Always dreaming about the ultimate AV or hi-fi system you'll have one day - maybe even in your lottery-win yacht? Read on!
We brought you news yesterday of the 2010 CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) Awards, which celebrate the best examples of the home-entertainment and integration marvels their Region 1 (Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa) members have created over the past year.
Now we have pictures and more information of the winning entries; and it's not all millionaire-money and super-yachts, either...
Best media room under £15,000
Olive AV fitted this clever system in a Kensington apartment that's home to a family with four children under six. With no room for a dedicated home cinema, the solution had to double-up as a playroom and homework den: the AV elements were designed not to dominate, but to impress when needed.
By working closely with the architect, Olive was able to deliver a full-spec system including 60in screen, Sky+ HD, Apple TV, Blu-ray player, amplification and speakers – all discreetly hidden, and all controlled via a single, Creston remote control. The system's also ready for a gaming upgrade for when the kids get older.
CEDIA judges described Olive's installation as the perfect demonstration of "seamless integration within the challenges of a minimalist space".
Best media room over £15,000
MR Domotica designed this system as part of the renovation of a farmhouse in the Netherlands. Powered by a Creston control system, a single press of the remote control will close the blinds, dim the lights and transforms rural bliss into home cinema heaven.
A Projection Design Avielo projector and Steward projection screen display the output of a range of secreted sources, including a Kaleidescape media server, PlayStation 3, Blu-ray player and satellite TV. Rotel and Sonance kit powers the 7.1 sound, meanwhile.
Best home cinema under £40,000
FAB Audiovisual did the treble with CEDIA's home cinema Awards this year, starting with this subterranean solution - the AV requirements of which they had only 48 hours to resolve, due to a time-tight client.
The resulting home cinema - described by judges as 'well considered and technically outstanding' - is based around a 110in Screen Excellence screen and Digital Projection iVision30 projector.
Behind the acoustically transparent screen sit three Genelec active in-wall speakers, with two further active Genelecs - plus active subwoofer - to complete the surround sound; processing is handled by an ADA audio processor.
Best home cinema £40,000 - £100,000
FAB's next Award winner - the Grey Room - was designed for a film buff with a passion for Japanese movies and a collection of more than 1500 DVDs. Its monochromatic interior is designed to put all the focus on those films.
Again, FAB used a combination of an acoustically transparent Screen Excellence screen - 120in this time - with a trio of Genelec speakers behind. Six further Genelec actives plus two subs round out the soundstage, with processing provided by an Onkyo SC-866 controller.
Projection is from a JVC D-ILA projector, complete with Schneider anamorphic lens for the true widescreen touch. Sources include a Blu-ray player, Sky+ HD and a Kaleidascape media server storing that mighty 1500+ movie collection.
Creston control systems keep the cinema experience simple, as well as the blackout blinds and lighting to optimise the experience. We're officially jealous...
Best home cinema over £100,000
FAB's hat-trick comes with a home cinema that the judges praised as a "technically flawless solution, which will deliver an awesome sound".
The client's brief was for an unrivalled home cinema experience to be built in a converted barn on his estate, near his groundskeeper's cottage. Superior soundproofing was a key concern, as "good groundskeepers are hard to find". A common problem, I'm sure you'll agree!
FAB applied its familiar combination of Genelec active speakers - 15 in this system; plus two subwoofers - and 120in Screen Excellence screen, joined by a Digital Projection Titan projector (with ISCO 3 Anamorphic lens). An ADA Suite 7.1 controller handles processing, while sources include a Kaleidescape server, Sky+ HD, Xbox Elite and Nintendo Wii.
The groundskeeper remains undisturbed due to double acoustic doors and a range of sound absorbers/diffusers.
Best integrated home under £100,000
Moving on from pure home cinema installations to more sophisticated integrations, we come to winner Prestige Audio and its White House solution.
No, not THE White House (the Obamas might be able to stretch to a higher-price category), but a high-tech UK home that combines touch control of AV, lighting and security.
From the projector and screen to outside speakers - reached via electric sliding patio doors - and even an indoor waterfall, the lot is controlled from a Creston touch-panel and keypads around the house.
