Quaint Mumbai Apartment gets Bespoke Audio/Video Solutions and Complete Automation Solutions
Most homes which go under renovation budget for some sort of Audio/Video upgrades or perhaps even Home Automation. The smart home has certainly become more of the norm now. Our clients for this Byculla, Mumbai apartment was no exception. They planned to renovate their entire apartment and wanted to future proof themselves for atleast the next 10 years, taking advantage of everything modern technology can offer them to make their home safer, more efficient and more entertaining.
Our clients were very confident on what they wanted the finished product to look like when their renovation was completed. It was our job to get them there without compromising on quality and creating an experience which made the entire process feel worth it. The Avenue Sound Team definitely had to be creative in this scenario because space is a constraint in any Mumbai apartment. Working backwards from how the client imagined their finished space, we created a carefully planned design ensuring aesthetics don’t compromise on the delivery and quality which the space deserved. We worked very closely with the architects for the project, working on several revisions of our drawings till we could ensure all requirements was technically correct and also fit the aesthetic design of the space.
Having young children in the family, one of the foremost goals for this residence was going to be a large projection screen which allowed sporting events, movies and kids entertainment to be displayed on the largest viewing surface which fit the space in the main living room of this residence. Once the screen location was finalized, projector placement and speaker placement created its own set of challenges. The room was long and not wide, making it difficult to achieve a 45 to 60 degree listening angle. Also coming in the middle of the room was a fan which would be obtrusive to our projection image. Our client was clear that they did not want to sacrifice on quality of sound or their visuals due to space or architectural constraints.
The Avenue Sound team went through several iterations of solutions which would be technically correct, aesthetically pleasing, and still create that “wow” factor for our clients. For audio solutions we knew the James Loudspeaker small aperture speakers allow us the most dynamic soundstage in media rooms such as this one without interrupting the aesthetic flow and dampening the décor. When we suggested the James Loudspeaker Small Aperture series to our client and the architect they were thrilled to have a solution which could fit so easily into their space and remain practically invisible. With James natural sound and exquisite craftsmanship we knew we could provide our client with a solution which would maintain its dynamics for years to come and nor degrade due to its solid aircraft marine grade aluminium enclosure construction.
Considering the design of the room we opted for a 5.1 surround sound for the Media/Living Space. After seeing the James Loudspeaker Small Aperture design, the client requested a second zone to be added to their Master Bedroom as well using the Small Aperture speakers for stereo listening there. For the Front LCR Speakers in the Media Room we chose the James Loudspeaker 63SA-4 for their ability to reach down to 40Hz for the low frequency response. There would be listening sessions where the client would listen in only stereo. With only one subwoofer in the setup we wanted to introduce mains which could also support the low frequencies. For the surrounds in the Media Space and for the 2nd Zone we chose the James Loudspeaker 42SA-4. Lastly, for the subwoofer we chose the 101SA-6 for its shallow depth and 350 watts of performance. For the LCR and Subwoofer placement we were able to make a niche for each speaker in the concrete front wall and position our drivers to optimal listening height. The subwoofer was placed in the center of the wall to try and alleviate as many standing waves as possible for the space. The surround and 2nd Zone speakers were mounted in the ceiling. The best part of these speakers is they leave only a 3 inch grille visible which can mount the light fittings or any other aesthetics in the space. The rest of the entire speaker remains concealed.
To power these speakers we needed a solid amplifier which could flawlessly power the mains as well as the 2nd Zone. We wanted to use an Amplifier which would easily integrate with the Control4 Automation System and provide multiple streaming options for the client no matter what device they used. The Marantz SR6013 fit the bill perfectly for us with is 110 watts per channel for each speaker. The Marantz also future proofed our application because it supports the new Imax Enhanced format, Dolby Vision and Airplay 2. Just incase the client decides to upgrade to Native 4K projector and use a source which supports the Imax Enhanced format, this AVR will handle it all with ease.
To power the passive 101SA-6 subwoofer we called on the Audiocontrol Rialto 600 which can put out 400 watts of power in bridge mode at 4 ohms. Using the Rialto 600 also allowed us a separate bass control for just the subwoofer.
Once the Projection Screen location was finalized our screen of choice for this project was the Screen Innovations Solo Pro with Slate .8 Fabric. We have been very impressed with the Screen Innovations Product because of the superior image quality we are able to achieve after proper calibration of our projector, ease of installation and solid construction. Since this room is to be a media room which could be bright during the day or even during casual viewing, we suggested the Slate .8 fabric to our clients for their screen. Slate .8 fabric by Screen Innovations rejects 70% of ambient light and has a 0.8 gain delivering stunning visuals even in brighter rooms such as this one.
