Column: Doing it right PDF Print E-mail

In my last column, I wrote about the small yet growing local audio manufacturing industry. As you may have gathered, I'm passionate about just how good some of our products are, and all of those mentioned can wear their 'Made in SA' badge with pride.

Choosing a product, or a group of products that is right for you can be exceptionally difficult, even for someone like me who works within the audio/video industry.
 
The market is constantly evolving and although I hate the term, converging with a whole bunch of different spheres.
 
Take some of the new A/V receivers from the likes of Onkyo, Marantz, or in fact all of the major players. They now have network connections on them, and when properly installed, can access either your home network or stream music stored on a PC or media server, or even stream Internet radio stations. 
 
In fact, most new home theatre type of product features some form of former computer-only connection. Blu-ray players have LAN connections, and usually USB inputs, ditto for practically all new HD TV's. The media servers I mentioned earlier are essentially nothing but small PC's that specialise in storing and sending digital audio and video media.  
 
For a while now I've predicted the death of Blu-ray, as downloading a movie or your favourite songs and streaming them to any connected device in your home seems so much more convenient than having to put a disc in, one device at a time.
 
This all means that your top A/V salesman or installer has to know a fair bit about acoustics, video technology, and perhaps even more about networking and IT.
 
I know I'm generalising, but I'll admit that most A/V salespeople and installers don’t really care too much about the what, how and to whom they sell products to. Chances are, they wont be at the shop next week to answer your questions anyway. 
 
There are some who do care, and for these people there's an association whose main goal is to concern themselves about what is sold, how it's sold and in particular, how well it's installed.
 
The Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association CEDIA is and I quote from their UK site, "an international trade organisation for the home electronic systems industry. CEDIA members specialise in the planning, design, supply and installation of automated electronic systems for the modern, intelligent home". They can install anything from multi-room audio and home cinema systems to complete home networks and sub-systems which intelligently control lighting, security, and HVAC.
 
CEDIA don’t just speak about doing things properly, they offer training in all aspects of design and installation of home systems.
 
I've been fortunate enough to have met a few CEDIA personnel and from first hand experience, I can vouch for the fact that they know what they're talking about.
 
What's good for SA consumers is that we actually have some CEDIA member here in SA, which you can find on the CEDIA website www.cedia.co.uk. These people have committed themselves to the CEDIA code of ethics.
 
What's even better for us is that CEDIA is coming out to SA to offer training a little later this year and training is open to anyone who really wants to expand their knowledge. Of course if you're a CEDIA member you do get a discount on the training. 
 
Some of you may be wondering why I'm talking about CEDIA. The reason is simple.
 
I love the industry and the more technical it gets, the more of a chance there is that someone will spend a lot of money and not get the satisfaction from the installed system that they deserve. This isn't only a waste of money, it also means that this same person may not be willing to spend money on home entertainment again.
 
If this happens to too many people the industry will disappear, and I'll have to get a real job.
 
To finish off for this month I have to add that I'm not saying that a non-CEDIA member or CEDIA-trained people can't do good installations or offer great advice. There are a whole lot of really clever people out in the A/V world, but I find it a little more reassuring when I see a degree on my doctors wall.
 
Joel Kopping is  a journalist who specialises in the consumer Audio and Visual market. For almost a decade and a half Joel has written about and reviewed some of the latest A/V technologies, from car audio to flat screen TV's and practically everything in between. 
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