THE CONNECTED LIFE

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John Sciacca Posted: Dec 17, 2014 0 comments
Automation describes using control systems to operate equipment or other applications with little or no human interaction. At its simplest, home automation could be a garage door opener or a mercury-filled thermostat kicking on your HVAC system; and at its most complex, there’s virtually nothing an automation system can’t do.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jan 20, 2015 10 comments
A customer called my installation company recently looking to upgrade his system. We did the original in stall at his vacation home back in 2001, and he wanted to replace the aging DLP with a new flat panel, upgrade to a Netflix-streaming Blu-ray player, and get a new universal remote. When I looked through his file, I saw his AV receiver was approaching 13 years old, so I recommended he replace that as well to take advantage of a generation’s worth of technology improvements.
John Sciacca Posted: Sep 11, 2008 0 comments

You may consider Jim Carrey to be many things - comedic genius, overpaid goofball - but technological futurist probably isn't one of them. However, his prediction in the 1996 movie The Cable Guy has proved to be surprisingly accurate: "The future is now!

John Sciacca Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

Many people love the idea of a house-wide audio system, but they may not love the idea of paying to have one installed. Plus, the fancy features that come with dedicated multiroom audio systems — such as keypad controllers with metadata feedback, and the ability to divide a home into numerous listening zones — might be more than what many people actually need.

In fact, for the way many people actually live, two listening zones may be the perfect amount: a “main” zone linked to the TV/surround system and a secondary zone for playing music, radio, or something else in a different room. Think one person watching Oprah’s Life Lessons, while a second seeks refuge on the patio with ESPN radio and a beer. If a two-zone audio system sounds like it would fit your bill, chances are that you’ve actually got most of the components for it already on hand.

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John Sciacca Posted: Feb 18, 2014 1 comments
As a custom installer, I’m routinely asked, “What should I do with my old stuff?” It’s a great question, because with all the recent advancements and price drops in technology, lots of people are upgrading and ending up with older gear still in working order but with no idea what to do with it. If you find yourself in this predicament, here are some suggestions that I give to my clients.

John Sciacca Posted: Sep 18, 2012 0 comments

High-rez music is the most exciting audio development to come along in years, and I’ve written quite a bit about it. But I’ve received enough questions concerning high-rez that I felt it was time to devote a column to the subject. What follows is a primer that touches on the basics of high-rez music: what it is, how to get it, and how to play it.

John Sciacca Posted: Nov 17, 2010 0 comments

At this year’s CEDIA Expo, held in Atlanta at the end of September, I felt that the mood on the show floor was decidedly upbeat. The positive vibe exuded by many suggested that the worst of the recession is over and that business is actually starting to pick back up.

John Sciacca Posted: Dec 02, 2008 0 comments

Fans of the Bible and of the Byrds will recognize that there is a time for everything - a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to keep quiet, a time to speak, and so on. Accordingly, there are times when it pays to hold things close to the vest. For one, supervillains should refrain from pontificating about their master plans for world domination.

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John Sciacca Posted: 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 Posted: Oct 29, 2013 1 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.)

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John Sciacca Posted: 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.
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John Sciacca Posted: 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…

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John Sciacca Posted: 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.

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John Sciacca Posted: 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.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jan 20, 2016 1 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!

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