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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Monster HDMI PR For/Against

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 5:55 PM

We have inherited this one project that has turned out to be a real he said/he said cluster between the homeowner and the builder.

When it came to the home’s audio distribution system, Mr. Homeowner apparently told the builder that he “had a guy” that was going to design and specify the audio and networking system and then the builder was supposed to implement all of these plans. Builder says that “the guy” showed up, dropped off a set of plans with “pull this wire here; pull that wire there” kind of stuff, pointed to some wire and said, “Have at it!”

End result is that the house is wired in a totally haphazard, Winchester Mystery House kinda manner; cables go random places, some connecting two unconnected points, others terminating in random no-man’s land, and with little if anything working.  And now the homeowner’s pissed – “Look! I hired you to handle my project!” – the builder’s pissed – “Look! I’m a builder not an audio expert!” –and we’re all “Umm! Hello! We ARE the audio expert! Why didn’t anyone ask us to handle this?”

(Also, may I just interject here that whenever someone refers to “having a guy” for something, that person usually has about a 50/50 chance of being more qualified to do the job than if you were to just randomly throw a dart into a crowd of people and then pluck the dart out of that person and then hire “lucky” dart-guy/girl? People that do this for a living DO THIS FOR A LIVING, and don’t just randomly show up and manage and direct audio and networking prewires.)

So they’ve called us in to be Technology Switzerland and try and sort it out; figure out what is in place, figure out what SHOULD be in place, rewire, reconnect, re-rescue this situation from the audio depths of Mordor.

So yesterday my partner was called over to look at the installed home theater. Turns out that the homeowner purchased an HDMI cable, gave said HDMI cable to the builder and then told the builder to pull said provided cable from point A – the electronics – to point B – the projector. Builder does as told. (Running a cable during construction being something within the builder’s technical competency wheelhouse.)

But  when it comes to projector mountin’ time, it turns out that the cable is like 2 feet too short. (Note to anyone: When in doubt, buy the LONGER CABLE! You are almost always way better off being 10 feet too long than 10 inches too short! That is unless you are installing a solid wood cornice into a concrete opening; in which case being 1/2-inch too long is a couple of hours of chiseling pressure treated concrete. But, I digress...)

So to make it work we install an HDMI-to-HDMI  coupler, add a 1-meter cable extending the HDMI long enough to connect to the projector, fire it up, confirm all is worky-worky and then go on about life, liberty and the pursuit of hoppy-ness. (I’m still on my IPA kick.)

Except the homeowner, he no is so happy. (Probably even less so hoppy.)

“This cable needs to be re-run! It isn’t long enough! I’m gonna make the builder pay to re-run that thing at his expense!” (The latent litigator in me immediately thinks, “What? Wait. Didn’t YOU buy the cable? Didn’t YOU give the cable to the builder and tell him to run THAT cable? How then, sir, is the builder in any way culpable for this so-called injurious malfeasance? At the barest minimum, we have a pari delicto and I move for immediate dismissal on such grounds! YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL! I’M OUT OF ORDER? THE WHOLE SYSTEM'S OUT OF ORDER!")

My partner attempts to explain that with HDMI, if he is seeing any picture at all – and he is – and there are no obvious glaring issues like drop-outs or sparklies or sudden blue-screens or weird screens filled with static or “LOST SIGNAL” messages or other hoodoo – and there aren’t – then the cable is working just fine and that the coupler is not impacting the image.

But Mr. Homeowner is having none of it. He wants us to bring out a longer cable that we string across the floor for a good old-fashioned, side-by-side HDMI shootout. (Oh, if only we could get The Internet’s Geoff Morrison involved! He loves nothing better than talking -- at length! -- about the merits and performance differences of one HDMI cable over another! If you ever see The Internet’s Geoff Morrison walking about, please stop him and tell him how you can MOST DEFINITELY see a difference in every HDMI cable you’ve tried. It turns his face a shade of red that doesn’t quite fall within the standard SMPTE color chart.)

My partner, trying to save himself a trip and the builder some hassle, headache and cost asks, “If the projector is working and putting out a good image, why do you want to change it?”

Homeowner: “I read on Monster Cable’s website that adding a coupler to an HDMI cable takes away like 25% of the video signal and that under no circumstances do you EVER want to use a coupler! So I want that thing out and a new cable run.” (I have to admit, I scoured Monster’s Website looking for this statement, but I was unable to find any mention of this quote or of any massive signal loss due to using couplers or 90-degree adapters or anything, so I can only assume that it isn’t there and the homeowner read it – or imagined it – somewhere else and then threw Monster’s name on it to add some air of expertise.)

My partner, who occasionally manages to come up with exactly the right thing to say at exactly the right time, immediately responded with, “Well, did you get to the part of Monster’s Website where they actually sell HDMI cable couplers?  Because I can *pretty much* guarantee that there isn't going to be any mention of any 25% signal loss from using one.”

Boosh! And touche!

Categories: April 2012, Electronics, Rants

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