G.J. Gardner Homes Northgate sets the scene in the Colorado Springs Parade of Homes

Date Wednesday, 11 May 2011 12:00 AM

Sports Lover’s Paradise

By Krissy Rushing

What began as a show home for the 2010 Parade of Homes in Colorado Springs, Co., quickly became the crown jewel of this abode. As is often the case with show homes, the builder, G.J. Gardner Homes Northgate, was the one who invited electronic systems contractor Colorado Media Systems to the party, and the homeowner had little direct involvement. The company’s main goal was to install a jaw-dropping residential fun room that would put even the plushest of sports bars to shame.

Aside from the sporty ambience, the main attraction here is the five-display video wall. President Glenn Montjoy and his team at Colorado Media Systems installed four 46-inch Samsung LCD TVs to flank a 55-inch Samsung LCD on a motorized mount. These TVs are fed by five high-def Comcast cable boxes via a Video Storm component video A/V matrix.  “This is a sports fan’s dream,” says Montjoy. “It’s the perfect environment and a wonderful setup for watching multiple sporting events.”

A Control4 system manages the video wall, allowing the homeowner to watch all five TVs at once, with room-wide audio corresponding to the main, 55-inch TV. Creating a video wall can be a complex undertaking for even the most skilled contractors, but Montjoy swears by creative programming: “This can be fairly complicated in terms of wrapping your head around the process for switching. In the middle of the night, a solution struck me and I went downstairs to work with the Control4 software. Once you get your head around it, however, making it work with the Control4 SR250 remote is very straightforward,” says Montjoy.

Now, thanks to Montjoy’s clever programming, the owners are able to easily swap shows from one display to another by pressing the star key, followed by the two displays they want to switch (such as “1” & “3”). “The video matrix then swaps the programming on each of the televisions,” says Montjoy. “The owners can even have individual volume on each of the televisions if they want. Though at that point, it can become quite a cacophony.” The video matrix switcher also controls the digital audio feed, sending the main audio to a Denon receiver, which in turn delivers the sound to five Episode in-wall speakers and an Episode subwoofer.

All of the equipment for the home and the sports bar is located in a custom-built opening accessible through an adjacent closet. In addition to the cable boxes that also feed the distributed audio system in the house, a Control4 climate control system, additional controllers, and audio switching for the distributed audio system are located here.

The distributed audio system lets friends who are watching the big game in the sports room go into the lobby—or to any of the homes 11 entertainment zones—and never miss a play. In the lobby, guests can engage in a little good-natured gambling via the slot machines, or keep tabs on various games and news feeds on the sports ticker above the door.

The icing on the cake in this lower-level show space is the interior design, which left nothing to be desired. Framed sports jerseys on the walls, inviting leather theater seats with cupholders, cushy barstools with backlit sports placards, and a baseball card mural all contribute to the spirit of competition.

Whether it’s March Madness, fall football, baseball, NASCAR, or Wimbeldon, this ESPN-inspired private media room is the envy of the neighborhood.

It’s just too bad it’s not open to the public…

Bringing It In On Budget
When electronic systems contractors are doing a project for Parade of Homes or another show home, they have the opportunity to showcase their own talents and gain new clientele. Often, they offer the builder of the home a reduced rate in return for the publicity. In addition, these projects are often not driven by the client, but by the builder or architect. Budgets, therefore, are usually very tight.

Such was the case with this home. Colorado Media Systems economized by skimping on lighting control and acoustical treatments, and focused instead on wow features like audio and video. This allowed them to complete the project for around $18,000.  “We wish we could have done lighting and acoustics, but it just wasn’t in the cards,” says Colorado Media Systems president Glenn Montjoy.

Component video switching was also somewhat of a compromise, but was less expensive than HDMI switching. “While it has its naysayers, component video is definitely a good option for a room like this,” says Montjoy. “We are moving toward HDMI switching for all our matrices because we are worried that component will become obsolete due to copy-protection issues.”

In the end, Colorado Media System delivered on the desired wow factor. “We believe that even though there were things we would have, in a perfect world, done differently, we still delivered on the promise of an incredible sports experience,” says Montjoy. EH

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