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High-end is a sadly overworked expression that has now been translated into expensive resulting in many manufacturers doing things to enhance their appearance and, really, little for performance.

They have reworked the cereal box, nothing more. Sadly, I have heard very expensive equipment that could not carry a tune in a bucket. I have even demonstrated this with the performance of cell phones with headsets vs. an audio system where the cell phone simply sounds better, musically speaking. So, we try to offer things that do what they claim to do which is to correctly play music.

I'd like to add an experience. I took a "non-audiophile" to shows in Denver called Rocky Mountain Audiofest. It was a great show, really, and sadly gone. I took them from room to room, some with systems costing well over 100,000 dollars (and even more), only to hear their response as they left the room "Why would I buy that, I can already get that at Walmart." They were correct.

Likewise, there are some manufacturers or distributors who consistently put up a good sound from very affordable products. Not the best, mind you, but certainly enjoyable. They never blame the room like so many others, they simply get it done. So, if "high-end" is defined as having the most expensive product so one can parade around like a peacock claiming I can afford something you cannot, well, that's a corruption of the term and that is exactly what has happened in my honest opinion. Putting a 14K solid gold steering wheel on a Kia makes it very expensive but I certainly would not put it in the same class as a "high-end" car. A lot of manufacturers have done exactly that with expensive parts, however well meaning, that either simply fail to do what they claim to do or make matters worse. The used market place is littered with these products that only keep their value because of their original asking price, not performance. Conversely, some products now sell for well above their original asking price because of their performance. And, yes, there are some very expensive systems that were truly spectacular. In the end, it comes down to performance and whether or not you choose to spend your money that way.

Even this expression "high-end" how now creeped into nearly every class of product as if obtaining it is some sort of merit badge of honor. Look all over the marketplace and you will quickly see it. High-end stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, cell phones, and the list goes on and on. It becomes imperative for the consumer to distinguish between what is the trade of advertising and what is the trade of engineering. We are trying to help.

This has led us to abandon the use of "high-end" generally speaking. We now use "Sensible" which is not only a monetary comment but also lends itself to exactly what we do. We try to provide quality sound or video to your senses for the dollar you are willing or able to spend to let you enjoy life.

That is the true competition: The best performance for the least amount of dollars.


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What to do when batteries explode in your remote control.

Now that many folks are wandering back indoors, it's not unusual for them to pick up the remote control for one device or another and they don't work. Most people quickly think of opening the battery hatch and replacing the batteries when horror appears. Not only are the batteries dead, they have "exploded" or leaked.

Now, your next step depends upon what brand of batteries you use. That's right, it makes a difference. Higher quality batteries, like Duracell, Energizer, and a few others, will contain themselves for quite some time after going dead. When they do leak, it takes the form of being rather dry and crusty. These are rather easy to address and I shortly will have an upcoming YouTube video how to handle it. The worst offenders are the "discount" batteries and these include both Maker's Mark from Walmart and the Costco house brands and those sold at various outlets like Aldi, Dollar Stores and the like. When they leak, their leakage is more fluid-like and very corrosive. It is not unusual for them to badly eat away the actual contacts in the remote and in some cases, actually leak into the actual remote itself though open slots in the plastic housing. It's a good practice, regardless, to remove batteries from remote controls if they are not going to be used for a period of time. Otherwise, use will tell you if they are working or not and with the cheaper batteries, get them out of the remote ASAP if they are dead.

In any event, never, I repeat never, use a water-based cleaning solution to start. Rather, remove the batteries and throw them away either in the trash or recycling bin. Standard batteries can be recycled so check with your local service first. Some places cannot do it. Ni-Cads and Lithium-Ion cannot be easily recycled and should never be trashed. Very bad for the environment. Instead, put them in a plastic back and take them to the recycle bin at Lowe's or Home Depot. Those bins are usually around the service counter area. It is my understanding that in California they have special recycling centers for those. Kudos.

