October 2003 Issue


AVAD Listeners

The controversial distribution network has everyone in the industry talking. Here's what some movers and shakers have to say. By Joe Paone Look up "lightning rod" in the C-business dictionary and you'll find a big picture of the AVAD Distributors logo. If there's one subject that perks industry ears and elicits opinions—often passionate ones — AVAD is it. In a changing CE landscape, AVAD is one of the most potent symbols of change, and its emergence as a business force has been especially polarizing for manufacturers, C-tailers and integrators alike. Many custom businesses have been genuinely empowered by AVAD, while some established retailers are

CLASSE SSP-60 A/V Preamp-Processor

By Ron Goldberg Quebec-based Classe Audio's high-end stereo separates have earned kudos and a devoted following for over two decades. The SSP-60, the company's new flagship multichannel preamp-processor, combines Classe's tradition of rock-solid construction and exquisite design with the digital smarts necessary for today's multi-purpose listening environments. The SSP-60 is a THX-Ultra certified pre-pro capable of 7.1-channel playback. It decodes THX/EX, Dolby Digital/Dolby EX, and DTS ES Matrix/Discrete, and offers Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 for surround playback of stereo program material. Speaking of stereo, which is obviously this unit's heritage, the left and right channels are capable of 24-bit 96

Don't Correct the Room, Build It Right

By Nick Colleran and John Gardner The use of sophisticated (and expensive) equalization to attempt room correction made the rounds of sound reinforcement companies and recording studios in the 1960s and 70s. Now, this bad habit is back (times five or more) in home theater rooms. While equalization can make a good system sound even better in a good room, it does not re-write the laws of physics. The room is an active environment. It will fight back in what we'll call an acoustic "zero sum" game. Simply put, increasing the power of an absent frequency also increases the level of the out-of-phase

Hire Education

Not-so-conventional wisdom for finding and keeping quality employees By Jessica Millward The custom retail market, for better and for worse, is anything but typical. Its business proposition—to offer individualized service in a standardized way—is a tricky balancing act in the best of circumstances. So it's oddly fitting that the greatest difficulty facing such an industry, in an era of slow economic growth and an abundance of unemployed and underemployed workers, would be recruiting and retaining the right people. As of September this year, nine million jobless workers were on the hunt for work, and 23.2 percent of them, or 2.1 million, have been searching

Hitachi UltraVision 42HDX60 Plasma Monitor

By Ron Goldberg The plasma market has become so crowded with cut-rate panels that it often becomes difficult to separate the technological wheat from the chaff. Hitachi's new 42HDX60 positions high-end engineering and a rich feature set as the cornerstones of its value proposition. From the perspectives of performance and convenience, it's not likely to be confused with many products in its class. The 42HDX60 is part of Hitachi's "Director's Series," and is the flagship PDP in its size category. The 42-inch panel features 1024 x 1024 resolution, and is designed as a two-piece system. The accompanying "Control Center" is an outboard

In-Vehicle JBL's Engineered Mayhem Tour

By Brett Solomon In the mobile electronics arena, there are few opportunities for local installers to learn about custom fabrication skills and techniques to improve sound quality. There are a plethora of mobile electronics schools across the nation eager to educate novice installers, but there is a lack of information for intermediate installers who may not have the time and money to attend one of these schools. After all, if you're a full-time mobile electronics installer with a family to care for, do you think your boss will allow you a week separated from vacation time to hone your skills? And if not, what

It's All About Experience

Using Events to Grow Your Business By Coleen Sterns There's no question that custom installation is rapidly expanding. And as quickly as new home technology emerges, evolutions are occurring in the way firms carve out a competitive edge for building a greater profit margin. In order to stay ahead in the rapidly changing custom installation landscape, a company must extend the value of its service, providing customers with the extras that other firms don't offer. Special events are one of the most efficient and effective ways to position your company as the expert firm that's keyed in to the true wants

New Big-Screen Display Technologies

iFire's TDEL technology involves a low-cost and high-yield manufacturing process. By Cliff Roth The writing on the wall suggests TVs will be on the wall, in more homes than ever. Everybody wants these new flat screens, but even with prices dropping to the $3,000 ballpark for entry-level models, they're still a bit steep for most homes. The challenge now is the ability to produce flat screens cheaply — something most major manufacturers, and even some scrappy start-ups, are frantically working on achieving. Long Live Plasma? Plasma screens were at the cutting edge of big-screen display technology when the concept of the hang-on-the-wall TV

Newsletters Done Right

By Joe Dysart If you're thinking about starting or enhancing an e-mail-delivered newsletter for your custom business, you're in good company. Artfully designed and managed e-newsletters have the potential to maintain real relationships with customers and prospective customers. "Newsletters feel personal because they arrive in your inbox‚ you have an ongoing relationship with them," says Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen. "The positive emotional aspect of newsletters is that they can create much more of a bond between user and company than a Web site can." Surprisingly, a study undertaken by Nielsen's prestigious NNG Group also found that many subscribers are reluctant to "unsubscribe"

Vendor View If You Build It

How D&M played the acquisition game to build a company By David Dritsas For D&M Holdings, the past two years have been a busy time. About a year ago, the company was formed by the Japanese manufacturers Denon and Marantz, out of which comes the D&M moniker. The move helped to secure the financial positions of both companies, but the bar for the overall "vision" was set much higher, as D&M made further acquisitions a top priority in its business strategy. Today, in addition to Denon and Marantz, the company owns McIntosh, ReplayTV, Rio and Escient. Now, with its diversity of brands, it


By GRANT CLAUSER Yes, friends, Vidikron is back, though the products that brand has been formerly associated with are long gone, replaced with updated technology and a new distribution strategy. With projectors like the Vision One, Vidikron, formerly an Italian company, earned praise even from director Martin Scorsese. Yet the company fell on sour times, and the name seemed doomed to disappear. About a year ago, the revered brand was acquired by one of its fiercest rivals, Runco International. This is the first Runco-produced product to bear the Vidikron brand. While the old Vidikron was known for large, celestially priced three-gun CRT

Win, Lose or Draw

Bose is going direct to builders. What does it mean to you? By Janet Pinkerton The news that Bose was experimenting with selling direct to builders set off industry alarm bells in late summer. The company initiated a pilot project selling direct with three major developers—with Arvida in Florida, Shea Homes in Phoenix and CENTEX in San Diego. On Oct. 1, Bose and Arvida formally unveiled their alliance, announcing the availability of Bose BUILT-INvisible home entertainment systems as an option in Arvada's Victoria Park development in DeLand, and Artisan Park, in Celebration. All new homes in the developments will be "Bose Ready"—a trademarked phrase—with