Archive for December, 2019


Friday, December 13th, 2019


  Terms such as audiophile, video-phile, or custom AV pro do not adequately characterize the skill of my late friend Steve.  Steve was an AV wizard.  The foundation of his craft was based on his assertion than “everything makes a difference”.  He would add that his objective was to “minimize the compromise” of the distorting differences. 

Steve meticulously hunted down compromising difference points.  He listened, viewed, and evaluated each point from the electrical outlet, through all interconnecting cable, attached components, as well as the acoustical and lighting environment.  Then — where economically and physically feasible — he modified, replaced, or removed the compromising difference points. 

Steve’s methodical “minimize the compromise” process consistently delivered hair-raising results of frisson. 

Frisson (pronounced ‘free-sawn’) is a sub category of the goose bump.  It is a goose bump chill or thrill triggered by music, film, or art.  A simple song can activate moments of frisson.  The images and soundtrack of a film can also induce frisson. 

Steve’s frisson-able process sealed a bond with his customers that could not be broken by competitors.  

Sometime in the last century, an audio dealer was confronted by a customer who did not want to see or sacrifice floor space for a speaker system.  He was prepared to trade audio fidelity for his vision of room aesthetics and settle for lower, yet still pleasant, audio fidelity. 

Thus begat the custom in-wall/in-ceiling speaker.  Its understandable compromises — small woofer, attachment to a room boundary, and (often) above ear level placement — impede frisson.  

Although handicapped by the custom speaker, frisson can still be achieved if compromises are minimized with a tailored recipe of amplification, audio/video sources, speaker placement, interconnecting cable, and acoustical modifications.  Consider the following list of Steve-type ingredients. 

– Select a receiver/amplifier with larger and better isolated power supplies. 

– Use high resolution audio and HDR UHD video sources. 

– Install speakers as close to ear level as possible  If surround sound — at least the center channel.

– Engage ‘small’ or adjust the crossover in the speaker setup to avoid over driving small woofers. 

– Reroute low frequency audio to a sub-woofer. 

– Hide the sub-woofer (in a wicker basket?) while avoiding distorting room mode placement. 

– Install acoustical absorption at the ceiling 1st points of reflection and behind seating near a wall.

– Install carpeting or a throw rug with extra padding at the floor 1st point of reflection. 

– Reinforce sheetrock mounted speakers with a SandTrap. 

– Reduce noise from exterior and interior sources.  This can be as simple as closing a window or as complicated as sound proofing the room. 

– Regarding video performance: minimize the influence of direct lighting, ambient lighting, plus any reflected color withing the room.

– Calibrate the audio and video. 

Use this list to form a bond with customers that cannot be broken by competitors.  Select applicable workable ingredients form the list.  Spice it up with you custom ingredients.  Stir, bake, and then install your concoction of frisson-able AV wizardry.


Captain Ed 

Saving the World from Poor Fidelity   Since 1972

Ed’s AV