Goodwin's High End

Custom Installation

Custom Installation n: a harmoniously-integrated music, video, and/or control system created specifically to meet the client's performance and visual aesthetic requirements, achieved through careful product selection, clever installation design, and meticulous implementation.

We treat custom installation as a process. Each project begins with a careful and thorough design interview. We determine the your needs first by listening, then later by asking probing questions. We suggest possibilities. We discuss your lifestyle—daily routine, entertaining needs, special requirements for kids and guests. If needed we'll visit your home or construction site. Attuned to your needs, we then design a system and implementation plan specifically for you. Indeed, we may design several systems, showing you the costs / benefits of different performance levels or system features.

In brief the following aspects comprise the custom installation process:

  • System Design
  • System Engineering
  • Project Management
  • Pre-Wire
  • Installation
  • Programming
  • Calibration and fine-tuning

 

System Design

Obviously the first thing that needs to be done is to design the system. When we say designing the system it means specifying the various components that the system will be comprised of. This is usually a collaboration between the System Designer and the client, although sometimes the architect and/or interior designer are also involved.

 

System Engineering

Once the system is designed it needs to be engineered by our System Engineer. This entails analyzing the initial design and then drawing a detailed system schematic in order to make sure that all of the components will properly interface and will produce the desired results. After that process is completed a pre-wire document is drawn showing where every cable that will be behind a wall, ceiling or floor is supposed to go.

 

Project Management

There are many steps that need to happen between the time a system is first designed and the final fine-tuning. In order to ensure that all of the steps are completed in the proper order each system needs to be overseen by our Project Manager. In addition, any time that construction is involved, the Project Manager will interface with the architect, interior designer, contractor and subcontractors such as electrician, HVAC, carpenters, etc. This ensures that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Pre-Wire

Obviously the best time to wire a house or condo is before the sheetrock covers the studs, as it can take far longer to fish wires once walls, ceilings, and finished floors are in place. Essentially the pre-wire document, which is drawn by the System Engineer, is given to either one of our Technicians or to the electrician who then runs each type of wire to from and to each place where it is supposed to go. As the cables are being pulled each end is marked—so that later when the cables are being terminated and tested it is easy and efficient to check off the cables that are completed on the pre-wire document.

Please understand that even if you are having us install a wireless system from a company such as a BlueSound or Sonos, or if you are using wireless speakers like Dynaudio Xeo, there will still be a few wires that connect to the wireless components themselves.

Tip: A wireless system or control system can put more demands on the network. So you may wish to have us assist you in upgrading both the design and components of your ethernet/wifi network so that it will be more robust. This will enhance the usability of your wireless control, music, video systems as well as the any other simultaneous networking demands placed upon it.

 

Installation

After the pre-wire, and after any necessary construction is completed, comes the final installation by our Technicians. This entails delivering, unboxing, and placing each component on a shelf or in a rack. After the components are in place then they are connected with the appropriate cables. At this point the initial system testing takes place.

 

Programming

After the system in engineered and the hardware for the remote controller is specified, the remote control hardware needs to be programmed by our Programmer. The initial programming usually is done after the pre-wire but before the installation. Basically there are a two aspects to programming: The user interface which consists of the look and feel of the various buttons that you will need in order to use the system. And the logic steps which are controlled by the user interface, and which are hidden from the user. Obviously the best remote control design hides any system complications behind a nice simple user interface. The final step is any fine-tuning that may be necessary to customize the interface to any personal preferences.

 

Calibration & Fine-Tuning

The final tuning and calibration is last part of the installation process. Once that is completed, we hand you the remote and you're ready to enjoy your new system!

If you would like to see a much more detailed outline of the custom installation process please click here.

 

A Taste of What's Possible

To an audiophile with a dedicated room, custom installation might mean a proud display of electronic components on beautiful award-winning "art furniture", highlighted by halogen spotlights. Yet to another audiophile, custom installation might mean carefully concealing all the electronics, cables, subwoofers, and maybe even speakers.

In a multi-room whole-house system, custom installation might mean a music-immersed lifestyle, with hidden in-wall speakers in every room, and higher-performance speakers in the den. It might mean outdoor speakers that look like rocks, or underwater speakers for the in-ground pool. It might mean a easy-to-use, custom programmed portable color touchscreen control system, or it might mean simple keypads in the walls.

In a home theater, custom installation might mean the reproduction of a 1950's era cinema, complete with burgundy curtains. Or it might mean a carefully concealed theater installed in a family or game room, complete with power-activated curtains, blinds, screen, lights, and maybe a projector that descends from the ceiling. We even have power-reclining leather theater chairs with cup-holders for your viewing pleasure.

