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Tracking a $20M Project: And the Integrator Is ...

It came down to the final four integrators, and the choice wasn't easy. All the integrators are talented and the bids were close.


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Any of the final four contractors would have done a great job on this project.

Cyber Sound, the largest integrator in Arizona, had more than enough talent to do the job. Orange ProAV would have considered this a nice simple job since we weren’t asking them to create any indoor tornados or weather systems. Automated Environments, from my experience, has always given each client a personal touch and its complete attention.

This was a tough choice, but in the end we selected CineMagic in Scottsdale, Ariz., which is only a twenty-minute drive from the project. The client made the final decision, I wanted him to meet each contractor, or at least the last two, before choosing. The bids were close, CineMagic wasn’t the lowest, but the client liked what they offered and was impressed they were the largest Control4 dealer in Ariz. and are building a name nationally.

The owner, Cary Christie II, comes from a family with a history in our industry. His father was a founder of Infinity Speakers and now owns Artison speakers. Cary has patents of his own he developed while working with his father. CineMagic has built a reputation on making things work and taking care of their clients, even when asked to take on some unique jobs. Award-winning projects and write-ups, including this beautiful desert home in Ariz., have put them on the national stage.

imageClick image to view detailed proposals, floor plans, schematics, pre-wire plans, rack elevations and more
Cary’s right-hand man, Terry Kohler, installation manager at CineMagic, has made both him and his entire crew available at a moment’s notice to support us in getting the project to the next phase. Sheetrock starts this week and, as always, I would have liked to have one more week to button everything up with additions coming in once or twice a week.

Jason Knott stopped by last week and everyone was on their best behavior. All the trades on this project have worked hard, and I feel better about the job now than I have in a while. Right now, the burden is on everyone to make the sheetrock date.

We will have a lot more on this project in the coming weeks, including photos and videos, about the prewire, design and challenges we have encountered.




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Article Topics

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About the Author

Mark Sipe, System Designer
Mark has been both a commercial and residential integrator and systems engineer for over 25 years. He works with Builders, Homeowners and Architects to design and support all types of projects around the world. He is also a software developer (SalezToolz) and mad scientist/inventor (Xspot Products) all developed around what he saw as a need for the businesses he works with and supports. He has been a CEA Mark of Excellence judge the last 6 years and CE Pro Best awards Judge.

76 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Terry Kohler  on  02/24  at  11:43 AM

No other questions???  I am shocked!

Posted by Mark Coxon  on  02/24  at  05:04 PM

I’m not surprised Terry.  The smart ones reading who disagree aren’t inclined to argue, as they are too busy servicing customers to worry about a job you already won.  They have businesses to run, like us.  Many others don’t know enough to argue specifics,  which is why many detractors don’t participate in real conversation.

I assume that the floor core or conduit already exists in the Grand Room?  I would recommend you review the acoustics of an ellipse.  There are two focal points where sound tends to pool.  If you put the piano “in” the focal point on one side (as it looked on the furniture layout) and then mic it, while pushing sound into the opposite focal point with speakers, your potential for a gain over feedback nightmare goes through the roof!

I know thi mic is scrapped for now. . .but if it comes back (as it most likely will down the road), make sure that the infastructure for the mic, and your audio distribution plan for the speakers is very sensitive to these considerations.

I completely agree with moving the ancilliary receivers all to the headend, as any gain in loss over distance is small, vs. the advantages of consolidating them and just sending BD and iPod signals back for redistribution.

Good Luck!  I can’t wait to see the end result in CE Pro.

God Bless,

Mark C

Posted by happy homeowner  on  02/24  at  06:11 PM

Are all the receivers you are centralizing being used for surround sound?  If so how does one tune the room properly without the receiver in the room?  Are you sending a test tone though the speakers and adjusting levels via a ethernet connection from a lap top?  Maybe using a SPL meter? 

Not in the “business” - just a curious homeowner.

Posted by rookie av guy  on  02/24  at  06:14 PM

Terry - the company I work for is considering using a 3rd party design firm.  What has been your experience so far using plans that your office did not create?  Are you finding that you and your team have to make adjustments to how you might usually do things?  Interested in hearing what your experience is concerning this.

Posted by Mark Sipe  on  02/25  at  05:30 AM

There are only 3 surround systems in the project and only one is designed to have the receiver located remotely. 
We will use a computer program to balance and set up all receivers.
As part of CineMagic’s taking on the project they were allowed to redesign the system to how they would like it set up and stay within budget.
The selected company ultimately has control of the design since their name is on it.  We had some products and features we wanted to maintain and CineMagic was able to give us that and more.

Posted by Mark Epis  on  02/25  at  06:20 AM

Terry, why would you be shocked?  Many who participate here perform projects like this regularly, what is there to ask?  Again you guys look like you do fantastic work!

