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Open House

Theres a beta fish named Logo living in the art department of this magazines midtown Manhattan office. If there was ever a metaphor for New York City-style living, its that little black fish in a bowl the size of a Friends-style coffee cup.

When you make the move to the Big Apple from almost anywhere else, you quickly learn to pare down your worldly possessions to what basically can fit into a junior-sized U-Haul truck. Apartments in New York (we all live in apartments) are small, and closet space is minimal. When holidays roll around, middle-class New Yorkers tend to give old stuff to charity just to make room for new things that they received as gifts. And forget about truly enjoying the fruits of your labors in AV installation. Even a big shot with big bucks has to choose wisely when it comes to AV gear for a New York City apartment. Just like Logo in his fish bowl, you can only grow as big as your little living quarters allows.

Thats why I look to my impending move back home again to Indiana with a sense of overwhelming anticipation. Up until now there has been an absolute limit not only on how much furniture my wife and I could own, but more importantly on how much AV equipment I could buy. In our 650-square-foot New York City beta-bowl-sized apartment, my AV system could grow no larger than a plasma TV, five sleek surround sound speakers and a very cramped AV rack.

Thats just about all I could handle, even as I was tempted on a daily basis to try out more and more of the fun products that our industry promotes in the pages of Residential Systems. With the purchase of our first house, however, things are going to change, in a big way.

Now, with a 3,300-square-foot, five-bedroom palette on which to work, Ill finally be able to experience what Ive only seen and heard over the past 11 years in fancy home tours, dealers demo rooms, and trade show booths. Im excited that Ill be able to live with multi-room/multi-zone distributed audio and integrated controls on a day-to-day basis. I look forward to having whole-house lighting control, an outdoor audio system, and hidden speakers throughout the home. And, I cant wait to blow people away with a high-quality front-projection home theater system with a serious speakers, including a full-size subwoofer that I wont have to turn down to 2, because the neighbors might complain when the dBs get a little too high.

Dont get me wrong. It wont be easy. Were talking retrofit of a 1987 house. Like Grayson Evans says in his article on p. 36, retrofit definitely separates the men from the boys in the custom installation business, and Im about to find that out for myself. Evans explains that a set of basic retrofit tools will make the difference between frustration and fun, so I definitely will add a drill guide, 3/4-inch auger bit, retriever wire, etc., to my basic tool box.

Im already a little bit confused about the handiwork of the homes current ownera licensed electricianand there will be more questions to come. Im sure that I have my work cut out for me (no pun intended), but embrace the challenge of experiencing for myself what my friends in this industry go through every day.

Standby for new house reports throughout the year, and dont be surprised if I call some of you looking for advice or on-site consultation. After all, theres nothing like learning first-hand from graduates of the School of Real-World Experience. See you in the trenches.