As with all Boot Camps, two industry volunteers shared duties with the CEDIA instructors. This time, they were Frank White, a manufacturers' consultant with a long history of CEDIA involvement, and Brian Collins of Paragon Technology Group, a prominent installation company in Denver. Along with Dave, they were joined periodically by CEDIA's Jeff Gardner, who was transitioning into Dave's role as training director.
As the first lecture got underway, we received a detailed review of all the audio and video signals that installers work with today, from your basic composite-video all the way up to HDMI, as well as all the analog and digital audio formats. The different audio and video components - receivers, amps, processors - were also covered.
After lunch, it was on to equipment racks and mounting. Frank made a valuable point to the class about the importance of properly dressing the rat's nest of cables behind our equipment racks. He likened an install client to the buyer of a luxury car who might look under the hood only once but expects to be wowed. "How often does your customer look behind your rack?" he asked. "Maybe just once. But that rack needs to mirror the perceived performance of what they're buying." Later on, when we moved into the lab, we could see what he meant. Getting cables from Point A to Point B in a complex rack is tough enough, but making it look pretty is an art form.
We closed out Day 1 with a lecture on speaker types and placement and on the basics of room acoustics. I found this last part fascinating: I'd never had explained to me the simple science of absorption, diffusion, and direct reflection that can so dramatically affect the home theater experience.
"The room is the most important element of the sound," Dave reminded us - and it was proved later when we tested our systems prior to room treatments, only to discover muddied mids and highs, unclear dialogue, and boomy bass. The general rule for a good room, he said, is to achieve 25% absorption, 25% diffusion (in which sound is reflected in many directions, something you want in the rear for good surround sound), and 50% direct reflection. We also learned to calculate the low-frequency room resonances, helpful for achieving good bass.
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