Mark Sipe, you somewhat avoided giving rookie av guy a real answer, didn’t you ;-/ ;-/ ;-/?

Posted by Mark Epis  on  02/25  at  06:47 AM

happy homeowner, good question.  Correct, it will be necessary to be able to control the surround sound receiver during the calibration process, depending on the system and components in use that could be done through the control system, or with some receivers from a laptop.  If an auto-equalization system such as Audyssey is being used then a microphone is run from the room to the receiver.  Otherwise the calibration microphone/s would be connected to the calibration equipment being used in the room itself.

Posted by Ed Qualls  on  02/25  at  07:06 AM

@ Mark Epis

So you found in necessary to criticize Mark Sipe for not responding to a question “rooke av guy” directly posed to Terry (sort of a peer to peer request about what it is like to work with and install a 3rd party design - exactly what Terry is doing, and exactly what Sipe is not doing).  Would it be safe to assume that if Sipe had volunteered an answer you would have criticized him for offering an answer when it was not asked of him and obviously he would have given the wrong perspective?  It seems like you have the capacity to find something wrong with everything Sipe does or doesn’t do - quite amazing and entertaining from this side of the screen.

Posted by Mark Epis  on  02/25  at  08:02 AM

Ed, from Just Add Power, who is a vendor for this project, thank you for your post.  It’s nice to see your product receiving the attention it deserves.

I missed that rookie av guy directed the question to Terry.  Since that’s the case I’ll ask Mark the question.  Mark, did you find the design you commissioned and supplied to the various companies to be a fully engineered solution?  Or did you find that the various companies had to re-engineer several aspects of the design so it would work?

Posted by Mark Sipe  on  02/25  at  08:02 AM

@Mark Epis

Not for me to answer, Cinemagic will respond to those questions and as Ed mentioned, would it really matter what I said, you already have your mind made up.
I do take it as interesting that you now are enjoying the limelight and have taken to responding to people’s questions while still hiding your identity and not allowing us to judge your skills or experience.

Mark

Posted by Terry Kohler  on  02/25  at  08:06 AM

@ Mark C

You are correct.  The acoustics of this room are definitely interesting.  There is conduit in the floor in 4 locations for this room.  If they decide to add the piano mic back in, we have accounted for that as well.  we have the ability to adjust levels and tuning on each speaker in the room.  This will allow us to adjust for the feedback possibilities in the room.  Also, I see the speakers, in that room, being turned off when the piano is being played.  The mic would allow the piano to be pumped through the house, but with the echo factor in that room, I do not believe we need the speakers while the piano is being played.

@ Happy Homeowner

Thank you for the questions.  I am glad to see that some interested home owners are trying to find information that will allow them to be more informed and make better decisions about there own systems.  Most of the ancillary rooms that were discussed earlier in this thread, will not actually have SS receivers anymore.  We have removed them completely.  Those rooms will be run off the distributed audio system.  However, we do have one room that will have centrally installed Receivers.  We will use the control system to control the receiver and will also connect to the receiver with network and/or RS-232 to allow us to set the room up with whatever means are available to that receiver.  Some of the receivers have Audyssey others do not.  There also may come a time that we do need to use an SPL meter to assure proper sound pressure, but that will be determined at time of final tuning.

Thanks for the question.

Posted by Mark Epis  on  02/25  at  08:15 AM

So there you go.  A genuine question for Mark, and he avoids answering, and then goes on the attack.  I am evidently enjoying the limelight because I answered someones question.  Answering someones question on a blog is not the limelight, it’s something anyone with an Internet connection can do.  As for judging my skills and experience, I have not made an claims here about them, so why would you need to judge them?

Posted by Mark Sipe  on  02/25  at  08:17 AM

@Mark “epis”

We had made considerable changes to the original design.  Design should be driven by the homeowner and the company doing the work. The system design was fully engineered but we made a number of changes to fall inline with out budget.  I represent the owner and look for what I feel is the best fit in regards to budget and performance.  CineMagic is the expert in Control4, the primary system so we take their advice and design requirements to heart.  The client has recently added a third surround system after we had already redesigned for CineMagic after they were chosen as the integrator.  I expect more changes to come and we will deal with these in the same way, asking the team to review and redesign to make it work.
What you really want to know Mark is what problems have we had, and yes, there have been plenty to keep me busy but nothing we can’t resolve or would hurt the project.  The skills of the people involved give us support and plenty of depth to draw on.  Just another project with it’s own unique set of challenges.

Mark

Posted by Mark Epis  on  02/25  at  08:18 AM

Terry, would you please clarify what this means?  Thank You!

“There also may come a time that we do need to use an SPL meter to assure proper sound pressure, but that will be determined at time of final tuning.”

Posted by Mark Epis  on  02/25  at  08:21 AM

Mark,

Thank you for your answer.

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