This project by CEDIA member, Couture Digital for a Knightsbridge townhouse, diagonally opposite Harrods department store, encapsulates the precise problem-solving value-added service that residential custom installation companies provide for their customers.

Couture Digital were challenged with the task of delivering a system with specific functionality, simple ease-of-use, utilising a pre-existing and constrained wiring infrastructure, and all on a time crunch. The company were tasked with delivering a control system to embrace HD video distribution, multi room audio and lighting control in a recently refurbished 5 storey town house in Knightsbridge.

The owner had very recently bought the property and wished to upgrade the current multi-room system to something more capable. Control had to be intuitive, as this house was only going to be used occasionally when he visited London with his family and so he would be coming back to the system following months away.

From the outset it was clear that the infrastructure in the building was very minimal despite it being just recently refurbished. The existing multi-room audio system was a simple, entry-level system, specified by the property developer, which used a single cat5e from a main controller on the 4th floor to each keypad and then a local run of speaker cable from there to the ceiling speakers.

It was important for Couture Digital to use the wiring infrastructure that already existed and minimise damage to the newly decorated walls and ceilings for new cable runs. For this reason, Couture Digital designed a system based on Crestron Digital Media using the DM-RMC-200C's built in amplifier to drive the speakers in the rooms.

This system design delivered two key benefits – the company could complete the project within the tight time frame and for a lower cost than if they had used a large centrally located audio system with new cable runs to each room.

Nothing about this project was going to be easy. Couture Digital had to chase out cable runs from the old multi-room keypads, make connections and extend the cat5e cables and speaker cables to the screen locations where the RMC-200-C's would be installed. It's a well known fact that Crestron Digital media 8G+ works well even over basic CAT5 but with these extra connections, Couture Digital were really going to test its capabilities.

A further challenge was the storage space that had been designated for the rack was a tiny cabinet with only enough depth for a special shallow rack and enough height for around 18-20U's. Cables from the original installation were not labelled and had to be identified and tested.

As expected, the rack was difficult to work with. In such a confined space Couture Digital engineers only just managed to fit the Crestron DM matrix switcher into the space. Ventilation was also a challenge with such tight dimensions. To solve this problem, vents were created on the top and bottoms of the cupboard doors and an extraction unit fitted at the top to pull the warm air out.

Chasing cable runs into walls is always a messy job. Carrying out this work on a retrofit project makes it so much more difficult and requires added care and attention. Furniture had to be removed and every surface covered with plastic. The client's decorator kindly stepped in once Couture Digital had added the necessary wiring infrastructure and did an excellent job of making good.

After just a week Couture Digital had completed an eight zone multi room video and audio system with control of the Lutron Homeworks. Nine Crestron MLX-3 remotes provided simple control and to supplement this control, an iPad interface was programmed so that the entire house could be controlled from anywhere. Despite requesting the iPad interface at the last minute and buying nine iPad minis, the client really liked the simple and approachable remotes and these now seem to get the most use.

Couture Digital are very pleased with how the project went. It was a last minute job with little time to prepare. The infrastructure was incredibly restrictive but the company has built a solid and dependable multi room AV and control system befitting of the beautiful house it was designed for. The customer is happy with the system and the service he received from the company and has subsequently recommended Couture Digital for another project.

Equipment List

Crestron CP2E
Crestron DM-MD-8X8
8X Crestron HD-DSP
2X Crestron DM-CO-55
4X Sky HD satellite receivers
3X Apple TV Gen3
1X Arab Sat IPTV box
Shallow Depth Rack
Lutron Homeworks lighting
9X Crestron MLX-3
9X Apple iPad