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John Sciacca  |  Sep 13, 2016  |  1 comments
As football season gets underway, it’s inevitable that I’ll get phone calls about mounting TVs on a porch, deck, or some other outside area as people prepare to watch their favorite team while enjoying the fall weather. And, I have to say, after spending a long weekend lounging by my swimming pool, sipping a beer, and watching The Masters golf tournament, I get the allure of outdoor video.
John Sciacca  |  Aug 24, 2016  |  1 comments
When you’re constantly surrounded by technology and automation, you tend to take things for granted, just accepting all the cool stuff happening around you as normal. It isn’t until someone who doesn’t live with this stuff on a daily basis comes over and points out all the stuff that happens in our house as different and special that we pay attention to it and realize how awesome it is.
John Sciacca  |  Aug 10, 2016  |  3 comments
I’ll be honest, when I first heard about Husqvarna’s Automower robotic lawnmower, my first thought was, “Well, that’s stupid.” I mean, why would someone need a Roomba for their lawn? Dumb.

Then I thought about it a little longer and started to weight the cost of the Automower versus my personal time and cost of cutting the grass or what I have been paying someone else to do it, and how nice it would be to come home and always have a perfectly groomed lawn, and Automower started to make a lot more sense. Then when I started to think about all the grief I get from my lawn guy – broken sprinkler heads, not coming for weeks at a time, yearly price increases – I started getting really excited about the prospect of letting a robot cut my grass.

John Sciacca  |  Jul 27, 2016  |  3 comments
One of my favorite comedies is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a film starring the incredibly well-cast Michael Caine as a savvy, sophisticated British confidence man trying to first mentor and then ultimately compete against the boorish, uncultured, bumbling American swindler played by Steve Martin.

John Sciacca  |  Jun 29, 2016  |  1 comments
As I write this I’m sitting in a hospital room waiting for my wife, Dana, to be induced sometime around 5:00 this evening. My weekend plans had been to grab some craft beer and watch The Masters in 4K on DirecTV, but this was a late-in-life, bonus baby (I’m 46), and the pregnancy has been fraught with “excitement” as we’ve dealt with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. If you get nothing else from this column, heed my advice to have kids sooner rather than later.
John Sciacca  |  May 25, 2016  |  1 comments
One of the biggest benefits computing integration has brought to modern AV gear is the advent of flash memory that can be repeatedly and easily updated with new firmware. Firmware updates provide not only ongoing improvements and performance benefits, but can even add new features. Let us count the ways…
John Sciacca  |  Apr 13, 2016  |  4 comments
One of the more unexpected non-events of January’s CES 2016 was the soft and lackluster launch of Ultra High Definition Blu-ray (UHD BD) players. While the industry had been expecting hardware capable of spinning new 4K discs to feed the millions of 4K TVs that have been sold, the fanfare at the show was surprisingly ho-hum. In fact...
John Sciacca  |  Apr 06, 2016  |  8 comments
Last summer NPR posted a story entitled ”How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?” that let users “blindly” compare six different tracks recorded at identical volume levels at three different qualities: MP3 at 128 Kbps, MP3 at 320 Kbps, and uncompressed WAV. The goal was to see if listeners could discern the quality difference and then correctly pick which version was WAV.

After thousands of results it turns out that people can tell the difference. But just barely.

John Sciacca  |  Mar 16, 2016  |  6 comments
For most of its life, your audio gear probably just sits there, quietly doing its thing, providing (hopefully) years of quality entertainment. But all the while, a silent killer lurks in your house: dust. And unless your listening room is like some kind of Silicon Valley clean space or you have a hermetically sealed audio rack—in which case you’ve probably got some ventilation issues to address—your gear is under constant attack from dust particles that could shorten its life.
John Sciacca  |  Feb 03, 2016  |  7 comments
Resident audio professor, Ken C. Pohlmann, recently wrote a blog entitled “Millenials: Your Soundbars are Killing Us” that generated quite a bit of ire among readers. The post generated over 30 comments both for, but mainly against, Ken’s assertion that millennials’ “insatiable love of soundbars” was going to ruin audio for the rest of us.
John Sciacca  |  Jan 20, 2016  |  2 comments
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch nearly every Dolby Atmos-encoded Blu-ray disc that has been released so far and while some of the movies are terrific (Gravity) others are more just things you suffer through (Jupiter Ascending). To save you some time trying to find the best scenes to demo, I’m gonna pinpoint each film’s marquee Atmos audio moment!
John Sciacca  |  Dec 23, 2015  |  1 comments
As we get ready to head into the new year, 3D "immersive audio" is the driving force behind home theater. A rundown of where things stand with the three competing formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D.
John Sciacca  |  Dec 09, 2015  |  20 comments
As 4K TV sales prices continue dropping and sales steadily increase, the public’s demand for true 4K content continues to increase. At this past CEDIA, Kaleidescape announced its new Strato 4K Movie Player as well as the company’s third generation movie store that will offer more than 100 4K downloads at launch. DISH also discussed plans about its upcoming 4K Joey joining DirecTV in offering some 4K content. And with the International CES just a few weeks away, it seems likely one of the big stories from the show will be the launch of new Ultra HD Blu-ray players. But, will anyone care?

John Sciacca  |  Nov 18, 2015  |  1 comments
When you consider that subwoofers cover a scant 0.3 percent of the audible spectrum—from 20 to 80 Hz—it might be easy to discount just how important bass is to solid audio playback. I mean, who would complain about having a solid 99.7 percent, right? But when you take those crucial two octaves away, everything else sounds thin and diminished, showing just how important a solid low-end foundation is for your audio playback system.

John Sciacca  |  Nov 04, 2015  |  5 comments
We A/V writers and reviewers rarely talk about our own systems here at Sound & Vision. This is partly due to the nature of review gear coming and going into our systems, as the gear we live with is almost always changing. Another reason is we frequently aren’t in a position to own and enjoy the top-shelf stuff in our own homes. (Insert comment about the cobbler’s kids here.) But I’ve been talking about next generation, immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X quite a bit lately, and I thought I’d share what I’m doing with my own personal system to make sure it stays up to date, relevant and reference.