John Sciacca Writes...
Random Thoughts (Blog)
Random Thoughts (Blog)
Random Thoughts (Blog)
|Posted on February 25, 2011 at 4:35 PM|
It has been a while since I’ve spoken about my encounters with Mr. Cooper. If you recall, I’ve done three posts on my encounters with him so far; the first called “the customer’s always right even when he’s crazy” where I introduced you to the obsessive mania which was Mr. Coopers need for crazy-ultra-super-high-end-magic-infused power and HDMI cables. The second was “Mr. Cooper, no! You can’t buy that!” where I explain that he came back to back some MORE super high-end HDMI cables. Then my Jedi three-quel conclusion of “Mr John, I needs mo power!” where he came back to solve a problem on his line, and ended up purchasing a product that even the MANUFACTURER told me wasn’t going to help. Ugh!
So, my last encounter with Mr. Cooper was a couple of months ago when I finally got him to purchase a product from PS Audio that I *really* feel like WILL help him. (See, despite what you all might think, I don’t tell you *everything* that goes on in my life!) He purchased a power regenerator that actually rebuilds the electrical signal entirely. It takes the power coming in, rebuilds a perfect sine-wave and then puts out perfect power to your gear, giving him completely clean power, free from all the problems and noise that sound like they are living on his shared, multi-dwelling power lines. As with every product that I’ve EVER sold to Mr. Cooper this offered “much mo’ better, clearer bass” and even blackier blacks. He was pleased. I was pleased. The karma ship was mildly righted.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that $1000 power cords and $600 HDMI cables are entirely snake oil. In fact, I believe that in the right system, high-end cabling can be revealing and help to deliver those last details and nuances that you pay for. And there is NO doubt in my mind that manufacturing an 8-guage, multi-stranded cable wound with fine, single strands crafted from only the purest, pre-washed in distilled rainbow oil woven chin-beard hairs of the rarest Andalusian mountain gnomes is a costly product. And the cable sure looks nice. In fact, upon seeing the power cable he bought for the first time, my initial thoughts were, “Man! I would hate for someone to whip me with that thing!” That cable would leave one wicked-bad stripe mark, believe me! But, my contention with Mr. Cooper spending thousands – and I do mean THOUSANDS – of dollars on cable purchases is that he is not going to realize the benefit. Sure, if you have gear that is described with terms like “aircraft grade finish available in an infinite array of custom paint offerings” or “milled out of a single, solid billet of aluminum” or “our head craftsman single-handedly oversees the production of this design, which takes up to 183 days to construct” then, sure. Buy the cables. Buy them all. And, hopefully from me to boot. I’ll give you no quarter. But, if your system is like Mr. Coopers and is composed of medium-performance bookshelf speakers powered by a mid-grade receiver and outputting to a several years old 34-inch TUBE TV, then spending thousands of dollars on cables is NOT the best investment of upgrade moneys to your system.
And that has always been my message to Mr. Cooper. Look, I understand; you’ve got a disease! There are demons nipping at your heals, and instead of building a crazy, weird-old-lady Winchester mystery house with stairways that lead to the ceiling and doors that open to walls hoping that they’ll get lost trying to find you, you buy cabling hoping that they’ll, uh, appreciate your love for military and laboratory grade copper and silver windings. You are crazy in the head-brain and you have got to spend every penny you get the very second that it hits your wallet – or, more truthfully, the second that you find out that it is GOING to hit your wallet – and you want to invest that in building a better A/V system. I get it. It’s your hobby and what you love and you want to get the best. But, damn it, man! There are other upgrades to be made first! Many, MANY other upgrades.
So, he calls me up the other day and he is HOT on the trail of a new interconnect cable for his subwoofer. I can tell that he has been on the Internet and he has been stalking the next purchase to keep the madness at bay and he has just got a bee in his bonnet for this cable from Monster Cable called the Sigma Retro. And a 1.5-foot pair of Sigma Retro is like $750. And, to reiterate, he wants to connect it to his subwoofer and needs an 8-foot length. So I try to explain that this cable is not really made for a subwoofer connection but rather to be the link between, say, your super expensive Mark-Levinson pre-amp and your equally super expensive Mark-Levinson power amp. You know, the velvet lined and hand-gilded bridge that links your two $20,000 components together in loving, sweet-sweet audio bliss. Which then connect to your super expensive Wilson MAXX loudspeakers. Yet, that is another tale.
