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- October 2004 -
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There was no place for a TV. With the fireplace on one wall, book cases on another, a picture window on the other and a closet at the other end it was a challenge to find the right place for the TV and all of the speakers.

by Tom Grounds


The site is a room in a downstairs of a duplex built in 1923. The construction is pier and beam and all of the walls and ceilings are ship-lap. The media room in at the front of the house.

Challenges:

There was no place for a TV. With the fireplace on one wall, book cases on another, a picture window on the other and a closet at the other end it was a challenge to find the right place for the TV and all of the speakers.

Because the entire house is ship-lap, running cables was a challenge. Luckily the ceiling molding was very ornate and we were able to surface mount the speaker wire around the upper molding. Once it is painted you won't see the wires at all.

Equipment List:

Description

Model

Comments

Video Projector

Dell 2200MP DLP Projector

The Dell 2200MP Projector features DLP (Digital Light Processing) DDR technology and a high 1700:1 (full on / full off) contrast ratio for vivid images. The projector's built-in advanced motion adaptive hardware de-interlacing allows for superior picture quality. Preset and user defined video modes give you superb graphic and video settings. Supporting native SVGA (800x600) resolution, the projector provides incredible connectivity, with support for S-Video, Composite Video (RCA), Component Video and HDTV inputs. With only 37 dBA of sound output, it delivers extremely quiet operation. The projector includes a remote control and a hard shell carrying case, and is backed by a limited warranty2 with Advanced Exchange Service1 available for 1 year.

Satellite HDTV Receiver and DVR (Tivo)

Hughes HR10-250

DirecTV Digital HDTV Recorder / 200 Hour Tivo / 250GB DVR - HUGHES #DDVR250 aka (HR10-250)

Hughes/DIRECTV HDDVR250 (HR10-250) DirecTV HD DVR

   Record two different programs from either DirecTV, off air, or one from each, as well as watch a pre-recorded program all at the same time.

   The 'best of the best' in video and audio technology-with up to 1080i lines of resolution for HD ready TVs, HDMI and component video outputs (DVI compatible), and an optical output for full Dolby Digital technology, you'll never watch TV the same way again!

   Records up to 30 hours of DirecTV high definition programming or up to 200 hours of standard definition programming. With our 250GB Hard Drive, it lets you watch whenever you're ready.

   Easy set-up. On screen menus make set-up a breeze. 

   Pause live TV up to 30 minutes, then pick up exactly where you left off-no more interruptions! Plus, rewind, watch in slow motion , create instant replays and more. 

   HD and standard programming in all resolution formats (1018i, 720p, 480p or 480i)

   Multiple screen formats (full screen and panel).

   Theater quality sound with Dolby Digital technology.

RCA Multi-Satellite Dish

RCA DSA8900H

Triple LNB HDTV 18x24 DirecTV Satellite Dish

 

Over-the-Air Antenna

Terk Indoor/Outdoor Amplified Antenna (TV55)

Optimized for superb HDTV reception, this broadband helical antenna has a coiled reception element for the power of a large antenna in a slim, compact design.

Speaker Switch Box

 

4 Pair

A/V Receiver

Sony STR-DE985 Receiver (Silver)

   100W x 6 100W x 2 @ 8 Ohms

   A or B Speaker Switch

   Easy Setup

   Dolby® Pro Logic II, dts®, Dolby Digital EX Decoding

   Front Composite A/V and Optical Inputs

   6.1 and Digital Concert Hall A/B

   2 Progressive Video Inputs

   5.1 and 6.1 Multi-Channel Analog Inputs

   Second Room Output with Independent Source Selection

   On-screen display for easy set-up

   Multi-room audio output with independent source selection

   Preprogrammed and learning remote control with macros*

   32-bit Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic and dts decoder

   32-bit DSP with 14 acoustic environments

   Digital Cinema Sound system with Cinema Studio EX modes

   Digital Concert Hall A/B for surround sound playback of stereo music sources

   Virtual Matrix 6.1 mode

   Silver Color

   Stereo Mode (2 Channel): 100 Watts Per Channel x28 Ohms20-20kHz, 0.09% THD

   Multi-Channel Mode (6 Channel): 100 Watts Per Channel X68 Ohms?

