Setting Up Home Theater @#$%Ups

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by James Edward, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    I have done 3 HT setups for people in the last 4 days(as favors, this is not my career).

    The first system one had no digital connection from DVD to receiver, though both supported it. The center channel speaker was somehow set 9 db's higher than the rest, and the sub was set to ='Yes', even though no sub was in the system. Owner amazed at difference in sound, even though he insisted that he had everything correct.

    The second setup was done as a direct result of the owners hearing the first setup after it was done correctly. 2nd setup had the rear speakers in another room altogether, and the 'B' set of speakers were acting as the 'rears' in
    the main room. The right and left front speakers were reversed, and the 4x3 TV was set to 16x9 in the DVD parameters, rendering all actors tall and skinny.

    The 3rd system I did from scratch. Person I was 'assisting' said when I started that after he 'knew how to set one up', he would be setting up his girlfriend's system. After 3 hours of setup, speaker calibration, etc., and teaching him how to use said system, he said he would pay me to set up girlfriend's system.

    Moral: Don't take your skills for granted. Almost any system you come across that was not set up by fanatics like us, is probably nowhere near it's potential.

    Anyone else have these experiences?
     
  2. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    yeah i helped out a friend of my mothers, she had a htib system, and she said the system sounded like crap and wanted to see if i could help out. apparently the local ht installation company started to install it and got confused, said they would come back later [​IMG] there were 5 speakers and a sub, but there was no digital audio connection, only a stereo pair, and they were the throwaway cables the system prob came with. in a box she had 2 toslink cables and 2 digital coax cables (all of which they charged her for) a sub cable, and an svideo cable. well there wasnt much to do there, i hooked up what needed to be hooked up, and she couldnt believe how much better it sounded. i told her to take the rest of the cables back to the 'installers' and get her money back. i didnt even have to do any calibration, not sure if her receiver was capable. she was ecstatic anyway. i'm no ht genius, but i like to think i know a thing or two. but if someone working for a company who does ht installs got confused over THAT...something is wrong.

    CJ
     
  3. Brian E

    Brian E Screenwriter

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    All the time with Computers. I used to be a tech & have built my own systems for years. I always get the help calls from friends & family.
     
  4. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    sounds familiar, dont you hate being 'the guy that knows about computers' around everyone you know? i dont think ive come across a computer that wasnt a disaster. never been defragged, junk all over the place...

    CJ
     
  5. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I know how you feel. One of my rich friends told me his folks bought a new HT system. I went over to his house and was shocked how it was all setup. Monster Cable for everything but S-video instead of component, stereo RCA instead of Coax, etc... This was on a new 65" Toshiba HDTV btw. I did the best I could and the sub was finally working but they are still using a non-progressive DVD player. [​IMG]

    What's even funnier is the evil step-mom of the house thinks it's all state-of-the-art (probably because they paid retail for everything, including the tiny HTB [​IMG] ). She's extremely protective of the HDTV, even snapped at another friend when he was going through the menu trying to tweak the video, "That's a very sensitive piece of equipment!!" I can't wait to get an FPTV for our apt and take a look on her face when she visits. [​IMG]

    As for a computer story I made one a while back here.
     
  6. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    I was thinking of starting a thread like this right after Christmas. I did 3 HT set ups in a one week period because I have become the HT guy to everyone I know. They know I mean business when I walk in w/the Avia disk and the RS SPL meter.
     
  7. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Would an ethical business sell this complexity to people who haven't got a snowball's hope in hell of setting them up or maintaining them? [​IMG]

    PS Could the designs, connections, and instructions be simplified and improved?
     
  8. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    I'm a computer guy for a cell phone company.. so, I get questions about cell phones and computers all the time: "Why is my bill so high?" "How come I can't get coverage in my house?" "What happened to my taskbar?" [​IMG]

    But, I did help a friend set up his new entertainment center. I gave him my old prologic receiver because he didn't have any surround sound. I've always called him "mister dub" because he's always dubbing videos and recording everything. (he's got over 1000 video tapes of sports, movies, everything) But, even with all of this experience, he was stumped when it came to making the new connections. I had to be the guy crawling around behind his new behemoth ent center.

    Actually, I wish more people would ask me to set up their HT's... and I wish more people would ask me to build them some speakers. It's something I love to do, but It's not a very practical hobby. [​IMG]
     
  9. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    I see this ALL the time and I do this for a living. There has been many times when I go to a customers house and the system is F@##ED up from other installers, and I mean F#$%ED UP


    OK here we go.


    I had a customer who said that their system never sounded correct. I went over to do a spec on the system to see what the problem was.Well the previous installer had wired 4-5 rooms off ONE adcom 2 channel amp and didnt use Impedence matched Volume controls. I asked the customer as a joke and seriously " GEE did your amp get a little warm?"

    The wires in the basement were just hanging down and not even zipped tied to the ceiling. It was a F%^$ING mess and these poor people had to PAID for this!


    It took me a better part of 8 hours to redo this system ( I charge out $70.00 an hour) which included a new Receiver a new amp new volume controls and a speaker selector box. I also had try to make any sence of how this CHOWDERHEAD wired this thing up. By tracking which wires went to what.

    Hey I dont mind if people keep FUCKING up systems it will keep me Busy and making money.



    OK Im done
     
  10. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I fixed a few bad setups in a REAL theater, that had been open for a year before I had started working there. Biggest problem was one auditorium (#2) had the back switch on one of the amps set wrong, so you were getting the same sound out of both the front-left and center speakers! When I mentioned this to someone who'd already been working there they said "Hmm, you must have good hearing!"
    Screen #12 there had the analog sound reader hooked up out-of-phase, so all the dialogue was coming from the surrounds! Most films out were already digital so maybe they could get away with it, but I sure noticed it on one analog trailer. Switched 2 wires around on the sound reader, problem solved. So if anyone who installed the sound at Regal Natomas in Sacramento is reading this (doubtful), you suck!
     
