This particular project has been one of our favorite to work on and by far most challenging because the clients and architect gave us an opportunity to showcase our creativity and work with the latest and most state of the art solutions for each space. The requirement was very simple: make this sprawling 10,000 sq ft apartment as smart as possible and do not cut corners to give the best possible results. Every space required intense research and planning and very detailed execution to ensure we provided solutions which fit the design aesthetic but did not compromise on industry standards for the solutions we were hired to deliver.
The entire home would have smart lighting, and every bedroom, bathroom and outdoor balcony would also have audio which can be easily controlled and streamed to from smartphone or tablet. Television and Watching Movies was a favorite pastime for our clients and they wanted unobtrusive viewing options for each bedroom and an Immersive Audio Surround Sound System with a 4K Projector for their Theater Room which could also be used as a spare guest bedroom when required. Smart security would be installed in specific areas with IP Cameras and a Smart Video Door Phone which can ring to any mobile phone no matter where you are in the world. An enterprise grade Gigabit Network and WiFi throughout the entire residence along with Control4 Home Automation Solutions would connect the entire system together.
For this project one of our biggest challenges was how to incorporate Audio/Video into each space without the system taking over the space. The architect was very clear that the systems should not be seen but come to life when the clients wanted to watch or listen to content. Keeping all the electronics hidden would require us to plan for a centralized Audio/Video rack which has all our electronic components centrally connected to independent systems in each room. This ensures the electronics are kept safe and properly ventilated and also delivers a very clean look when combined with concealed speakers, projection systems and other in-room components.
Another major challenge we faced was how do we protect our clients’ beautiful ocean view and still provide them with an option to watch something while lying in bed? If we put a television in front of the window the view is blocked? If we put a motorized tv bracket the nearest wall is quite far and our clients would need to strain quite a bit to get a good viewing experience. Another option we looked at was an under-bed TV Lift but even that would be too near a watching experience. After a great deal of research and planning, the Avenue Sound team suggested a Projection System which would conceal itself when not in use and protect the beautiful ocean view, but be able to deliver a 100 inch viewing experience when revealed. This system would not be like other projector lifts which conceal the projector in the back of the room because the clients did not want anything hanging above their bed. We used a Draper Orbiter projector lift which would flip an Optoma Ultra Short Throw projector 180 degrees into perfect position around 1 foot from the projection screen to deliver a large and full HD image right in front of the window opposite the bed. Once the clients are done watching the motorized projection screen by Screen Innovations would retract back into a box made to house the HVAC system. Similarly the Draper Orbiter Lift would flip the Optoma ZH420UST back into place and the bottom of the lift was painted to match the veneer used to conceal the HVAC boxing.
Let’s watch this video below to see how did we creatively install a dedicated cinema room without sacrificing the ocean view for our client.
The audio system entailed Definitive Technology DI6.5S In-Ceiling Speakers which were carefully painted as well to match the wooden ceiling finish. In one of the bedrooms we added the James Loudspeaker Powerpipe Subwoofer to allow for extra low frequency response when the clients wanted to listen to music or watch specific movies in that bedroom. The Powerpipe subwoofer neatly hid away in the bathroom wardrobe next to the bedroom and allowed us to run a 2 foot pipe through the wall and end with a grill which was concealed into the wall. The bass originated from the subwoofer in the wardrobe and passed through the powerpipe in the wall to deliver an amazing low frequency response to the room along with the in-ceiling speakers. All bedroom speakers and the Powerpipe subwoofer were powered by AudioControl Rialto 600 stereo amplifiers.
Let's watch this video to see how we created various audio/video zones that can be easily controlled using a single remote control or through smartphones
Zone Audio was as much a priority as video for our clients. They wanted to be able to stream their music no matter where they went across the residence. From the bathroom to the outdoor balcony, music should be available to play at the press of a button. The residence had a total of 14 audio zones including the Theater Room. Apart from the bedrooms, the remaining zones were powered by the Audiocontrol M4800 multi-zone amplifiers with loop outs sent to each of the Audiocontrol Rialto 600 powering the bedroom speakers. Using Control4 Home Automation the client could then stream up to 5 different sources to any zone in the residence, all the while controlling the volume independently for each zone.
