A repeat job for an existing music and movie-loving client for whom M.E.G.A. AV had previous kitted out a central London apartment few years ago, the latest project for which a whole-house smart AV system was required proved to be something a bit different – to be installed, as it was, in a stunning Château in Cognac, France.
Composed of five buildings in an amazing surrounds in southwest France, the main house was to serve as a small, 5-star boutique hotel with an owner’s master suite, the Summerhouse was to be transformed into home cinema/music room, and the big barn to be used for various events such as weddings, wine and cognac tasting and other promotions. The remaining buildings would house a wine cellar, gym, stables and garage.
The main brief was straightforward enough – music everywhere; and make it simple. For this task, M.E.G.A. employed a NuVo Grand Concerto 8 zone master controller and NuVo 8 zone expander with two additional NuVo 4x 60W amplifiers for the Salon and master suite. A NuVo Music Port Elite now provides thousands of internet radio stations, alongside an internal hard drive which is packed with music. Adding to this is a twin FM NuVo tuner for local radio, all fired out through no fewer than 26 Kef Ci200QR top of the range speakers, with Kef backboxes installed throughout the house. The larger, more open areas, such as the kitchen, dining and sitting-room are each fitted with eight speakers so that the listener never feels far away from the music. Even the wine cellar and degustation areas are fitted with a dedicated pair of speakers!
Each zone was also fitted with NuVo OLED wall panels, and every guest bedroom has a local amp wired into system for clients to plug in their phones or laptops for personalised music choice, whilst the multi-room system offer access to 80,000 internet radio stations as well as that aforementioned QNAP 12TB NAS drive complete with hundreds of CDs in uncompressed wav format.
M.E.G.A. also installed an old Imerge S3000 music server in the cinema room as the client has an identical one in London with the same library and was more than happy with what they had. The Imerge also acts as another NAS drive and the whole system is configured so that when the client uploads new CDs into his Imerge in London, it is automatically copied to QNAP server in France over the internet.
The client did not want TVs in each bedroom, so there are only two screens in the main house, but even with this being the case, all bedrooms were still pre-wired for standard TV as well as IP TV if required in the future. Firstly, a massive 65-inch Panasonic 65VX300 was installed in the salon, mounted on a pull-out and swivel Future Automation bracket. As the room is quite large and the TV was to be set up in the corner, covering only part of the room, M.E.G.A. paired it with Yamaha’s YSP-5100 sound projector.
A custom-made AV wall was designed and constructed to house both the screen and the Yamaha sound projector, the latter being hidden away behind stretched acoustic fabric. At the bottom of the unit sits DVD and Blu-ray storage, whilst, hidden within the AV wall itself is an XBMC streamer, URC Ethernet controller and HDAnywhere HDMI/Ethernet balun. The second TV is a small Samsung Smart screen located in the sitting area.
TV distribution is handled by HDAnywhere’s Multi Room 4x4 HDMI over HDBaseT matrix, located in a main rack, with sources made up of a Sky HD+ box, Dreambox HD800, Sony Blu-ray and Apple TV.
Room with a View
Located in the old timber and stone Summerhouse, the Cinema room was an area where the client and designer wanted to preserve as much as possible of the original charm and look. As it was impossible to mount surround speaker on the walls, M.E.G.A. decided to look to the ceiling – a decision that came with its own problems. As she old timber ceiling was also the upstairs floor, holes could not be cut to build the speakers in. Instead MDF boxes were built, filled with high-density rockwool, and Sonance SUR1S speakers were mounted inside (as this Sonance model is of a closed design, mounting them inside MDF boxes would not interfere with their performance). These were then suspended using single steel rods, screwed to the floor/ceiling.
A timber and MDF baffle wall was then constructed to hold the Sonance Cinema Series LCR2 L/C/R speakers and massive 150-inch Screen Excellence Enlightor 4K fixed frame screen.
An Onkyo PR SC5509 AV Processor and Onkyo PA MC5501 9ch. Power Amp were specified to take care of the audio side, and everything was wired with Chord speaker cable and high-speed Chord HDMI cable.
Finally, an award-winning Panasonic PT-AT6000 HD 3D projector was installed with an option to upgrade at a later stage. However, the client is more than impressed with the projector/screen combination and quality of picture and feels that an upgrade shouldn’t be necessary.
The home network plays a massive role in the house. Split into several LANs with different access priorities for guests and owners, it is capable of 10GB speed and the whole property is covered with 120 wall-mounted Ethernet points and five Wi-Fi wireless access points in the buildings and garden. Four Cisco Switchers and four 24-way Ethernet patch bays are housed in the bottom half of the main house AV Rack.
Control for this expansive AV set-up was split between two URC Complete Control MX5000i touch screen remotes (one for main house and one for cinema), NuVo OLED wall panels and Apple iPad.
The client (being an avid audiophile with an enviable high-end, two channel set-up in the cinema room) was extremely surprised with the sound quality achieved in the main house – which goes to show how attention to small details, such as good speaker cable, proper ceiling back boxes and good positioning, make all the difference.
An installation success in all areas, classical music sounds especially good in a big salon room, helped by room size and its natural reverberation and, by night, the whole Château is now filled with intimate, uncompressed audiophile-pleasing audio!
1x NuVo Grand Concerto 6 source 8 zones Master unit
1x NuVo Grand Concerto 6 source 8 zones Expander
1x Music MPS4E Port Elite server
1x NuVo T2 Dual FM Tuner
2x NuVo D460 4x60W power amps
4x NuVo LSA40S Local amps
1x NuVo 4 way power distributor
12x NuVo OLED wall panels
24x Kef Ci200QR speakers
24x Kef ceiling backboxes
1x Panasonic TH65VX300 65-inch reference plasma monitor
1x Samsung 30-inch 8000 series Smart LED TV
1x Yamaha YSP5100 soundbar
1x HDAnywhere 4x4 HDMI over Cat6 multi room matrix
1x URC MRX-2
1x URC MRX-4IR
1x URC MX5000i remote controller
1x Sky+ HD box
1x Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray player
1x Dreambox DM800 satellite box
1x XBMC Android media streamer
4x Cisco 24 way switchers
4x 24 way ethernet patch bays
1x Draytek router
2x UniFi POE outdoor Wi-Fi antennas
3x UniFi POE indoor Wi-Fi access points
1x Future Automation plasma bracket
1x Screen Excellence 150-inch Enlightor 4K screen
1x Onkyo PR-SC5509 surround processor
1x Onkyo PA-MC5501 9ch. Power amplifier
1x Panasonic PTAT-6000 Projector
1x Denon DBT-3313 Blu-ray Player
1x Dreambox DM800 satellite box
3x Sonance Cinema Series LCR2
4x Sonance Cinema Series SUR-5S
2x Sonance SUB12 250 12-inch Subwoofers
1x URC MRX-1
1x URC MX5000i remote controller
1x Cisco 24 way Ethernet switch
1x 24 way Ethernet patch bay
Chord speaker cables and Chord high speed HDMI cables
1x Imerge S3000 400GB music server
1x QNAP 12TB NAS drive
2x David Berning ZH-270 mono block power amps
2x Conrad Johnson pre-amps
1x phono stage
1x Audience power conditioner
2x Kaiser Acoustics Kawero floor standing Hi-Fi speakers
1x Arcam MZ8 multi zone power amp
10x Kef Ci500AW outdoor speakers
1x Sonos Connect