Installations: Great Plains Theater Page 2

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One of the most interesting aspects of the installation is the whole-house audio system, powered by eight Sonos ZonePlayer receivers wired to in-ceiling speakers. (Read our review of the Sonos system.) The husband says he originally heard about the Sonos system from his son, who described it as "a bigger and better iPod." The sound quality, he says, "met my expectations, and it put a variety of music at my fingertips. I like the ability to turn zones on and off according to our needs."

All of the ZonePlayers are in a custom-made cabinet to the right of the Sony 50-inch rear-projection HDTV in the media room. In essence, the Sonos receivers act as wireless distribution amps for each of the zones: the daughter's bedroom, the kitchen, the dining room, the sun room, three outdoor areas (a patio, a garden grotto, and a courtyard), and a kitchen area outside the home theater. All the rooms in the audio system are wired to Sonance 623TR ceiling speakers ($255 each), while the outdoor areas have SpeakerCraft OE8s ($215 each) mounted under the eaves.

"Even though the Sonos system is wireless, we set the house up so it could be hardwired," Gordon says. Each of the ZonePlayers is controlled via a wireless Sonos controller. Also, since each receiver basically acts like a wireless extender, it makes the home's wireless 802.11g network extremely robust. "You can go anywhere - even outdoors in the yard or courtyard - and get an extremely strong signal," explains Gordon.

While the media room's A/V system isn't particularly elaborate, making the electronics dovetail with the constraints imposed by its striking design presented some challenges. For one, the wife and interior designer made it clear what they felt would and wouldn't work aesthetically in the space. And the unusual layout - as well as the use of materials such as stone, tile, and slate - made placing some of the gear, particularly speakers, unusually tough. Compromises would have to be made - and not necessarily by the designer or the wife.