Big House, Big AV System Sprawling San Diego Theater
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North County San Diego, California
Theater & System Design:
Systems Design Group
1310 Kingsdale Avenue
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Glenn Campbell

Sprawling San Diego Theater
February 2005
By Bryan Dailey

29 TVs, 32 pairs of speakers, five miles of AV cable, 15 satellite receivers, four HD receivers. This may sound like the opening order for a small electronics store, but it’s actually just the tip of the iceberg for a complete home theater/distributed audio system put together by Jerry Axelrod of Systems Design Group in Redondo Beach and his team of installers. Nestled in the rolling hills of North County San Diego, this sprawling estate is packed full of speakers, TVs, plasmas and other assorted AV goodies. However, while walking through the Old World-inspired architecture of this beautiful home, with its stone floors and warm wood ceiling columns, one hardly notices how much technology the surroundings contain.

This homeowner likes movies as much as anyone. However, the distributed audio system was equally a priority in this massive installation. To provide powerful control of the homeowner’s music collection to a total of 32 sets of speakers in 16 different audio zones, Axelrod implemented the B&W Casa system. One would think that powering 32 pairs of speakers would require a huge stack of amplifiers in a large room with a major cooling system. With the B&W Casa system, however, all of the speakers are “active” and are each equipped with their own low-voltage on-board power amplifiers, active crossover and D/A converters. This system is expandable up to 32 zones and for this install, four four-zone controller units were combined to make a total of 16 zones. Housed in a rack next to the wine glasses, just off the kitchen, the Casa system controllers receive instructions from CASA keypads and remote controls that are located all over the home. Each CASA component is linked via a multicore Cat 5 cable, which carries digital control signals in balanced form, as well as the low-voltage power supply and digital audio signals to the speakers.

Installing this kind of distributed audio system may seem like a logistical nightmare, but due to the fact that this was a new construction home and Systems Design Group did all of the pre-wire for the home, it was as about as efficiently as one could hope for in a project of this magnitude.

When this home was originally built, architects were not yet allocating large amounts of square footage to theaters, as they do today. It is now not uncommon to see a dedicated theater in a large home get 600 to 1000 or more square feet of space. The original plans in this project had the dedicated theater space in this monstrous 15,000-square-foot home at only 15x13 feet. This would be a small theater for an average home, but Axelrod spoke with the homeowners and architects about the possibility of creating more space for the theater. The results paid off, as the theater was able to be expanded up to 20x18 feet, allowing more room for the furniture, gear and, most importantly, enough space for the sound in the room to have real impact.

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