Loft Media Room Combines Basketball, Gaming
A media room above a gymnasium features a gaming-centric A/V system with surround sound and big, beautiful video. Grand Haven, Mich.-based Bekins discusses the challenges involved.
December 18, 2012
Whether it’s a game of hoops in the gym below or a round of Modern Warfare 3 on the Panasonic 85-inch plasma in the loft-like media room above, this space offers all levels of excitement.
“The idea of the media room was to create a space that could be used both as a hangout for younger users or as a place for the adults to enjoy while monitoring the kids on the ball court,” says lead programmer Dave Ohlendorf of Grand Haven, Mich.-based Bekins.
The seating area edges up to a net, which catches errant basketballs should things get heated during a game. The space’s open layout at the back of the room makes for a unique environment, but it presented challenges for the installers at Bekins, who were given the task of creating a gaming-centric A/V system with impressive surround sound and big, beautiful video.
For starters, gymnasiums are notorious for bad acoustics. Luckily, the architects and designers recognized this from the get-go and took the initiative to install acoustic panels around the window and on the ceiling above the stairs to dampen the noise from the ball court. This left room equalization as Bekins’ primary tool for dialing in the Paradigm surround system and making the room sound incredible. The front speakers are mounted around the television, the rears to the ceiling beams behind the seating area, and the subwoofers are hidden in custom cabinetry along the front wall.
“Because the homeowners wanted the subwoofers to be invisible, the cabinets are engineered to accommodate them,” says Ohlendorf. “Working with the custom cabinetmaker allowed us to properly control the heat of the equipment as well as get the most acoustically out of each speaker.” Middle Atlantic racks are mounted directly inside the cabinets and slide out and rotate for easy system changes or upgrades.
With the rear of the room open to the gym and windows along the front wall, controlling ambient light in the room was crucial. Bekins used Lutron motorized shades to eliminate sunlight from the windows along the front wall. Meanwhile, the Panasonic plasma provides a bright image, made even more vibrant after Bekins technicians dialed it in to further combat light that streams in from the gym.
If the homeowners are tired of playing video games, they can use an AMX home control app on their iPad to choose something else to watch on any of eight displays around the house, including the media room’s plasma TV. An HDMI video-distribution system directs the video, such as a movie that’s stored on an Kaleidescape video server, to the appropriate display.
The project was completed in less than four months, proving that performance under fire often nets the best results, much like Steve Nash at the free-throw line. The Bekins team gave the homeowners a modern media room by working around the room’s idiosyncrasies and selecting gear that takes this game to the next level.
The Entertainment MVP
The MVP of this theater isn’t the larger-than-life plasma display or the surround-sound system - although both certainly shine. It’s the Integra DTR-40.2 receiver hidden inside custom cabinetry along the video wall. This receiver features calibration software that allowed Bekins to find the best positions for the surround-sound speakers in this unusual entertainment space. With its built-in microphone, the receiver performs sound measurements from each speaker by generating tones and analyzing that information. Using that data, it calculates distance settings, speaker levels and equalizer settings.
“By itself it can make a big difference in the way a room sounds,” says Ohlendorf. “With an experienced installer to smooth out any rough edges, it can make for a very powerful tool in making the room sound the best it can.”
According to Ohlendorf, the receiver is also very install-friendly. Multiple assignable inputs and RS-232 communications capabilities allow it to be tied to a home control system like the AMX system that manages this house. From the same AMX touchpanel that’s used to operate the lights and motorized shades, the homeowners can control the Integra receiver, adjusting its volume, surround-sound modes and other settings.
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