Best integrated home £100,000 - £250,000
Another winning solution from Prestige Audio - this time into a triplex St Pancras penthouse "primarily used for entertaining".
TVs appear as if by magic - from the Pioneer plasma in the main living room to smaller LCD screen concealed behind custom art picture frames, and (as pictured above) a screen that pops up from the foot of the master bedroom's Clive Christian four-poster.
Lighting, security and even the private lift are integrated into the Crestron control system. And if there's a lighting situation that needs sorting with those 15m ceiling heights? There's a mini cherry-picker for maintenance, hidden behind a motorised trapdoor lift system...
Best integrated home over £250,000
From London penthouses to Belgian castles, and Censys Residential Control's Award-winning installation in Kasteel Domein Amerloo.
This is home integration on a massive scale: the castle's 65 rooms involved the control (via 37 in-wall and wireless touchpanels) of 21 AV sources, including a Kaleidescape media server, 10 satellite feeds and 11 DVD players - feeding a 60in Pioneer plasma, 13 Loewe LCD TVs and 2 Sony LCD TVs,
Audio is provided by a 26-zone, 24-source Crestron Adagio system, with in-wall, in-ceiling and freestanding speakers from B&W, KEF, Boston Acoustics and Speakercraft.
All this and both Creston and PC-controlled heating and air-conditioning, designed for the castle's large collections of fine wine and art are kept are their optimum temperatures.
So, when do we move in?
Best innovative solution, residential
Yes, your eyes aren't deceiving you: that is indeed a subwoofer mounted in a ceiling - a successfully inventive solution that wins T&T Automation an Award.
Their West London client wanted to enjoy excellent bass throughout his top-floor home cinema, but without disturbing the sleep of those in the bedrooms below.
T&T's cunning solution involved de-coupling the subwoofers from the main house structure - allowing for a full bass response without transferring noise and vibrations to other rooms. This positioning also boosts sonic performance by preventing the ceiling acting like a sounding board.
T&T built a wooden frame that attached to the house's eaves at the apex. The subs were then hung on aluminium mountings more typically seen in commercial/broadcast set-ups, with special acoustic hangars used between the metal mount and wooden frame to isolate and damp vibrations.
Technology is typically frowned on by the eco-brigade, but Finite Solutions used the latest in home automation systems within a development designed to be a 'zero-carbon' apartment block.
Together with a raft of environmental credentials - from recycled rainwater to wind turbines - each flat has its own integrated energy-monitoring system, which owners view and manage via their TVs.
Best marine project
When you're looking to charter your next luxury yacht - as you do - you could be very tempted by the automated bounty on board Slipstream (pictured at the start of this blog, plus above), installed and optimised by Sensory International.
A Creston-controlled entertainment system delivers music, TV and movies to every cabin, with guests having access to both a centralised Kaleidescape media server crammed full of goodies, plus their own dedicated supply of satellite channels, local discs and an iPod dock.
Guests or crew can select a single piece of music playing throughout the yacht, or choose independent feeds - including to four external areas.
The Sky Lounge includes a hidden cinema system, including 90in projection screen, full 5.1 surround sound, in-ceiling speakers and motorised black-out blinds. Other TVs around the yacht are hidden around artworks, which automatically roll out of the way when a video source is selected.
Should you want to enjoy such luxury, Slipstream is yours to charter from a mere 315,000 euros... but you might have to fight Simon Cowell for it: he hired the yacht for his latest Caribbean holiday.
One last mention, for the least glamorous - but most tittersome - category: Best Dressed Rack.
But titter ye not! Behind all the gorgeous interiors and one-touch automation of all the installations above, sits the rack of kit and wiring that makes it all possible.
A well-organised rack enables quick and cost-effective upgrading, greater equipment reliability, improved energy consumption and easy access for maintenance/servicing.
And the CEDIA judges think the above example - another win for T&T automation - gets all those spot-on. Not bad for something that's effectively sitting in the cupboard-under-the-stairs in a West London mansion.
Start saving - and buy that ticket!
Well, that's it for this year's CEDIA Awards - other than an honorary mention for AWE, which won the Best Trade Supplier and Training Initiative categories.
Now, where's that lottery ticket...