When looking to install a home theater system, picking the right designer, integrator and calibrators can make all of the difference to the success of your home theater, audiophile and home automation system.
Consider the analogy of a top chef who of course shops for the best "prima materia" or ingredients but even with the freshest and most tasty raw food - it takes special skill, insight and feel to turn raw elements into an incredible dish. Home theater and home automation requires the same level of skill, insight and intuition from your integrator and installer.
HomeTheaterReview.com has created a list of the very best home theater installers for you to consider for your project. Consider buying local if you can but if you can't find what you need in your area - look to the list below for the absolute best dealers in the country. Many of them are adept at completing successful and reliable home theater systems all over the country and even all over the world. Not just anybody can make this list. These are the best installers in the world according to HomeTheaterReview.com.
Five Things To Look For From a Home Theater Installer Before You Hire Them
1. Ask To See A Book of Completed Project
a. Look for professional photos of finished jobs as well as projected featured in Electronic House, ModernHomeTheater.com, Robb Report Home Entertainment, Audio Video Interiors and even Architectural Digest. Top installers will be able to provide these materials for you to see.
b. Avoid installers who will show you images on their iPhone or ones who have only amateur photos often with the nasty time stamps burned on the image. If they think so little of their work to not invest $2,000 in a photo shoot then you know all you need to know about how serious of a company they are.
2. Is The Installer A Good Listener?
a. I don't mean are they audiophiles (because some still are). I mean do they talk at you instead of asking you questions about your project. In order to land your project - they need to learn about your project. A pro will ask you to send plans or if you have plans.
3. Overhead Says A Lot
a. Not every top AV installer has a lot of overhead like a retail store or design showroom however they will have projects they can take you to and show you their work in person. If they can not deliver on this - hire someone else.
b. Try out how the installer programs a Crestron remote before you write a $100,000 deposit check to a firm to do your home automation. Test the music server. Is Jimi Hendrix spelled four different ways in the meta data thus making your music collection a mess? If so, buyer beware.
c. Do not be shy in asking for references and be sure to call at least two or three of them if you are not 100 percent sold on the installer.
4. Product Lines
a. The best installers have access to the best lines and even if they aren't a dealer - they can get them sideways and support you on them fully.
b. Beware of any salesman who bad mouths another product line by saying "So-and-so's product stinks" as that is a major warning signal for trouble in the future. Listen to hear them say "We've uses so-and-so's products in the past and think this one is better because..."
5. Ask About Professional Calibration of Your System
a. Crazy Eddie made extended warranties all-the-rage back in the mid-1980's but they were for the most part a total rip off. What big box retailers are learning now is that professional calibration of systems is far more valuable and profitable than telling their clients that their new HDTV or Blu-ray player might break right away.
b. Ask questions about room treatments and audio calibration. Do they bring in an audio calibrator to design and or tune your room like the recording studios do? What room correction tools do they use? What types of acoustical treatments do they use? How can you the treatments them behind a fabric wall?
c. Who does the installer use for video calibration? Have their installation crew been trained by the ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) or do they hire an ISF calibrator to come in for projects to get the most from their video systems?
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