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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Mr. Cooper Redux

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 3:50 PM

It has been nearly two years since we’ve had cause to tell a tale of Mr. Cooper here. For the uninitiated, here’s what you need to know about Mr. Cooper. It’s important to note that Mr. Cooper is not in any way your typical high ender. He lives in what sounds like project-type housing, drives a car that is in such poor shape it has *literally* broken down and stranded him in my parking lot, and he travels about 2 hours one way to come to my store. It all started out with his obsession with high-end – and I’m talking uber, crazy high-end – power cables. I’m talking about 3-foot power cables made of military-grade silver that are fire hose thick and that go for close to $1000 *each*. Then I had to tell him flat out, “NO! You can’t buy that!” when he wanted some more even crazier, higher-end cables. Then I wrote about him needing “mo power” where he came back and purchased a product that even the manufacturer said wouldn’t help him. Then Mr. Cooper finally came in and made it rain, buying something that would actually improve his system; a new set of Definitive tower speakers. And then last March, he came in and dropped the information bomb that he was losing his job and probably wouldn’t be coming around anymore. This, of course, right after he told me his credit card was maxed out and he handed me $600 to buy two more power cables.

So, since then I’ve actually spoken to Mr. Cooper a few times on the phone, usually right before and after tradeshows. He likes to know what the latest technologies are going to be, is there anything better than the Pioneer Plasma yet, what’s the latest surround format, and he’s especially interested in subwoofers. The thing that has been most on Mr. Cooper’s radar for a while now has been the Definitive Technology Super Cube Trinity Reference subwoofer. This is a giant sub that looks like a mini dorm fridge, and we have one in our store’s big theater. (I also happen to have one in my living room. Boosh.)

Having dealt with Mr. Cooper for a while now, I know one thing about him as sure as I know that a 99.99998% pure cable won’t be good enough. That thing is that he is not satisfied with the second best of anything. If a company has a model that is one better, it will needle and dig at his brain night and day until he finds a way to get that better model. Doesn’t matter what it is: power cable, HDMI cable, speakers, receiver, TV…if he doesn’t buy the VERY top of the line, then Mr. Cooper is destined to walk this earth in unfulfilled, woulda-shoulda-coulda agony until he can right the wrong.

So awhile back Mr. Cooper bought a Definitive SuperCube Reference sub. This is a potent sub for any system, with an active and two passive 14-inch drivers and 1500 watts of power but there is one very major thing wrong with it; it isn’t the top of the line. There is one better. Much better. And knowing that there was one better has been eating him like a cancer. Like Gollum and the ring. And he didn’t buy it from me because, well, I wouldn’t sell it to him. I told him that I KNEW sure as the sun would rise tomorrow that he would be unhappy with it. He would get it home and then he would think about there being a better one, and it would drip angry, bitter spleen disappointment juice on him for weeks to come. So I told him that until he was ready to buy the Trinity, he didn’t need to buy a sub. But did he listen to me? No.

Frequently Mr. Cooper comments about wanting “much mo better bass” – this all the while living in a place that sounds like it has walls of roughly the same thickness as a window treatment. I keep trying to tell him that getting a giant subwoofer—one that is literally twice as big as his current one -- is only going to get him kicked out of his place, but he just laughs and says he doesn’t care.

So on one of our previous chats, I mentioned that Definitive was discontinuing the Trinity sub. Something about one of the materials used in production not meeting some new California environmental hazard or something. I don’t know. Look, you want bass that is like the finger of God reaching down and thumping the very ground below where you sit, you might need to use some chemicals and manufacturing processes that some (states) would consider to be…unnatural. (And why Definitive is making the rest of the world suffer just because those bass-hating, granola eaters in California can't handle the bowel liquefying awesome of 120 dB at 13 Hertz, I don't know...)

When I told Mr. Cooper that the Trinity was going away, you would have thought that I jammed one of those ear things into his brain like from Wrath of Khan. The seed had been planted. The fuse had been lit. The clock was running, and it was counting down. He started calling me more frequently. “Mr. John. What have you heard about the Trinity? Is they gonna replace it?” “Mr. John, do you think I can still order a Trinity?” “Mr. John, did they make a new subwoofer at the show?”