   A or B Switch

   Analog Direct

   Full DSP Dual 32 Bit

   Circuit Device (Discrete)

   Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, dts, Dolby Pro Logic,Dolby Pro Logic II Decoding

   Digital Cinema Sound

   Sound Field LINK

   On Screen Display (OSD)

   INPUTS/OUTPUTS

   Headphone Jack 1/4" Jack

   Multi-Channel IN (Analog) 5.1 & 6.1 Channel Inputs

   Phono (MM)

   Multi-Room Output Yes, 2nd Room Audio Output (via RCA Output)

   Control A-1 II

   S-Link Input

   Audio Line IN/OUT (Analog) 4/2

   Audio Line IN/OUT (Digital) 4 Optical 1 Coaxial Input/ 1 Optical

   Pre-Out Subwoofer X 1, Surround Back X 1

   Video Signal IN/OUT 5/2 (Composite Type) 4/1 (S-Video Type)

   Component Video IN/OUT (Type) 2/1 (Progressive)

   Monitor Out 1 (Composite Type) 1 (S-Video Type)

   Front A/V Input Yes, S-Video & Composite A/V with Optical

   Station Presets 30 Total (20 FM/ 10 AM)

   Direct Tuning (via remote)

   AC Outlet (switched) 2

   Remote Commander Type Pre-Programmed + Learn + Limited Macro

   FM Tuning Range 87.5 - 108 MHz

   AM Tuning Range 530 - 1710 kHz

   Display Type (Dot FL.)

   Metric & Non (W X H X D) 430 X 157.5 X 369 (17" X 6.2" X 14.5")

   Remote Model RM-PG411 

4 input Component Video Switchbox

Audio Authority 4-Input Auto-Sensing Auto Switch for Component Video

 

DVD/VCR

Sony DVD/VCR Combo with Progressive Scan output (SON SLVD350P)

 

Cassette Player

Sony Dual Cassette Tape Deck

 

XBox

Microsoft xBox

With HDTV Connection Option

4 Channel Mixer

 

 

Universal Remote

MX-3000 Color Touch Screen from Universal Remote Control

 

Media PC

Compaq

Using J. River Media Center and ActiveHome Software (x10)

Audio Card

 

Provides Optical Audio Out for the PC

Flat Panel Monitor

KOGI

With Optional Wall Mount

AirPanel Smart Display

Viewsonic APV150P

Provides wireless remote desktop for the Media PC anywhere in the house

IR Pyramid

Radio Shack

 

UPS

 

 

Sub-Woofer

Sony SA-WM40 Active Subwoofer

 

X10 Modules

X10 / Magnavox Lamp Units / x10 Wall Switch Units

 

Theatre Screen

Da-Lite Model-B w/CSR 69"x92" High-Contrast Matte White with Pull Rod

 

Front Speakers

JBL Northridge Series 4" 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers N24II

 

Center Speak

Bose Center Channel Speaker - VCS-10

 

Surround/Rear Surround

JBL Northridge Series 4" 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers N24II

 

Speakers in the other rooms

JBL Northridge Series 4" 2-Way Bookshelf Speakers N24II

 

Back of Room:

At the back of the room is a closet that gives access to the space under the stairs. It is in this closet where all of the equipment is located.

To the right is the doorway that leads to the stairs for upstairs access

To the left is the desk where the media PC is housed. The monitor is mounted to the wall and the keyboard and mouse are housed in the desk.

The left wall is all book cases and a door to the music room

Speakers are distributed throughout the downstairs through the 'B' speaker channels - and a 4-pair switch box (Music Room, Garden Room, Kitchen, Outside)

The rear speakers for the surround sound (7.1) are mounted above the desk and the door to the upstairs.

