The Connected Life

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John Sciacca  |  Mar 01, 2019  |  0 comments
When I first began my job as a custom installer back in 1998, I frequently had to explain to people exactly what our company did. “We install home theater systems; it’s like having a movie theater in your house,” I’d usually say.
John Sciacca  |  Apr 26, 2019  |  0 comments
In my last blog, I discussed the many clients I meet with who have no idea how to begin the design process when planning a new home theater or media room installation. Instead of focusing on specific technologies and performance, I have found it best in these cases to work the design process back from how they would like the room to look after the installation is completed.
John Sciacca  |  May 07, 2020  |  1 comments
Motorized window shades and smart lighting are a godsend for controlling light in an open, mixed-use media room. Here’s how.
John Sciacca  |  Jul 29, 2014  |  0 comments
One of the most disappointing things I face is spending time going over different options for someone’s new home’s entertainment and automation system and having them leave my showroom saying, “Wow! Now I’m even more confused than when I started!” (More disappointing is the, “Oh, I wish I’d come to you to do my system!” regret that comes when they can’t get the other guy/company to come back to finish or service the system.)
John Sciacca  |  Mar 01, 2017  |  0 comments
The number-one service call issue at my custom installation firm used to be cable TV related—generally resolved by rebooting the cable company’s crappy set-top box. But as people increasingly “cord cut” away from traditional entertainment means, the majority of calls we receive now are internet and network related, specifically of the, “My Wi-Fi sucks. Can you fix it?” variety.
John Sciacca  |  Sep 13, 2016  |  3 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  |  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  |  Apr 01, 2014  |  19 comments
Ask virtually any music listener if they own any high-resolution audio files, and they’ll likely give you a blank stare, wait a beat, and then maybe come back with a question like, “You mean like CDs I put on my computer or something?”

For the record, high-resolution refers to music recorded at better than CD’s 44.1-kHz/16-bit quality, usually 96-kHz/24-bit, typically written as “96/24.” (See my high-rez audio audio primer here).

John Sciacca  |  Sep 02, 2015  |  10 comments
OK, full disclosure: I didn’t really spend $500 of my own, personal, John money; I had a reviewer’s account. But I did watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Terminator: Genisys and Southpaw in my home theater over a month ago using the coolest piece of technology you’ve probably never even heard of. The company behind it is PRIMA Cinema and their movie player allows an elite group of owners the ability to watch first-run Hollywood films in the privacy of their homes, usually on the same day they are released to the cinemas. Not only that, but PRIMA delivers the best picture quality of anything you’ve ever seen outside the Arclight or El Capitan.

John Sciacca  |  Jul 13, 2011  |  0 comments

Some people immediately get that the iPad can become the controller for an automation system, allowing them to control not only their audio/video gear but also their lights, HVAC, security, and irrigation systems.

John Sciacca  |  Jul 16, 2014  |  0 comments
When you think about a home security system, you probably think about protection and sirens that go off and keypads that go BEEP-BEEP when someone opens a door. And while that is a huge part of a security system’s mission statement, a security system is also a huge source of information that an automation system can mine to execute events around the home!

John Sciacca  |  Nov 05, 2007  |  0 comments

Cathedrals are almost preternaturally quiet havens where even the softest whispers, shuffling in the pews, or footsteps across marble floors can seem blasphemously loud.

John Sciacca  |  Oct 04, 2007  |  0 comments

While it might take a village to raise a child, it takes an army and lots of time to build an estate! Custom Theater and Audio (CTA) in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where I work as lead system designer, was recently involved in all aspects of the A/V design and installation for Phil and Janet Pate's new home in North Myrtle Beach.

John Sciacca  |  Jan 17, 2018  |  0 comments
In my October blog, I listed 11 must-have tools for your DIY toolkit, laying out the minimum tools you need to tackle some basic audio/video installations. Then I tackled how to wire and mount a flat-screen TV in “Mount a TV Like a Pro:” Part 1 and Part 2. Now it’s time to learn how to install some speakers!
John Sciacca  |  Feb 09, 2018  |  5 comments
Last month’s blog detailed the first part of the process of installing new speakers. Since planning before cutting is a massive part of retrofitting new speakers, I focused on making sure you could actually install speakers where you want. This involved determining the best wiring route to the new speakers and ensuring the route was clear of any obstacles like wall purlins.

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