Juhu Beach Front Apartment Goes Hi-Tech with the Ultimate Man Cave and Whole Home Automation
Pre-Installation and Setup
When we were first approached for custom integration on this project, The Home Owner wanted a full scale of Audio/Video solutions for every room. Home Automation was already being handled by Lutron, and we were tasked with creating a Dedicated Cinema Space, Surround Sound and Multi-Zone Audio Solutions for the residence. After several meetings with the Home Owner it was decided that a Game Room/Man Cave would be created with a Projector and Motorized Screen along with a 7.1 Surround Sound Setup. The Living Room would have a 5.1 Surround Sound Setup with a 85” Television for the Display and the Master Bedroom would consist of a similar setup. The goal for us was to consider the acoustics of each room carefully and provide the most optimal and enveloping surround sound stage for each space.
The Game Room required careful planning because the architect of the project wanted all equipment including the main amplifier and sources to be hidden inside a side unit. Control of the AV equipments would be impossible via normal IR remotes since line of sight would not be possible inside the unit. We decided to implement a Control4 solution to automate the AV equipment in the Game Room, including the Projector, Motorized Screen and all AV Equipment. This would allow our client to control all their equipment from single remote control instead of several to control each device, and also turn off all AV devices with the click of a single button.
Our client was so impressed with the Control4 solution for the Game Room Home Theater Setup they asked us to replicate the same solution to all the rooms in the residence. We then retrofitted Control4 controllers and the SR-260 Remotes into every room, alleviating the complexity of several remotes to control all the electronics of every space.
The Lutron solution unfortunately did not allow app based control of Lighting, Audio/Video Motorized Window Shadings and other automated solutions from the client’s smart phone or tablet. This was something they were very keen on having after seeing how powerful an application Control4 is. One major advantage of Control4 is it can also integrate with Lutron Lighting Modules and Keypads, allowing us to provide a complete retrofit automation solution while incorporating their existing Lutron Lighting automation setup. The client also asked us to integrate the Somfy Motorized Window Shadings in the Game Room and Master Bedroom along with the A/C’s across the residence. All could be controlled from their smart phone or tablet and custom programming was done to give a wake up scene for the Master Bedroom in the morning that would gradually raise the lights and open the curtains. The curtains were also set to open and close as the projector in the Game Room turned on or off along with custom programmed lighting scenes to dim the lights to blackout the Game Room when a Movie, Sporting Event or any activity using the projector.
There were some amazing sound solutions and customized automation solutions provided for this project; let’s get into the details of the equipment we used and how we set it up.
Our clients wanted to make a dedicated man cave where they could enjoy their leisure time by watching a movie or sporting event, playing a game of pool or just sitting down for a casual get together with friends. The man cave had a vending machine, foosball table and pool table. The main attraction though would be the 7.1 Surround Sound System with Projector and Motorized Roll Down Screen.
We knew acoustics would play a huge factor into our choice of speakers because this was not going to be a run of the mill dedicated cinema space. Vending machines, pool tables and glass were all elements we had to contend with when designing our speaker and seating placement for the room. The walls were going to be used for aesthetics and design, thus in-wall speakers for our front LCR was not possible. The architect would not approve of tower or large bookshelf speakers either because it would take away from the aesthetics of the room. Our best bet was to mount slightly smaller bookshelf speakers which could be angled down towards the seating position and had a frequency response which would atleast come down to 60 Hz so we could get away with using only one subwoofer for the room. Space was tight and we needed a setup which could still produce in an acoustically challenging environment like this and produce an amazing sound stage. After careful consideration, we chose the NHT Super Zero 2.1 Satellite Speakers with a NHT Super 10 Subwoofer. The speakers would be powered by the Marantz SR5010 7.2 Channel Amplifier. The video would be produced by a Panasonic PT-AE8000U Full HD 3D Projector with a Da-Lite Cosmopolitan Electrol 135’’ Motorized Projection Screen.
Our choices turned out to be spot on as the Audio/Video was amazing and the clients and their entire family were extremely impressed. The NHT’s are an extremely neutral speaker and do an amazing job of providing an enveloping sound stage which immerses you in the visuals which are playing. We originally thought the Super Zero’s may be too small for the room and sound tinny but they paired extremely well with the Marantz and easily filled the entire room with a vibrant and dynamic sound stage which handled even the most difficult of cinematic reproductions.