So, there is a place for the Sigma Retro interconnects. That place is just not between your $900 receiver and your subwoofer. In fact, even Monster Cable told me that. Which I then told to Mr. Cooper, offering him instead their most expensive subwoofer cable as an appeasement. Which resulted in about a half-dozen calls to further explore and discuss the merits and custom lengths available of the Sigma Retro. So, as you can imagine from previous encounters, I was just waiting for the call when he told me to order it. And, I’ll be honest, I was gonna do it. Look, I’m only gonna tell you, “No! Please! Don’t do it! DON’T!!! Wait, stop, come back!” so many times before I get tired and just say, “All right. Fine. Give me the money and I’ll order it,” and I move on to the next thing.
So, imagine my surprise when Mr. Cooper calls me up to discuss…getting new speakers! Hallelujah! I’ve been waiting for this day to come! It was as if the skies had parted after a long, spiteful drought, and the first, fat droplets of sweet, summer rain fell down, quenching and making wet love to the hard scrabble ground of my soul. Finally, an upgrade that I KNOW will make a difference! Finally a sale where I won’t feel like I’m abandoning another little piece of my conscience and sense of right. A sale where I won’t have to go home and bury my head in my wife’s bosom and say, “He just made me. Honest! I tried to stop him,” and she’ll soothe and say, “There, there. I know. I’m sure you did all you could.” Now, I could bury my head in her bosom for all the right reasons!
And, the speakers were the perfect choice for Mr. Cooper. This is a man who LOVES bass. Big, gut-punching, neighbor alienating, gets-up-in-ya-face, bass. With multiple 6.5-inch mid-bass drivers and built-in subwoofers, it ws *finally* an upgrade I could whole-heartedly embrace and say, “Yes, Mr. Cooper! Yes! Let’s order them! Today!”
Of course he wanted to go with the new Definitive Technology BP-8080ST bipolar towers. I didn’t even need to ask, knowing that it would ONLY be the top-of-the-line model he’d be interested in. For a man that is used to purchasing $1000 worth of ultra-pure copper in 1-meter units, the thought of purchasing anything below “what’s the best they got?” never even crosses his mind. So, we settled on the order – a pair of the big-boy towers and the matching big-boy center channel – and that’s when the cold, scratching, rat-like claws of madness started gnawing away at Mr. Cooper. He once again started asking about...power cords! Dammit, man! I did NOT see this ambush coming.
Since the BP-8080ST and matching center channel all have on board subwoofers – POWERED subwoofers – that means they need electricity. And electricity means a power cord. Damn!
“Mr. John. How long are the power cords on them speakers?”
I replied honestly. “I don’t know.”
“Well I need them to be at least 10 feet. You think they’s ten feet?”
“No, I think they’re more like 3 or 4. You could just use an extension cord; make it as long as you need.”
“Well, that ain’t gonna work. What gauge are they?”
“Oh, man, I have absolutely no idea.” No one, and I mean NO ONE has ever asked that question before. (And I called Definitive and they didn’t even had a ready answer. It’s a power cord for your speaker. That’s pretty much the long and the short of what 99.9% of people need to know.
“How long do those PS Audio power cords come?”
I start to say, “I don’t know” but the truth is that I DO know. They come three meters, ten feet. Reluctantly I tell him.
“How much is one of them?”
“Close to $1000.”
“Damn! I’d need to get three of ‘em. One for each speaker.”
That’s when I started arguing that he needed an extension cable NOT a replacement power cord and that the way the socket worked, I didn’t even think he could USE the PS audio cable. But there’s no fooling Mr. Cooper; he’d already done his homework.
“No, they’ll work. I already looked. Go to the Definitive website. They got a picture of the speaker with the power cord taken out. It’s removable.”