We evaluated various projector options as well considering the ceiling fan would be an obstruction for the image. From Ultra Short Throw to Short Throw to finally Long Throw, drawings were created carefully evaluating throw distance and image size without creating a distraction in our client’s living room. We looked at various projector lift options to conceal our projector so that it would not create a visual distraction when not in use. The customer did not want to sacrifice ceiling height in the center or front of the living room so the ability to integrate a projector lift in those areas would prove difficult. The only location we would be able to lower the ceiling, the twenty inches which would be required for the projector lift, is in the back of the room. Once it was finalized that a long throw projector would be the best fit for this space considering the location of the projector lift, we had to next finalize the type of lift and the projector.
The back of the Living Room is 24 feet from the screen location. Producing an image which would fit perfectly on the 120 inch Solo Pro Projection Screen involved some careful calculations and decisions. Having used Epson projectors in many of our projects till date and keeping in mind our requirements for a brighter Home Cinema projector which could produce brilliant quality in a room which could have ambient light during a majority of the viewing period, we narrowed our choice to the Epson EH-TW8300 Pro Cinema Projector. This projector feature’s Epson’s 4K Enhancement Technology, 2500 Lumens of Brightness and a exquisite 1,00,000:1 contrast ratio. Having calibrated this projector for other projects we know the quality of visuals it can produce and found it to be an easy choice for this space as well.
Our last difficult decision would come in the projector lift. Rather then having a lift which drops down and exposes the ceiling plate, we have really enjoyed working with Draper’s Orbiter lift to create that ultimate “wow” factor. Being able to rotate 180 degrees and orbit the projector in place, it ensures only the projector is seen when in use and not the ceiling plate. Another important factor for us in choosing the Draper Orbiter lift was that the projector is well mounted and always rotates to perfectly place the image on the screen after each rotation. There are no adjustments which need to be made to the image because the projector may have shifted while coming down from the ceiling.
The sources for the Audio/Video would be an Apple TV 4th Generation and Playstation 4. These gave the customer the ability to stream any movies and music directly from Apple or even watch a Blu-Ray using the PS4. Gaming also became so much easier for the kids.
Our client wanted their new home to be smart and ready for any future technologies which could be on the horizon. Control4 was our brand of choice because it allows us to easily integrate the Audio/Video, HVAC, Lighting and Fans, and Security into one application.
The family wanted to operate most of their devices including the Audio/Video from the Control4 keypads we had placed in the Living and Dining Rooms. This would allow the kids to easily turn the projector straight on to Netflix, and let the adults just as easily launch an evening lighting scene to listen to their favourite playlist over a glass of wine. 16 loads of lighting were automated into the system including all the lighting in the Living and Dining Rooms. The fans in both rooms would also be automated to avoid the clutter of too many switches on the walls.
The Split A/C was automated as well and programmed to come on automatically when the projector turned on. The lights were also set to dim when the projector came on, and programmed to remain dim if it was still daylight outside when the projector goes off or go to 80 percent if it is evening time outside when the projector goes off. Creative scenes were programmed on each button of the keypad to easily control fan speed, lighting scenes and the A/C.
For easy operation of the Audio/Video system we integrated the Control4 C4-SR260 Universal Remote Control. This allowed our clients to easily issue a watch or listen command and trigger the projection screen to lower, the lights to dim and the projector to orbit into place with the touch of a button. The Universal Remote also easily controlled their cable box and Apple TV so they can rely on having a single remote control for everything.
Networking and Media Streaming:
A strong network is crucial to any integration, especially one with 4K Native Streaming Content, high resolution security cameras and the emergence of AI and AR. We always use Ubiquiti Networks in our installations to ensure we receive the highest data transfer rates and most stable solutions. For this network we chose the Ubiquiti US-24 Gigabit Managed Switch and the Ubiquiti ER-X-SFP Gigabit Router with SFP Port. For WiFi we used the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-NANOHD 4×4 MU-MIMO 802.11AC Access Points which can passthrough 1733 mbps of speed on the 5Ghz frequency. With their compact size they were easy to conceal and supported blazing fast throughput.