Next, if they are the better brands and have left a crusty mess, often times the use of a toothbrush is very effective. Take the remote over to a garbage can and brush the contacts while holding the open side of the remote downward so the contamination falls into the can. If you brush with the remote hatch faced upwards, you risk some of that crust wandering into the remote itself. Repeated inspections might be necessary. At this point, a little house cleaning with q-tips is in order and they can be dry or slightly dampened with something like Windex to pick-up the dust. At this point, inspect the contracts. If they are still crusty, a sharp pointed object like a fine screwdriver or knife might be needed to flick off what remains stuck. Brush them again. A sort of rinse and repeat but dry. Once all has been cleared away, you may need to burnish the contact surfaces with the sharp object or small file, depending upon access and the discoloration of the contacts themselves. (If the contacts are deep inside the remote, well, you are going to have to take the remote apart (another upcoming video or buy a new remote). Then, treat those surfaces with Deox-it from a squeeze bottle. Don't use spray (cans) unless you are going to spray it on a surface or bowl and them use a q-tip to mop it up and use it as a brush on the contacts. Or, you can use a fine modeling brush and apply it. Don't use spray in the remote! It's a mess. Once applied, use q-tips again to mop up the excess on those surfaces. I can not speak for other contact cleaners and you really need to be careful about their use as some will "eat" or dissolve plastics. Not good.

Now, if we have the cheap leakers, well, the first step after removing the batteries is to mop up that leakage with q-tips. It may take several of them and multiple passes. Once that is done, you need to look at the contacts themselves. I just got into one of those cases and the leaked acid ate away the contacts! There was nothing to clean. Dead remote. I had other case a few weeks ago that not only ate into the contracts, but caused them to rust. If you have contacts left, that is where you use q-tips soaked in Deox-it and start wiping it down repeatedly trying to remove both the liquid portion and anything that looks like crust. You may need to do the work and let it sit a day or two so that you can then use the toothbrush. The process may then proceed like above. Note, be very careful in these situations as the leaky fluid can also eat through clothing. It doesn't burn like car battery acid but it will put holes in clothing that will show up with the next wash.

Again, for those who like videos, I have an upcoming YouTube video on dealing with the better battery situation and you can watch the process. As for the "Nasties" that will be a separate and later YouTube video. I'll need a remote that has been screwed up by them. So, if you want to donate a remote for an autopsy, I'd appreciate it.

Last words: If you are not going to use a remote, or for awhile, remove those batteries!


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I recently had an exchange with someone who commented on one of our YouTube Videos "What happened to the Audio Stores?" See it here for reference:

If you have not taken the time to look at our catalog of topics, well, there's 70 to choose from right now with so many more to come. I take the time to respond to nearly all of them. The important thing to note is how we try to take care of our customers and, in return, the respect we need to continue to look at you for far more than what's in your wallet. Without further delay, here's the exchange:

"Sounds like your sales people don’t know how to qualify prospects and turn them into paying customers. Try asking, “what is your budget for this component?”

Actually, that's one of the worst questions you can ask as a salesperson in my 50 years of sales. I don't train my people to look at the wallet but to the person. Just use the experience of looking for a car or truck. If a lot salesman came up to me and asked that question right off the top, then I know he's sizing me up for "if it's worth the effort or not."

The truth is, many people don't really know how much they need to spend to accomplish what they want for a level of quality they want and then the question becomes options to fulfill the customer's wants and wishes. That includes long term reliability, intended use by multiple parties, and the list goes on and on.

It also makes the deadly mistake of assuming the customer also knows what the quality differences are between products. That's exactly why the Chinese succeeded in selling this country a lot of very poor quality products for years because, well, they had the best price on what seemingly appeared to be the same quality of goods on the surface. You name it, food containers, car parts, and the list goes on and on. You don't sell higher quality goods by simply meeting a price point when you could show them something better and give them the choice of doing it or not.

Frankly, that's one of the reasons why the internet has succeeded so well because it presses price first. The second reason, and this was well documented by many retailers, is that people thought it was cool to take the time of the retailer to learn about the product, understand their needs, and the whole nine yards and then go out on the web and buy it. It was called "showrooming" many years ago. It's exactly why many custom installation companies don't itemize their quotes because it simply becomes a shopping list for customers who, quite frankly, are simply stealing time. I have personally had customers take hours of my time, tens of emails, and lots of calls just to do that. I have had that experience in the past and I had it happen to me several times this year.

So, no, I don't agree with asking the question "how much do you want to spend." I'll give them choices and let them decide how to best spend their money.


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