Front of Room:

The front of the room has a Fireplace and doors to the entry hall. A drop-down screen was selected so that the room would not always look like a single-use room.

A drop-down screen was mounted to the ceiling.

The front pair of speakers is to the left and right of the fireplace

The center speaker is on top of the fireplace molding

To entire right wall is lined with book cases

To the left of the fireplace are the doors to the entry hall.

The entire left wall is a window on the front of the house.

The surround speakers are mounted ½-way through the room over the book case and over the front window.

Equipment Closet:

Cable Management:
Cable Management is done on the wall behind the shelves. At each shelf is a strip of Velcro that holds all cables in place.

Projector:
At the top of the closet is a Dell MP2200 DLP projector. The projector is mounted to the underside of the stairs using the ceiling mount bracket from Dell.

Cables to the projector come from two directions. The power and PC connection are mounted on the inside of the door frame and connect to the UPS and the Media PC. 3 additional cables come from the back wall behind the A/V equipment - Composite, S-Video and Component video. All three cables are connected directly to the A/V receiver (second shelf). All video and audio is switched using the receiver. The projector is set to sense the appropriate connection to use based on where it is getting the video signal. (the cable hanging is the one from the PC. Dell uses the PC connection for the Component video input - so, when using the PC, a manual connection change has to happen)

IR:
The cable running along the doorframe is for 2 IR buds that are placed in 2 places so that the pyramid IR receiver can blast all of the A/V equipment with the IR signal from the remotes. The other pyramid is placed on a book shelf to the right of the front screen and is used as the aiming point for all remotes.

Speaker Switch Box:
Sitting on top of the DirecTV box on the top shelf is a 4-channel speaker switch box. This is connected to the receiver 'B' channel. This box controls the speakers to the Garden Room, Music Room, Kitchen and outside. This will re-connected to a second receiver in the future which will be connected to the main A/V receiver's 2nd Room output connections. The A/V receiver in use does not allow for both the A and B speakers to be on at the same time. This results in the inability to hear music in the Media room and the rest of the house simultaneously. By adding the second receiver, it will also enable the ability to watch a movie or play x-box in the media room while still playing music (or some other source) through the rest of the house).

DirecTV HDTV with Tivo:
The top shelf houses the HDTV DirecTV - DVR (Tivo) receiver. 2 satellite cables run under the house and into this closet. The DirecTV box is cabled to the receiver using Optical Audio and Component Video. An additional cable runs up to the satellite dish area and connects to the OTA (Over the air) HDTV antenna.

A/V Receiver:
The A/V receiver allows for the mapping of video inputs to the audio outputs as well as the re-naming of the devices. I used the TV input for HDTV and xBOX (to use the component connection - coming from the component switch box), DAT for the Media PC (optical in, RCA out) - to be able to digitally record from any source (including the audio mixer), all other inputs are used as marked.

DVD / VCR:
A combined DVD/VCR was used. The DVD connections are made to the receiver DVD connection (for some reason on the receiver they did not offer an optical connection, but only a coax connection - so, coax, S-Video, Component Video and Composite Video are all connected to the Receiver. The VCR connections are also made to the receiver (composite only).

Cassette Deck:
I used an existing old cassette recorder/player that I had (besides, who uses cassettes any more?)

XBox:
I opted for the HDTV connector for the xBox. This enabled the use of an optical audio connection as well as component and s-video connections. These run into the component audio/video switch box. My network is not cabled into the downstairs of my house, so I rely on wireless for my PC connections and my xBox connections. I purchased the xBox wireless modem which connects me to xBox Live.

Component Video Switch Box:
Due to the limit of component video IN to the AV receiver I selected, I had to add a component video switch box. The nice thing about the box is that is senses where it has a source and automatically selects it. In the event there is more than one source sending a signal, it switches to the last new source that it found. You can manually override the source by pressing the buttons on the front of the box.