 

High Performance: Sounds Great, Looks Great

Our passion is high performance. In designing a custom-installed system, we make dozens or hundreds of choices in order to deliver the highest performance possible. For example:

  • We allocate the budget carefully, selecting the highest-performance, most cost-effective products possible. We don't use "cookie-cutter" systems that were designed for some "typical" or "average" client.
  • We choose design topographies that yield higher-performance. For instance, in a multi-room installation we prefer to have a single channel of amplification for each speaker (i.e. many small amplifiers, rather than one big, overloaded one.) Often this costs either no more, or only slightly more.
  • We carefully choose and route the in-wall cables, thereby minimizing the interference and sonic degradation. For high-end rooms, we install very fine cables in the walls and floors.
  • We consider room acoustics, furniture locations, and lifestyle issues when we locate speakers.

Many of these choices are hidden. If we had skimped on in-wall cables, you would never see the difference, but you'd hear it. If we had placed the speakers carelessly, you'd never experience the sound that you paid for. If we had picked a cheap amplifier, you'd end up with elevator music. It's ironic; the better we do our job, the less you'll see it. Like the other infrastructure in your home, a well-designed and meticulously-installed system delivers carefree pleasure, even if you never look to see how it works.

 

Easy-to-Use Control Systems

A well-designed, well-implemented control system makes even the most sophisticated equipment a pleasure to operate.

Imagine pressing "Play Blu-ray Movie". Watch the equipment turn on. Notice that the other sources, which you're not using, stay off. Lights flicker on the equipment as the control system selects the right inputs and sets the right viewing and listening modes. Hear the volume adjust to your preferred listening level. The curtains dramatically open, revealing your screen. The light-tight blinds descend over the windows as the room lights slowly dim. The movie begins.

But a great control system requires much more than just the automation. A talented system designer carefully considers what functions need automating and how those functions should best be provided.

The design of a true high-end control system requires significant experience in software user interface design and ergonomics. For example, buttons should be grouped logically by function. Similar functions should be provided in a consistent location on each screen. The use of functional modes should usually (but not always) be avoided. Colors should be chosen carefully, with an eye toward the meaning (which varies from culture to culture). Goodwin's High End has on staff a professional software engineer and designer.

Often a poorly-designed control system frustrates its user because it affords too much control. Like a car stereo with a million tiny buttons, providing control over unused options will hamper daily use. At Goodwin's High End, we use the "houseguest" criterion. Could guests in your home pick up your remote control and listen to music or watch a movie? Could they do it without any instruction?

Even a simple control system with keypads in the wall can be tricky. Does "Volume Up" raise the volume in just this room, or does it change the whole house? The right answer depends upon your lifestyle and the layout of the rooms in your home. Did pressing "Radio" affect every room? What if mom is snoozing in the Master Bedroom?

We strive to design control systems that are:

  • Completely reliable
  • Automate all the necessary functions (no more, no less)
  • Convenient to use
  • Carefully designed around your lifestyle
  • Logical and easy to understand (using "houseguest" criterion)
  • Harmoniously designed and pleasing to operate

Here are some examples of touchscreen design showing two different backgrounds:

 

 

Aesthetic Integration with Architecture and Interior Design

Most of our clients relish wonderful architecture. They appreciate outstanding interior design. They admire craftsmanship. And, of course, they love music and movies. So do we.

As audio / video professionals, we form a team with your architect, your interior designer, and your craftsmen. Each discipline brings its expertise and experience to bear on the common goal—which is to create the best space possible for you and your needs. Together the team members propose ideas, improve them, and incorporate them into an overall design.

Sometimes there are tradeoffs. The best-sounding speaker might be too visually prominent. Or the room dimensions might be acoustically unfortunate. Or wallpaper in the home theater might tint the video green. In these tradeoff situation, we don't advocate; we educate. Once we've informed you of the multi-disciplinary considerations, you can then make your best decisions.

A few words about aesthetics. We want your room to "feel" right. As you enter a room, you immediately see it—the architecture, the interior design, the construction details, the lighting. Next, you hear it—the sense of acoustic space, the reverberations, the music playing. You may also smell it—fresh-baked cookies or new leather chairs. You may perceive its textures—wall surfaces, fabrics, flooring. Often, the non-visual design considerations are overlooked. We help our clients create a complete environment, one that pleases all the senses.

 

Involve us early

We can achieve the best results and the highest performance when we have the fewest constraints. Often in a project, early arbitrary choices—where a pipe goes, where a door is, the exact room dimensions—close off audio / video design options. We can achieve very high-performance cost-effective results when the project is still in the design phase. Once construction begins, the cost of high-performance rises.

Tip: If possible, involve us before your architect or builder draws up detailed plans.

 


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