Whole House Audio - What are my Best Options?

panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Spartan
Do the really thrifty even consider hiring someone like a CI? I could never imagine even calling one.....
If I was building/renovating a house (which I plan to in the next few years) then I'd call one simply because I've done the cookie cutter builds and next will be custom. I will have a big list of requirements and I'll need a contractor to make sure everything I want done, is done properly before I come look at it.

When I built the house I'm in now they wouldn't let me do the low voltage, but hired an alarm installer that thought they could do it. They did a sh!t job and I had to make them fix a bunch of crap. Waste of money for me, but this wasn't a pro doing the work. Won't make that mistake again.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
Probably. I talked to the guy a long time ago so I don't remember it all, but he did say one of their biggest strengths was that they were lucky enough to get a big name speaker designer, but keep costs low by not going retail. Same story for tons of companies, but they claim to be one of the first ID brands. No idea how much truth there is to that. Any of it really. I do know what I heard sounded quite good for the price point.
Right, but the electronics line they offer is far more extensive than a 'home-based' company WRT its origin. If it's the same designer, it may be someone from Speakercraft.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
When I built the house I'm in now they wouldn't let me do the low voltage, but hired an alarm installer that thought they could do it. They did a sh!t job and I had to make them fix a bunch of crap. Waste of money for me, but this wasn't a pro doing the work. Won't make that mistake again.
When I worked for the stereo store until '88, we used to have a saying about people doing things outside of their expertise, such as electricians- "We made a deal with them- we won't install electrical wiring for switches, garbage disposers and furnaces and they won't install AV wiring".

Alarm contractors are accustomed to using such skinny wire that I sometimes wonder if they actually know what the word 'current' means WRT electricity. Cable routing, speaker wiring (I have seen some real crap), cables stubbed out where they can't possibly do any good and using the wrong cabling aren't rare, unfortunately. OTOH, I worked on a house that was wired by a local store where the owner was considered a kind of audio guru and they not only didn't use CL rated cabling, they installed a load resistor for some speakers by soldering the wires in series (not even an L-pad) and stapling the wires to a floor joist- this resulted in a 6" circle of charred wood because of the heat from the resistor. They should have at least used a spacer and covered the wood with Aluminum foil.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Thrifty and knowing one's limitations (WRT product/technical knowledge, as well as installation/system design/setup ability) can be a good reason for calling someone. Also, realizing and understanding that people in the industry actually can know something about this stuff and provide some value helps, rather than assuming they're just charging too much for nothing.

Do you perform all of the service on your cars, too?
No, but I service all my bikes (and my brother services his own cars, motorcycles, boats and planes as he's a master mechanic, unfortunately lives too far away for me to benefit :) ). I know a few people that would call a CI, but not many. Do you have some stats on CI vs diy?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
If I was building/renovating a house (which I plan to in the next few years) then I'd call one simply because I've done the cookie cutter builds and next will be custom. I will have a big list of requirements and I'll need a contractor to make sure everything I want done, is done properly before I come look at it.

When I built the house I'm in now they wouldn't let me do the low voltage, but hired an alarm installer that thought they could do it. They did a sh!t job and I had to make them fix a bunch of crap. Waste of money for me, but this wasn't a pro doing the work. Won't make that mistake again.
I've not had the need like that myself, altho could see it in such a case. Can I lump in the guys who do bad and/or overly expensive pre-wiring jobs in "custom" homes as "CI" ? :)
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Spartan
I've not had the need like that myself, altho could see it in such a case. Can I lump in the guys who do bad and/or overly expensive pre-wiring jobs in "custom" homes as "CI" ? :)
Yep. They're pretending they can do the work, so why not?
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
No, but I service all my bikes (and my brother services his own cars, motorcycles, boats and planes as he's a master mechanic, unfortunately lives too far away for me to benefit :) ). I know a few people that would call a CI, but not many. Do you have some stats on CI vs diy?
I'm not talking about master mechanics, I mean 'weekend warriors' and those who don't know which end of a screwdriver to pound on.

Think about the questions asked on AH and tell me the ones asking about something for the millionth time should be doing their own drilling, cutting, making electrical connections, etc.

Are consumers trained to do ANY of this stuff? Maybe, if they have done it in a job but generally, there's no guarantee they know much, if any, of the techniques needed. How many people ask questions that can easily be found in the manual? Most of the ones who ask basic questions.

How many end users know how a house might be constructed? It's not all 2x4s and drywall- Ihave worked in homes that had wooden framing, metal framing, stacked terra cotta blocks covered with plaster over mortar, stick frame with rigid insulation, metal screen and plaster, wooden paneling, boards, etc covering walls & ceilings. How would a novice deal with this stuff without damaging something that may not be replaceable because of its age or if it's an uncommon material?

Then, there are building and electrical code considerations- if someone drills or cuts out the bottom 1/3 of a floor/ceiling joist in order to run cables or install conduit, they have violated the building code because that can cause structural failure if the holes are near the middle of the span between points of support. How will they make their connections? Will they take it upon themselves to connect to the electrical wiring if they want another junction box?

Can you be more specific about the stats you're looking for?

AFAIK, there are no organizations that train DIYers to do this stuff and if people are using This Old House and the other DIY shows for info, I would suggest looking somewhere else- I saw an electrician bend an HDMI cable and yank on it to get it through a hole when he was hanging a TV and I can guarantee that the cable needed to be replaced at some point because it wasn't one of the skinny ones that could tolerate bending in that way. CI have CEDIA, which I'm not a huge fan of and for those who deal with more industrial/commercial/government low voltage work, BICSI is a far more advanced training organization that's very network-intensive.

I have never taken (wasted) the time to take photos of bad installations because I had work to do. In an extensive installation, how would a DIYer get cabling from a basement to a 3rd floor attic? How would they make openings in brick, concrete block, etc when special tools are needed? How many see push rods for feeding wire and say "Oh, wow- that's a good idea"?
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
I've not had the need like that myself, altho could see it in such a case. Can I lump in the guys who do bad and/or overly expensive pre-wiring jobs in "custom" homes as "CI" ? :)
You ought to try doing it on a regular basis. I'm not saying the industry has no hacks- it definitely does, but the mid-high level people are much better WRT their techniques & knowledge of what needs to be done and you might be amazed by the amount of work they can do in a given time period because repetition makes people much more efficient, unless the work is just mind-numbingly boring.

Bad and overly expensive work definitely hurts the perception of the CI industry, but most of us don't want any part of that. I know of several cases where someone wasn't careful and drilled into electrical wiring, water pipes, cut framing, etc and in one case a water pipe was punctured at the 23rd floor of a high rise after the drywall was already in place. I wouldn't have wanted to present that claim to my insurance company. I also know of people who would occasionally go to a movie and continue to claim time on the job- I worked with a couple of them at one time and, while I never got along with one of them, I lost all respect for the other when I heard them talking about doing this. They did it when they worked for another company and they had a reputation for bad mistakes.

Have you ever seen a home that took more than five years from start to finish and the low voltage part lasted 2-1/2 years and cost $450K. While that's not 2-1/2 years of full time work because we need to wait for other trades to do things before we can commence, stop, wait, continue, stop, wait, etc, it was literally well over 1500 man hours of work. IIRC, the house I'm referring to is about 19K ft² and had close to 50K feet of cable, if each were connected end to end.

Let's see a homeowner tackle that kind of job.
 

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