So, finally he calls me up and says he wants to buy my floormodel Trinity. To make payments on it, like layaway. I figure why not? No one is gonna love this sub like Mr. Cooper, and we can keep it and use it until he pays it off, and then we’ll replace it with whatever is current at the time. So we come up with a payment plan and Mr. Cooper drives the drive and brings me $500 and spends some time looking at the Trinity with longing, lover’s eyes. Now I explained to him that our store is not generally on the layaway plan. But I’d do it for him because I knew how long he had wanted the sub. But I told him that if we started down this road, he couldn’t change his mind and then ask for his money back. He was committing to buy the sub, and in turn I was committing to not selling it to anyone else. I also agreed to order him a new top for it to replace the one on our floor that has a minor blem from being moved around a bunch.

“Oh, no. I ain’t gonna change my mind. I want it.”

But while he’s there, the old Mr. Cooper can’t help but surface. He’s got the speaker cable bug now, and wants to order some cables. Of course, not just any cables. He wants to see if Monster will make him some custom lengths of the Sigma Retro Gold. These cables sell for $2500 for a 10-foot pair, and he wants an extra for the center speaker. Oh, and why I’m checking on that, what do I think about the new $5000 power plant regenerator from PS Audio?

Oh, Mr. Cooper… Le sigh…

You see, I like Mr. Cooper, I do. He’s a nice enough guy, he has a huge passion for this stuff, he loves movies, he reads all the magazines… I mean, he is the very definition of an enthusiast. And, so help me, if he wins the lottery, I would love nothing more than to be his personal electronics concierge. I would lead Mr. Cooper around all the high-end rooms at the Venetian and we would listen to $10,000 cables and $200,000 speakers until our damn ears fell off.

But, here he is putting a $3000 sub on layaway because he doesn’t have the money to pay for it. And we’re talking about a payment plan of a few hundred bucks a month. So we don’t need to be researching $5000 power regenerators and $3500 speaker cables. These are the kinds of things he calls me up to research for him months – even years – before he is actually in a position to make a purchase. It’s time consuming and frustrating and ultimately, I don’t think any of it will help his system the way many other upgrades would. When I told him this, Mr. Cooper said he was expecting to get a tax refund check after the first of the year and the money was already burning a hole in his pocket.

“You know me, Mr. John. I gotta always be lookin’ for what I can do to make my system better. I need those speaker cables.”

So, time goes by and then last week Mr. Cooper calls me up. I ask if he is ready to make another payment on the Trinity.

“Oh, Mr. John. I got some bad news. I’ve come on some hard times. Things aren’t goin’ well for me. No, not at all. They aren’t paying me at my new place like at my old job and I ain’t gonna be able to buy that sub after all.”

Now, when I took his first payment, I told him that there were no take backs and any money that he gave me was non-refundable. I reminded him of this, but then said, “You know, Mr. Cooper. I like you, and I’ve always tried to do right by you, so I’m not gonna do you that way. If you come by, I’ll refund your money.”

Two hours later, he showed up looking like a hung dog. He said things weren’t going well and that he wasn’t getting as much of a refund as he was expecting and that he had some unexpected bills he had to pay. I handed him the check and told him where our bank was so he could go and cash it and then…

I’ll be damned if he didn’t start asking me about those Sigma Retro Gold cables again!

“Mr. John, I really think those are what I need for my system. It just sound as good as it could, and I think those cables are the answer.”


It was time for some (more) truth. “Mr. Cooper, I’m not going to sell you those cables. You don’t need them, and obviously can’t afford them. I don’t believe they will help your system, and I’m not going to be the one that sells them to you. If things change for you and you want to buy that Trinity again, I’ll be happy to sell it to you, but don’t ask me about those cables again.”

“OK, Mr. John. I understand. I appreciate you looking out for me.”

Then my store’s phone rang and he grabbed the latest issues of Sound + Vision mags and headed back out the door.

The end…?

Categories: January 2013, CTA

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