  11. Vincent_S

    Vincent_S Second Unit

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    quote:
    So if anyone who installed the sound at Regal Natomas in Sacramento is reading this (doubtful), you suck!


    LOL![​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  12. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i am definitely known as "that guy".

    i guess, when i think about it, i'm pretty versatile. i'm good with just about any kind of consumer electronics product. i've sold/installed/built/designed just about everything that has a circuit in it.

    i'm also pretty handy around the house - when i'm not being lazy. [​IMG]

    people are always asking me to help them with this or that.

    but i don't mind it at all. it's kinda fun. i like the idea of being able to help someone with their questions, etc.
     
  13. Mick Wright

    Mick Wright Second Unit

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    One thing I see all the time that cracks me up is when a friend buys a widescreen tv to replace their old 4:3 model, and I get asked to help calibrate. Without exception they always get pissed when I tell them their "full screen" dvd collection won't fill up their new widescreen tv (what a total misnomer "full screen" is). One of my friends found a way around the problem...he watches all full screen dvds in zoom mode. [​IMG] I honestly don't know a single person outside this forum that isn't totally clueless about HT.

    When 16:9 becomes the norm, we'll have separate releases of 4:3 and 2:35:1 material formatted to 1.78:1. Of this, I have no doubt.
     
  14. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Two different friends purchased Onkyo HTiBs this year and though I didn't sit with them through the calibration I did lend them my VE disc and SPL meter. They are both very capable in grasping the information so I had no worries. My only input with one friend was to point out the proper settings for the DVD player in order to take advantage of the anamorphic squeeze. Initially he didn't see the advantage because he didn't have the player set to 16:9. Once everything was proper he was blown away and thanked me profusely. Funny thing is I consider him to have the bigger brain when it comes to technical stuff, which just goes to show that having an early start gives you an advantage.

    More friends and family have been seeking my advice as I've become the "HT guy." But this makes me think I should try offering a paid consultation service. Nothing to live on, but something to do on the side and which I would probably enjoy up to a point. With the increasing sales of HTiBs available at Targets and Wal-Marts I can only imagine there are households aplenty where things are not ideally configured.
     
  15. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Oh yeah...

    A couple years ago I was at a guys house where he had a probably 50" or 55" 4:3 RPTV. I'd just met the guy so I didn't feel it was my place to tell him that despite the size of the thing, he did not have a widescreen television. I assumed he thought as much because his DVD player was set to 16:9. Or maybe he just wanted it fullscreen? Who knows? I think today I would probably say something, as my tolerance for mistakes like that is much lower.
     
  16. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    it's great if you can get a part-time job working in a ht environment (sales, etc.)

    while selling gear, i would often hear customers ask about setup. that was my perfect "in". i would tell them they could buy the gear from me, then i would INDEPENDENTLY come out and do a install for them.

    the only thing i would make very clear was that i was doing this on my own and was in no way affiliated with the company i was working for.

    i used to charge (way back then) something like 90 dollars for the first hour (regardless), then 45 dollars for every hour after that ... or something like that.

    you make money working the side job, then more money doing the installs. pretty nifty....
     
  17. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    I don't think you most of you guys want the designs and instructions simplified.
     
  18. Eric Samonte

    Eric Samonte Screenwriter

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    I come acroos friends and relatives with similar situations, frankly on a regular basis now. There would wows and whoas after my "calibration" but I think the most rewarding for me personally is reviving an aging RPTV. Cleaning the lenses, doing a convergence and setting the "grayscale" via Avia would make the set so like new, they are always amazed.
     
  19. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    FireWire has certainly been an improvement. A single wire carries video, audio, and control signals.
     
  20. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    Can you imagine the confusion this will cause J6P? What are they going to label them, "Fullscreen", "Widescreen Fullscreen" and "Widescreen"? Heck, I think many HTFers would get a bit confused as well...

    They (studios) need to get "honest" with what so-called "fullscreen" really is.

    My HT setup story: a friend had, for the longest time, resisted getting a proper HT setup despite owning several hundred DVDs, on the basis that "it doesn't seem right to have missiles whizzing past your head in your living room, if I want that I'll go to the theatre". Oh well, his choice, but I always needled him on it.

    He finally took the plunge, with a modest setup with a Yammie 440, re-using his existing Mission m73s from his stereo and getting the matching centre and surrounds, as well as a modest sub. He was so delighted with the results that he says he's re-watching all his discs. Of course I couldn'd resist saying "I told you so".

    I offered to calibrate, since he bought from the same shop I did and I know they just calibrate by ear. So out came the Avia and the SPL meter.

    The 5 speakers were, for the most part, fine, off maybe by 1 or 2 dBs at most. When it came to the sub, I was surprised by how much distortion there was. After a while, I realised (by putting my hand on it) that his sub was acutally silent, and the bass was all coming from his mains, hence the distortion! After much experimentation, we realised the sub cable was defective (changing it out with another RCA cable proved this), but he was certain the sub worked at the time of installation. Anyway, he got the cable changed, but I haven't been back since to have a go (I left the disc and meter with him; I suppose if I meet up for the usual Friday drinks later I'll ask him about it).

    Come to think of it, those same guys did a slightly less than stellar job on my own system, one of the surrounds was wired out of phase. Goes to show that so-called professionals don't always do a good job...

    Perhaps there is a little merit to the old-fashioned sporting ideal that a good amateur is better than a journeyman professional? To be fair, to them it's a job, to us it's a passionate hobby, of course we take more care.
     

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