Crestron Electronics CNX-PAD8 Page 2

Once I arrive at the home, Chris tells me a little more about the installation. The main theater consists of Revel speakers, Snell and Triad subwoofers, a Krell Home Theater Standard for processing, ATI amps, and an Audio Control Diva for equalization. DBS and DVD equipment from Sony light up a Runco DTV-1000, after a Faroudja DVP 3000 does its thing. Definitely not your average home theater system, it's all controlled by a Crestron VT-3500 color touchpanel remote.

As incredible as the home theater is, the Crestron CNX-PAD8 is what I've really come to see and hear. Think of the CNX-PAD8 as a special preamp that's more flexible than a Cirque du Soleil contortionist. In this home, three sources (plus sound from whatever is playing in the main theater) feed half of the eight available inputs on a CNX-PAD8. The input levels can be adjusted independently to compensate for volume differences when switching from source to source. Any of the inputs can be routed to any one or more of the CNX-PAD8's eight outputs, which were all connected to Bryston amplifiers in this installation. Each output has its own setting for volume, bass, treble, and balance, and the installer can even set a minimum and maximum volume level. That way, you can put keypads or touchpanels in your kids' rooms and not worry about them blowing the speakers or their eardrums.

Visually, the CNX-PAD8 is pretty boring. It's just a rack-mountable black box with a row of LEDs on it. That's OK, though, because you'll probably never look at it again once it's installed—unless you're the type who kneels in front of his (or her) equipment cabinet every night.

Due to a lack of knowledge or a poor choice of installers, the home's previous owners had allowed the house to contract a near-terminal case of too many volume controls and wall plates. Chris originally planned to use Crestron's basic wall-mounted, push-button keypads (CN-WP12F/CN-WP12N) to eradicate all the ugly and semi-useless rotary volume controls. Fortunately, as the installers were about to mount the basic keypads, Crestron began shipping a new, modestly priced wall-mounted touchpanel, the LC-1000. It's the kind of thing you don't know you want until you see and touch one. Then there's no question. You've got to have one...or six...or 10.

The LC-1000 is a 3.8-inch diagonal grayscale touchpanel that's flanked by 10 push-button keys (five on each side). Mounted on the wall, it takes up the same space as a standard wall plate. It's totally programmable and offers the perfect combination of structure and freedom. In fact, there's so much this touchpanel can do that Chris and Mike had to explain it all to me.

Crestron Electronics
$1,399, $638, $2,175
(800) 237-2041