Source: Essential Install magazine April 2019
Ion Smith of CEDIA member, Cyberhomes, looks at the future of IMAX Enhanced in the home
IMAX is renowned for being, arguably, the best cinema experience at the local multiplex with its giant screens, improved audio and alternative aspect ratios. IMAX Enhanced aims to bring that premium experience to the home cinema and media room environment.
We think it has great potential in the CI space, providing a fantastic opportunity for our businesses to engage with existing and new customers. Launched late last year, IMAX Enhanced is both a new licensing and certification program for home entertainment equipment.
Certification, content and optimisation
The IMAX brand is the ‘go to’ for those looking for premium entertainment experiences. To qualify and carry the IMAX Enhanced logo, the highest-end TVs, sound bars, AV receivers must meet carefully-prescribed performance requirements established by IMAX, DTS and Hollywood’s leading colour experts to create a consistent and higher bar for image and sound specs on premium devices.
By marking home cinema equipment with the IMAX Enhanced logo, IMAX is adding its stamp of approval to what it considers to be the best performing AV products.
The IMAX Enhanced logo, already starting to appear on some 4K Blu-Ray disks, means that the content has an expanded aspect ratio and immersive sound (other immersive sound formats like DTS:X and, more commonly, Dolby Atmos are already featured on many Ultra HD Blu- Rays; and DTS:X is the core codec behind the immersive sound format used in IMAX Enhanced).
IMAX digitally re-mastered content for the home environment will, it is claimed, provide the sharpest 4K HDR images and powerful, immersive sound as the filmmaker intended.
IMAX is designing an ‘IMAX Mode’ for the enhanced devices that will be meticulously calibrated to play digitally re-mastered content to deliver the best viewing and listening experience on that device. This advanced process accurately reduces noise and grain under the filmmaker’s guidance to best optimise the content for a much higher quality, higher brightness 4K HDR display format.
Without this technology, high-dynamic range content can sometimes look worse than what was originally seen and intended by the filmmaker due to excessive noise and grain in the film.
How similar is IMAX Enhanced to the multiplex cinema experience? The majority of films in IMAX cinemas use the 1.90:1 aspect ratio, which also works well in the home because with 1.90:1, there is only a very small amount of letterboxing on a 16:9 (1.78) display. At most, it will fill the 1.78:1 TV screen, eliminating letterboxing entirely. This is likely to drive a shift from 2.35:1 to 16:9 ratio projection screens in home cinemas—something that Cyberhomes has been advocating for some time, especially when motorised masking is not installed.
For optimal playback of IMAX Enhanced content, the recommended speaker layout for an IMAX Enhanced system is 7.2.4 with seven main speakers (left, centre, right, left surround, right surround, left rear and right rear), two subwoofers and four height speakers. 5.1.4 is the minimum layout for IMAX Enhanced AV receivers and processors.
The AV industry has seen many standards and formats come and go over the years. Some have succeeded, others like HD-DVD, and, to some extent, 3D, have paled into obscurity.
Timing wise, there are more 4K HDR displays than ever, making it a good time to release a standard that capitalises on IMAX’s system of high-resolution cameras and film formats that use bigger, brighter, higher resolution projectors boasting higher contrast. IMAX Enhanced TVs and projectors must be 4K HDR, and to get IMAX Enhanced audio, the AV processor must carry the IMAX Enhanced logo.
It is aimed at home cinema enthusiasts that are looking for the premium entertainment experience in the home and are prepared to commit the budget necessary to achieve it. That gives installation businesses an upgrade option, where existing home cinema clients need to consider replacing their equipment with IMAX Enhanced-certified alternatives. Not all of this needs to be done at once to see an improvement.
For example, if a customer already has a DTS:X capable AV processor and immersive speaker array in their media room, they may choose initially to just replace the display to get the IMAX Enhanced image experience.
As with most technologies and formats, content is king. If IMAX Enhanced isn’t supported by filmmakers and the studios then it is unlikely to achieve the necessary momentum to be supported by all the equipment manufacturers or justify the extra investment for a small number of optimised movies (brands like Sony, AudioControl, Denon, Integra, Marantz, Trinnov and others have already announced their support). The next 12 to 18 months will surely see it either sink or swim; but we certainly support endeavours to improve the potential of the home cinema experience for our customers.
