Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home audio and Video Services in Matthews, NC.  TV installation, Surround Sound, Home Entertainment Systems
The Cabling Industry Needs a Makeover

CIS is Charlotte's 1st Choice For Custom Home ElectronicsIt’s time for the cabling industry to reassess how it approaches marketing to consumers.

I find Twitter entertaining and, at times, almost addicting. This morning a tweet from Production Advice’s Ian Shepherd shocked me with concern for an electronics category that I think is beneficial: cabling.

Shepherd retweeted a blog written by L.A. recording engineer Bobby Owsinski, who blogged about a 2008 Engadget story that asked 12 “audiophiles” to compare an audiophile cable brand with another cabling product. It turns out the other cabling product was a set of coat hangers. The crux of the story is that those audiophiles couldn’t tell the difference between coat hangers and expensive cables.

Adding insult to injury, Owsinski points out the obvious difference between the audiophile community and professional sound engineers that use their listening skills for work by noting, “‘audiophiles’ showed just why they get so much abuse from pros over their so-called “golden ears.”

Monster was the cable manufacturer in question in Engadget’s blind testing, and Owsinski says Monster does make good products; the problem, in his opinion, is with how the products are marketed. “Monster Cable takes some reasonably good cable and markets it in such a way that its perceived value is a lot greater than it deserves to be,” he asserts in his blog. “The problem is that for speaker cable, 12 or 10 gauge zip cord [lamp cable] will work just as well as expensive Monster cable.”

Unfortunately for the cabling industry, Owsinski isn’t alone in his opinion, and websites such as Audioholics.com fuel the public’s disdain for cabling by publishing stories that attack the credibility of many of the cable category’s claims for improved performance.

Like Owsinski, Gene DeSalla at Audioholics points out that Monster and other brands aren’t necessarily bad, its just that their products don’t measure up to the claims.

To rectify this problem, I think it’s time for the cabling category to own up to its self-generated hyperbole and tone it down. Let’s start by addressing the claims of exotic materials, proprietary construction techniques and slick geometry designs that contribute to their out-of-this-world performance claims without any third-party verification.

Manufacturers should look to develop products that are affordable to consumers in these difficult economic times. Too often, critics point to the steep price tags attached to some cabling products and note that a consumer could buy a nice car or place a down payment on a house with the amount of money some companies ask for a pair of speaker cables.

The last thing the cabling industry needs to do is educate the public on the benefits of a properly designed cable that employs quality materials. Owsinski says cabling can make a difference in how a system performs, and I believe he is correct. Using dealers, let’s teach consumers on how to buy cable and how to listen.

One other suggestion I would make is that maybe we should think about locking audiophiles in the basements from which they came. For all their passion about music and equipment, they inflict a lot of irreparable damage to an industry that can hardly afford the scrutiny of a public that doesn’t respect their collective opinions. OK, OK, I’m only kidding about that last suggestion, but I would take away their Diana Krall and Patricia Barber CDs and LPs as punishment for their past transgressions.

By Robert Archer


Custom Installation Services, LLC – ”We may be a few dollars more than the competition, but we are a million times better”.

Posted in 3D TV, APC, Audio Systems, Blu-ray, Gaming Systems, Home Theater, LED, Media Rooms, Multi Room A/V, Structured Wiring, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing in the Vinyl Groove

C.I.S. - Charlotte NC's Source For New & Old Home Technologies!It’s easy to get swept back into the world of analog by adding turntables and a slew of cheap records to your audio rig.

This website is usually for discussing new technology. Recently, though, I rediscovered an old technology that still qualifies as new for many readers, and one that I can’t recommend enough as an addition to your audio system, especially if you consider it mid-to-high end: vinyl.

A Sony turntable I bought 10 years ago served me well at the time but had long been removed from my theater system when I got lazy about replacing its bum needle. Plus I’d become enamored with surround sound. But thanks to some electronics and speaker upgrades, and reading constant vinyl evangelism from Stereophile’s thirtysomething (my age) blogger Stephen Mejias and his “Elements of Our Enthusiasm,” the analog bug began biting again.

But aren’t turntables, cartridges and needles the kind of pricey gear that only so-called “audiophiles” invest in, you’re thinking? Yes, there are many types of ’tables, and cost can quickly escalate well into the thousands.

This time around, I figured I’d start at the very entry level. After a $50 Technics turntable find on Craigslist and $100 Cambridge Audio phono preamplifier purchase (you’ll need one if your processor or receiver lacks a phono stage), I wasn’t into the vinyl experiment for much money.

Plus, there are several respectable turntables in the sub-$400 range should I decide to upgrade. In fact, Mejias moderates the Stereophile forums, including an “Entry Level” thread with a sticky post called “Since this comes up a lot. Turntables under or $1,000” with all kinds of great turntable suggestions.

As much as I enjoyed spinning records 10 years ago, the analog epiphany really cold-cocked me this time. Perhaps my job as a custom electronics writer/editor has given me a greater appreciation of sound quality (especially when it comes to hearing demos at tradeshows), but listening to old LPs through this new setup was nothing short of nirvana. It didn’t matter that some albums crackled more than Rice Krispies—the instruments also snapped and popped a whole lot better, too.

Even while lacking the “golden ears” of some reviewers, it was easy for me—and my wife—to hear the differences between CD and vinyl versions of songs. The vinyl soundstage was wider, instrumentation was more defined, bass was tighter, hi-hat drum cymbals were thicker and livelier, and dynamic range was fuller. “I wonder if more people would the like music they say they hate if they listened to it this way,” my wife said after I forced Yes’ prog classic Roundabout on her.

