John Sci­acca

The Con­nected Life: Fun­da­men­tals Never Change

Sound & Vision - - CONTENTS - John SCI­ACCA

As I’ve men­tioned in pre­vi­ous col­umns, prior to be­com­ing a cus­tom in­staller I was a golf pro­fes­sional at a club in Cal­i­for­nia’s Bay Area. I bring this up be­cause we re­cently started re­ceiv­ing Golf mag­a­zine in the mail. (Bizarrely we’re also sud­denly get­ting The New Yorker and Money, none of which we sub­scribed to.) As I flipped through a re­cent is­sue of Golf, I was re­minded of re­ally how lit­tle has changed in the golf world since I left.

Month af­ter month, nearly ev­ery is­sue fea­tures some new club or ball that can add 5 or 10 yards to your drive, an iron, wedge, or put­ter to shave strokes off your round, and any other num­ber of tips guar­an­teed to im­prove your game and lower your score. If this were cu­mu­la­tively true, by now ev­ery golfer would be shoot­ing neg­a­tive scores and hit­ting the ball 500 yards or more.

But the fact re­mains that even with all the mod­ern tech at their dis­posal, the ma­jor­ity of golfers still strug­gle to break 100. Es­pe­cially when “play­ing it down” by the rules. All of them.

Sure, there’s no ques­tion that tech­nol­ogy has helped the av­er­age golfer to hit the ball far­ther, play bet­ter, and en­joy the game more. And no one would want to aban­don their mod­ern jumbo-headed, com­pos­ite driver and high-tech balls for a wooden-shafted mashie nib­lick and feath­ery of the Jones era. But to get truly good at golf, the fun­da­men­tals haven’t changed. One must do the same things to­day as one did a hun­dred years ago, and that’s put in the work and prac­tice.

As I write this, to­mor­row will be my 20-year an­niver­sary work­ing as a cus­tom in­staller, and this is my

15th year writ­ing this col­umn.

Dur­ing that time, the tech­nol­ogy has cer­tainly im­proved and be­come dras­ti­cally more af­ford­able. I re­call the first “flat” panel dis­play I sold, a 42-inch Fu­jitsu about 6 inches thick that rocked 480p res­o­lu­tion and 70:1 con­trast ra­tio and sold for just un­der $12,000. To­day, a set with those specs would be a give­away when you opened a check­ing ac­count!

In a rem­i­nis­cent mood, I looked back at my very first Sound & Vi­sion col­umn, “5.1 Things You Should Know Be­fore Go­ing with a Cus­tom In­staller,” and it struck me just how lit­tle has changed in this in­dus­try over the years. Here’s a quick re­cap of those 5.1 things from my first col­umn, still as true to­day as they were then.

1. Cus­tom Doesn’t Have to Mean Ex­pen­sive

While some peo­ple are in­stalling fan­tas­tic entertainment sys­tems cost­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars, the vast ma­jor­ity are not. These days, you can get a “de­signed es­pe­cially for you” sys­tem for con­sid­er­ably less, es­pe­cially since flat panel pric­ing has plum­meted so dras­ti­cally. Whole­house au­dio is also far more af­ford­able with new wire­less tech­nolo­gies like Sonos, Playfi, Blue­sound, and HEOS.

2. Come Pre­pared

If you’re build­ing or re­mod­el­ing, get an in­staller in­volved as early as pos­si­ble, but def­i­nitely be­fore the sheetrock is in­stalled. When you meet with the in­staller, bring your blue­prints, elec­tri­cal plan, and any rel­e­vant cab­i­netry schemat­ics. Also have a rough idea what you’d like the sys­tem to be ca­pa­ble of as well as an over­all project bud­get.

3. Know Your Lim­i­ta­tions

Have a re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tion of the sys­tem you can af­ford for your bud­get. You also need to fac­tor in ad­di­tional costs like la­bor, ca­bling, mounts, and a con­trol sys­tem. By telling the in­staller your wants— au­dio in four rooms, ro­bust Wi-fi net­work, sur­round sound with a 55-inch TV, etc.—along with your bud­get, they will be able to de­sign the best-per­form­ing sys­tem to meet your goals.

4. Be Open-minded

The in­staller will likely of­fer some ideas you hadn’t con­sid­ered. Partly be­cause they’re aware of pos­si­bil­i­ties you aren’t and also be­cause they con­tin­u­ally in­ter­act with peo­ple both de­sign­ing and liv­ing with tech­nol­ogy. Take their in­put as more than just an­other sales pitch.

5. Search Your Feel­ings

Choos­ing a cus­tom in­staller is about build­ing a re­la­tion­ship, of­ten a very long-term one. I have many clients I’ve worked with for well over 10 years. So def­i­nitely make sure you’re com­fort­able with the in­staller you se­lect. Things like how long they’ve been in busi­ness, ref­er­ences from past clients, and how quickly they re­spond to phone calls or e-mails can be a har­bin­ger of things to come. If you don’t feel you trust them com­pletely, maybe this in­staller isn’t right for you.

.1 What the Cus­tom In­staller Of­fers You

A cus­tom in­staller can de­liver a well-de­signed, -in­stalled, and -in­te­grated sys­tem that’s easy to use and en­joy. Gone are the pile of re­mote con­trols and the rat’s nest of wiring, and you’ll never have to won­der if your sys­tem is set up cor­rectly and op­er­at­ing like it should. Fur­ther, should you run into any is­sues, you’ll have some­one to reach out to for a quick fix.

It struck me just how lit­tle has changed in the in­dus­try.

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