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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Deconstructing Ice Ice Baby for the Custom Installer

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Riding in to work today I heard a classic on the radio: Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." I remember the first time I heard this song I was in Berlin and I thought, "Wait a minute! This isn't David Bowie and Queen!!! What is going on here?!?" I thought it was just another case of those crazy German's taking things one step too far.

Of course, this isn't the first time that Vanilla's masterpiece has inspired a blog from me. I

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Better Than a Concert Hall or Movie Theater

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (27)

We routinely send out letters to prospective clients introducing our company and the services we offer, and one of the lines in that letter says, “Whether you are interested in concert hall sound or movie theater video...” I came up with that line, and I used to love it, as it created a visual that everyone could relate to. But now as I’ve gotten a bit older and gone to several concerts and movies, I’ve come to realize that this visual might NOT be the e...

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HRA: Hi-Res Audio, Hard Road Ahead?

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (1)

One of the trends at the International Consumer Electronics Show this year was a renewed push toward better-than-CD quality, high-resolution audio (HRA). In fact, there was even an entire section of the Tech Zone dedicated to “The Hi-Res Audio Experience” and several HRA panels, including one hosted by TWICE’s Joseph Palenchar.

According to the Consumer Electronic Association’s research, consumers are “...

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The Venerable iPod Helps Me Deliver on a Promise

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

When a long-term client came to my showroom and told me he was building a new swimming pool in his backyard and wanted to ensure that he had really impressive but simple-to-use audio for entertaining, I knew I had the perfect solution.

One of the benefits of being an equipment reviewer on top of my day-job, custom installer gig is that I get to experience and play with an array of products I might not normally consider or even be aware of...

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Director: Meridian Digital Awesome You Can Afford

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (2)

If you’ve ever picked up an audio mag or perused an Internet forum that discusses electronica, then you’ll know that in nearly every case, music must go through some transformation before it gets from the speakers to those wonderful audio receptors on the sides of your head. That transformation is from digital to analog, and it is a  very important, mysterious process, involving wizards with grizzled beards and rainbow-tailed unicorns and is done in a device ca...

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Steve and Edie 2.0

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (1)

Dana and I had the pleasure of seeing Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers play with very special guest Edie Brickell this past Monday night (May 27) at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Don’t feel bad if you weren’t aware that Steve Martin is an accomplished  banjo player (banjoist?), as that would just make you like 99% of the rest of the free world. (Apparently he is huge in North Korea. Kim Jung Un is a freak for s...

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Install Like It's For You - A Song Parody

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

I had the unique, two-hours-only-a-parent-could-love, pleasure of attending my daughter’s ballet recital this past weekend. And if you’ve never had the opportunity, I can assure you that watching dozens of 4-12 year old girls dancing ballet and tap to covers of Michael Jackson hits is every bit as fun as it sounds. (Did I mention that there was no intermission? Or bar? And that it was two hours?)

Here's a picture of Lauryn-don...

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Film Premier: Muscle Shoals

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

My sister-in-law, Keely -- the same one who Pwns the Internet -- shared a great story the other day via email. A story so interesting that I immediately asked her to turn it into a blog.

When you think "hot bed of music

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Vanilla Ice's Custom Install Advice

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

With the bass kicked in, the Vegas are pumpin'

Quick to the point, to the point no faking

I'm cooking MC's like a pound of bacon

Burning them if they're not quick and nimble

Vanilla Ice, “Ice Ice Baby”

Be honest. You didn’t think that you would come to the blog today an...

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High-Rez Audio for Higher-Def Sound

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (2)

Talk of compressed, quantity-over-quality lossy MP3 audio seems to dominate music discussions lately. And there’s no question that compressed-audio formats like MP3, AAC, and WMA have changed the way people listen to music, and that they definitely have their time and place. For mobile listening, compressed music files let you carry 10,000 songs around in your pocket—a pretty amazing feat that is especially appreciated when you find yourself on a lengthy flight or d...