The Panasonic PT-AE8000U is hands down just an amazing projector! When properly calibrated it truly exceeds our expectations. We had the additional benefit of automated window shadings and lighting which allowed us to control the light in the room and create a dark setting when the projector was on. The Da-Lite Cosmopolitan Electrol is a great screen and provided excellent detailing and clarity in a dark room setting. The entire setup provided a great wow factor for anyone who visited this amazing space.
For the Living Room we had a bit more leniency from the architect and were allowed to work with on-wall speakers which were focused around the TV space. The client chose a large 85’’ Sony LED television for their main living room space and we were able to cleanly place the NHT Absolute On-Wall Speakers on either side of the television and the Absolute Center just below it. We would have preferred to have more space between our front right and front left speakers to create a larger listening angle but were constrained by the layout of the AV Unit. We completed the surround sound setup by installing the NHT Absolute On-Wall Speaker to the back wall and a Super 8 Subwoofer for the low frequencies. This 5.1 package was powered by the Marantz SR70009 AV Receiver. Now you may be curious as to why we used a 9.2 channel AV Receiver for the living room when we are just powering a 5.1 speaker setup there. Well our clients also wanted two additional zones of audio which could be powered from the same amplifier incase they were having a party. That way if they played any music via airplay they could have it playing across all three zones easily and adjust the volume independently as well. Control4 of course made this much easier as they had to just open up the Control4 GUI in their smart phone and choose which zone they wanted to airplay too and start setting the volume. For Zone 2 we maintained the NHT Absolute Wall Speakers to have a symmetrical look. Zone 3 was located outdoors on the balcony so we had to choose a solution which would last through the monsoons of Mumbai, especially right there on Juhu beach. We stuck with the NHT brand since it has definitely not disappointed us yet and used their amazing NHT O2-ARC Outdoor Weatherproof Bookshelf Speakers. This rounded out an amazing 3 Zone solution all controllable from our clients smart phone and streamable through Airplay from their smartphones or tablets.
To round out the audio/video solutions the client wanted a good 5.1 Home Theater Package for their Master Bedroom. They setup a 75’’ Samsung LED TV in that room and similar to the living room we placed our front left and front right speakers on either side of the television and the center just below. Here the separation between the front left and right was just right as the bed was not too far from the AV Unit. The NHT speakers were a bit bulky for this room and the architect wanted something more slim and discreet. We then went back to one of our favorite brands for audio for this solution, KEF. They have an amazing T205 package which compromises of extremely slim speakers in depth but put out a massive output. Their T series is one of their higher end series of speakers and extremely architecturally friendly. The KEF T205 package also includes a slim subwoofer which was able to be easily hidden away at the bottom of the AV Unit. This subwoofer produced incredible low frequencies for its size. We powered the package using the Marantz SR5009 7.2 Channel AV Receiver. We connected the 5.1 package to the main channels of the unit and used the 2nd Zone for a KEF Ceiling speaker in the Master Bathroom. The solution was extremely simple to operate and our clients could easily watch their cable box, apple tv or a variety of other sources in their bedroom while listening to something completely independent in their bathroom.
When designing the Home Automation solutions for this project, it was essential to us all components worked seamlessly without any lag or delays since most components would be connected wirelessly. Since zigbee devices connect with each other to create a mesh and work as repeaters for the zigbee signal, we planned to have one Control4 HC-250 controller placed in the AV Unit of every room for seamless connectivity. All Audio/Video Devices would be controlled through Control4 and the SR-260 remote. Having the HC250 in every AV unit proved to be a perfect solution for connecting all the Audio/Video Devices which required IR inputs. Since almost all of the automation was retrofitted and connected through zigbee, this also ensured all zigbee devices such as wireless lighting switches and wireless relays for motorized window shadings would have a zigbee access point to connect to nearby in the form of the HC-250 controller.
