Palatial Home Theater Runs on 5 Racks

An immense home theater and residence in Western Canada requires five fully stuffed, impeccably designed equipment racks.

CE Pro Editors · November 4, 2011

Tom Redhead and Sean Sullivan, formerly of the electronics design and installation firm AVI Design by Audio Warehouse in Saskatchewan, Canada, and now operators of their own CE firm, SuRe InnoVations in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, certainly had their hands full - of cabling, components, you name it - with this palatial space.

The home theater and lobby were designed by North Miami, Fla.-based First Impressions Theme Theatres in grand fashion: an ear-splitting JBL Synthesis sound system, a jaw-dropping 155-inch Screen Innovations display fed by a Runco projector, a whole-house digital audio system by NetStreams, extensive home automation by AMX, and even a dedicated audio/video zone in the CineBar lobby outside the home theater.

Most of the home’s entertainment and control systems reside in a room off the home theater lobby, through French doors where five full-height, 32-inch-deep Middle Atlantic racks are recessed into the wall and accessible from behind via another room.

Redhead reports that eight more mini-racks are scattered throughout the 20,000-plus-square-foot house to hold other systems and amplifiers for the IP (Internet Protocol)-based NetStreams DigiLinX music system.

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One rack holds 18 satellite receivers and a Kaleidescape server system, while another rack and a half houses the NetStreams head-end gear. Additional racks are dedicated to the powerful JBL Synthesis system and amps and the home’s extensive computer network with a commercial-grade IT backup from APC. There’s a special space for the AMX home control system processors, plus APC and Belkin uninterruptible power supplies and surge protection.

Redhead says it took an installer 500 hours to dress the racks and organize the miles of wiring into neat bundles. Special lacer bars were added to hold the wiring in place. Additionally, the rack space was equipped with its own dedicated air conditioning unit - there are eight for the house - and each rack has fans on top to keep air moving within them.

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Does Redhead have advice for other CE pros on planning for such a huge rack system? “Details, details, details,” says Redhead. “Design first and double-check your design. There are hundreds of power cords and you have to calculate your [electrical] draw. You can always scale up, but if you haven’t calculated properly, you make bigger mistakes.”

The five racks in the control room, for example, use 10 15-amp circuits and six 30-amp circuits, the latter for the JBL amps. Every other sub-rack in the house has one to two dedicated circuits.

While hidden from view, the racks play a very important role in the efficiency of this tricked-out house. Without them, servicing the equipment would have been a nightmare. Instead, the CE pros can tweak, upgrade and troubleshoot from a few key equipment areas. There’s even a TV and speakers in one of the equipment rooms so they can see and hear their modifications without leaving the space.

Congratulations to Tom Redhead and Sean Sullivan for a Neat-O! installation. We’re looking for over-the-top projects. Cool, unique, tidy or meticulous, share your best work with our readers. E-mail your submissions, with high-resolution images, to managing editor Arlen Schweiger at

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  Article Topics

News · AMX · Equipment Racks · Home Theater · Installation · Middle Atlantic · Neat-O · All Topics
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