Monday, April 28, 2014

While I'm packing my house...

Okay, so, I don't really know if anyone cares about what I write or not.  I'm trying to save you all some steps, to see my decision-making process, to avoid the pitfalls of a lack of information or slick marketing practices.

I've accepted an offer on my house, and I'm fairly busy packing and cleaning, etc. so I don't have much time to write or photograph or anything like that.  I'm moving (back) to northern California but to a place where I've never been.

After spending time in San Jose, California last August, I determined that it wouldn't be feasible to just drop into the area at the costs of the area.  Out in farm country(Central Valley, Tracy, Manteca, Modesto, Stockton), things are a bit less expensive.  I would say that they're more laid back, but I'm not sure that's possible compared to San Jose.  They're certainly laid back compared to San Fran or Los Angeles.  I found San Fran strangely contentious the day I was there.  Los Angeles is just an interesting city/county.  Orange County is more laid back and less fake but only just.  I remember people in San Jose calling Los Angeles weird when I was little, but I didn't find it to be weird--just fake, superficial.  Maybe, it's just my sense of reality, though.  I have an acquaintance who is a singer/songwriter.  I once called him friend but we're so far apart on friendship that I cringe when he uses "friend" when talking to me.  I guess I'm too Japanese.  Maybe, living in California as an adult will change all that.

I was talking today with someone at the Bose store who grew up around Sacramento, the state capital.  He told me that I'd love where I'd be.  I hope so.  Life can be far too disappointing otherwise.

Technology-wise, this move has presented some interesting challenges.  Getting rid of technology is not always easy.  I ended up trading my 3D TV and Blu-Ray player, along with some compatible audio equipment for help with moving heavy things to the garage.

I couldn't see how a 42 inch panel could survive 2800 miles on that fragile, little base that wiggles when you move the TV just a little.  Finding 1 million pieces of broken glass at the other end didn't seem okay.  It would be better to give it away than to find it broken, and trading it for help was even better.

While I was shopping for another 3D TV, I found that there weren't any new models, but I'm probably missing something.  However, the 4K TVs seem to have 3D technology as part of them.  Now that means that I'll need a larger TV than 42 inches.  The smallest I've seen is 55 inches on the diagonal.  That's huge for an apartment or smaller rooms of any building.  I'd think that you have to have about 25 feet of space between you and the TV.  12 feet seemed reasonable between the 42 inch and me.

I was thinking that it would be pretty crazy to move into a place, not knowing your neighbors, and the second thing that they see is Best Buy or someone else bringing the latest TV to your door.  The next day, you return from work, and your TV has been stolen.  Anything is possible.

Since my compatible audio equipment is also gone, I'll likely replace that quickly.  I saw that Yamaha has a number of refurbished AV-receivers available at reasonable prices.  I can't tell what the warranty is, but I would buy an extended warranty, just in case.  Most companies have different standards on refurbishment, unfortunately.  With Apple, I guess I've been lucky to receive something in nearly new condition each time.

In addition to the receiver, I'd like to buy a full range of Infinity speakers.  I'm not sure whether I should buy a 5.1 setup or 7.2.  Do the presence speakers really make a difference?  I've also never had a subwoofer and I'm not sure about buying one or two.  If I end up in an apartment, I think my neighbors will work with me, but not at loud volumes, which may be too typical of my house-only way of listening.

As an alternative for apartment living, I went into a Bose store today.  What do you mean, stop?  I have to choose for myself, okay?

I've had a set of Bose 901 Series VI since about 1994.  I'd also had a 601 pair, and I have a Wave Radio that hasn't been used enough recently.  The 601 pair was adequate, and the Wave Radio is a fancy clock radio, 'nuff said.  I really dislike the Acoustimass systems since the first time I heard one before they were introduced to the market way back when.

I was listening to the Cinemate 1 SR soundbar + subwoofer (errr, bass) module today.  At US$1499.99, it's definitely expensive but it was also impressive, at least, in their showroom with carefully selected materials though having systems side by side doesn't help.  It uses an offshoot of the same Direct/Reflecting technology that made Bose speaker systems, like my 901s, liven up a otherwise dead room with realistic sound spaces.

What's rather amusing is that practically everyone else in the industry has created a sound bar that uses a variation on Doctor Bose's theories that were panned as being stupid and/or ridiculous, and that it took so long for Bose to arrive with one like this one.

I'm not saying that I'm thinking that it would be my first choice, but for apartment living, it may be just the thing.  Of course, many people out there will claim that the lack of specifications damn it right away.  I say that a blind test is better than looking at numbers.  I rarely listen to numbers but I listen to movies, music, the news, and more.  Yes, I know where 440 Hz is on my piano keyboard, so in that sense, I listen to numbers.

Analyzing the data may be fun, if you're creating hearing aids, but sometime, you just want to hear the music.

I was also thinking about getting a pair of Beyerdynamic headphones for apartment listening.  Yamaha has that Silent Cinema mode (that I've never used) on their AV-receivers.  I think I've been a few models back, so the newest have 4K passthrough, even though they probably don't have 4K upscaling.  Imagine, trying to upscale SD content to 4K.  It would seem more guesswork than mathematics.

I guess a new Blu-Ray player that touts 4K upscaling would be in the works too.  It wouldn't be any more than my first Blu-Ray player was, I'm fairly sure.  Prices have improved quite a bit.  I'd like to have a Yamaha or Oppo Blu-Ray player but they're a bit more conservative with their lines.  Oppo would be good because of the ability to turn off the region coding confirmation.  I have a number of Japanese and Korean products I'd like to view without needing 3 DVD players.

In any case, I may not be writing for a while, as the packing must be a priority.  Then, the closing and the move will take precedence.  The trip will be the turning point.

Update 2014.05.04: I went to the local Best Buy the other day, not really in the mood to buy but only wasting time.  One of the staff approached me, and I explained to him what was happening.  Then, he tried to push an LG TV on me that was returned.  When he was called away, I looked at the Open Box tag closely and it didn't have a pedestal.  I wonder how I could use it without it--in a rental property, which I explained ahead of time.  Yes, it was nearly half of the retail price.  Somehow, setting it on the floor, leaned up against the wall didn't seem quite right.  Do people actually listen?

Update 2014.10.29: I happened to be in Oklahoma City, OK on the way across the country and I stopped into a Guitar Center store on a whim.  They had the Beyerdynamic headphones I wanted at $100 off.  That was great luck.

I got my TV early in September: an LG 49UB8500--4K TV, which was bargain priced at $1499.99, though I got it on sale for $100 off for Labor Day.  The next weekend, I bought a Sony 4K upscaling Blu-Ray player for $149.99, even though the TV supposedly upscaled content anyway.  Either way, I'd have good upscaling available.

The TV has been better than good, but great?  I'm not sure; however, I no longer go to the store thinking that another TV looks better.  I still have no discrete sound system.  I've looked at a few sound bars, and almost bought that Bose Cinemate 1SR sound bar, but they were discontinuing it, and I didn't find it in time.  I'm considering a Yamaha YSP-4300, which is much like the RX-V671 receiver I traded for help, but in a sound bar only.  At $1799.99, it's expensive.  It's also bigger than my TV stand, so I need to find a company which can get me a piece of glass to fit on the stand and extend it safely.

Update 2015.12.07: I finally got a Bose sound bar but that took quite a while.

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