Relax. I am not suggesting with this headline alcohol or substance abuse...something potentially more expensive and serious. But allow me to explain.

I get much of my writing inspiration from past and current customers. Following is the case of one such client who is clearly "addicted."

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Could your home theater addicition cause you to botch your upgrade? Well... (Image: Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels)

About 12 years ago I did a theater for a guy in Costa Mesa in Southern California. It was of the high-end flavor—big Runco projector, 7.2-channel sound (Atmos hadn't arrived on the scene yet or he would have had it). We traded movie recommendations over the ensuing years and he often mentioned how much he was enjoying his theater. To be sure, I considered it one of my better installations.

If an installer was given sodium pentothal, looking back over his body of work, he would describe some installs as ones he would want in a magazine...and others, not so much. That's just the way it is...for all of us. Specific room acoustics, ambient lighting, and both audio and video calibration all contribute to a pleasurable end result—or not.

Jump to present day. Now comes more sophisticated audio codecs (including Atmos), much better displays (4K/HDR) and even better calibration tools. Better receivers and cables came along to support the necessary higher bit-rates.

All these technology advancements, helped along by a failed "box" in his system, caused my client to say "Come on, let's upgrade." But, between the moment of "customer down" and when I could research, prepare a quote, drive 600 miles and do the installation, he went into withdrawals. He was so addicted to regular movie enjoyment and it was so much a part of his family routine that he actually couldn't handle it when the system stalled.

Here's where things went wrong. In an effort to do what he thought was expediting the "fix," he hired two local guys—one to install a large Kaleidescape movie server and another to re-program all his newness to his Control4 remote. Naturally, he scheduled us all at the same time! This was the most classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen I have ever seen. I should never have allowed it.

Since I was 600 miles away, scheduling became a big problem for a guy who wanted it all done yesterday. Instead, a delay ensued. He was so drawn to his nightly/weekly movie addiction that he, despite my admonitions otherwise, continued to place expediency over practical good sense.

I, as much as anybody (his wife got anxious, too) wanted to see his theater back at full song, but there is always a right way and a hurry-up wrong way to do things in this business. Those of you approaching a similar situation—an "addition," "upgrade," "re-do," or "fix" to your theater—should heed this advice: pause, take a deep breath, consider alternatives, get the right guy (shop) to do it, and muster up an ounce—no, a pound—of patience. The end result will be worth all of that.

Back to the story. No surprise to anyone, the abundance of technical talent in the room began stepping on each other's feet. I should have been the chief and only chef assigned.

I installed the new Wolf projector, Denon receiver, LG UHD disc player and the appropriate 8K cables, then calibrated both audio and ISF video in two days to avoid time conflicts with the other "cooks." When asked to come back to support the rest of the kitchen, I declined the second 600 mile trip at any price. I tend to be too principled. The other guys were also professionals (I think) and could find the needed codes on their own to finish the job. I took the opportunity to advise the client how the job should have gone, were it not for his knee-jerk reaction for a quick fix to satisfy his theater addiction. He agreed.

Actually, of course, I am happy to see others afflicted with "Home Theater Disease." I hope, dear readers, that you are similarly hooked, and that when the call comes, you enjoy a well thought-out, patient repair or upgrade. The downtime will be quickly forgotten sometime in the middle of the first movie. And if you do things correctly, it's only about two or three steps to get the job done, not 12.

Just be sure you get the prescription right! —Dr. Paullin


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