There’s a rich mix of premium hardware and attention to detail in this picture palace designed by UK installer Cyberhomes. The owner, we’re told, wanted ‘the ultimate home cinema room’ and that’s what he got, not to mention a space crowned Best Home Cinema (£120,000 – £340,000) at the recent CEDIA Awards.Ion Smith, Cyberhomes founder and director, explains the brief. Dolby Atmos audio was a given but, if possible, a cut above 7.1.2. ‘Also, the screen image had to be bright enough to use during the day with lights on for general sports/TV, as well as in darkened room state for movies.’
A StormAudio ISP 3D 16 Elite processor handles next-gen audio decoding for the room’s 9.1.6-channel system. All speakers are from James Loudspeaker, fitted in-wall/in-ceiling. Power comes from a 16-channel StormAudio amplifier, with additional rack-mounted grunt for the quartet of subwoofers.
For visuals, the initial plan was for a Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 4K projector (7,500 Lumens, single-chip DLP) to be used, but after a comparison with the same brand’s 3-chip, 12,500 Lumens HIGHlite beamer, the owner demanded the higher-spec model. Next on the kit list was a Lumagen Radiance Pro 4444 processor, which introduces HDR (including Dolby Vision and HDR10) playout to the system, making use of the projector’s inherent brightness. Film and TV from assorted sources (racked in a boot room) are given cinematic impact by the 140in Screen Research projector screen.
Cinema Equipment Checklist
- StormAudio: ISP 3D 16 Elite processor; PA 16 Elite amplifier
- Digital Projection: Hermes ll HIGHlite 4K laser projector with 2.17 – 2.90:1 long-throw lens
- Screen Research: XLR3 140in-wide side-masking screen with 2.35:1 aspect ratio
- James Loudspeaker: 3 x QX830 in-walls (LCR); 6 x QX530 in-walls (surround); 6 x QX520 in-walls (height); 3 x M1000 amplifiers; 2 x M122 subwoofers; 2 x QX1020 subwoofers
- Amazon: Fire TV 4K
- Panasonic: DMP-BDT180 BD player (multiregion)
- Apple: Apple TV 4K
- Kaleidescape: Strato 4K server
- Oppo: UDP-203 Ultra HD BD deck
- Sky: Sky Q PVR
- Savant: Savant Pro remote
- Vizbox Enclosures: Projector airflow system; sound-isolating projector enclosure
- Fortress Seating: 6 x Lexington cinema seats
This impressive project ‘Hampshire Cinema Seduction’ by Cyberhomes picked up the Best Home Cinema £120,000 – £340,000 category at this year’s CEDIA Awards.
Ion Smith, founder and director of Cyberhomes, explains, “This customer wanted the ‘ultimate home cinema room’ with no compromises. He wanted the biggest screen possible and calculations showed that the largest screen that would fit would just meet recommended viewing angles from the seating positions. The sound had to be Dolby Atmos and if possible, he wanted more than the popular 7.1.2 arrangement.”
Ion adds, “Also the screen image had to be bright enough to use during the day with lights on for general sports/TV as well as in evenings/darkened room for movies. Control needed to fully integrate into the Savant Pro system that was being installed into the rest of the house, and although there would be dedicated video sources for the cinema room, it should also be able to access the video matrix for viewing the shared sources that the whole house can also use.”
So in order to allow the cinema room to be used with the lights full on, a high brightness projector was required.
Ion explains, “Initially we recommended the Digital Projection E-Vision Laser 4K-UHD single-chip DLP projector (7,500 ISO Lumens) and took the client to a demo of this. At the demo an A/B comparison was done with the Digital Projection 4K-UHD HIGHlite 3-chip DLP laser projector (12,500 ISO Lumens) and, despite a considerable increase in cost, the client wanted the higher spec version.”
The A/B comparison was carried out at Pulse Cinemas’ demonstration facility, with the distributor supplying much of the equipment which went into the cinema and supporting Cyberhomes with a complete sales service as the project progressed.
Lead designer at Cyberhomes, Chris Morley, explains, “While the Digital Projection projector has sufficient brightness for high dynamic range, it does not have built-in HDR, so a Lumagen Radiance Pro 4444 processor was included to provide HDR compatibility (including HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG). The Lumagen also allowed for separate calibration settings to be stored for each different video source.”
A Screen Research XLR3 acoustically transparent screen was also included which allowed the main LCR speakers to be in the ideal positions behind the screen. Motorised side masking allows automatic aspect ratio change of the visible screen area and also provides full closure to protect the screen when not in use.
