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Rewarding the best cinemas, media rooms and whole-house integrated systems constructed in the last year, the CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles Awards show just how seamlessly and stylishly advanced audio-visual, automation, control and lighting systems can be incorporated into modern homes to enhance the lives of the people who live in them.

Best integrated home installation over $500,000

Why it won: Specifying the very best of everything, the family in this home enjoy HD audio and video over fibre-optic served up by a Meridian Sooloos Music server and Kaleidescape Blu-ray movie server. Security around the 700sqm home includes 16 cameras that monitor the status of all doors, windows and PIR units, and the house is fully automated, down to controlling the temperature of the outdoor swimming pool via any one of the seven Crestron V control touchscreens. The system also includes the seamless integration of one of the world’s biggest TV screens – a Panasonic TH103PF12W 103 inch plasma – which was fitted into a hand-made steel frame before going into the entertainment cabinet.

Installer: Len Wallis Audio, NSW

Best integrated home installation $250,000500,000

Why it won: A showpiece in hidden entertainment systems, the smartest element of this home installation is in what you don’t see – until you need it. A 50 inch plasma TV folds down from the ceiling in the master bedroom and a custom-built lift raises an 85 inch plasma from complete concealment in the living room floor when required. With eight separate areas able to receive video, and 13 for audio, the music even reaches into the wine cellar, thanks to SpeakerCraft CRS8-One in-ceiling speakers that accompany the 32 inch full HD Sony LCD television also installed in there!

Installer: Len Wallis Audio, NSW

Best integrated home installation $150,000250,000

Why it won: The challenge in this three-level, 550sqm waterfront property was to maintain its pristine, minimalistic appearance while integrating a fully automated entertainment and security system. Everything, consequently, is hidden away: there are Tru Audio and Linn in-ceiling speakers throughout – some disguised as rocks near the pool – and even the security features had to be out of view, including making sure that the piezos, reed switches, miniature smoke detectors and all control boxes were recessed. Cleverly, a Vantage iPhone control application means the owners can monitor their home’s security, allow access to tradies and even turn on the heating without being anywhere near the property.

Installer: Automation Associates, Auckland NZ

Best integrated home installation $100,000150,000

Why it won: Assuming the interior design and project management roles themselves, the experienced owners of this rural property made frequent trips overseas during the installation, so needed to keep in constant contact with Automation personnel. Their high-tech solution for maintaining communication can via Automation’s iPhone Mobile-Job (MobJob) software, ensuring not only that the extensive Vantage lighting control and automation system worked, but that all the finer aesthetic details, such as ensuring that the control keypads matched all the interior surfaces of the home, were covered off. The end result is a comprehensive but discrete installation that came in exactly on time and to budget.

Installer: Automation Associates, Auckland NZ

Best integrated home installation $100,000

Why it won: The power to control everything easily – preferably with a single touch – was an important requirement in this project, so keyless access via remote keypads and keyfobs, wall-mounted touchscreens and Clipsal wall switches were all integrated into the C-Bus control system. The home cinema was designed to be visible to the owners and guests wherever they might be standing in the very extensive outdoor entertainment areas and, conscious of the environmental impact, low-voltage lighting and the ability to monitor the water levels in the underground water tanks was also implemented. Despite a tight budget, ALS delivered all systems as required, including that critical ‘one-touch’ control over the energy-saving lighting, the air conditioning, heating, security and home cinema.

Installer: Advanced Lifestyle Solutions, VIC

Best home theatre over $150,000

Why it won: There’s still a place in our hearts for plush, extravagant dedicated home theatre rooms, and this 60sqm build went beyond the call of duty, not just installing 15 custom-made cinema-style seats surrounded by a Cary Audio Cinema-powered 7.2 surround cinema, but two separate staircases and the lounge area too. Significant work went into ensuring the in-room air conditioning system – placed directly under the seats and in the floor – operated silently. The interior design brief from the clients, inspired by the ‘Hemisphere’ bar in Sydney that they had visited, was to create a comfortable, bohemian atmosphere. The result is a lavish tableau of velvety earthen textures and colours that would make any occupant feel like royalty.

Installer: Wavetrain Cinemas, NSW

Best home theatre $75,000 – 150,000

Why it won: This decidedly ‘blokey’ home theatre hangout features a 7.2 JBL Synthesis sound system and Infocus In-83 full HD DLP projector,

playing to nine brightly-coloured leather cinema seats arranged in two rows. The lights in the theatre room are linked to the remote control, dimming gradually over three seconds when ‘play’ is pressed in movie mode and coming up again when the system is paused or stopped, for example. A Media Center PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Blu-ray player round out the source list, each with distinct light scenes programmed into the Zigbee Pro Remote Control and launched as they’re each activated.

Installer: Zene Privarte Theater, China

Best home theatre under $75,000

Why it won: A large rear window in this room promoted installation of an automated blind that completely blacks out the space, allowing full appreciation of the true Cinemascope picture from the JVC DLAHD950 when thrown up onto a 117 inch Stewart Cinecurve anamorphic projection screen. Most effort went into achieving full acoustic insulation in the room, especially after relocating the control equipment to a side room, which made for better access and ventilation but then needed to extrude into the theatre room itself; remedied with a clever Middle Atlantic slide-and-rotate rack enclosed by an acoustic barrier.

Installer: Electronic Living, QLD

Best media room

Why it won: More an everyday family media space than a dedicated, enclosed home theatre room, the equipment in this 160sqm area needed to be concealed so as not to spoil the architect-designed lines, but also be eminently accessible. The challenge was increased given the open-plan space, four metre high ceilings and lack of natural acoustic damping. A large, floating TV cabinet was custom-built as the centrepiece of the high-ceilinged room, with all focus around the 65 inch Samsung UA65C8000 Full HD LED television. Adequate ventilation and space for all the components – including an Apple TV, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 – was achieved, with everything controlled via a user-friendly Philips TSU9600SE touchscreen remote that even a five-year old could operate – literally!

Installer: Harvey Norman Commercial, Taren Point NSW

Why it won: This home theatre system needed to satisfy two distinct audiences, in two different spaces at different times of the day: a larger crowd, spilling out into the adjacent terrace area in the daytime and a smaller, more intimate gathering in the evening. That meant the original plan for a projector was scrapped, in favour of the biggest currently available plasma TV (that 103 inch Panasonic TH103PF12W again), which could be seen easily in bright light. Crestron automation rolls back heavy doors between the two spaces when required and Krell Resolution floorstanders pump out the music, handing off to SpeakerCraft AIM8-Two in-ceiling speakers as it moves outside. Big sound and vision accomplished!

Installer: Len Wallis Audio, NSW

Best marine project

Why it won: Reliability, along with safeguards against excessive humidity and temperatures, become critical factors for fitting an entertainment system on an ocean-going vessel, so this 58.4 metre yacht, Kokomo boasts Crestron temperature and humidity sensors linked back to 24/7 remote monitoring and support for maximum protection. The nine entertainment zones are controlled by touchscreens with custom interfaces specifically designed for ease of use by guests with no technical knowledge, and the captain can mute all audio onboard if necessary. Fully integrated with the navigation system and two cameras, all the equipment is in secure mounts to withstand being chucked around on the high seas.

Installer: Liquid Automation, Auckland NZ