Installations: An Installer's Life

When we last checked in with installer John Tamburello, he was 60 stories above Manhattan, completing an elegant multiroom system in an art collector's apartment (Sky High, May 2006). Before that, we watched as he hooked up a home theater for Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld, who told us that John "seems to live on pizza and cold coffee, and always exhibits flu-like symptoms, but is strangely very smart, informed, and easy to work with" (My Digital Adventure, September 2005). When we recently caught up with John on a summery day in May, he was busy handling four installations in various stages of completion.

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Wanting to get a sense of how an installer juggles all this delicate, complicated work, we tagged along as he put the finishing touches on two of those very different jobs: a whole-house system in the lush, affluent New York City suburb of Irvington and a full-blown home theater in the midtown Manhattan office of rapper supreme Jay-Z.

Installers rarely have the luxury of focusing on one job at a time. Because it typically takes about a month to wire, hook up, and program an upscale multiroom system, the installer and his team frequently find themselves dealing with a number of tasks simultaneously. "I've usually got three installations going on any given day," says John, "plus a number of service calls for jobs we've already finished." Including him, there are eight people in his company, Central Media Systems, which has offices in both Manhattan and Peekskill, New York.

When we arrived at the Irvington home of Dan and Margie Rosenfield, John and programmer Scot Eigenfeld were upgrading the master-bedroom system, installing a 42-inch Panasonic plasma HDTV on an OmniMount articulated arm and providing surround sound by way of a Polk SurroundBar placed on a closet shelf above the TV.