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Control Consistency

Hods Home Theater streamlines home system functionality for Detroit-area client.

When Tim Corder, of Hods Home Theater, first met with his Detroit-area clients, he quickly learned what their priorities would be. Because their careers had always dominated their lives, the husband and wife homeowners had never spent much time enjoying music or movies in their previous residence.

Their new home, however, would be different. It was Corders job to coordinate with the condos builder and interior decorator, to incorporate more audio and video entertainment into his clients lives while maintaining a consistently simple user interface and minimizing wall clutter.
The center of Corders design would be Crestron control. The most important concepts that we went for was consistency of the interface, integration of audio and video, and avoiding wall clutter. Corder explained. We wanted to provide the same interface throughout the entire house, whether its for an audio/video system, security, or heating and cooling. If it works one way in one room, then it should work the same in another room.

Crestron control enabled Corder to select the most compatible brands for the project. With RS232 control a priority, ReQuest audio and video servers were a natural fit for the system, as was Crestrons relatively new lighting system. Because audio and video distribution was to be the core of the system, it just made sense to use Crestrons lighting, from a programming standpoint, Corder said.

The potential for wall clutter was reduced when Hods selected Crestrons new TPMC-10 tablet PCs for the home. The Crestron tablet PCs are great because they provide a really cohesive brain for the whole home, Corder said.
For the first time in his custom career, Corder also programmed the entire control system in-house, instead of subcontracting it. Im really proud of the fact that I programmed this job from scratch, Corder noted. Long-term I dont intend to program forever, but as a bridge to hiring a full-time programmer, this is great. I really feel like we were able to control our quality and functionality a lot more and give it exactly what I promised the customer.

The theme of the control system was basic, according to Corder. It matches the color scheme of the house and features a nested-menu approach. On the main screen the end-user picks what he or she wants to control and then a second screen provides individual controls for that device.

Additional work is underway to link the homeowners offices to the home system as well. Thats been kind of a stretch for me, because Im having to dig into IT and network protocols a lot more, Corder said. These skills are just part of our world now, and youre behind if you dont have them.

Because Hods Home Theater was required to work with the condominiums builder, Ivanoe-Huntley Inc., the builders electrician, Precision Electric, and the homeowners interior decorator, Jane Zetting, proper design documentation was essential to the projects success.

Precision Electric was tasked with the prewire assignment, and thanks to the exacting specifications of Hods documentation, that process went off without a hitch. The need for excessive documentation on this project turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it forced Corder and his team to develop documentation procedures for future jobs as well. That documentation saved us on this job because we didnt have a single wiring error and it really taught us how well do things from now on, Corder explained.

Documentation is one of the key reasons I think this project turned out as well as it did; there just werent any surprises. We knew what needed to go where and, especially dealing with someone outside of our company doing all of our prewire work, it was done right the first time because they executed the plan.

Corder says that the homeowners were unique in that they knew exactly what they wanted and trusted their decorator and Hods to accomplish their objectives. Corders team formed a design plan with the interior decorator, making sure the home had a consistent appearance. We kind of leaned on each other, especially in the theater room, making sure that the speakers would match into the look of what she was doing with the interior design, Corder said. We ultimately used Definitive Technologys BP7002 Tower speakers in the theater room, because they had the subwoofers built in. The decorator liked the look of a tower rather than having to have subwoofers with in-wall speakers; she didnt like those cubes. The biggest variable that she brought to the equation was that she wanted us to make sure the walls were clean because she was putting a lot of art on the walls. That was a big priority for her.

Two Sony plasmas and two smaller Sharp LCDs are scattered throughout the home, while a SIM2 Domino30B projector serves as the centerpiece of the theater room. Weve been with SIM2 now for a couple years, and Ive been very happy with them, Corder said. I like the exclusivity, especially in our market, and theyve got a neat story and real long-life bulb.

Phase Technology CI6.0 and CI6.2 in-ceiling speakers also play dominate roles in the home. Phase Tech is a pretty low-profile company, but they sure have treated us well over time, Corder explained. Their product sounds really nice and they offer a 10-year factory warranty and a very reasonable cost. The homeowner was really happy with the fidelity quality, especially considering that there are so many wall and ceiling speakers to choose from.

Since completion of the home, Corder says that his clients are easing into their system. Theyre starting to delve into their Audio ReQuest, he says, but their Video ReQuest is something they havent warmed to quite yet. They are still getting used to all of the basics, Corder said. I know that they watch TV every morning before they go to work, and I know that they listen to the radio all the time. I also know that theyre using the lighting Home and Away modes. They love having a remote control in bed that controls the TVs and the lights.

The strongest testimony to Hods success on this $160,000 project, however, is that the homeowners have been enthusiastic about opening up their residence for Corders potential clients. To date, both clients that he has taken through the home have increased their proposed systems because of what they have seen at the Detroit-area residence. We have a very well-appointed showroom, but nothing can compare to showing a potential client a job well done, Corder said.

Jeremy J. Glowacki is editor of Residential Systems in New York City.