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Dirac: The Best Free Audio App You've Never Heard

Posted on November 18, 2012 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (2)

Typically I would say that if you’ve purchased an iOS device – Pod, Phone, or Pad – the first thing you should do to improve your music listening experience should be this: Take the free, white, pack-in headphones and carefully unwrap them from their packaging. Admire them for a moment – so white and gleaming! – and say a quick word of thanks to Jobs and gang for including a complete, ready-to-listen, user experience right out of the box. And then&...

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HiPhi at Bonnaroo: All the Fun, None of the Funk

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Walk the floor at a tradeshow like the CEDIA EXPO – held this September in Indianapolis and if you click here to register and use code CT07 at check-out you can attend the show for FREE! – and you will quickly notice that the A/V world is filled with what many outsiders would consider “unique&#...

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Music - The Soundtrack to Life

Posted on June 26, 2012 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

aka: A woman's journey to becoming the Tech Chick

Call it chauvinist or sexist or extremist or whatever other “ist” you care to use (well, maybe not "botanist" or "hairstylist") but for the most part, the audio/video industry is a man’s game.

(I’m adding this nice little paragraph space to allow tempers to cool, riled bloods to unrile and thoughts to tem...

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Lightning Review: 3 CDs, 3 Minutes (ish)

Posted on June 25, 2012 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (2)

It’s been a while since I’ve purchased any new music. (I believe the last disc I bought was They Might Be Giant’s “Join Us.") I have nothing against iTunes, but I just don’t like buying music as digital files. Maybe it’s because of my age – as I grew up first buying cassettes and then switching to CDs – but I like to have the physical media. I like to hold the sleeve, see the artwork on the disc and look through the liner n...

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Has the Apple fallen far from the Fiona?

Posted on June 23, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I like Fiona Apple. And by “like” I mean I really like her. A lot.

Ever since she broke onto the scene with Criminal – “I’ve been a bad, bad girl…” – in 1996, I have been a big fan and have purchased all of her albums; Tidal, When the Pawn…, and Extraordinary Machine. And I listen to them over and over. And then over some more. (It's really one of Dana's favorite things a...

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We're not so different, you and I...

Posted on March 21, 2012 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

There’s been some kinda-sorta negative stuff going around on the Interwebs lately about Kaleidescape and their awesome media server. They were handed down a pretty negative judgment at the first of the month which may or may not impact them from being able to continue selling their product in its current, DVD-importing form. (Kaleidescape is hopeful that the verdict will be stayed pending their appeal, which has already been filed.

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They ARE Giants in Providence

Posted on March 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

To know me is to know that I love – and HAVE loved – the band They Might Be Giants, or just TMBG. From the first moment that I discovered them – a cassette of Flood blasting on endless repeat over a giant, portable boombox back in the early 90s – I have been smitten. What other band can weave in deep, obscure literary references along with quirky riffs and hooks? Or have a song where “Minimum wage!” and a whipcrack are the entire thing? And d...

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10 Reasons why Sonos is great; 1 way to make it greater!

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (51)

Without a doubt, there is *a lot* to love about Sonos’ incredibly innovative audio distribution system. Sonos definitely turned the traditional rack-filled-with-stacks-of-black-boxes and single-point control location on its head with its system that is wireless and decentralized. It’s one of those systems that as you start describing it to people, and telling them all the things that it can do and all of the features that it has, YOU start getting as excited as they...

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Smack, crack, bushwhacked...

Posted on September 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (6)

"To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." -- R.E.M.

Chances are, you heard the news that R.E.M. decided to disband this week after 31 years ...

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CEDIA 2011: The Audio Stuff

Posted on September 16, 2011 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (4)

It occurs to me that I’ve already put up several CEDIA blogs and have pretty much avoided talking about ANY of the tech at the show. (Well, except for the Lutron shading thing. That was just too cool to pass up.) Lest anyone should forget, the one of the principal points of the CEDIA Expo is to show off all the latest and...

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