adaptive Phase Dimmers
Lighting Switches: Control4 C4-SW240- WH Lighting Switch
Automation Contact Sensor: Axxess Wireless Contact Sensor
Motorized Window Shadings: Somfy Altus 40 Motors
Network Switch: Netgear GS108PE 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Switch
WiFi Access Point: Engenius ECB350 Wireless N Access Point
Media Player: Apple TV 4 th Generation
Speaker Cable: Monoprice 16 AWG Speaker Wire
HDMI Cables: Tributaries UHD-010B
Stereo Analog Cables: Tributaries 2A-015B
The 5.1 experience of this setup was excellent! The clarity and focus of the system was really evident and the KEF speakers were solid and did not distort during in the slightest in scenes which really tested them. The envelopment was not as accurate as we would have liked and as a result we did not find ourselves totally immersed in the movie watching scenes. This was due how far our front speakers were placed from our main listening position and the smaller listening angle from the front speakers.
In two channel stereo the system speakers did not perform as well as we would have preferred. The bass was loose and the stereo imaging was not as defined as we would have liked from the thin on-wall speakers. The room had its fair share of reverberation as well with the extensive marble flooring and long layout which caused a lot of reflections in the lower frequencies. When listening to music in full surround sound in Dolby Pro Logic formats the speakers did provide good clarity and filling sound throughout the room. The reflections were not as noticeable when listening in a multi channel format as opposed to two channel.
The Marantz SR7009 is a powerhouse and does not leave the speakers under powered for even a second. It provides clean and rich, distortion free power and truly shines when watching movie scenes. The surround experience is vivid and the scenes come to life in Dolby TrueHD or DTS- HD Master Audio formats. The network connectivity with the amp is also very simple and controlling it through the Control4 system is very easy and reliable. Any zone can be chosen and music can be sent via airplay directly to the amp for that zone. The airplay quality is impeccable and with the amp wired to the network you do not have any buffering or signal loss.
The Control4 Automation definitely made life very easy for this client. We programmed master on/off switches for his entrance and bedside which would turn on specific light scenes when he entered or left the room. With the master off we also programmed all A/V and A/C’s to turn off in the room and Motorized Window Shadings to go down. Lights were programmed to dim to zero over 5 seconds whenever the projector came on as well as the blinds come down for a darker room feel. Another custom programming option we created for the client was the room would greet him by announcing “Hello Welcome Home (His Name)” whenever the Master On command was given. The Master switches also made it very easy for staff to turn the room on or off without having to use a phone, tablet or the Universal Remote to control items in the room.
The Final Verdict
The KEF speakers definitely impressed with the Marantz Amplifier when listening to them in multi channel. In stereo they did not perform as well as a full range speaker but that can be expected with the sacrifices made in the aesthetically pleasing design of these speakers. The Marantz SR7009 is a true powerhouse and something we hope to use in many future installations. It provides an extremely accurate and distortion free sound stage with amazing features that make controlling it easier than ever. The Control4 Home Automation was exactly what the client was looking for to give his room a new level of leisure and sophistication.