London-based custom installer, Perfect Integration Ltd
, has recently designed and installed a fully integrated system into a villa in Anguilla. The client requested high quality AV in all habitable rooms and areas, with a very simple, non-touchscreen, push button based user interface. The client also specified the desire for a house-manager controlled iPad and central touchscreen system for whole house control during parties.
The 17,000 sq. ft property is one of several owned by the client and was to be used as a fully integrated holiday home and rental. The client had a bad experience with a previously used AV company at their London home, so they were sceptical with certain technology systems. Perfect Integration took them to see some recent projects and won them over, giving them the go ahead to install an AV system in the villa.
The main focus of this project was the outdoors; the beautifully landscaped gardens and 25m infinity pool overlook the white sandy beach and Caribbean sea, so music had to be distributed throughout the gardens and pool areas. Solid Wi-Fi was therefore an essential requirement both inside and out. AirPlay was specified for the primary music source, although the client themselves had a very simple requirement - the ability to listen to Heart and Magic FM!
The target rental audience for this luxury villa is Hollywood A-listers, so US Satellite TV with full pay-per-view TV service to each of the 23 TVs was required. An Apple TV per each of the 23 TVs plus the world's first residential installation of a hotel pay-per-view TV system for the latest movies were also installed.
One of the biggest issues of both the design and construction stages was logistics. New York based architects and interior designers worked closely together, coordinating details during the two year pre-installation phase. The property is in a hurricane region so all walls were constructed using steel reinforced poured concrete, with every single backbox and associated conduit set in the shuttering before the concrete was poured, with zero margin for error. A scale elevation of every AV point was drawn up by Perfect Integration and coordinated with the architect.
The biggest problem that the installer faced was on the AV side of the project. The design of the video distribution system was challenging, as with 73 sources and 23 displays, it was bigger than the largest 64 x 64 matrix. Further discussion with the client ascertained that the system didn’t need to be fully matrixed, as each display would have its own US Sat receiver, Hotel PPV set top box and Apple TV plus a local audio connection for portable non-iOS music devices. The Kaleidescape movie server was shared to all displays.
When the property is let, each group of sources is dedicated to a particular display and appears as such on the iPad and Crestron MLX-3 remote. When occupied by the owner, the sources are dynamically renamed as ‘Her Sat box’, ‘Her Apple TV’, etc and can be selected from any of the communal displays, allowing the owners to watch their own recordings and content from anywhere they may be. Also once selected in one room, that source is then locked out from other rooms to prevent the client’s children from watching what they might be watching.
The vast number of sources also led to a problem with the audio distribution system design. There were 30 audio zones in total leading to rack size constraints and certain performance requirements. Perfect Integration mastered a simple, but effective solution. All rooms with a display had the audio routed back out of the headphone socket of the TV into a relay box, which also had a 3.5mm retractable stereo audio cable to allow a local audio source to be plugged in. This relay box was triggered by the 5v output of the USB socket on the TV so that when the screen was on, the audio from the headphone output of the screen was sent back the Sonnex amplifier unit over a Cat6 balun. When the screen was off, the relay switched the other way and the 3.5mm jack plug input was livened up when ‘local’ was selected on the remote or keypad. This effectively doubled the number of audio inputs to the system with a very reliable, cost effective and easy to use solution.
Simple control of the home was important for the technophobe client, so in addition to the simple Crestron handheld remote’s with each display, each room also had a 12 button Crestron keypad installed to provide quick and easy, hard-wired control for source selection and volume control.
Due to the harsh, salty conditions and hurricane threat, all ceiling speakers were specified as marine grade Sonance VP Extremes. The outdoor system was based around the Sonance Lansdcape with 32 satellite speakers were mounted in the flower beds or on the wall around the terrace, with 5 buried subwoofers and a freestanding sub on the terrace. These spike speakers were brown in colour to blend in and the wall mounted terrace speakers and subwoofer were custom sprayed in marine grade paint to match the RAL code of the rendered walls. All TV brackets were custom made by Future Automation in marine grade stainless steel, including a motorized swivel bracket for the living room 55” TV .
The cable end terminations were treated with a spray wax based sealant after testing to reduce the corrosion risk. The cables coming back to the AV room from the field were terminated into patch panels which were built and labelled in the UK by the installer before being shipped over. As Anguilla runs on 110V, lots of hardware had to be special ordered from the US and the racks had to be commissioned using large 110v transformers.