Different Audio/Video Zones across the apartment
For the Theater Room the client decided on the Definitive Technology UIW series In-Wall speakers and subwoofers to create a 5.2.4 Immersive Audio setup for the space. The Sony VPL-VW260ES Native 4K Projector is mounted on a Motorized Projector Lift by Suvira International which allows the projector to be concealed inside the ceiling towards the rear of the room, and drop down only when any video content would be required. One of the unique features of this space is the Screen Innovations Zero G levitating projection screen. This screen has to be witnessed to be believed. The technology behind this award-winning product is amazing and it allows the screen to come down on strings levitating in place so that only the projection image is viewable without a large drop of black fabric above. The entire Projection System and speakers were creatively concealed in this space as well only coming to life when the room was actually to be used for Audio/Video purposes.
Levitating Rollable Electric Projection Screen with Motorised Projector Lift
The smart lighting and window shadings for this residence were done in collaboration with Thakkar Electricals. Thakkar Electricals installed a KNX based platform for control of lighting, fans, and motorized window shadings and Tense KNX Keypads in each room for push button control of the smart lighting, window shadings, fans and the HVAC system.
Avenue Sound used the programming done by Thakkar Electricals for the KNX based system and integrated the same into Control4 so the clients could control everything through their smartphone app as well. Through the app our clients can create scenes, set any of their automation devices on schedules to automatically operate based on their lifestyles.
Like a lot of the projects we integrate security is one of the most important considerations in the smart home. This project was no different. We integrated Pakedge Full 1080p HD IP Cameras throughout the exterior of the residence to keep a watch for unwanted intrusions. Certain spaces inside the residence were also outfitted with Lilin 1080p Full HD IP Indoor Dome Cameras. The Control4 DSMini Smart Video Door Phone was integrated at the main entrance so that entrants or visitors easily notified the homeowners even when they were not at home.
This particular project was one of our first opportunities to work with the CoolMasterNet product by CoolAutomation for complete two-way control of the Daikin VRV HVAC System installed throughout the six storey residence. With the help of the CoolMasterNet we had to simply connect to the outdoor units’ bus of the Daikin VRV System and then connect our CoolMasterNet unit to the IP Network. This allowed our Control4 HC800 Home Automation Controller to communicate with every single A/C inside the residence and easily control each unit both while at home and remotely using the Control4 app. Not only does it allow the users to control the HVAC system from their mobile phones, keypads or touchscreens, it also updates the Control4 app, keypads or touchscreens when someone manually operates the A/C. All measures of the A/C system including the current set point, fan speed, cooling mode are updated directly into the GUI of Control4 even if the manual remote is used to operate the A/C. This provides the flexibility of allowing family, children or staff potentially who are not used to controlling a smart home to continue to use the manual remote to control the A/C, but at the same time updates the A/C’s information to the app so the users using the app do not get confused whether the A/C is actually on or off.
The CoolMasterNet is a wonderful unit and the integration was a huge success. The homeowners found it very simple to easily control their HVAC systems and even used Control4 to set certain A/C’s throughout the residence on a schedule to turn on for a brief period of time throughout the day for air filtration when they traveled for extended periods of time. The system works on your schedule automatically without relying on human interaction to physically turn it on or off.
Voice Activated Control
A project of this level would not be complete without adding in another key aspect of the smart home…Voice Activated Control. Unfortunately, the current options with Control4 and voice activated control limits the user to giving commands which involve a Turn On Something or Turn Off Something. You are not able to natively speak to the voice control device such as Amazon Alexa and give her commands such as “I’m here” or “I’m leaving”. The commands would always involve “Turn the Room On” or “Turn the Room Off”.
Using a very customized solution we were able to create individual voice commands for each room which allowed the user to say custom commands such as “Movie Time” or “I’m getting ready”. Movie Time would turn the projection system on, close the curtains, dim the lights and turn on the HVAC system with a simple voice command. When you are done watching all you have to say is “Alexa, I’m done watching” and then the entire projection system goes off and the lights come back on. One of our favorite commands which the client made for a good morning scene is “Om Namah Shivay” where the A/C would go off, lights would gradually come online to around 30 percent the curtains would open to let the daylight into the room to wake them up in the morning.
