Monday, June 1, 2020
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 An Entertainment Emporium 

The owner of this Edison, N.J. home, a returning client whose upper floors had been automated by Union City, N.J.-based Serious Audio Video’s team, sought the expertise of the integrator once again when looking to create a basement entertainment emporium. The desire of the client was that the basement area be much more than a man cave, and that it be centered around a home theater and a fully tricked-out bar. Rounding out the other amenities on this home’s lower level are a sitting area, a poker room and a personal gym. The Serious Audio Video team was tasked with executing all of that, and more, in a very generous, 3,000-square-foot space.

“This basement is bigger than most people’s homes,” notes Casey Johnston, Serious Audio Video’s president. And the home’s residents’ tech savviness runs the gamut from very knowledgeable to limited. So, to adorn the basement with technology as an “ultimate escape,” Johnston said, meant the integration team “needed to go above and beyond with the user interface, to really simplify and automate things.” For example, he says, when one resident wants to watch The Discovery Channel, she just hits Discovery Channel, and that automatically turns on the TV and powers up the required components to make the system come to life. In fact, he says, “the user interface in this installation is probably the crown jewel of the entire basement.” What sets it apart is that one button press is sufficient for any number of tasks. “There’s no having to go through five or six apps. That’s not what automation means. We design one app, and everything is ‘umbrellla’ed’ under that. You hit one button, and 15 different macros are executed. It’s very simple, and seamless for the customer… Since we had done the upstairs area earlier, the client trusted our approach and allowed us to drive. They gave us their budget, and we went with it.”

The Elan-powered basement uses a mix of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers that deliver audio throughout, without causing unsightly eyesores. The lighting, audio, video, security cameras, fireplace and temperature controls are easy to adjust to desired settings with the Elan g! app on the homeowners’ smartphone and tablet.
“If you walk out of the media room and to the bar, there’s a full surround-sound system there, but it’s also designed to make it a dance area – a big, open area where there are two huge, built-in subwoofers and five strategically placed in-ceiling speakers. You can watch a movie at the bar, or have a dance club going on,” explains Johnston.

The custom-designed bar area is fully stocked with both libations and entertainment options, and whether the owner is entertaining guests or looking to retreat to this area in solitude, the seamless controls make it easy to watch TV, play a movie or start a dance party.

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 Tech in an Island Retreat 

A unique, conversation-stimulating aspect to the bar is the color LED under-lighting that shines through the bar counter. “I let the homeowner know we had this great idea, so a countertop was picked out that would allow for light to pass through. We had all the lighting laid down inside, tested it, and made sure we put in a removable bottom so that if there are any burnouts, we can service it.” The bar lighting can be made to match the mood lighting in the ceilings and theater.

“We did a lot of LED RGB lighting throughout the entire downstairs area – a ton of that,” notes Johnston, saying that that aspect of the job was among the most pleasing of all the outcomes of the project for him.

In the home theater, the cinema-quality projector, speakers and subwoofers bring Hollywood home. A movie-going experience that can win over true cinephiles and casual movie fans alike, the only thing missing, notes Serious Audio Video, is overpriced snacks. The luxury leather seats are fully automated and motorized with rumblers built in, and are equipped with cup holders and retractable snack trays. The finishing touch in the theater is the custom starry night sky from Starscape.

The sitting area, poker room and personal gym continue the trend of having a powerful audio/video system that doesn’t compromise living space for hardware. The invisible speakers and seamless controls make it possible to give each room its own unique soundtrack or play the same audio throughout. The home’s residents can even play the movie being screened in the theater at the other TVs.

All of the necessary hardware is gathered in an equipment rack that’s conveniently stored in a spare closet. This powerful smart home system covers all the bases but still leaves room to grow, should the owners decide to add more subsystems throughout the home.

A particular point of pride for Johnston was the ability of his team to achieve a lightning-fast turnaround on the project to meet a tight deadline. “They were planning a big family gathering and by the time the project was handed off to us, we were literally left three weeks to do everything,” he says. With long hours, six team members on the job site and a lot of overtime and focused dedication, it was mission accomplished. “It was a crunch, but we got it done; we delivered, and the system is great, and the customer loves it.”

  • Equipment List
  • BenQ HT9060 Projector
  • Dragonfly DF-SL-145-UAW Projection Screen
  • LG 55SJ8500 LED 55-inch TV
  • LG 49UH6100 LED 49-inch TV
  • Elan gSC10 Home Controller
  • Elan S86A Multi-Room Controller
  • Seatcraft Sienna Home Theater Seating
  • Stealth Acoustics Invisible Speakers
  • Episode In-Wall & In-Ceiling Speakers
  • Episode In-Wall Subwoofer
  • Episode Subwoofers
  • Philips Hue LED Lighting
  • Starscape Fiber Optic Starry Night Ceiling