Chris adds, “Aspect ratio detection is automatic with the motorised masking and Lumagen processor responding accordingly; although we also provided the ability to override the aspect ratio from both the Lutron wall-plate and the Savant Pro app and remote handset.”
A Celerity active optical fibre connection between the Lumagen processor in the plant room and the projector was also included which is 4K 4:4:4 60fps capable, although projector only supports up to 4:2:0 colour depth. A second active fibre HDMI allows local connection of a games console in the cinema room feeding back to the Lumagen processor.
Other features include Riello UPS units within the AV racks to allow for safe shutdown of equipment in event of a mains power failure and a Pakedge IP-controlled PDU allows remote rebooting of devices if required.
Domotz network monitoring is in place to deliver notifications of any devices on the network that aren’t responding so the team can remotely reboot. Cyberhomes has also provided the client with the Domotz Violet app so he can also remotely reboot a specific device.
Getting it right
The room was acoustically treated using a bespoke acoustics package designed and installed by Vicoustic. To assist with acoustic isolation of the cinema room from the rest of the house, an acoustic isolating door was also installed for the cinema room (to recording studio standards) which was designed to match the other interior doors of the home.
A StormAudio ISP 3D 16 Elite processor provides the Dolby Atmos decoding. Initially this was going to be a 9.1.4 implementation, but part way through the design process an update was made available for the processor allowing it to support 9.1.6, so the height speaker positions were redesigned to accommodate an additional pair of height speakers. The full Atmos 9.1.6 spec did not come out until after the cinema had been finished.
A 16-channel StormAudio PA 16 Elite amplifier provides amplification for the main speakers (using 15 of the available amps) and each of the four subwoofers have their own dedicated James Loudspeakers M1000 amplifiers.
All the speakers are from the James Loudspeaker range. The main LCR speakers (James Loudspeakers QX830) are located behind the screen with all the surround (James Loudspeakers QX530) and height speakers (James Loudspeakers QX520) correctly located according to Dolby’s Atmos design guidelines.
There are two James Loudspeakers M122 12in dual subwoofers at the front of the room in bespoke low-level cabinets and a further two QX1020 10in dual subwoofers at the rear.
The team used two-channel outputs from the Storm processor allowing them to manipulate the equalisation and set the crossover settings so that the front subs take more lower sub bass, whilst the rears offer more sub bass punch.
All speakers and the acoustic treatment panels are located out of sight behind bespoke stretched fabric acoustically transparent walls from Desmond & Sons.
A ‘sawtooth’ design was created to give the room aesthetic appeal, with LED strip lighting integrated into the ‘teeth’. These LEDs dim automatically whenever video content is playing, leaving just the floor lights dimly illuminated (unless in daytime viewing mode).
Dedicated air conditioning unit in the plant room with temperature probes inside the racks are also included automatically maintaining a maximum temperature of 24° in the racks. The AC unit is connected to Wi-Fi and so can generate Savant Pro notifications if rack temperature exceeds the limits.
Some of the challenges involved dealing with the considerable size of the projector, in fact the ceiling had to be reinforced to take the combined weight of the projector and housing. A special cabinet housing had to be built (by Vizbox Enclosures Limited to the team’s specification) to house the projector.
Forced ventilation is built into the housing and this was designed to ensure it aligns with the ventilation grills on the projector. Fans were dislocated from the housing to minimise any vibration noise.
The cinema room has its own air conditioning and heating to maintain comfortable conditions with no natural ventilation as well as being connected to the house’s air recirculation/heat recovery system. Vents are discreetly located in the coffer.
When the cinema room is turned off, a ‘purge cycle’ is activated with the air conditioning and air circulation systems to refresh the room as many of the homeowner’s friends are smokers.
Chris explains some of the other challenges, “The room layout design necessitated that the main seating position would be almost exactly in the centre of the room. Therefore, to minimise standing waves, the rear subwoofers were moved in from the corners to give greater flexibility when calibrating them.
“At full brightness, the projector would be too bright for the screen under traditional movie viewing conditions. However, the brightness was necessary to meet the requirement for using the cinema in ‘daylight’ conditions. Therefore, two brightness levels were programmed into the projector and ISF calibration undertaken at each setting. The required vertical height of the projector meant that it was lower than the height of the door, so a clever coffer design was required to accommodate these different heights while making the integration of the projector appear seamless with the room.”
