Beware Saving a Nickel to Spend a Dollar

True story: A homeowner, ready to build their country dream home, hired the contractor that came in with the lowest bid.  As preparations for move-in day were being made, the homeowner asked when they would see their 225-foot concrete driveway constructed.  "Oh, you'd like us to build the driveway also?" replied their contractor, "Our original estimate was only to build your house."

Like every industry, the A/V business has plenty of wanna-be's and start-ups who will price your A/V work at bargain prices just so they can turn a dollar.  I've been in this business long enough to have to go behind their work later when frustrated homeowners call us because they can't find their original installer.  In short, they're hoping we can make the substandard workmanship sparkle.  Mostly, it can't be done--not without making considerable changes to get them the performance they originally envisioned.

To save yourself an unexpected "hit" in the future, here are some guidelines to help you get the best value for your money at the outset of your A/V installation.

1.  Strictly define the scope of work.  In nearly every case, the real difference in pricing is in what different A/V companies are proposing the scope of work should entail.  Have everyone stick with the original scope of work so you can compare apples with apples.  Then, if an audio-video integrator recommends additional work to better round out your system, have them present that as a separate proposal.

2.  What is being left out?  There is a significant difference between being priced a stripped-down version of what you think you want versus a version that may offer better equipment with perhaps better warranties AND capacity for future expansion.  Growing your system later need not require the future expense of replacing perfectly good components when you could have gone with something more than the "just enough" model.

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Turntables for Today

In our last post, we looked at the comeback of vinyl records.  It only makes sense to follow that up with a look at devices that support playing records.

I'll admit I don't have much personal experience with turntables so I'll draw upon the advice of CE Pro Magazine.  In their April, 2012 issue, the editor's pick was the Essential USB turntable by Pro-Ject for the entry-level person who wants to enjoy their LPs without making a huge investment.

While Pro-Ject has a range of pricier models, Essential has an MSRP of $299 or, for the USB model, $399.  The turntable includes a built-in phono pre-amplifier.  That's a real benefit because it eliminates the need to purchase a separate phono pre-amp which are seldom found as part of current A/V receivers.  It includes a USB output so you can connect the turntable and rip tracks to your computer.

To read CE Pro's complete review, click here.

For the serious audiophile, there are turntables on the market that approach $10,000.  While you might not want to spend that kinda mucho deniro for a turntable, you might be a serious enough audio buff to want a separate phono preamp.  Regardless of the turntable you have, a good preamp will make all the difference in the beauty and richness of uncompressed sound only your turntable can produce.  CE Pro Magazine (again) touted Parsound's Halo JC-3 as the best value in the analog market.

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Vinyl Comeback?

For those who grew up on vinyl records, you may miss the days of putting something on the turntable and carefully fitting the needle to the grooves.  You may even have a collection of favorite LPs you just never could part with but have nothing you can play them on.  Somehow, pressing a button on an iPod just doesn't have that same organic feel to you especially when it comes to playing classics.Well HOLD ON!  Looks like vinyl may be making a comeback.  For the past several years, there has been a notable surge in the market for vinyl as a music format instead of digital alone.  Not only that, but one doesn't have to look very hard to find turntables with USB connections to enjoy on your otherwise state-of-the-art system.  They are as easy to find as your local Best Buy.

And the record companies are embracing the reincarnation of vinyl for many reasons, including the fact that vinyl is another source of revenue that can't be illegally downloaded.

Its not just about Baby Boomers being nostalgic, either.  The younger generation is showing a trend toward vinyl as well.  Scott Storer, a longtime employee at Rockin Rudy's Record Heaven in Montana, has a theory about the iPod generation's switch to their parents' record collection.

"The younger generations missed out on having something concrete," says Storer. "There is a pure sound with its pops and clicks that lends to an actual listening experience rather than just flipping through an iPod."

CDs never were able to create that tie with music that past mediums did, said Storer. He won't be surprised if people have no problem letting CDs come to their demise, which reflects a national trend of CD sales dropping.

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Summer Security

Memorial Day is almost upon us...the traditional start of summer vacation.  Will your home be secure while you and your family are away this summer?

There are two seasons homeowners want to particularly be on guard for their homes.  One is the Christmas season and the other is vacation season.

Now is the time to make sure you have addressed protecting your home and belongings.  If you thought we only designed and installed custom home electronics equipment, think again.  The truth is--yes, we install security systems, but in a commitment to our customers, we also have a company that handles all the ongoing monitoring for the protection of your home.

It is Shield Security of Louisiana.  Shield provides monitoring services to anyone with a security system--whether or not Acadian installed it.  And its not just about alerting authorities when a burglar attempts to break in.  Shield can also act as the one-button call center for either police or medical emergencies.  You just need to have the appropriate equipment.

Here are additional tips for being more secure while you're away:

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Who Dat Vudu?

Who has the largest selection of HD movies for on-demand viewing?  Not Netflix...its Vudu.  And you already own a Vudu-compatible device.

Vudu streams directly onto Blu-Ray players, XBox 360, Playstation 3, HDTV, iPad and of course your home computer.  Now, I'm not about to promote one movie provider over another.  There are websites that will help you do side-by-side comparisons with several companies that provide similar services as Netflix and Vudu.

But I bring up Vudu because they were acquired by Walmart Entertainment in 2010 and have just launched a new disc-to-digital service.  Here's how it works:

Bring movies you currently own into Walmart and for $2 each, they will create a digitized version and will store them for you on Vudu's cloud then return your discs to you.  Now, even if your ordinal disc ever gets damaged, you still can enjoy your movie via Vudu.  Or suppose you're vacationing?  Rather than bringing an arsenal of movies (in case you have an  unexpected "in-bound" day) just hook up to the internet and log into your Vudu account to watch any movie you've stored!  You can even watch on your iPad or iPhone while you're traveling (Android devices are having their security upgraded to permit this service later this year).   Another use is this; ONLY watch your movies via Vudu so your original discs stay in good shape.

Not every movie can be digitized, however.  Walmart has struck a deal for permission from the major distributors, but Disney is not on board at this time.

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218 E. Bearss Ave. #315
Tampa, FL 33613

(813) 725-3838

Acadian Home Theater & Automation is rated 4.9 out of 5 based on 44 reviews from around the Web.

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