4 Channel Mixer:
I use this 4-channel mixer for recording projects. That is the reason I used the DAT connections for the media PC so that I can record either on the PC or on the cassette deck. 4 Microphones plug into the mixer for that purpose. The mixer is connected to the A/V receiver to the AUX port. The mixer is on a rolling stand that allows for it to be rolled into the music room (room adjacent) where the piano is.

2nd Receiver:
My media room is wired to my A channel on my main receiver. In the past I had receivers that enabled me to have both the A and B channels on at the same time. My B channel runs to my speaker switch box and supplies sound to the other sets of speakers around the house and outside. Because I can't play both A and B together, I use the 2nd room out on my main receiver and run to my second receiver ($99.00) to manage the sound in the rest of the house. This works well in the event where I am having a party and have music playing in the other rooms and can play xBox or watch TV or a movie in the media room without changing the sound in the rest of the house. NOTE: Another 'gotcha' that I discovered is that the 2nd room our only passes on signals that are analog. Because I have an optical connection from my media PC, DVD, xBOX and HDTV to my main receiver, it does not pass these signals to the second receiver. I had to install a second audio card in my media PC and connect directly to the second receiver to pass that signal.

Media PC:
The media PC is on a rack on the floor behind the wall where the desk and monitor reside. 2 holes were made through the wall - one for the keyboard & mouse and the other for the monitor and it's power cord.

The Media PC is connected to a UPS (the gray box behind the PC) and all of the A/V equipment is connected through the filtered power outlets on the UPS.

The Media PC is connected to the A/V receiver with an optical OUT and RCA IN connections allowing the playing of music through the A/V system and the recording from the A/V system (mixer, radio, etc.)

The Media PC is connected to the rest of the computer network via wireless. It is part of the domain.

The PC runs the 'Media Center' software from J.River. This software allowed me to rip my entire CD collection to the hard drive. The software is also able to serve up all of the music over the network to all PC's running the Media Center software as well as over the internet. I keep 5 index card file boxes on the shelf to the left off the desk and I file all of the CD Liner notes in that box. This way I don't have to furnish space to store all of the CD's, but still have all of the liner information available. I have 3 - 400 CD players connected to another system where I put the CD's once I have burned them.

The PC also runs the Active Home software which controls all of the X10 devices (lights) and allows for macros to be run that change the lighting in the room (fade down to watch a movie, fade up when it is over).

IR Pyramid:
The IR Pyramid receives the IR signals from the remotes from a partner pyramid which translates them to RF and then re-produces the signal in the closet. This is the device that the IR buds are connected to.

I just purchased the MX-3000 universal remote and wireless base that I will be incorporating into my setup. The MX-3000 uses both IR and RF to send signals. I will replace the IR Pyramid in the closet with the wireless base and run all of the IR buds through the closet. I will no longer need the other pyramid that sits on a shelf in the media room currently. The remote will allow me to set up all of the remotes that I currently use - receiver, HDTV, Tivo, DVD, x10 (for the lights) and the projector remotes all into a single remote.

Sub-woofer:
Because of the size of the room, I didn't want to take up any space with the sub-woofer. I elected to put the sub-woofer in the closet with the media equipment. It is placed against the common wall between the closet and the room. Because the house is on pier and beam, the hard-wood floors under the carpeting help pull the bass frequencies into the media room. The sub-woofer has been adjusted for this setup and seems to be working well. I am planning to add room shakers to the configuration and am still figuring out where they will be placed. If I get my courage up, I may crawl under the house and mount them between floor joists under the room.

Media PC Control:
In the media room is the control elements of the media PC. The keyboard and mouse are housed in the desk and when the drawer is closed, are not seen at all. The monitor is mounted to the wall and when music is playing, the J. River software shows the track information as well as the album cover. (or selectable visualizations, etc.).

The x10 system allows for the use of a wireless remote to control all of the light levels (including the lamp on the desk) from anywhere in the house. 2 Macros were developed and assigned addresses so that when the 'on' button is pressed, then the entire room fades up to about 75% and when the 'off' button is pressed, the room drops to 20%.

