When highlighting an installation, there are certain boxes you want to check to make sure the audience will find it worthwhile, and this one from Todd Anthony Puma and his Source Home Theater checks a bunch of them, including returning customer with a new job; interesting, high-end install; and recurring monthly revenue. Plus, it won a clever installation award from Crestron for an innovative basement setup that you’ll want in your own house.
The job came though an existing client of The Source Home Theater. The company had worked on his New York City Brownstone, and he came back to them when he had purchased a summer/weekend home in New Jersey. He was looking for the works — home automation, AV, lighting and shades, and security.
The new home was already pre-wired for Control4, but the client had Crestron in his other home and was used to its interface and how it operates. “He was thinking it would probably be cheaper to keep the Control4 system even though he loved the Crestron system in his other home,” says Puma. “For me, it doesn’t matter what I put in, so long as it works. But I did explain that having two systems is like having two different lifestyles. Even though it is two different houses, it is a good idea to keep it continuous. After mulling it over for a few weeks, he agreed that sticking with the Creston system would be best.”
Puma was prepared to work with whichever system he selected: “The vision that I base my whole company on right now is that it is not about the product that is offered, or the dealer, or the vendor being supplied. I look at it all as Source Home Theater. Are you happy to live without Source Home Theater? Do you think that our service will be matched by the other integrator.”
With the system selected, Source Home Theater got to work. “It was a brand-new home,” Puma continues, “but when we came in the walls were closed and everything was pre-wired for speakers, Cat6 for video distribution, cameras, and audio distribution, but no wiring for shading and lighting. So we had to go retrofit with that.”
Related: The Evolution of Pyng
All Systems Go
The home has two home theaters, or, more accurately, media rooms. The main media room is his living space and it features seven speakers and one subwoofer — which are now all Crestron after Puma and his team replaced the pre-installed speakers. It features a Samsung television and a Marantz receiver all controlled through Crestron and accessed through a touchpanel as well as the family’s iPads and iPhones.
The second media room is in the basement, but, as alluded to earlier, that is a whole other game, so we’ll get there in a bit.
Although he’s got the speakers, the room is not set up for Dolby Atmos. “It is Dolby Atmos-ready, but it isn’t wired that way,” Puma says. “I don’t really go for that Atmos experience because most of my customers don’t want a movie room — they like media rooms where it is more casual. So you can’t really do Atmos because that’s too many speakers and the space really needs to be designed by an architect.”
The main media room also includes lighting and shade control from Crestron. There is no energy management system in place, but the system is managed by time of day with three scenes — Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Night. “Outside shading and lighting control should be set-and-forget,” says Puma. “You should never have to go to a touchpanel or keypad to control your shading or outside lighting control. Based on the time of year, the shade will close when the sun goes down and rise when it comes up. That’s not something that you should have to constantly change.”
For music throughout the home, the client likes Autonomic and Sonos. “The reason why we put Sonos in home,” says Puma, “is that Autonomic does not offer Apple Music at this point, and he really wanted Apple Music integrated into the system.”
Control is based on Crestron Pyng and Simple Windows. “At the time, Pyng didn’t have video control,” says Puma, “I programmed the video and audio through Simple Windows, so it is more customizable code. Everything is customized and runs built-in custom triggers and events right through Pyng and Simple Windows.”
For security, Source Home Theater worked with their partners at Guard Me because, “they understand how Crestron works,” says Puma. The camera and the security panels are integrated with the Crestron system.
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How About That Basement?
So what is so cool about the basement? Picture this (in your minds — the client did not want any photos of this room taken, as it is his personal space): The basement is nearly half the size of the 6000-square-foot home, around 2500 square feet, give or take. The room is divided into different spaces, including a media room, a pool table room, a game room…and a golf simulator.
“It is like the one of the advanced golf simulators that you see at CEDIA,” says Puma. “They hired a golf simulator company to set it up, but I requested the the specs and set up the projector, an Epson, to go opposite the 300-inch curved screen.”
The game room features all the major consoles — PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii and Switch. And a basketball hoop.
The pool table room is the other media room in the house, and features five speakers and a subwoofer, although it is not set up for viewing — instead it is built more of as a party experience.
As cool as all that sounds, we are not done yet. “As you walk down to the room there is a Yale lock from Crestron that, if he types in a certain code, it will start up all the music in the game room spaces and automatically turn on the golf simulator,” says Puma. “It will automatically put on his favorite station on Spotify and all the lighting will be turned on — the whole space will be triggered to open into that event. So everything is ready to go and he can start hitting balls.”
But wait, there’s more: “He built it so whenever he gets a hole in one, all the lights downstairs will blink so anyone in any of the other basement areas will know. They have a friendly competition going on.”
The basement was not started yet when Source Home Theater came on the scene, so that made it easier to set up. Plus, being a basement in New Jersey, which are prone to flooding, the builder allowed for plenty of access areas.
Being that the client was already used to Crestron, training him on the similar system went smoothly. However, he hadn’t yet had the experience that Pyng could bring him. “We did the original system about seven years ago,” says Puma. “The programming was a little different, so when he moved over to this new home we built the system with newer graphic design as well as Pyng integration. The power of Pyng is that a lot of things that would have required him to hire a programmer to change, he can now do himself with built-in scheduling and lightning scenes. He really enjoyed that.”
In fact, the client liked it so much that he hired Source Home Theater to update the original system in his NYC Brownstone with the latest version. Which not only has the benefit of more control for him, but also keeps both residences consistent.
Service agreements are a big part of Source Home Theater’s business. In fact, every one of Puma’s clients has an agreement. If not, they don’t work with them anymore.
“I offer the customer the first year free for all services,” explains Puma. “That means that, if there’re any problems with the system, they get that free service. After the first year, the client will pay a rate based upon how robust their system is and how much need they have, based upon their personal needs. Some customers need a little more attention and need handholding more than other customers. I inform every customer that there will be a service contract. I inform them how much it should cost going forward, and they actually sign the agreement from the beginning for the next year.”
This project was one of the first that Puma used SnapAV’s OvrC, which made him a fan. “Everything from the power management to networking switches are all OvrC, as well as the Luma-controlled camera system and the Autonomic systems,” he says.
Part of that service is offering the client some piece of mind regarding cybersecurity. “I do change out the passcode and usernames for all devices every month,” says Puma. “That is part of our service agreement and includes anything that you can log into through a third-party, like OvrC or Araknis, as well as the Crestron products, but I never worry about my Crestron products being locked into because they’ve been government approved and they taught us to do protocols where no one can get into it. I do keep a very close eye on it, and that’s why when a customer doesn’t have a service agreement, we won’t work with them.”
You can’t reach a much happier ending than that — a creative, award-winning install, a very satisfied customer, additional work based on the success of this install, and recurring monthly revenue. Check, check, check, and check.
And admit it — it has you rethinking your basement right now, doesn’t it.