Networking and WiFi
As you can imagine, a project or this level with the amount of integrated devices, requires a strong and stable network as its backbone. We provisioned the entire network backbone using Engenius Networking Switches and Access Points. For the Access Points we used the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE strategically placed throughout the residence for maximum coverage and bandwidth. Two pieces of the extremely fast and robust Ubiquiti ES-24-250W were used for speed interconnectivity between the local IP devices. On the routing side, we chose the ER-X by Ubiquiti to facilitate all routing duties in the project.
The gigabit network was fast and ensured that the clients did not face any delays when issuing commands to their automation system or streaming any media throughout the residence.
For streaming media, a Synology NAS was also integrated with Plex Media Server so that the homeowner could easily create a library of photos, videos, music and movies and stream that to any location throughout the residence.
The design and planning for this project was spread out over many months and the final installation, integration and testing took an entire month to complete. It was definitely one of our most complex and challenging projects, but we and the clients were extremely happy with the results. The KNX system has been working flawlessly on the backend and creates no downtime or issues for control of the lighting or motorized window shadings.
The AV is used every single day as the clients really enjoy watching television and movies. Music is regularly played as well when guests come over and entertainment takes place.
Our clients were thrilled with the final results and have mentioned to us a few times how guests to their residence always comment on how unique the A/V and Automation solutions integrated in their home are. We continue to work with them for upgrades to this residence and solutions for their other residences as well. For us there can be no greater compliment than a client giving us more opportunities to work with them after our initial work. This tells us the client was truly satisfied with the results we have been able to achieve for them and appreciates the results Avenue Sound works hard to deliver.
In case you’re wondering what all products were used for this project, here’s a list as you see below.
- Definitive Technology UIW RCS III (Reference in-ceiling loudspeaker with integrated wood enclosure)
- AudioControl THE RIALTO 600 (Compact zone amplifier and digital to analog converter)
- Apple AIRPORT EXPRESS (Airplay Wireless Streaming Device)
- Tributaries 4AO-030B Series 4 Optical Cable
- Draper Orbiter 300352 Ceiling Mount for Projector
- Optoma Inc ZH420UST-B (Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector with 4000 Lumens Brightness)
- Screen Innovations (SI) SPT100PG Rollable Zero Edge Electric Projection Screen
- Definitive Technology DI 6.5R (Disappearing In-Wall Series 6-1/2″ speaker, 8 Ohm)
- Definitive Technology AW5500 (Superior performance all-weather loudspeaker, 8 Ohm)
- Definitive Technology DI 6.5S (Disappearing In-Wall Series – 6-1/2″ square in-wall loudspeaker, 8 Ohm)
- Definitive Technology IWSUB 10/10 Fully-Enclosed In-Wall Subwoofer, 4 Ohm
- Apple TV (4th generation) TV set-top box
- Sony Corporation VPL VW260ES
- Screen Innovations (SI) 5TGFL100SL8AT (100” Diagonal Zero G Levitating Rollable Electric Projection Screen)
- AudioControl CONCERT AVR-7 (Premium 4K 7.1.4 home theater receiver)
- AudioControl THE DIRECTOR MODEL M4840
- Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-LITE (802.11ac dual radio access point, 5 GHz, 867 Mbps)
- Intellinet Network Solutions 713122 (Network Cabinet)
- Synology DiskStation DS916+ SAN/NAS Server
- Seagate ST8000VN0022 Hard Drive
- Ubiquiti Networks ES-48-500W (Power Over Gigabit Ethernet Switch
- Ubiquiti Networks, Inc ER-X-SFP Advanced Gigabit Ethernet Router
- Ubiquiti Networks, Inc UF-MM-1G Ubiquiti U Fiber SFP (mini-GBIC) Module
- Monoprice 7305 Cat6 Enhanced Patch Panel
- LILIN ZLI LR2122E4 2-Megapixel (1080p) Day & Night Indoor Dome IP Camera
- Control4 C4-CA1 Control & Automation Controller
- Control4 C4-SR260 Universal Remote Control
- Control4 C4-EA5 (Entertainment and automation controller for featuring highest-quality audio of EA series device)
- Control4 C4-IOX-E-B IO extender
- Control4 C4-SR260 System remote control
- Houselogix Control4 Amazon Echo Driver
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