Other special touches included a bespoke starfield ceiling created with star positions carefully planned before the custom optical fibres were installed. This ensured that all the ‘stars’ avoided the speakers and other items above the false ceiling.
The room that was being used for the cinema originally had an external window in it which was ‘bricked up’ to remove any natural daylight from the room.
However, the client didn’t want it to look bricked up from the outside, so a fake window was installed, complete with double-glazing, motorised Lutron blind and integral LED lighting; so from the outside it looks like a real window maintaining the aesthetic balance of the house.
Topping the whole experience off are bespoke leather seats from U.S. brand Fortress seating.
Essential Kit List
- Celerity, DFO-60P active fibre HDMI x3
- Desmond & Sons, room acoustics package
- Desmond & Sons, wall/ceiling fabric tracking system/stretched fabric installation
- Digital Projection, Hermes ll HighLite Laser 4K + 2.17 – 2.90 long throw primary lens
- Fortress Seating Lexington cinema seats with bespoke leather x 6
- James Loudspeaker M1000 amplifier x 3
- James Loudspeaker M122 – 12″ dual subwoofer x 2
- James Loudspeaker QX1020 subwoofer x 2
- Loudspeaker QX520 in-wall speaker x 6
- James Loudspeaker QX530 in-wall speaker x 6
- James Loudspeaker QX830 in-wall speaker x 3
- Savant Savant Pro Remote
- Screen Research XLR3 side masking screen – 2.35:1 aspect ratio – 140″
- Storm Audio ISP 3d 16 Elite Processor
- Storm Audio PA 16 ELITE
- Vizbox Enclosures projector airflow system
- Vizbox Enclosures sound isolating projector enclosure
Shared with rest of house
- Amazon Fire TV 4K media player x 2
- Apple TV 4K x 2
- Atlona AT-UHD-PRO3-88M 4K HDBaseT video matrix
- Kaleidescape Strato 4K movie server
- Lutron Homeworks QS processor
- Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-Ray player
- Savant Pro Smart Host control system
- Sky Q 4K satellite receiver x 2
Source: Mail on Sunday August 2018
A high-tech revolution means you can now monitor your home remotely from a smartphone.
It also enables you to control a host of tasks, from door security to cutting energy bills and even feeding your pets.
The Mail on Sunday guides you through the technology jungle and shows how you can join in.
Look out for callers
The world of home security has long moved on from traditional burglar alarms which had a habit of going off by mistake. Now you can keep an eye on your home remotely via spy cameras connected to a smartphone.
A video doorbell costs from about £100 to more than £1,000 if you also want it linked up to a comprehensive house security system. A pinhole camera sits above the bell so you can see and talk to anyone who comes knocking at your door through a software app downloaded on to your mobile phone.
It is welcome technology for the security conscious, photographing strangers who come to your front door – or even just walk past – and then sending a picture alert to your phone. You can also talk to the visitor, particularly useful if you do not wish to miss a special delivery from the postman.
Andy Mack is founder of home technology provider Cyberhomes, based in Thame, Oxfordshire. His company installs a wide range of home functions that can be controlled from a single phone app. He says: ‘Security should be at the heart of any system – and the latest technology can help make sure that you and your home are better protected.‘
Among the security doorbell systems he favours is the top-of-the-range Savant Door Station which including installation costs around £1,500. Those on a shoestring budget may consider an £89 Ring which also communicates with your mobile.
Standalone security cameras that are linked to your smartphone can also be purchased to monitor both inside and outside your property.
These include the £159 indoor Canary that not only acts as an eyes and ears around the home – but can work in the dark. There is also the £313 outdoor Nest Cam IQ that sends an alert to your phone if an unfamiliar face is spotted – and includes a facility to talk back. Mack says: ‘A property need not be cluttered with electronic boxes and jumbles of wires.
‘A single app can remotely control your entire home.‘
Improve the mood with smart lighting
The traditional incandescent light bulb started to be replaced by the compact fluorescent lamp and light emitting diode nine years ago as part of European Union rules to cut energy waste. Although many households still prefer the glow of the older bulbs the replacements use a tenth of the electricity which means each bulb knocks at least £2 a year off energy bills.
The next step in this lighting revolution is the arrival of ‘smart’ lights controlled from a mobile phone. These let you turn off lights remotely and can be controlled to deter burglars when you are away from home. They can also save energy by being dimmed, while some are able to change colour to suit a mood or keep a beat to the sound of music.
