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I Understand Why Our Clients Get Frustrated

I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, and I still had some head scratching moments trying to solve the problem. All in the interest of just watching a movie.

OK, so this past Saturday night, I received a Fed-Ex package from Dolby containing an Ultra HD copy of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition and I’m looking forward to a movie night and enjoying this 4K title on my brand new Sony XBR65X930D TV, and what I assume will be a dynamic Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

So I pour myself an Old Fashioned* turn the Samsung UHD-BD player on, pop the disc in and…no picture.

Image: Thinkstock
OK, fine. Probably some kind of HDCP handshake issue. Power cycle everything, still nothing. Switch TV to a different input and then back. Nothing. OK. Maybe I’ve got an HDMI cable that isn’t handling the full 18Gbps bandwidth. I go and get a new HDMI cable, feel around behind the player like a blind person reading something in Braille, find the HDMI port, and plug in. Nothing. Pull the rack out, get out a flashlight, lean over the top of the rack with the light in my mouth and see that I’ve been plugging into the Audio Only output of the player. OK. This one is on me. Total rook move.

Plug the cable in to the correct jack, get back to the right inputs and get a big message on my TV screen that says something to the effect of, “This system does not support 4K. Content will be downscaled and displayed at 1080p.” Bollocks!

I check my wiring and see that my 1080p projector is connected to the dual output of my Marantz AV8802A. From past experience, I know that this causes a breakdown of the HDCP 2.2 handshake chain. So I disconnect this HDMI cable, reboot the UHD player, and…picture! In 4K! We’re good to go. Press play, and start watching the movie.

Almost exactly 30 minutes into the movie, just as there is about to be a big reveal, the screen goes black. Just…black. No sound, no picture—nothing. All the gear is still on, but nothing.

The Samsung player is showing a power light but it is unresponsive to the remote, so I disconnect the power from the Samsung player, wait 10 seconds, and plug it back in. And it pops up with a screen telling me there is a new firmware update. Do I want to update now, later, or ignore.


I want to just keep watching my damn movie, so I try to hit ignore. But the remote is still unresponsive. And, of course, none of the panel buttons on the player do anything. Another power cycle, click later to the update, and it asks if I want to resume the movie. Yes.

Movie continues.

About 90 minutes later, we have some random power event at our home. CLICK! Everything just blinks off, and then about a half-second later, WHUMP! It comes back on. Well, everything except the UHD player. I get up and power it on. It doesn’t ask me to resume this time, so I dutifully chapter skip to where we were and resume watching.

Except I notice the audio sounds weird. In fact, there is no dialog, and the only audio is coming from my four overhead, in-ceiling Atmos speakers. I check, and my main seven-channel amp is off. I press the power button on the front of the amp and…nothing. Still off. I power cycle my pre-pro and still off. Again, I break out the flashlight-in-the-mouth trick and dig through the wiring in the back of my rack, find the 12-volt trigger wire going into the amp, unplug it, reconnect it, and click! It turns back on.

I sit back on the couch to resume the movie, hit volume up on our Control4 remote, and my pre-pro doesn’t respond. I switch to a different activity to see if it is a C4 issue, but since I can control my Kaleidescape via IP I know that C4 is online and working. I open the Marantz app on my iPhone and…can’t connect.

Another trip off the couch, get into the Marantz’s settings screen, and see that following the power infarction the Marantz has decided to eschew my static IP via ethernet settings and reconfigure itself to jump on my Wi-Fi network…for which it has no login credentials. I pull down the front panel, get into the network configuration, reset it to wired connection, let it re-establish a connection, and THEN return to the couch to finally finish the movie.

Seriously. All of this happened.

I just kept thinking, “What hope in hell would one of our clients have of resolving these issues on their own?!”

The answer is absolutely none.

I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, and I still had some head scratching moments trying to solve the problem. All in the interest of just watching a movie.

I appreciate that living with cutting-edge tech can come with its own set of quirks and hiccups, and that getting different parts and pieces to play nice is part of the challenge, but it’s easy to see why so many people get frustrated over the systems we install. And none of these issues from the lack of correct integration.

* Sciacca Old Fashioned
1 Demerara sugar cube
6 dashes orange bitters
5 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Muddle sugar cube in bitters
Significant pour of Bullet rye whiskey
3 Luxardo cherries coated with marasca syrup
Stir gently to dissolve syrup
1 large ice cube
Garnish with large orange peel