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RHT How To: Whole House Audio How-To: A Homeowner’s Guide to Planning a Whole-House Audio Distributi Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 March 2005
Article Index
RHT How To: Whole House Audio How-To: A Homeowner’s Guide to Planning a Whole-House Audio Distributi
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A quick word on music servers – get one! I have the very excellent Via! DJ from Elan (made for them by imerge) and I love it. Elan actually did me a nice service by importing all my CDs onto my server for me. A music server allows you to access all of your CDs (or WMAs and MP-3s if your server is capable) from anywhere in the home at the touch of a button. You can browse your music collection based on title, genre and even cover art, and since music servers are hard drive-based, there’s no more waiting for a carousel to spin around, find and load a disc. Many of today’s “media” PCs can do the same thing – all you have to do is network your PC to your audio distribution system and you’re good to go.

Lastly, I have three words for you: integration, integration and integration. As I explained in Part I, different systems and components don’t always play nice with one another and getting them to cooperate can often require a lot of expensive programming. One way to avoid this is to choose a system from a manufacturer that does it all – from A/V distribution to HVAC and lighting control. Crestron is one such company, with great products and a good reputation. Another way to go would be to keep it down to two companies whose products you know integrate smoothly with one another. ADA and Vantage Controls, for instance, work extremely well together and a lot of the more high-end installers use these two products together for their huge, mega-buck installations. ADA handles the A/V distribution and amplification, while Vantage Controls takes care of the lighting and HVAC. They blend seamlessly together on a Vantage Controls touch screen. Vantage also makes a wonderful theater integration product called the TheaterPoint, which integrates lighting control in your theater or media room, so that when you push “Play” to watch a movie, your drapes can automatically close and your lights will dim. It also incorporates sophisticated IR control of your theater components with intelligent “if this, then that” technology, so the IR sequence doesn’t get screwed up and turn off something when you actually wanted it turned on.

If done right, an audio distribution system can be one of the most enjoyable and smart investments you can make. If you’re building a new house, this is a no-brainer – wire it up for distributed audio and stick in-ceiling speakers all over the house. Remodeling? Do the same thing. Also, wireless technology is getting better and better so even those of you who live in an ancient house with no possibility of getting into the walls to run new wires have no excuse not to have distributed audio in your home. Just make sure you pick a good installer who knows what the hell s/he is doing. I’d rather have a second-rate system put in by a pro, then a high-end one put in by a novice any day.

Joe Hageman is vice president of Caster Communications, a consumer electronics-based Public Relations firm. He was previously an equipment editor for Home Theater magazine and has written for E-Gear, Sound & Vision and Home Automation

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