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THE CONNECTED LIFE

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John Sciacca Posted: Apr 16, 2014 1 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: 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).

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John Sciacca Posted: Mar 18, 2014 0 comments
Once Cutting-Edge Systems Are Starting to Look like Dinosuars

Having been a custom installer since 1998, I’ve installed more than my share of housewide audio systems. And, as you can imagine, these systems have changed and evolved quite a bit over the years.

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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.

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John Sciacca Posted: Dec 23, 2013 0 comments
As 2013 winds down, it seems appropriate to share the trends—tech and otherwise—that struck me at the annual CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo this past September in Denver.
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John Sciacca Posted: Nov 20, 2013 2 comments
Back when I was a kid, I took my TV watching very seriously. It was an active event that demanded laser-like, sugar-fueled focus. I mean, just one glance away from those glowing cathode rays could result in missing some crucial Scooby Doo or Brady Bunch plot twist, possibly resulting in years of wondering what exactly happened to Marsha’s nose.

Reaching back into the days before DVR, DVD-R, or even VCR, you basically got one shot at watching something. And that meant TV viewers had some serious skin in the game when watching a show that was important to them. There were no pausing, no on-demand, and no Web streaming alternatives.

John Sciacca Posted: 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 Posted: Oct 01, 2013 2 comments
Coupled with high-speed Internet and the growing app marketplace, smartphones are often the most important tech device in many of our lives, with phone calling often the least used feature. The exciting news for techies is the amount of control available for your home from anywhere in the world, and much of this amazing tech is affordable and DIY-friendly to install!
John Sciacca Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments

For want of a smart control, the table was cluttered with remotes. For want of the right remote, the A/V receiver was turned to the wrong input. For lack of the right input, the audio and video signals were lost. For failure of the A/V signal, the movie could not be watched. For lack of the movie, the party was ruined.

John Sciacca Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

App is a word that was barely even part of the public lexicon a few years ago, but now has become such an entrenched part of it that even my mom — quite possibly the least technologically inclined person on the planet — drops the phrase, “There’s probably an app for that.”

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: Aug 14, 2012 0 comments

My family recently visited the Magic Kingdom park at Disney World in Orlando. One attraction we checked out was “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress,” a revolving theater that follows a “typical” family through the decades, starting around the 1920s and winding forward to the future.

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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 21, 2012 0 comments

This is the tale of two companies whose products you likely interact with on a daily basis. Two companies that aim to capture the Holy Grail of the consumer electronics world: your living room. One company has had great success with its mission, while the other one has repeatedly failed.

The companies are Apple and Microsoft.

John Sciacca Posted: Mar 26, 2012 0 comments

Control4 unveiled two new processors at this year’s CES, the HC800 ($999) and the HC250 ($599). They offer way more power for system control and provide a much zippier interface when controlling different areas of the home or browsing a media library.

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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