You need AV technology, but do you need to see it 24/7? Nothing spoils a sleek interior design more than straggling cables, screens collecting dust when not in use, mammoth tower speakers, or clunk speakers affixed haphazardly along the wall. The good news is that manufacturers are aware of the need to conceal AV, without compromising performance. There are now a number of solutions that help to make gear invisible…or at least a lot easier on the eye.
With the goal of concealing snakes of cables, hardware, and, yes, even the electronics themselves, Crimson AV’s VersaFit In-Wall Mounting System is comprised of a recessed in-wall backbox and a compatible mount. The mount is fitted into the VersaFit box, then attached to the display. Designed to allow room for small form-factor electronics (such as Apple TV or AirPlay modules), VersaFit offers the opportunity for creative installation techniques and accessibility options. The result: a seamless installation that doesn’t impede on other design elements in the room. Ventilation is considered so the company says there are no worries about heat. Prices start at $100 (U.S. MSRP). For more information, check out crimsonav.com.
Turn the Tables
Addressing the need for elegance in conference, classroom, and meeting environments, FSR (fsrinc.com ) offers a number of options for those that need to use AV—and hide it as well.
The manufacturer’s T6-AC3 Table Box, designed for conference rooms, provides easy access to AV equipment, computers, telephones, and other electronic devices from a conference or boardroom table. The unit’s connector cavity is equipped with three AC outlets, which can be expanded to six outlets with the addition of a bracket. Depending on the installation, the TC-AC3 features a multi-tiered, plate-stacking arrangement with depth adjustment, and can be fitted with FSR’s Intelligent Plate Solution (IPS) inserts, or snap-in connector brackets. The unit’s cover may be closed while in use, and cables exit through its milled openings. U.S. list price is from $755 to $895.
This Altinex tabletop interconnect box was designed for stealth and functionality.FSR’s PTB Series of table boxes are pneumaticallypowered “pop-up” units designed to conceal data, power, and AV connections. Available in two, three and four gang sizes, the PTB Series does not require AC or DC power to operate: a simple push on the cover of the box raises it from, or lowers it back down into, the table. UL-rated, the boxes feature two grounded AC receptacles on each side. These receptacles are isolated from the plate openings, alleviating interference with audio, video, or data signals. U.S. list price is from $1,225 to $1,525.
In addition to its table top offerings, FSR manufacturers its CB Series of ceiling boxes aimed at classrooms, conference rooms, and meeting rooms. Available in two sizes (the CB-12, designed for classrooms; and the CB-22, for classrooms, conference, or meeting rooms) and six varieties, each unit is furnished with a white rim-style door that can be inserted into any ceiling tile. U.S. list price for the CB-12 is from $375 to $435; the CB-22 ranges from $615 to $905.
Extron extron.com) and Altinex (altinex.com) also manufacturer many cubby-style and tabletop solutions; peruse their offerings to see what might meet your concealment needs. New from Altinex are the TNP528/TNP528C Tabletop Interconnect Boxes, two additions to its Tilt ‘N Plug line. The TNP528 is a hybrid solution with digital (HDMI) and analog (VGA) interconnects, as well as network and USB ports designed for easy mounting into tables, podiums, or other furniture. Both of these new Altinex units offer one-touch access.
Rack It Up Right
AV furniture—or “equipment support” products— such as racks and credenzas play a crucial role in achieving system reliability. As such, there are a number of factors to take into consideration: ease of installation, accessibility to equipment requiring service, airflow, and cable situation, which affects signal integrity, dependable power distribution, protection and, in more sophisticated installations, control and monitoring.
A concealment solution from FSRRemotely located equipment racks greatly facilitate the task of making AV invisible, since they are situated in a closet or back room. These systems—such as those provided by Wiremold, available through Middle Atlantic Products—employ cable wiring and pathway systems connecting the system from the rack to the point of use, via raceway systems, floor boxes, poke-through devices, and architectural columns.
Middle Atlantic’s C5 Series credenza racks are designed for applications where the AV equipment sits in the room which its intended to serve. This series, along with others offered by the manufacturer, feature Middle Atlantic’s signature built-in cooling fans, along with considerable depth to accommodate protective UPS systems.