Remote Monitor:
This remote monitor from ViewSonic allows me to use the 'remote workstation' software in XP to connect to any of the PC's on my network - including the media PC and walk around the house with the monitor. The monitor allows for touch entry on the screen (with a supplied stylus) or the mini USB keyboard shows in the picture below. The gives me the freedom while in the dining room or even outside to control the music being played, surf the web or do work on any of my other PC's while in the media room. I store the unit in the media closet where it recharges when not in use.

Universal Remote:
I purchased the MX-3000 remote to control my entire media room. The remote is a bit pricy, but it will do everything I need it to do. I program it using my PC and then download the programming to the remote. The software also downloads the IR codes from a database that is maintained by the manufacturer allowing me to get all of the functions of newer equipment without having to do the 'learn' mode. This remote also allows me to control all of my x10 lighting. I plan to build macros that will allow me to touch one button and have the room dim, equipment turn on and start playing. The remote is both IR and Wireless and allows me to put the wireless base in the closet, connect the IR buds and then get rid of my current IR pyramid. The remote is rechargeable and sits on it's charging base when not in use. There goes the need for all the new batteries.

I just received the remote and should have it programmed very soon.

Front of Room

Once all of the equipment was installed, then the cosmetic elements were added. We didn't want to have to look at the pull-down screen hardware at the ceiling when we were not using the projector.

Cornice: A drape cornice was mounted in front of the screen hardware to mask it.

Chandelier:
The ceiling fan was removed and a chandelier was built. Since 2 circuits were wired to the fan (one for the fan and one for the light), I assembled the chandelier in two pieces. The first piece was a simple ceiling mount light fixture which was wired to one circuit and then 4 additional lights were constructed from a dis-assembled fan light kit which was assembled with new wiring, chain (with hooks mounted in the ceiling) and then encased in the same fabric as the drape cornice. These 4 lights were wired to the second circuit. At the wall x10 wall switches were installed to control the two circuits going to the chandelier. This enables the center and outer lights to be dimmed separately.

Alcove Lights:
2 Alcove lights were added to the right and left of the screen and put on their own circuit. These two lights work independently and the brightness can be raised and lowered as required. An x10 switch was installed so that these can be changed using the remote.

Book Case Lights:
Each section of book case had been previously lit. An x10 switch was installed so that these can be changed using the remote.

Doors to Entry Hall:
We found some battered antique doors that fit the opening. We added new antique hardware (door knob, latch) and re-painted the door. We opted to paint the glass panes with a contrasting color. The extra paint helps block out the light during daytime viewing.

Drapes:
The entire 17' wall was draped to cover the window. Heavy tapestry fabric was used to block out the light. The drapes are 9' tall. To balance the size of the drapes, 2 rows of heavy fringe was used at the bottom. A cornice was added to the top in a contrasting fabric and uses a single row of the heavy fringe. The drapes are functional and can be opened to let in natural light. Due to the weight of the drapes, 2 1" dowels were mounted at the ceiling using banister hardware (to support the weight). Metal rings ride the dowel to allow for manual opening of the drapes.

Drape Lights:
 8 surface mount lights were mounted to the ceiling between the drapes and the cornice. These 8 lights are on their own circuit and have an x10 switch installed so that they can be controlled using the remote.

Seating:
For seating I purchased 5 recliners. When we are not watching a movie, we have them arranged in a conversation setting. The coffee table is simply 4 cubes put together into a single table. Each one has either a set of drawers, shelves behind a glass door or simply shelves. These are used for storage of all of the remotes and other items. When we re-arrange the seating in the room, we don't have to deal with a large piece of furniture - we split the coffee table into 4 separate tables that can be moved next to any of the seats to provide a table for drinks, etc.

Other Cosmetic items:
Two floor grates were in the room. They were the cheap metal grates that are typically used. I replaced the grates with iron grates that I found at a restoration hardware store.

The drape lighting creates a nice glow on the drapes and also provides a nice dramatic effect while in the room.

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