Damn! DAAAAMN! These speakers were $3000 for the pair and now he wanted to spend another $3000 in POWER CABLES! I know, I know, my job is to sell stuff and I should probably just say, “Yeah! Sure! Absolutely you need those cables! Only way to get the most out of those new speakers!” But, well, I can’t. I know that Mr. Cooper works – hard – at a tire factory. I’m not sure what he does there, but I’m thinking it is way less sitting at a computer station designing new rubber compounds and complex tread patterns and more moving giant-ass pallets of tires around or running some ultra-boiling-hot rubber vulcanizing machine possibly only moments away from catching himself on fire all day long.
That’s when I said, “Mr. Cooper, please. PLEASE. I am begging you – BEGGING YOU – not to spend $3000 on power cables for these speakers. Please. Don’t make me order these for you.”
“Well, I don’t know. I love them power cables.”
“Look, we use these Panamax 15-amp extension cords for all of our installations that need a longer cord. They handle high-current and are like 8 feet long and would be perfect – PERFECT – for these speakers. And they cost $15. Try them. If you feel like you are missing out on ANYTHING I’ll give you all your money back and won’t say another word about ordering the new power cables.”
“Well…OK. I know you’re tryin’ to look out for me. I’ll give that a try.”
So we order the speakers and are trying to figure out if they’ll all fit into Mr. Cooper’s car – I think it’s a Dodge Malibu or something like that – because he lives close to 2 hours from our store and the alternative is him making two there-and-back trips to get them. Then a couple of days later he calls up and asks if I’m going to be at the store all day. I tell him that I am.
“OK. I’m comin’ with the money. I wanna make sure you gonna be there.”
Again, remember that he lives TWO HOURS one way from our store and I have zero fear that he is gonna stiff me on these speakers. In fact, he gets so wound up for a purchase – he asked me how much I thought it would cost to have this pallet of speakers OVERNIGHTED in! Each speaker weighs like 80 pounds, so we are talking like close to 200 pounds of crushing overnight shipping charges. Versus totally free shipping and showing up in about 4 days on the other hand. I tell him that I think it would be astronomically expensive – like $500 or more and that’s just a guess which even be on the low-end – and that I would REALLY encourage him to wait the four days – that I could probably call him up when the speakers showed up and say, “Hey, they’re here but I’ve got someone else that wants to come in and buy them. If you still want these speakers they’re gonna cost you $500 more now.” And he’d do it. Now, I would NEVER do that, but that’s just to explain my “the sun rises/the sun sets” confidence in Mr. Cooper showing up with the money.
So I tell him, “Look, you’re coming from a long way away. Just bring me the money when you come to get the speakers; save yourself the driving.”
“No. Mr. John. My philosophy is when you got the money, you give the money. That’s how I do. Now I got the money and I want to come bring it to you. Just make sure you’re gonna be there.”
So, he came in holding a well-worn, obviously read and consulted many times copy of Home Theater magazine turned to the review of the new BP speaker. And, as Darryl Wilkinson is often speaker reviewer of choice with HT, and is known to garner virtually every advertised pull-quote in the industry, and is my declared arch-foil and literary conflict device, I was just SURE that he was going to cite some, “If master carpenter, Jesus Christ, were to build a speaker for himself, it would likely be the BP-8080ST” or “Upon hearing this speaker, I actually got on my knees and prayed that I might die and that this glorious sound would be the last thing I would hear while on this earth” from quote-generating-master Wilkinson. But, turns out the review was by another HT writer, so I was spared having to cut Darryl his standard “I helped you sell something” pro rata.
So, Mr. Cooper pulls out this thick WAD of cash – I was thinking tax refund but it was some kind of bonus – and hands it over. And that’s how Mr. Cooper came into my store...and made it Rain! Unfortunately I had to leave town before he picked the speakers up, so I’m not sure how they Tetris’d the three boxes into his car (we measured and in theory – IN THEORY! – we think that he’ll be able to get them all in in a single trip) or how they sound. I’ve no doubt that he’ll call me to give me a full review. And probably ask about some crazy new speaker wire he has discovered. I’m mentally preparing even as we speak...