The Connected Life

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John Sciacca  |  Feb 01, 2017  |  4 comments
It surprises me how often people come into my showroom looking to improve their TV audio with still no idea how a surround system works or what it entails. Just last week, a 20-something came in saying he wanted a wireless audio system by a specific brand that he’d heard was the best. I talked to him for a few minutes, querying him on what he wanted the wireless audio system for and what his room layout was like, and it turned out that he was looking for a dedicated home theater system in the $15,000-to- $20,000 range but thought a wireless soundbar was the best place to start. I’ll be honest; I died a little inside.
John Sciacca  |  Aug 27, 2014  |  3 comments
Your home is likely filled with all manner of smart devices, but your most precious electronics—your rack of AV gear and video display—are likely all connected to one of the dumbest devices in your house: your surge protector.

When most people go shopping for a surge protector they focus on figures like clamping rate, response time, single pulse energy dissipation, voltage protection rating, number of outlets, and the warranty. And these are all important things – especially if that sad, sad day ever comes when your house is visited by The Big One; that dreaded bolt of lightning that picks out your home like the angry finger of God. But there are some real advantages that come from giving your surge protector an Ethernet connection and a big o'le steroid shot full of IQ points.

John Sciacca  |  Oct 29, 2013  |  0 comments
Perusing your favorite AV site (it’s this one, right?!), browsing real or virtual aisles of an electronics store, or surfing the Web, you’ve undoubtedly run across multiple companies offering to improve your audio by adding a soundbar. With models ranging from sub $100 to over $2,000, it’s a category that has exploded practically overnight.

In a way, soundbars can be likened to nuclear power; used correctly, they can improve your life, but misused can kill everyone in the world several times over. (I don’t have all the science needed to back that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

John Sciacca  |  Apr 16, 2014  |  2 comments
A few weeks ago I got an email notification from my Kaleidescape movie server saying temperatures has exceeded safe operating range and the server would be shutting itself down if temps didn’t soon return to normal. “What the hell?!” I wondered. Nothing had changed in my rack, I hadn’t added any new gear or changed anything with the ventilation and the server was exactly where it had always been sitting and working fine for the past few years. Of course, I immediately blamed my 7 year old daughter, accusing her of all manner of destructive behavior, but when she assured me she was (in this case) innocent, I searched further.
John Sciacca  |  Jun 18, 2014  |  2 comments
Because you are currently reading this, I’m going to make three assumptions…

1) You have fine taste in A/V writers.
2) You are currently alive.
3) You have a barely concealed disdain for your Internet Service Provider and would like to pay them as little as possible while retaining the maximum surfing speeds.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, American ISPs now have the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any industry in the country. And bottoming out that grim list of corporate scum and villainy is Comcast and Time Warner, the two most hated companies in the US. So, congrats, guys! One of the reasons why we seem to hate our ISP so vehemently is the growing cost of service coupled with horrific customer service and reliability and speed issues. Read on if you want to do something about it…

John Sciacca  |  Nov 16, 2016  |  4 comments
Last month I wrote a blog titled, Day and Date: How Much Would You Pay? which pondered how much avid home theater owners like Sound & Vision readers might be willing to pay for the privilege of viewing first-run Hollywood films at home. To give this some perspective, it’s important to point out that the only system capable of doing this is the stratospherically priced PRIMA Cinema, with hardware selling for $35,000 and a $500 per film rental charge.
John Sciacca  |  Aug 30, 2019  |  1 comments
During my many years in the custom installation industry, I've been involved in hundreds of projects of all sizes. These are some of the pearls of accumulated wisdom that I typically share when new customers come in to my shop with plans, or we are walking together through a jobsite.
John Sciacca  |  Oct 30, 2019  |  0 comments
After 20-plus years in the custom installation business, I’ve learned the value of making a project as future-proof as possible. In System Building Advice, Part 1, I discussed the importance of prewiring, installing conduits for future access, covering large areas with multiple speakers, and buying the best subwoofer possible. I have some more bits of advice to share.
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.

John Sciacca  |  Aug 20, 2014  |  0 comments
When you think about technology, you probably imagine the sexy-cool stuff like multichannel home theater systems, über-thin flat-panel displays, or high-res audio from your favorite artist streamed to any room of your home. And, yes, these are definitely the fun parts of tech that make this such a great hobby for us all.

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  |  Jan 15, 2020  |  0 comments
My company has installed whole-house, distributed audio systems since literally the day we opened our doors back in 1995, and over the years we’ve witnessed generational improvements in technology. Mostly gone are wall-mounted rotary volume controls, now replaced with smartphone app control. And “fixed” six-source/six-zone audio systems of the past have largely been replaced with scalable streaming systems that let you add more zones as needed.
John Sciacca  |  Feb 20, 2020  |  0 comments
In my last blog, I discussed the generational improvements my custom installation company has witnessed since we started installing whole-house distributed audio systems back in 1995. Of course, almost everything has gotten better — and cheaper — over time, but one thing often overlooked in modern installations is operational simplicity for the guests who visit your home.
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  |  Jul 14, 2015  |  4 comments
I’ve been fortunate enough to watch nearly every Dolby Atmos encoded Blu-ray disc that has been released so far. 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! (Some spoilers ahead…)

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