Media Control Technologies Overcomes Hurdles on Whole-House Automation Project

During the first meeting for a recent residential integration project, Louis Gelb, president and CEO of the custom integration firm, Media Control Technologies, met with his eager prospective clients. At this initial meeting, the homeowners revealed that they loved technology, desired the convenience of whole-home automation, but had no interest in exceeding a fixed budget.
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During the first meeting for a recent residential integration project, Louis Gelb, president and CEO of the custom integration firm, Media Control Technologies, met with his eager prospective clients. At this initial meeting, the homeowners revealed that they loved technology, desired the convenience of whole-home automation, but had no interest in exceeding a fixed budget.

"After we chatted about what the house-wide music system would cost, he [the client] incredulously replied that didn't want to spend more than $50,000 on the entire system," Gelb stated.

Rather than doing fancy footwork to sidestep more costly automation features, Gelb decided to flesh out possibilities that the clients could entertain, and how the cornucopia of residential technologies might add to the success of the whole-house system.

And, ostensibly, the client was intrigued. "Ultimately, after exposing him to all the cool toys he could have, his initial budget increased several fold," Geld stated.

The entire system, they decided, would consist of a multizone, multisource music system for the entire 10,000-square-foot house, a primary, high-quality home theater system in the family room, a hard-drive music management system, structured wiring, integrated telephony and a Vantage lighting control system. Crestron was chosen as the key control system at the helm.

There were several challenges surrounding this integration project, with the most formidable obstacle in the client's family room. The client is a serious sports fan and desired a large front-projection TV as the centerpiece of the system. There was no place for the projector, however, as the designer was unwilling to expose it, and there were 20-foot ceilings. Additionally, there was absolutely no place to fit a screen within the constraints of the room architecture. The homeowner also liked to watch TV during the day. "Through many meetings with the designer and our engineering staff, we came up with the idea of building the Runco VX-1c projector above the fireplace, behind a raised panel that rises via a guillotine lift," Gelb stated.

The 106-inch motorized screen ended up being shrouded into the crown molding of the wall unit. With the system at rest, there was absolutely no evidence of any projection system existing. For everyday viewing, the client wanted a simple TV to see with generous ambient room light. For this, the MCT team selected a Runco PL42cx 42-inch plasma display.

"When the 'start show' button is pressed on the Crestron touch panel, it is quite magical," Gelb stated. "The screen drops down almost from nowhere, the lights dims, the window treatments close and a massive image appears on the screen. The only way that you know where the picture is coming from is if you turn around and see a beam of light shining through the small aperture above the fireplace," Gelb said. Another unexpected integration wonder came out of wiring the master bath for A/V entertainment pleasure.

In the master bath, which is larger than most homes' living rooms, the clients watch TV and read in a generous sitting area. "This room, which is somewhat formal, also needed a television that could be seen only when on," Gelb said. To address this issue, the MCT solution was to build in a 32-inch TV behind the two-way mirror with a decorative frame. The sound of the TV is automatically sent to the in-ceiling speakers when turned on.

In addition, a basic surround sound system is offered in the master suite when the homeowner wants to finish watching a movie in the comfort of his bedroom, and not be subjected to poor sound quality. MCT prides itself on being a longtime dealer for many top manufacturers. The executives at Sonance are particularly fond of the MCT innovations.

"We respect Media Control Technologies because they are innovators," said Sonance's director of sales Buzz Delano. "For example, MCT pioneered some application technologies for multi-zone control systems years ago that have gone on to be common in our industry today. Today, they use their knowledge to design systems that their clients enjoy using in their daily life."

The Sonance products used in the Fort Lauderdale system are of particular note, according to Delano. "MCT designed some really neat 'stealthy' design parameters for their client using our speakers and amplifiers that resulted in great performance and little or no visible intrusion to the client's home," he said. "It's great that MCT can find the right Sonance product for just about any system need from our wide array of architectural audio solutions." Because of the happiness of its clients, 10 years of industry success and its "Odyssey" showroom a couple of miles away from its headquarters, MCT is a force to be reckoned with in Southern Florida. In 1999 the company doubled in size and has grown 30 percent each subsequent year.

Margot Douaihy is managing editor of Residential Systems.

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