Villa Collina Renewed: Audio and video upgrades  

Editor’s Note: “Villa Collina Renewed” is a 15-part blog series detailing owner Dr. Eric W. Barton’s work to restore the largest home in Tennessee to its original Italianate beauty. Each week we will discuss renovation projects across the 40,250-square-foot waterfront mansion, from geothermal upgrades and energy efficiency to state-of-the-art lighting, marble renovations and fountain upgrades. We hope you enjoy this detailed research on the jewel that is Villa Collina.

Since Villa Collina was originally built, options for audiovisual technology have significantly changed. Homeowner Eric W. Barton decided to expand and elevate the AV experience throughout the home.

An existing audio system had been placed throughout most of the interior of the home, and some of the original interior speakers were still useful. Other facets of the audio system underwent major upgrades.

Each room in Villa Collina has built-in speakers that are integrated seamlessly and barely noticeable. During renovations, new speakers were added in several of the suites, including the master suite. New audio zones were added to exterior areas where no audio system existed. The new control units are now housed in a basement server room, one of four server rooms in the home.

For many upgrades, Barton turned to Magnolia, Best Buy’s audiovisual experts. The Magnolia employees provided guidance throughout the process and were both responsive and knowledgeable.

Magnolia installed a state-of-the-art exterior audio system featuring Sonance Landscape Series speakers. Each of the three exterior zones contain discrete speakers and subwoofers that provide even coverage.

The main pool area is the largest exterior zone featuring 20 landscape speakers, four powerful in-ground subwoofers and 3,000 watts of dedicated power. The pool audio upgrades were tricky, since sound must overcome noise levels from guests and rushing water. The new system can handle high audio volumes without distortion and is constantly optimized through a custom DSP (digital signal processing) profile within the amplifier.

The other new outdoor zones are the Officers Club patio and the front main entry. All zones can operate independently or in tandem and were integrated into Villa Collina’s existing indoor distributed audio system. That allows the exterior system to be grouped with the 25+ indoor audio zones throughout the property.

A space as large as Villa Collina presents unique challenges, including communicating with everyone throughout the property during a large event. That issue was solved by a new public address system that uses speakers in the upgraded audio system with integration into the audio app. Announcements can go to the entire property or be targeted to certain rooms or zones. During an announcement, the system automatically mutes the music, then returns it to previous levels when the announcement concludes.

Mark Midyett, an audio and lighting specialist, solved another challenge. For events that drew a lot of guests, the homeowner wanted to provide a powerful Wi-Fi system to accommodate them. Midyett, president of DFA Solutions and co-founder of @home Audio Video Technology, and his team installed a commercial Wi-Fi system that can handle more than 200 users at a time. A system like this is not typical for a private residence, but Villa Collina is not a typical home!

The overall technology renovation also included video upgrades. We previously covered security upgrades in detail in a Villa Collina Renewed post, including the installation of 16 high-definition security and property cameras. The surveillance system cameras are strategically placed around the property with wide-angle views of ingress/egress points and can be accessed live on the homeowner’s smartphone.

Barton inherited a heap of old, gigantic televisions that no one would take. He replaced each one – and added even more – and now the property boasts 30 4K televisions. There are televisions in the common areas, bedrooms, exterior patio, bathrooms and even one room with four mounted on one wall, perfect for game day action. The homeowner enjoys sports programming, especially college basketball, and is particularly fond of both scary movies and Hallmark holiday movies.

TiVo is a user-friendly solution to manage content applications, and Barton has cable, Netflix, Vudu and Amazon Prime Video all loaded and ready to provide entertainment at a moment’s notice.

Villa Collina’s audiovisual services are managed and controlled by an operating system by Savant. The home features the first Savant “Super Pro Host” installed in the state of Tennessee, featuring enough processing power to handle the thousands of simultaneous commands that it sometimes receives, while providing room to grow and expand the system as needed. Remote controls and iPads provide a simple and familiar interface for controlling televisions throughout the home. The remotes work even with source equipment hidden from view, providing a cleaner and more attractive space around the televisions.

Villa Collina now boasts state-of-the-art interior and exterior audio and video systems that blend seamlessly into the environment, provide powerful performance, are intuitive and easy to operate, and have room to expand. It’s just another way that over-the-top luxury is addressed at this magnificent home.

Up next: The butler’s quarters have been expanded, updated and well-appointed and now provide guests a home space that is nearby, yet private. We’ll dish on all of the upgrades in the next post in the Villa Collina Renewed series.

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