The Cool Factor

The Cool Factor

My love of music and movies motivated me to start a small HIFI business back in 1975. I have been on the scene from the time the home electronics world revolved around the vinyl LP and the vacuum tube, through today’s digital revolution. I’ll present fun, useful facts and information about home electronics in plain English, not techno-babble, on topics ranging from the nostalgic past to the latest technologies, and everything in between.

This edition of Tech Talk 101 will highlight the evolution of three popular product categories that significantly raise the “ cool factor” bar for home entertainment.

ralph-hq-photo-2-lgSPEAKERS (HEARD BUT NOT SEEN)

In the early days of home music listening (circa 1970) bigger was better. Many of the most desirable speakers for home systems were also the focal points of the room.

Eventually, acoustic engineers and speaker designers acquired, and began to utilize C.A.D. They also began to think outside of the box with new and radical designs and applications. At just about the same time, new materials became available that enabled these new designs to actually work and succeed. Exotic materials such as beryllium, carbon fiber, mylar, silk, polypropylene, and several others, played a large part in the downsizing and miniaturization of residential loudspeakers. But the best part is that sound quality improved as well.

By the late 1980’s several companies brought speakers to market that were specifically designed to be installed flush in ceilings and walls. However, the sound quality of these original designs was barely acceptable and the rectangular and round grills were visible eyesores.

By the turn of the century in-wall and in-ceiling speakers had evolved and started to perform to higher sonic standards. But the evolution of aesthetics did not keep pace with the sound until a unique solution appeared: Stealth Acoustics Invisible Speakers.

stealth-acoustics-smFor several years Stealth Acoustics has provided custom sound contractors with a unique technology solution: great sounding speakers that are installed in walls and ceilings without visible perforated metal grills. The speaker elements that produce the sound are perfectly flat and become one with the drywall. Stealth Acoustics invisible speakers fit in between standard 2 X 4 studs spaces or between ceiling joists. Once the taping and spackling is completed, feel free to paint or wallpaper to your hearts content.

Stealth invisible speakers can be installed in pairs for traditional two channel music systems. Installation in the following rooms would be appropriate: kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, dens, master suites etc. They are also an excellent choice in most home theater applications. Both 5.1 and the more advanced 7.1 digital surround formats would be compatible. Stealth even offers invisible subwoofer systems. Subwoofers are an essential element of any serious home theater system.


Next we have home cinema furniture that picks up where 7.1 digital surround sound leaves off. Now you can watch your favorite DVD and Blu Ray movies and feel them too. A new product called DBOX can be retro fit to your existing home theater chairs as well as to your traditional couches and sectionals. Or purchase brand new theater chairs with factory installed DBOX motion modules. The DBOX digital processor is connected to your DVD or Blu Ray player. It reads the existing codes that are already embedded on the movie disc and sends those codes via a Cat5 data cable to each motion unit attached to the bottom of the furniture. The motion activator in the chair responds to the codes from the movie in three different planes of direction: vertical, back to front, and side to side.

Imagine watching Back to the Future in a DBOX chair. When Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) steers the flying DeLorean time machine from left to right or back and forth, or takes a nose dive, your chair will move precisely with the action on the screen. DBOX is not as intense as a ride at Disney, and it is adjustable for intensity of the motion. Yet it is engaging and convincingly real just the same.

Commercial theaters will be catching up soon. Several major theaters in both LA and NYC have already installed rows of DBOX equipped seats. But you still have time to get DBOXED and then charge admission to experience the ultimate movie ride in your very own home theater room!


Stacks of DVD movies and CDs taking over your family room? Do you open up CD jewel boxes and DVD movie covers only to find the shiny 5” disc missing in action? Never fear, Kaleidescape is here. It’s name sounds like the optical device that delivers ever-changing patterns of color, and in an abstract way, that is exactly what this ultimate media server does.

kaleidescape-smKaleidescape is a new product that like a computer hard drive, can store a huge amount of data in a very compact space. Your entire movie and music collection can be ripped to the Kaleidescape’s multiple hard drives, and stored for instant and convenient access anytime you are in the mood to watch a film or listen to your favorite tunes. Several companies offer professional CD and DVD ripping services that will help make the process painless. Your collection will be picked up from your home by the Kaleidescape dealer and then shipped to the ripping service, (The Ripper) will then download and groom the data onto the Kaleidescape hard drives. Once completed, your local dealer will then deliver and install the pre loaded Kaleidescape, and also drop off your collection of shiny 5” discs.

Most of us have discovered the convenience of the last big advancement in TV viewing, the DVR. The Kaleidescape is similar to the DVR that is built into most cable boxes, DSS satellite receivers, and Verizon Fios receivers. But the content is your own movies and CDs that you have collected for all these years.

There is also no need to be concerned about the possible loss of your valuable media content. The Kaleidescape hard drives are raid configured. So there is always a spare drive available that will automatically back up one that may be ready to fail. Kaleidescape also provides a complimentary monitoring service for all end users that have their systems connected with the internet. If Kaleidescape detects an error code that could be a warning of potential hard drive failure, your local dealer will be notified immediately.

What are the other benefits and features that you will enjoy when you add a Kaleidescape to your home entertainment system? One of the most useful conveniences is the connectivity of the Kaleidescape media server to all of the TVs throughout your entire home. This means that viewers in the family room can watch It’s A Wonderful Life, while others can watch an instructional Yoga video in the exercise room. Multi zone capability also means that the music is available in any room of the house that is tied into the central music system. This also means that you can start watching a movie in your dedicated home theater room, and finish in the master suite without missing a single frame!

There is so much more that this cutting edge product can do, but the benefit that many movie collectors will appreciate the most is the improvement of the video image. All DVD movies that are ripped into the Kaleidescape are played back thru a powerful video processor circuit that is an integral part of the system. The processing effectively up converts the resolution of standard DVDs to 1080P. This is equivalent to the latest Blu Ray movie discs. This feature eliminates the need to replace hundreds of DVD movies with new Blu Ray versions of the same movie title. That feature alone is worth the price of admission to The Kaleidescape Experience!