For lighting the client specified they wanted to use their existing Lutron keypads in the residence, not Control4 lighting switches. We were able to connect with the Lutron panelized lighting modules and allowed the client to control all of their Lutron lighting through their smartphone, tablet or their Lutron keypad. The client also wanted to automate some additional lights and create smaller loopings of lighting in certain locations. Since running any wiring to these locations was no longer possible, we used Control4 Smart Wireless Lighting switches in the ceiling at the light point to also integrate those circuits into the setup. The final result gave our client a solution where they could easily control all lighting wirelessly and set up lighting scenes through their Control4 GUI to their liking. One of the cooler scenes which they set up was a “Friends Over Scene” which activated lights to specific levels throughout the house and turned on their favorite playlist of music when they were expecting guests.
Once our clients realized the full potential of the Control4 system in their home, they also asked us to retrofit their motorized window shadings and air conditioners into the Control4 automation system. On a hot day they could turn the A/C on before coming home and also set the curtains on a schedule to be closed during the hot summer days and remain open during the cooler evening hours.
The AV became super easy with Control4 and this allowed our clients to easily turn on any room independently, play music to or watch what they want in that room and control the rooms volume independently of any other room in the house. Well you might say, that’s pretty common I can do that with my remote controls now? But can you do it from your smart phone or tablet? Having whole house control simplifies mundane day to day problems like misplacing remotes, forgetting to open or close curtains or turn off electronics, and also provides energy savings by being able to turn everything off with the touch of a single button.
Network and Media Streaming
Behind every successful Control Home Automation Integration is a robust network capable of handling the demanding transfer of endless data to support this new Internet of Things era we are in. This residence would certainly be no exception, and in fact, more demanding considering the amount of devices which would be wireless integrated through Zigbee or Wifi. The only regret we have with this integration is the Wifi and Networking was done by a third party agency who did not have the knowledge or the skill sets to integrate the state of the art networking solutions we have available to us today. They used low grade equipment which cannot really handle the heavy load our network dependent automation and streaming devices require. Although there was no lag in the automation or commands responding, there have been issues with airplay streaming buffering and constant interruptions of the internet. Non qualified technicians did the installation unfortunately and used subpar equipment, leaving our client to deal with the results.
Components and Cables
Home Automation Controllers: Control4 HC-250
Home Automation Universal Remote Control: Control4 SR-260
Motorized Window Shadings Control: Axxess RCS6
Lighting Control: Control4 C4-ADP240-WH and Control4 C4-TV240-WH
Home Theater Speakers: NHT Super Zero 2.1 with NHT B-10D subwoofer
Home Theater Amplifier: Marantz SR5009
Living Room Speakers: NHT Absolute On-Wall Speakers
Living Room Amplifier: Marantz SR7009
Outdoor Speakers: NHT O2-ARC
Master Bedroom Speakers: KEF T205
Master Bedroom Amplifier: Marantz SR5009
The Wireless Automation Solution we retrofitted for this client was immensely successful. There were no lags, delays or non-responses from the Control4 Automation System. Mood light could be easily set with the press of any scene, window shading would open and close easily with the tap of a button and the AV worked flawlessly in the Home Theater room as well as throughout the residence. Everything was easily controllable through the customers smart phone. Dinner and Daytime lighting scenes were activated with the touch of a button depending on when guests were over or what time of day it was. The Cinema room became incredibly easy to use and the SR-260 remote proved to be a very valuable addition to control all devices in the room. Similarly in the bedrooms and living room the customers were able to easily activate their electronics change sources all from the Control4 app on their smart phones and tablets.
The Audio/Video experience was well beyond our customers expectations. To be able to airplay all their music made hanging out with friends and listening to music a breeze. Going into their game room and transforming the room into their private movie lounge was an experience in itself. The sound always lived up to the expectations we have from the Marantz and NHT pairing and the Panasonic projector simply dazzled.
The Final Verdict
Control4’s Wireless Home Automation Solutions were definitely a huge success and shows how far wireless technology has evolved over the years. We could have hoped for a more stable and faster network but the solution that was implemented there was able to get the job done. Our client was very impressed at how smoothly everything operated and how easily we were able to coordinate automation devices to work according to their lifestyle. The AV sounded and looked spectacular and the NHT with Marantz combination if something we are definitely going to be using for a long time to come. Have a look at some of the pictures and videos for this project below to see how nicely everything came together.