Popular options include the Philips Hue range – from £15 for a white bulb to £50 for a dimmable colour light. They both use standard fittings and can also be controlled by a traditional wall switch. You must buy a separate £50 ‘bridge’ that plugs into a home modem. This allows you to control up to a maximum 50 smart bulbs via your smartphone.
George Yianni is head of technology at Signify which provides the Philips Hue bulbs. He says: ‘You can start with basic white energy-saving bulbs controlled by a smartphone app and then build from there. With coloured bulbs you can turn lights to a blue and white hue that can keep you up and alert during long dark winter months. They can also be turned to restful warmer shades in the evening. You do not even need to get off the sofa to control them.‘
He adds: ‘We even have multi-media options where free software can be downloaded on to your computer that connects to a TV, games console or music system. This allows lighting to fade in and change colour to coincide with the sounds.‘
Another smart light option includes the energy saving £20 Hive Active bulb that can be turned on and off – as well as dimmed or put on a timer using a smartphone from wherever you are.
The bulbs plug into standard light fittings but require an £80 ‘Hive Hub’ to plug into a router so it can be controlled or monitored through your smartphone.
For those wanting to embrace the full potential of 21st Century lighting the £200 Nanoleaf system includes nine light panels that sit together, providing a colour scheme to suit your room or mood. Colours or effects can be changed remotely using a smartphone or electronic device, such as Alexa.
Leslie Chen, of Nanoleaf, says: ‘Such lights can really change the mood and ambience of a home – providing mellow yellows and oranges as you are getting ready for bed and perhaps brighter reds and strong blues when you want to get active. It is not just about finding the right lighting effect to suit how you feel but to bring a sense of wellbeing.‘
These days you can access hundreds of television channels, thousands of movies and millions of music tunes – all piped through the internet. When it comes to watching TV you must still pay £150.50 a year for the privilege of an advert-free BBC but that aerial on the roof is most likely redundant.
Many homes now plug in a set-top box – costing anything from £20 to £200 – for access to more than a hundred channels streamed over the internet or picked up by a satellite dish. Some modern TV sets now come with this technology already built in and do not require a separate box
Once wired up you can enjoy free access to on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub as well as paid-for video options such as £7.99 a month Amazon Prime and £5.99 a month Netflix. Shows can be accessed not just via a remote control but a computer laptop or smartphone.
Music streaming is the most popular way to enjoy favourite songs – with 45 billion tunes streamed each year over the internet. This outstrips the total from downloads and listening to CDs and vinyl.
Downloading a free app on your smartphone not only enables you to enjoy music on the go but by investing in a wi-fi gadget, such as the £30 Google Chromecast, it can also be connected to an old fashioned hi-fi system. Your mobile is then used as a remote control to play the music through the stereo.
Music streaming providers such as Spotify offer access to more than 20 million tracks.
You can sign up for free but for £9.99 a month a ‘premium’ service cuts out adverts and allows you to download music to enjoy later. Competitors to consider include Tidal, Apple Music, Napster and Deezer. Technology expert Ion Smith of Cyberhomes says: ‘It can cost you more than £1,000 installing Ethernet cables in wall cavities – but it will allow you to benefit from further innovations in entertainment.
‘For example, 4K ultra high-definition TV is becoming increasingly popular – and you can simply plug into this technology if you have Ethernet cables.
‘Otherwise you might have compatibility issues or not be able to take full advantage of it if your TV connection is not up to scratch.’
Take control of energy bills
The average household now spends £1,400 a year on electricity and gas – a bill you can cut by up to a third by using a ‘smart’ thermostat.
Traditional heating systems involve a simple thermostat dial stuck on a wall inside the house that automatically turns radiators on or off when a set temperature in the home is reached.
Yet there are now thermostats packed with sensors that decide if a room needs heating or not, turning the heating off when a room is not occupied. The devices are connected to the internet via a router in your home and you can change settings, such as times and temperature, wherever you are by tapping into your phone app.
Among the top rated options is the £179 Hive Active system, which offers an intuitive thermostat to ensure unused rooms are not being heated.
Others include the slick-looking Nest (£250) and competitively priced £140 Drayton Wiser. Alternatives include the £199 Tado Smart and no-frills £140 Netatmo smart thermostat.
