THE CONNECTED LIFE

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John Sciacca Posted: 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...
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John Sciacca Posted: 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.

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John Sciacca Posted: Mar 16, 2016 3 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.
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John Sciacca Posted: 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.
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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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John Sciacca Posted: 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.
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John Sciacca Posted: Dec 09, 2015 21 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?

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John Sciacca Posted: Nov 18, 2015 8 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.

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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: Oct 14, 2015 1 comments
In a recent blog I dealt with some of the big-picture infrastructure items when planning a video installation. Beyond the brand and size of TV you’ll be getting, the big four preinstallation items requiring attention are power, sources, audio, and control.
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John Sciacca Posted: Sep 30, 2015 12 comments
As a custom installer, meeting with clients building new homes, remodeling, or just looking to upgrade their entertainment systems is a big part of my job. And after 17 years of walking through job sites and looking at blueprints, I pretty quickly hone in on the few key areas that determine the project’s difficulty and cost.
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John Sciacca Posted: 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.

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John Sciacca Posted: Aug 19, 2015 8 comments
ABC’s Nightline recently ran a segment called “Smart Homes, the Future of High-Tech Living” where they discussed different aspects of living in a smart home. Part of the segment demonstrated a smart home’s potential vulnerability to being hacked, giving outsiders access to your home and data. Nightline drove the point home by having a hacker sit outside a home with a high-powered directional antenna while he logged into the Wi-Fi network and started wreaking all manner of havoc, including unlocking her front door.
John Sciacca Posted: Jul 21, 2015 1 comments
Custom Theater and Audio's Atmos-equipped demo room.

A lot has been written over the past few months about Dolby’s new home theater surround format, Atmos. Virtually every receiver manufacturer and many speaker companies have embraced Atmos-capable systems, both with in-ceiling and Atmos-enabled module speakers.

One of the perks of working at a custom installation firm with a showroom is having a playground to install and experience the latest technologies firsthand before installing them into someone’s home...

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John Sciacca Posted: 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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