Inconvenient, Frustrating Home Theater Design

Buying a new home with a pre-installed home theater and whole house wiring can lead to some unexpected surprises and such was the case for Mark and Rihanna Azeria.

Prior to purchase when viewing the home with their realtor Mark and Rihanna liked the layout of the home including the dedicated home theater room with Panasonic projector, 10‘ screen and tiered seating.  The electronics in the home included several wall mounted Samsung and Toshiba Flat Panel TV’s and in wall and ceiling speakers in the den and theater room.  The house had a very clean look with no visible audio or video equipment in any of the rooms including the dedicated theater room. The previous home owner and installation company decided to locate all the source equipment centrally in the utility room downstairs.  Two Philips Pronto remote controls were used to work all six TVs, electronics and home theater room in the entire home.

Once Mark and Rhianna moved into their new home and started using the audio video system it quickly became apparent that the centrally located source equipment in the utility room was going to be a big problem.

To play a DVD, Mark would have to leave the dedicated theater room, walk through the basement, down a hall way to the utility room, insert the DVD into the player in the utility room and then walk back to the Theater Room 30 feet away.  Playing a DVD in the main level family room or upstairs bedroom made the trip downstairs to the utility room even more of a problem.  Of course when initially viewing the home with their realtor Mark and Rhianna only “Looked at” the Audio/Video System but didn’t actually operate it.  The initial perception was “Wow! this is incredible” but after they moved in, the day to day use of the A/V system was frustrating.

The second problem with the whole house A/V system was the restriction of only two remote controls.  Mark and Rihanna had three children for a total household of five.  With only two Pronto universal remote controls to work ALL the TV’s in the house and no ability to control the electronics locally,  this quickly became a problem.

Crisis at the Azeria Household:
Two months after moving into their new home the difficulties with the whole house audio video system turned into a crisis when one of the Philips Pronto remote controls stopped working.  Two remotes in a household of five to control six TV’s and two surround sound systems was bad enough but now they only had one working Pronto remote control to share between five people and six TVs … crisis at the Azeria household!

So what now,  Mark called the original installation company and got the bad news, Philips no longer makes the Pronto Remote Controls,  if you need to replace one the only source is ebay where they sell for around $500 bucks used!  Down to only one remote control, saddled with a $50,000 whole house A/V system which wasn’t working properly, Mark gave Doyle at DJ’s Sound City a call to see what he would recommend.

Doyle came down to the house and met with both Mark and Rihanna to evaluate their current A/V system and the problems they were having.  The three main problems were:

1.) No Local equipment in the Dedicated Theater Room

2.) No Local control of equipment in the Family Room

3.) Only one (1) universal remote control for the Whole House to operate all the equipment.

After the site survey and meeting Doyle went back to the shop to engineer a solution using the existing equipment and wiring as well as adding some more remote controls.

The following week Doyle meet with the Mark and Rihanna to discuss the plan to fix their A/V system.  Doyle designed a completely new operating system using the existing wiring and some of the existing equipment.  The cabinetry in the Dedicated Theatre Room could be modified to localize the A/V equipment for Theater Room …. no more running the utility room to change DVD’s.  Next he would rewire the Den equipment to provide use of the surround sound receiver and built in speakers which were currently not working.  Lastly Doyle would get rid of the Philips Pronto remote controls and install new Logitech Harmony One, 900, 1000 and 1100 remote controls.  Finally all the old equipment would be sold to recoup some of the cost of the rewire and design changes.  Everything sounded great and DJ’s Sound City was given the go …. when can you start!

Localizing the Equipment in the Home Theater Room:
The first phase of the redesign was to relocate some of the equipment from the utility room and localize it into the Home Theater Room.  The current cabinetry in the theater room did not allow for any equipment shelving however there were two (2) 15” subwoofers built into the theater cabinetry so the plan was to remove one (1) of the subs and install shelving to accommodate the Denon surround sound receiver, Panasonic blu-ray player and Motorola DCX3400 PVR cable box.

The subwoofer was removed and an shelving was installed for the equipment in the subwoofer pocket.  Next all the speakers in the Theater Room were rewired to the newly located “Local Receiver”.  Cable was rewired to the Theater Room for the cable box and a new Panasonic Blu-ray player was added.  Lastly a Harmony One remote control programmed for easy one button control finished the localization of the equipment in the Theater Room.

Family Room/ Den:
With the main equipment localized in the Theater Room the next thing was to rewire the rest of the house to work with the new Logitech Harmony remote controls.

The Family Room/Den system consisted of a Denon 5.1 Surround Sound Receiver, Sony PS3 blu-ray player/game console, Wii console and Samsung 58” Plasma TV.  A Harmony 900 RF remote control was programmed to work with all the equipment in the family room/den in addition to controlling the Motorola DCX3400 PVR located in the Theatre Room.  Since all sources except the Wii were connected via HDMI a special Wii HDMI adapter and four port HDMI switch was installed to allow convenient switching from the PS3, Wii and Motorola Cable Box.  The Harmony 900 RF remote control made all the switching and components easy to control for both Mark, Rihanna and the kids.

Kitchen, Office, Workout Room and Bedroom TV’s
With the Theater Room and Family Room Den under control and operated by two separate Harmony Remote controls the next up was to install and program two more Harmony 1000 and 1100 RF whole house remote controls to operate the remaining TVs and systems throughout the house.

Two Harmony 1000 series remotes were installed and programmed to work the Kitchen, Office, Workout Room and Bedroom TVs.  These TV’s were re-wired and connected to two (2) new Motorola DCX 3400 and DCX3200 cable boxes which were controllable from all areas of the house.  The Harmony 1000 series remote controls use radio frequency to operate so they can be used anywhere in the home and with programming by DJ’s Sound City for one touch operation everyone in the household can easily work all the functions of the equipment in each of the rooms.

Final Result – Success!
After all the rewiring, relocating of equipment and programming of the new remote controls the A/V System became convenient and easy to use.  What once was frustrating, difficult and awkward to use became easy and intuitive thanks to the rewiring and programming by DJ’s Sound City.

There are several specialty companies in the Edmonton area that claim to “Design and Install” home theater equipment.  Even large retailers like Best Buy, Future shop and the Brick have “So Called Installation departments”, but as the Mark and Rihanna will tell you there’s hooking things up and then there’s Intuitive Design and Installation … and boy what a Big Difference it makes from a Lifestyle Standpoint when your Home Theater or whole house A/V system is designed and installed properly.

More Good News – Money Back!
Oh, I almost forgot,  there’s more good news to the story.  Not only did DJ’s Sound City redesign the Azeria Home A/V system,  Doyle was able to sell the excess, un-needed equipment including the broken Pronto Remote and give Mark back a cheque for almost 30% of the cost of the re-design/installation.

If you purchased a new home and don’t know how to operate the Home Theater system or Whole House Audio/Video system or if you are unhappy with your current systems integrator and your Home Theater or whole house audio/video system is Not Working the way you think it should or is difficult to operate, give Doyle at DJ’s Sound City a call at 780-489-5522 or email and schedule a Free on-site evaluation, you’ll be glad you did.


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2 Responses to Inconvenient, Frustrating Home Theater Design

  1. S. Lawerence says:

    Your install looks great, I’ve got a similar situation with one of my Pronto remotes not working either. I’m in Calgary do you do work down here?

    • djsedm says:

      We like to service an area up to 1.5 hours travel out of town from Edmonton which provides our customers the Best Service and response times. We do occasionally travel further for large jobs. I will be in Calgary for a large project during the month of May this spring. If that works for you drop me an email at and we can schedule a date and time.

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