You should budget a further £100 if you wish to pay an expert to install your equipment, though those with DIY skills might manage without help. Individual radiator thermostats are also worth considering. Drayton Wiser sells them for £45 each.
Smart thermostats should not be confused with ‘smart’ energy meters. These devices are currently being rolled out as part of an £11 billion Government-backed scheme to encourage everyone to replace traditional gas and electricity meters with those that can talk remotely to their energy supplier. They come with an energy monitor that often sits in the kitchen.
The idea is that households will become more energy price conscious when they see how much they are wasting – for example by leaving electronic gadgets on standby.
Smart meters are not without their faults. They often stop working if you switch energy supplier.
Source: Home Cinema Choice Magazine June 2018
THIS HIGH-SPEC HOME theatre from custom install specialist Cyberhomes is somewhat unusual as the orientation of seating and screen doesn’t follow the typical ‘longest dimension’ rule. Instead, the owners were keen to pivot the layout through 90 degrees, to place the room’s twin doors either side of the eventual PJ screen for pleasing aesthetic symmetry. Cyberhomes’ challenge was therefore to accommodate a 4K-projection, Dolby Atmos system within this configuration, while still maintaining the expected premium performance.
Behind the Screen Research screen, which fits snugly between the room’s two doors, sit Triad InWall Gold/6 Monitor speakers, the US company’s range-topping option, plus two in-wall subs. Bipole in-wall models, again from Triad, are adopted for the rear and surround channels; their extra dispersion deemed necessary due to the close proximity of the seating row. Traditional in-ceiling speakers (rear Atmos), 45-degree angled in-ceiling speakers (front Atmos), and two further subwoofers at the back of the room complete the system.
Processing is from AudioControl’s Maestro M9, with power delivered by a 12-channel amplifier from BGW. A full acoustic treatment (diffusion, absorption and bass management panels), plus Dirac calibration, was conducted. For its bigscreen images, the cinema features a Sony VPL-VW550ES 4K HDR projector. Sources are Sky Q, Apple TV and a Kaleidescape UHD player/ server combi. Again, full calibration was performed.
Lutron smart lighting, Control4-powered system operation and luxury Fortress seating finish off a cinema room we’d love to kick back in…
- AUDIOCONTROL: Maestro M9 surround processor
- BGW: VXi 8.4 power amplifier (12 x 200W)
- SCREEN RESEARCH: X4R projection screen with motorised top/bottom masking
- SONY: VPL-VW550ES 4K HDR projector
- TRIAD: 3 x InWall Gold/6 Monitor speakers; 4 x InWall Silver/4 Surround speakers; 2 x InWall Silver/4 MiniMonitor speakers (in-ceiling); 2 x InCeiling Silver/6 speakers (in-ceiling); 2 x InRoom Gold Sub subwoofers; 2 x InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub subwoofers; 3 x RackAmp 700 DSP amplifiers
- FORTRESS SEATING: 7 x Kensington leather cinema chairs with electric incline
- CONTROL4: C4-EA3 processor; C4-SR260RSK remote control
- APPLE: Apple TV
- KALEIDESCAPE: Strato 4K Ultra HD movie player; 24TB Terra movie server
- SKY: Sky Q Silver PVR
Source: Professional Housebuilder and Property Developer (PHPD) Magazine January 2018 (Cover Feature)
With an increasing emphasis on including the latest technologies and controls in new homes, Billy Hilton, Senior Engineer at Cyberhomes, reveals how one luxury new home in Lutterworth was fitted with the latest home automation and AV capabilities.
Buyers of bespoke or luxury homes are increasingly demanding that their new property has the latest home automation and audiovisual (AV) capabilities. Many potential buyers will already have experience of an integrated smart home system in their current home and, depending on the quality of installation, will have a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ relationship with a particular solution. Clearly developers need to offer a feature-rich control and automation system in new homes, but how do you ensure buyers are going to love it?
A recent project Cyberhomes was involved with saw a modest bungalow in Lutterworth being replaced with a new two-storey house that spanned three sides of a courtyard. Although the client was a property developer, this project was his own home. With a keen eye for interior design it was essential that as much of the technology as possible was hidden out of sight and what could be seen should blend seamlessly into the room design.
Lighting has a dramatic impact on the feel of a room and the ability to easily change lighting levels of different circuits allows all the different living spaces to be optimised for different activities. At the outset we brought in lighting designer Richard Voller to work closely with the client and their interior designer.
