John Sciacca

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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: Jun 09, 2014 1 comments
The landscape of our entertainment systems and how we enjoy them has continued to evolve with changing technology. And the importance of different components has changed right along with it. Remember when a cassette player/recorder was the most important music playback device? And then it was a CD player. And then a CD changer. And then an iPod. Now you probably never use any of those devices any longer, rather relying on streaming music from a drive on your home’s network, some cloud-based service like Pandora or Spotify, or beaming it via Bluetooth or AirPlay.
John Sciacca Posted: Jun 03, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $220

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Terrific interface
Fast and simple setup
Stream shows to anywhere via Internet
Minus
No direct HDMI output
Must add your own hard drive
Long buffer time for channel surfing
No “resume play” function for recordings

THE VERDICT
Tablo offers cord cutters an affordable option to enjoy DVR features and view TV from anywhere in the world.

Cord cutting is a trend that continues to gain momentum. And why not? With low-cost/free services like Netflix and YouTube accounting for more than 50 percent of Web traffic in the U.S., it’s obvious that people are happy to get their content from any place that doesn’t require a monthly pound of flesh. Even TV networks have started accepting the streaming mentality by offering shows online, typically a day (or more) after they have aired live but still giving viewers an alternative to the traditional cable or satellite pay-to-view option.

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John Sciacca Posted: May 21, 2014 0 comments
The day will come when you will press the “Watch TV” button on your fancy remote control—or however it is that you turn your system on—and…nothing will happen. Or something will happen, but it won’t be the right thing. Generally the problem will boil down to you’ll be able to see it but not hear it or you’ll hear it but not see it. Before you panic and start spiraling down into a world of Apocalypse Now-level darkness, try these five simple troubleshooting tips. Chances are one of them will get you back on track before the first commercial break!
John Sciacca Posted: May 14, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
High-performance Wolfson Audio WM8671 DAC handles signals up to 192 kHz/24-bit
AccuBASS designed to restore depth to compressed audio sources
Automatic input switching

Minus
Runs hot
Lack of front-panel controls may be problematic for some installs

THE VERDICT
This terrific amplifier and DAC solution improves sonics in a small package.

The quest for audio simplicity has come far closer to becoming a reality with the introduction of music streamers from the likes of Sonos and Apple. Now just connect one of these devices to an audio system, and you’ve got an entire world of music literally at your fingertips. However, these components aren’t exactly revered for their terrific audio qualities, and many dress up the sonics by running them through an outboard DAC before connecting to a quality amplifier. But in space-challenged places like an office, kitchen, or bedroom, this can be easier said than done.

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John Sciacca Posted: May 07, 2014 0 comments
Good listening is safe listening. Here are three sets of headphones that add to your (and your kids) enjoyment of music without blowing out your eardrums.
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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: 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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