Middle Atlantic is also addressing portable installations, where rack systems must be able to travel between rooms, and then rolled back into storage. The company’s Reference Series Furniture Racks are fitted with a glass-finished front door that hides mounted components, but enables communication between devices via IR signal. A vented design combines aesthetics with practicalities: it enables the necessary airflow to maintain internal rack temperatures at a safe level. The Reference Series’ cable entry and spool system allows users to wrap cables inside the rack when it’s not in use, making for easier travel between rooms.
U.S. list prices for Reference Series Racks range from $1,198 to $1,398. For more information, check out middleatlantic.com.
Video display manufacturers have the dual challenge of building systems that can support large, heavy devices while keeping their own hardware as invisible as possible. Premier Mounts has addressed this with several mounting systems, including the AM500 Mega Mount, and CMF/CMT Series Cable Mounts.
The AMF500 system is comprised of a series of brackets capable of supporting screens that are up to 103 inches and 500 pounds. Dual articulating arms enable the screen to be pulled out from the wall for easy access to cables and wiring.
Premier Mounts’ CMF/CMT Series lightweight cable mounts allow for monitors to be affixed one inch from the wall. Featuring braided steel cables, the mounts support up to 65 pounds. An expanding and retracting kickstand feature enables easy access to AV components when necessary. Visit mounts.com for more product info.
Tesira, the networked media system by Biamp Systems, features a scalable AVB digital backbone designed for applications requiring a higher level of scalability. A new IEEE open standard, AVB (which stands for Audio Video Bridge) allows media streams to be distributed via ethernet (enabling the use of traditional data and existing cable infrastructure).
Diverse concealment solutions are available for just about every commercial AV application. This system from Premier Mounts helps the video display blend into the decor, but also allows for access to cables, should the need arise.But how does Tesira help to hide AV? Biamp’s executive vice president of marketing, Graeme Harrison, explains that because AVB allows for multiple channels (up to 840) to be run over a single Cat-5 cable, the need for intrusive wiring is significantly reduced. Additionally, Biamp’s mini-expanders offer direct analog-to-AVB conversion “at the table,” or wherever the equipment is located.
For more information, visit biamp.com.
Sound IS Invisible
Recognizing the need for sound to be truly out-of sight, SoundTube offers a number of “disappearing” products through its sister company, SolidDrive. At the core, SolidDrive is a sound transducer that transmits acoustical energy through solid surfaces. Neodymium magnets and dual symmetrically opposed motors transform audio signals into vibrations; these vibrations are then transferred to solid surfaces via direct contact.
SolidDrive comes in several different versions: The SD1, which can be wall- or ceilingmounted; the SD1sm, which mounts onto wood or other porous surfaces with the use of four attachment screws, and is ideal for mounting under wooden desks, tables, inside cabinets or paneling, and even under hardwood floors; the glass-mounted SD1g, which converts glass into a speaker (practical for storefront window displays, or windows that separate indoor and outdoor gathering areas); and the SD1 Desktop, which enables temporary connection of a user’s audio to a solid surface.
Biamp’s AVB-enabled Tesira productsThe SD1sm may also be integrated into the RockSolid, which literally looks like a rock, thanks to the absence of grille holes. This is popular in outdoor applications, such as museums, bars, and restaurants.
The SD1, SD1g, and SD1sm retail for $510 (U.S.). Desktop systems begin at $710 (U.S.), and the RockSolid rock speaker retails for $1,200 (U.S.). For more information, check out soundtube.com.
Ever thought of your facility’s video display as a chef d’oeuvre? Vutec does, and it allows users to transform their flat-panel display into a work of art.
ArtScreen is designed to make flat-panel displays visually appealing when they are not in use. With the touch of a remote, users may display digital art-on-canvas images of their choice within an (artfully designed, of course) frame. Models are available for video displays measuring from 32 to 103 inches (though custom sizes are also available). Vutec’s gallery proposes a considerable collection of frame styles, liners and artwork, and personalized art and photographs can be accommodated as well. Displays may be mounted via recessed or surface mounts.
Also available from Vutec is the manufacturer’s Theater Art Systems horizontal masking technology, which converts front projection video screens into works of art, within a custom frame. Visit vutec.com for more information.
Carolyn Heinze is a freelance writer who has covered AV technology developments for 15 years.