Richard’s lighting plan dictated the number of lighting circuits required in each room so we could specify the lighting control system (a total of 76 dimmable circuits). A Lutron Homeworks QS lighting system was selected as it is extremely reliable and also integrates well with other manufacturers’ control systems, giving the owner the flexibility to change control system in the future should they wish to.
With such a large property, zoned heating control was essential in order not to waste energy heating rooms that aren’t in use. The use of smart thermostats in every room (19 zones) provides local control but also send temperature data back to the main control system to allow automated control of heating for maximum efficiency. Heating can be automatically turned down in rooms that aren’t occupied or if, for example, a window is open.
“With a keen eye for interior design it was essential that as much of the technology as possible was hidden out of sight and what could be seen should blend seamlessly into the room design.”
The intruder alarm and CCTV cameras are all integrated allowing the owner to ensure the house is secure whether they are at home or away. The system is constantly recording how lights are used and this can then be replayed when ‘holiday mode’ is selected.
The cameras, recorded footage and alarm status can be viewed on the owner’s smartphone anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. Access to the property is controlled with electric gates and a video intercom. Family members carry RFID key fobs so there is no messing around entering PIN codes.
One of the owner’s main objectives was for his family to be able to enjoy video and music all around the home. The entertainment system features seven televisions including an eye-catching 80-inch TV inset into a stone wall in the family room.
A video matrix distributes 4K resolution content to the TVs from a range of source options— except for the TVs in the children’s bedrooms, which can only access restricted-channel Sky boxes and local games consoles. All the rooms have discreet in-ceiling speakers that can access multiple local and streamed music sources.
A dedicated home cinema room meets the demands of movie night and major sporting events. Tiered seating and a Dolby Atmos surround sound system ensure everyone has an immersive experience.
Selecting products for the lighting, heating, security and AV that we know have good control integration capabilities gives us the flexibility to choose from a number of different control and automation systems. The preferred solution then came down to the user interface. Cyberhomes demonstrated different options and the client selected Control4 as their preference which also suited their budget.
With all the product decisions made, we could design the whole system, provide cable schedules for the electrician to work to and drawings for all the in-room equipment housings.
We added a wired and WiFi data network for internet access throughout the home. Remote network monitoring provides us with notifications of any issues with equipment. We can remotely reboot or reconfigure devices providing the homeowner with continuous system performance and minimising disruption. All equipment that is in a fixed location is hard-wired via Ethernet to the network, reducing Wi-Fi traffic to just mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones.
The main equipment racks were built and tested in our workshop. Heat output calculations were done and airflow through the rack managed accordingly to ensure nothing will overheat. Once all the infrastructure cabling had been tested and certified and the site was clean and dust free, the equipment racks were installed and final commissioning undertaken. Meticulous attention to cable management ensures future servicing and upgrades can be performed efficiently.
Our attention to detail in design and installation was recognised recently when this project received ‘highly commended’ status at this year’s CEDIA awards in the Best Integrated Home £120,000 and Under category.
How To Get Started
The key to success is getting the cable infrastructure right during the build and really understanding the client’s needs when it comes to configuration and programming. That means ensuring that all the necessary data and audio/video cables are run during first-fix electrics and that they terminate in a dedicated plant room where all the necessary equipment can be located. Getting an automation specialist involved in the project as early as possible is essential in order to design the system and generate the necessary cable schedules. Identifying a CEDIA member company with the right experience is a good way to start.
Want to Know More?
Billy Hilton is a Senior Engineer at Cyberhomes. Cyberhomes is an award-winning technology company that designs and installs high-end home automation and AV systems. For more information visit www.cyberhomes.co.uk
Source: Home Cinema Choice Magazine October 2017
Highly Commended: Cyberhomes
This cinema room previously featured in HCC #274, but it’s just one part of a whole-house project from Cyberhomes that has earned the company a Best Integrated Home commendation.
The room itself features an in-wall/on-wall 5.1.4 speaker system using Definitive Technology models, Epson projector, and Integra power and processing hardware. There’s seating for seven, but we’d make a beeline for the front row of chaise longues.
The rest of the property is as smart as they come, offering 15 separate audio zones with in-ceiling speakers, a video matrix to shunt content around multiple TVs, and Lutron control over 76 lighting circuits—all integrated into a Control4 system.