The New Golden Age of ^Resi Crestron Systems


Working for a CSP, I spend a good amount of time following Crestron in the news. So far this year a lot of attention has been given to the fact that Crestron won't be participating at CEDIA 2016. On the surface it might look like Crestron is backing away from residential systems, while the company line has been that they want to focus more on the luxury market.

Plenty of questions have arisen, especially related to the future of PYNG, but I've also had conversations with integrators who wonder if Crestron is "abandoning" them. That may seem like a lot of emotion at stake over attending a trade show, but it shows you what a cornerstone Crestron has been to so many residential integrators over the past 20 years.

I've learned that the right control solution, like most anything of value, has a lot to do with initial vision and perspective. Since the time I joined Adelyte, the Crescendo Framework has been released and supported as an open source project on Github, which certainly gives me a different perspective about the nature of Crestron programming than most industry veterans I meet.

I've seen small, cantankerous systems completely overhauled and re-programmed with the framework in a matter of hours. We'll get an inquiry on an older Crestron system looking to add an NSP-1 or Autonomic Media server, and suggest the Media Player Smart Object as a selling point to upgrade the software for Smart Graphics compatibility (at a minimum on mobile devices).

When giving a system that kind of refresh, the timing is right to upgrade primary video displays, get new remote controls, and remove any components that are no longer useful (things that the client may have been considering for years waiting for the right opportunity). Like any good spring cleaning, there is a feeling of turning over a new leaf. Clients who may never have been totally satisfied with their Crestron system are left feeling like they have something brand new, accessible, and fun.

As part of my $30,000 Home Theater series, I've become a lot more familiar with control offerings from companies like Harmony and RTI. I started to wonder if I am living in a bubble at Adelyte—maybe Crestron only works well for very large systems, or maybe we only recommend Crestron because we need the programming work?

I decided to talk to Austin Hatchett, who handles many of our production deployments (commercial and residential—all using the framework) and spends a lot of time maintaining the Crescendo project.

I think there is a stigma associated with what a residential Crestron system is or should be in 2016. 10 years ago there were really two kinds of systems: you either had an MC2W in a Family Room cabinet with an STX-1700 controlling an AVR and a few audio zones, or you had several large racks of equipment downstairs. It was hard to get good programming with the former, and you needed a top-tier firm (or two, or three) and a few months on site to approach the latter.

We're now in the era of decentralized everything. A client recently told me he was thinking of taking an existing Crestron system in an RTI direction because the owners didn’t have the budget for DM. It was obvious that they wanted to become less dependent on the mechanical room, and get more out of the system while not feeling like they had to make a six-figure investment in “the basement” again in order to bring things up to speed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Sonnex was a great solution for their audio needs, but there was a sense that without going all in, Crestron wasn’t the right choice moving forward. The reality is that a Sony TV provides built-in streaming services, and a Tivo or DirecTV mini can be installed discreetly behind it to share DVR recordings in the home, all using IP control. No need for special cable runs, no need for a room control box. All that was needed was a gateway in range and an HR-150 remote to turn many locations into simple, feature-packed video zones with consistent operation.

Key takeaway: approaching the system with Crestron in the same way RTI was being considered resulted in a cost-effective solution that made Sonnex a no-brainer, got system-wide control of video and audio zones via Crestron App for iPad and iPhone, and kept the legacy in-wall panels in place for simplified local audio and lighting.

Crestron was always a great solution—but the integrator and end users were overwhelmed with the idea because of what they had been through in the past. Compared to the programming process the integrator would have gone through himself stringing things together with RTI, Crescendo was able to manage the system elegantly on a single processor, largely using the out-of-the-box resources available in the 2.0 demo.
Austin Hatchett
Adelyte, Production Manager

It’s actually an exciting time for Crestron in the residential market, you just need the right plan. Part of the great response we have received so far with Crescendo 2.0 is that for the first time people can truly see what they are getting with no smoke and mirrors, and can visualize the system running in their own home. Just because a control platform can “do anything”, doesn't mean it has to be all that complicated. 

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