The Quay Apartments building is one of the most prestigious addresses in Sydney, Australia, offering spectacular views of the world-famous Sydney Harbor. One apartment owner recently purchased the unit adjoining their own, and engaged the services of Thomas Hamel & Associates interior design to combine the two apartments into one with a whole new layout. The new design called for the master bedroom to be relocated and expanded and a new guest room and media room to be added into the layout.
Quay Apartment Building; Going High-Tech in a High-Rise
Due to the massive change to the floor plan, all non-structural internal elements of the unit, including walls, had to be completely demolished. This provided the perfect opportunity to completely overhaul the aging audio and video systems and update them to more modern standards.
The owners had been long-term clients of David Leisk Electronics, who commissioned the original AV installation more than 14 years ago. The original installation included an early series 63-inch Fujitsu plasma screen on a motorized pop-up lift, a mix of composite and Y/C analog video switching, and a multi-room sound comprising Audio Access and Crestron components. While they met the client’s needs then, they were extremely power hungry and limited to content delivered at very low resolution. The company was once again brought in to bring everything up to date.
First, David Leisk designed a cable schedule that would allow for a range of modern content delivery requirements. The very nature of construction in a high-rise apartment in the middle of a city with limited parking is that it’s not a fast process. While HDBaseT looked to be the best platform during the design phase, there was no assurance that would still be the case by the time construction was completed, so flexibility was important.
In addition, the length of some of the cable runs called into question how reliably an HDBaseT delivery platform would work. Some systems had very specific cable requirements—all of them would only transmit certain resolutions to certain distances, which would create some serious limitations for the project.
The preliminary video sources included Oppo Blu-ray players, Apple TVs, Foxtel, as well as a feed from the security camera network video recorder and a local HDMI input port in the study. This required an HDMI switching and distribution solution, preferably one with good future expandability.
Having previously installed the Just Add Power (J+P) 2G system in other high-end residential installations, the team at David Leisk Electronics chose J+P 3G Ultra HD over IP transmitters and receivers as the video delivery platform. The platform boasted the exact features that addressed the project’s video distribution hurdles. It supported up to 4K resolutions, operated reliably over Gigabit Ethernet, and didn’t suffer from distance limitations. It also would allow the team to integrate a range of different sources operating at different resolutions, and supported HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2.
Designed to be compact and economical, the platforms range of transmitters meant they can easily be mounted adjacent to sources, or even on the side of a rack shelf, helping to conserve limited rack space. Similarly, the receivers were could be tucked away completely out of sight behind the televisions without adding bulk behind them. The built-in scaler on the receivers would allow for seamless display of sources on both 1080p and 4K screens simultaneously—a useful feature with a wide range of screens specified in the design. The topology of the platform is such that would be easy to add local or remote sources at any time.
David Leisk Electronics selected Cisco network switches to power the system, which in combination with a Meraki MX64 router, also supply wired and wireless internet access throughout the apartment. The wireless network also supports the Savant control system, which was implemented to combat the very congested RF environment that made other systems unsuitable.
Sonos was chosen as the source for music, with multiple Connect units providing nine independent zones. An Integra AVR and Triad amplifier provided full 5.2 surround sound in the media room, and Sonance DSP series units were used for amplification in other areas. Digital input cards were fitted to the DSP amplifiers to allow a cleaner signal path and minimize audio latency. Video is sent to the televisions via the J+P transmitters and receivers, and audio is returned digitally to the DSP amplifiers digitally via audio-over-Cat extenders. All the AV and network equipment were installed into Middle Atlantic pull-out racks and concealed in a climate controlled area behind custom joinery. The racks allow for full serviceability of every aspect of the systems while maintaining a discrete appearance.
As befits a best-in-class installation, source switching was instant and seamless, and the picture quality was excellent. And because the J+P leveraged the new data network, the platform delivered even better value because it can take advantage of arising video formats with no issues. Better still, the homeowners could easily select and switch between sources using Savant Pro Remote handheld touchscreen remote controls for each screen.
While the original scope of the installation called for distribution of seven sources feeding to six Samsung LED screens located throughout the space, an additional local input was later requested by the client. Because of the economical and future-proof building-block approach of the J+P platform, the integrator was able to simply add another transmitter.