And record hunting is almost as fun as record playing. I’ve bought LPs purely for the artwork; some include fancy lyrics booklets; Bookends came with a giant Simon and Garfunkel poster! You can discover gems at flea markets, tag sales, the Salvation Army and, if you’re fortunate, a local record shop. At Divinyl Revolution in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., this weekend I picked up 14 albums for $24.99, the majority of which cost $1—or the equivalent of a single, compressed song download from iTunes.

Not to mention that when I went to the Craigslist seller’s home to pick up the turntable, he gave me a small stack of records, including perhaps the most listened-to LP of all-time, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, with a sweet Dark Side pyramids poster up its sleeve. How’s that for good karma?

We know records have been making a comeback in recent years, to the point where Best Buy has added shelf space for vinyl and artists are appealing to younger-generation listeners by releasing vinyl albums that include free digital downloads of the same in MP3 format.

Of course, it’s places like Divinyl Revolution that predominantly keep the format alive and well. Even in summer tourist destinations like Saratoga, record shopping is a year-round excursion. “This is the only place like it, for about 40 miles in each direction,” explained super-cute shop proprietor Brittany Nasser, who’s kind of the anti-Jack Black in High Fidelity. “We have a bunch of loyal customers who can’t wait to hear what just came into the store.”

I’ll look forward to visiting again next summer.

by Arlen Schweiger

Custom Installation Services, LLC – Charlotte ’s Home Theater & Technology Experts!

Posted in Audio Systems, Media Rooms, Multi Room A/V, Music and Movies, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Reasons 3D Will Succeed

CIS is Lake Norman's 1st Choice For 3D HDTV Sales & Installation!

CIS is Lake Norman's 1st Choice For 3D HDTV Sales & Installation!

Why 3D will find an important niche in the home theater experience.

Our good friends over at eCoustics.com offered “10 Reasons 3D Might Fail.”

I was a little surprised to see such a forward-looking A/V news source predicting such blasphemy. It’s been a long time since a tech trend has generated as much buzz as 3D, and theater hits like “Avatar” and “Alice In Wonderland” have heightened consumer interest in 3D.

Here are my counter points as to why 3D TV will find an important niche in the home theater experience.

Glasses – Consumers have shown they’ll don 3D glasses in large public venues (i.e. theaters and theme parks). Why wouldn’t they do so in the privacy of their own home. Glasses are also a stop-gap as auto-stereoscopic technologies develop and the associated price tag softens.

TV Watching is Social – While 3D viewing may alter the social atmosphere, it also heightens immersion. The times 3D will be most interesting are the times you’re so immersed in the content that you won’t want to talk to the person next to you. It’s not for the news, SportsCenter, or AMC.

Compatibility – Nearly every major upgrade in home theater content has had associated hardware upgrades. Dolby Digital? DVD? HDTV? Blu-ray? All required new hardware to varying degrees. Some early adopters will abandon perfectly good equipment for the latest and greatest, while others upgrade through attrition. It’s all happened before and will happen again.

Lack of Content – Hardware and software are like the chicken and the egg. But in the A/V world, hardware almost always comes first and languishes a bit until some killer app (like “The Matrix” on DVD) pushes people to invest. Once the seal is broken, the trickle gains momentum and becomes a flood.

Confusion – The launch of HDTV in the U.S. caused more consumer confusion than any other technology roll-out of all time. While HDTV was slow to ramp-up and had a big government push behind it, it’s a success regardless of the confusion, and not every Joe Six Pack even saw the benefit of HDTV’s resolution, aspect ratio, and digital video/sound. It’s hard for anyone to say they physically don’t see what 3D offers.

Health Risks – It’s true that some people can’t see stereoscopic 3D effects. Another small minority can experience some discomfort or eye strain from extended viewing. The percentages of people affected by both categories vary wildly based on who you ask. Some warnings have been issued by electronics manufacturers, but you can find similar warnings for everything from cell phones to supermarket plastic bags. Until there is some substantial evidence to actual risks, these kinds of allegations are best left to Fox News.

Unwatchable 3D Footage – 3D content can easily be viewed in 2D. While it’s an either-or proposition (either everyone watches 3D or 2D), displays and content devices offer the ability to “flatten” 3D content to 2D. Since the 3D effect is generated by separate 2D images for each eye, showing only the left or right image effectively renders 3D content in 2D.

Just Good-enough Syndrome – While HDTV content and Blu-ray content haven’t replaced SD or DVD as de facto standards, saying they haven’t “taken off” is disingenuous at best. 3D isn’t meant to replace 2D, but augment it. Every major new technology has early adopters and those who hold back. 3D won’t be any different, but that doesn’t mean it will fail. DVD didn’t, surround sound didn’t, HDTV didn’t, and 3D won’t.

Discs are Dying – While 3D can require more storage space or bandwidth, it’s not reliant on a physical medium much, if any, more than HD video.

History Lessons – While the term “HDTV” may have been around 20 years before it reached market saturation, the digital HDTV broadcast in the U.S. occurred in the summer of 1996, and the ATSC standard wasn’t finalized until the fall of 1998. By 2001, HDTVs were becoming common place in big-box retailers. Twenty years is a huge stretch. Consumers have a short memory, and far more people are likely to remember their 3D theater experience and become interested in replicating it in their home (unless they see “Clash of the Titans”).

by Stephen Hopkins


Custom Installation Services, LLC – Charlotte and Asheville NC’s Source For Samsung & Sharp 3D HDTV Sales, Service and Installation!

Posted in 3d movies, 3D TV, Blu-ray, Flat Panel TV's, Gaming Systems, Home Theater, Media Rooms, Music and Movies, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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