One of the rising trends which seem to be a part of any new integration we do is Home Security. Our clients for this project were certainly no exception. They were very interested in cameras which were inconspicuous and did not stand out so someone does not get that eerie feeling that they are being watched all the time. They also wanted security for their front door entrance to know who is entering and leaving. With the launch of the Doorbird Doorstation we feel home security has really taken a huge step forward. We introduced the Doorbird concept to our clients and they immediately fell in love with the idea. A doorbell which can actually ring you on your mobile phone no matter where you are in the world. You can have a video call with whoever may be at the door, and they can hear you and communicate back. Not only does the Doorbird allow real time calling with the doorbell ringer, but it also takes photos of anyone who has rung the bell or even just passed by the doorstation.
Since our client had a requirement for unimposing cameras, we did a lot of research to find an IP camera which would give high resolution video but not require a massive enclosure. We were surprised to find Ubiquiti Networks also making IP cameras in very compact sizes, but with amazing built quality and high resolutions. We shared the list of Ubiquiti camera choices with our client and they chose the Ubiquiti G3 Micro. It is hardly the size of a golf ball and still provides 1080p HD resolution at 30 FPS.
Components and Cables:
Home Automation Controller: Control4 C4-EA3
Home Automation Universal Remote Control: Control4 C4-SR260
Home Automation Keypads: Control4 C4-KC24-WH
Home Automation Lighting Control: Control4 C4-DIN-8TV-E
Relay Control: KMTronic 8 Channel IP Relay Board
Home Theater Speakers: James Loudspeaker 63SA-4, James Loudspeaker 42SA-4 and James Loudspeaker 101SA-6
Home Theater Amplifier: Marantz SR6013
Video Doorstation: Doorbird D101
IP Cameras: Ubiquiti Networks G3 Micro
Network Switch: Ubiquiti Networks US-24
Network Router: Ubiquiti Networks ER-X-SFP
Network Access Point: Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-NANOHD
Media Player: Apple TV 4th Generation
Blu-Ray Player: Sony Playstation 4
After performing a PowerCal Audio Calibration using the HAA AV Pro Software and a Video Calibration of the projector using the Spectracal Calman software, the audio and visuals which were being delivered were immersive and stunning for this space. The client was thrilled with the final results and how easily everything went away when the system was not active. We created two calibration modes for the projector, one for daytime use and one for night time viewing when there was little to no ambient light. The automation system automatically enabled these modes on the projector depending on what time of day it is.
The James Small Aperture speakers very vibrant and dynamic and created a wide soundstage which filled the room. The 101SA-6 subwoofer especially stood out with its deep bass response and low distortion even at very low frequencies. The 42SA-4 speakers in the ceiling in the second zone gave very natural sounding and rich and performed exceptionally well even when music was being streamed through apps or from mobile devices.
The Epson EH-TW8300 after performing the ISF Video Calibration was very vibrant and reproduced deep blacks. We had some trouble in calibrating the color gamut and felt there is definitely improvement which can be made in the RGB for this projector. Its reproduction of colors is very good, but does not go as detailed as some of the Sony projectors we have worked with.
The Control4 Automation System definitely made controlling the residence much efficient. Fans and Lights could easily be set to the perfect setting depending on the time of day with just the touch of a button. The A/C always came on when the projector was activated, and lighting automatically adjusted itself to daytime or night time viewing modes. Most importantly just one press on the Control4 Keypad lowered the projection screen, orbited the projector in place, turn on the amplifier to the right input, turn on the Apple TV, lower the lights, turn on the A/C, and allow the children to start watching their favourite shows on the Apple TV. The same button pressed again turns the entire setup off and turns the room back to a Living Space.
The Final Verdict:
When our client originally approached us, our goal was to customize his space so that the entire family can have an Audio/Video Experience that is very easy to control but easily concealed when the family wants to make alternate use of the space. After seeing the final integration, we feel very successful in accomplishing our original goals. The room easily masks itself when entertaining guests or spending time in the living room, and comes to life with the push of a button to deliver an immersive and vivid AV experience with the latest technology.
Security and Automation work seamlessly together with the help of the high speed network and the client has been future proofed to easily integrate future solutions. The Audio experience impresses anyone who hears it thanks to the natural and superior performance capabilities of the James Loudspeaker Small Aperture series. The Epson Projector in tandem with the Screen Innovations Solo Pro Projection Screen are an ideal fit for the space, and are able to deliver a reference quality image after being orbited into place from a twenty four foot distance from each other, no matter the lighting conditions.
Our clients are very impressed with the space and the entire family uses it on a daily basis to take their entertainment experiences to the next level. Future upgrades are already being planned such as Voice Activated Control for Automation Control and the addition of Plex Media Server.