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The Art of the Demo Print E-mail
Monday, 01 November 2004
Article Index
The Art of the Demo
Page 2

2. Do not over-play a demo. Just as it is tacky to pile pasta on a guest’s plate as if you were the head chef at an Olive Garden, don’t sit there and drag out any demo for more than a few minutes. With music, never play a song past the first chorus. At that point, roll the volume down. You goal is to give your guest a taste of what great video and sound feels like, not to convince them to buy a system from you.

3. Preview what you are about to see and hear and why you are playing it. If you are playing Super Speedway on DVD converted down from an IMAX film, make a note of it. If you are playing “Pulp Fiction” from D-VHS (a great format for demos), then make sure your guests know that it is possible to play HD content from what might look to them like a normal VHS player.

4. People trust what they see more than what they hear. When demoing music, do maybe two tracks: one really good mainstream stereo track from DVD-Audio or SACD and then another one in surround. On the audio track, explain to your guests what it is they should be listening for. For example, on a Stevie Ray Vaughn track, point out how Vaughn’s Fender amp hums slightly right before the verse starts. Before a surround sound track, point out what the listener might expect to hear. Physically point at the speakers (if appropriate) to highlight how music is coming out of the rears.

5. Don’t blow people away with how much things cost. While you might have a room full of Wilson, Mark Levinson, Classe or Krell, make sure they know that good speakers can cost as little as $400 per pair. Big HDTV sets have dropped in price from $7,000 to $1,595 and can be bought at Costco.

While you are an ambassador for audio and home theater, be sure not to be a salesman. Inviting people over to watch a football game is a great social event. If people are into it, make your own halftime show that lasts 10 or 15 minutes, which will be far more interesting than listening to John Madden talk about Terrell Owens’ three touchdown catches.

In most cases, AV enthusiasts have spent countless hours researching and learning about everything from audio, video, acoustics, theater seating and lighting control to remote programming and everything in between. Often the barrier that blocks people from getting a topnotch system like yours is fear of the technology. If you hand a man an AMX remote and have his wife work the entire system, trust me, she will be talking about it on the drive home and you will be your buddy’s hero.

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