Originally Posted by MusicFirst /forum/post/15463687
I noticed you are from the Bay Area. I have been in this hobby a loooong time. Just recently I started working for a very small Custom A/V installer in the North Bay (though they have done some jobs as far away as Piedmont).
Just so you know this is not a "Sales pitch" per say. Just wanted to share some "inside information" about dealing with Magnolia Hi-Fi. For years I have questioned the cost benefit of dealing with Mag. Hi-Fi. Being a "do it your selfer" for many years, I have bought a few things from them over the years, but have never really looked to them for advice or installations services. I have purposely went in with some technical questions to see if they could guide me in the right direction. For the most part, most of the salesmen I talked too were relatively clueless when it came to the inner technical details of what certain equipment could do, and for instance how speaker placement effects sound.
However, that is not even the worst part. Not only will they act as if they know certain things when they don't, in the end all they are interested is in the "sale". Their service (especially after the install) leaves A LOT to be desired. From what I understand from the owner of the company I just started to work for, they get a lot of business from Magnolia customers because of their lack of service after installation. Just as an example, I went on a service call with our lead Tech. a few weeks ago. The customer had bought a complete system from Magnolia (including Bose In-walls no less!). She was having problems with her DirecTV which was not working at all (not receiving any channels). She called Magnolia, and they told her to call DirecTV. Which is fine but they wanted her to troubleshoot it over the phone, which she did. In doing so DirecTV advised her that the receiver had probably over-heated because her equipment was basically enclosed in a cabinet with no ventilation holes and/or fans. Needless to say she got very mad that Magnolia would have installed all this equipment in a cabinet without suggesting better ventilation (ie: cutting some holes in the back of the cabinet and suggesting the use of small ventilation fans). So she called us to fix everything for her, which we did. Another interesting note is what we found in terms of how they ran their cables. Nothing was zip tied off and all the cables were labeled with hand written, blue painters tape. It was really a joke. They also sold her a bunch of extra cables (over priced Monster), that she did not even need or use and were "just in case" she was told. My boss says that happens ALL the time with customers he has gotten from Magnolia. That kind of stuff just really bothers me!
On another more personal Magnolia story, before I started working for this custom A/V installer, a friend of ours was in the market to get a modest system for their living room. A 5.1 system, a 37" HDTV, (and two outdoor speakers). Just for kicks she wanted to see what Magnolia would charge her, including installation. They quoted her over $10,000. I did some research on the net for her suggested where and what to buy. I think it ran her a total of about $2,500 including the couple of dinners she made for my girl friend and I (that and she slipped a $100 bill in my truck at the end because she knew I would not take it voluntarily) for me to install it for her. Granted, that installation usually is not free. Even so, it was so small, even at say $120 hour, it took me a total of about 12 hours (including the product research). Even if I charged her that, she still would have gotten it for around $4,000!
Anyway, I think you get my point. I would just say you may want to look at other options, or at the very least have an "eagle eye" on Magnolia and what they bill you for. Keep in mind, even though most custom installers don't like to do it, they will install equipment that you supply them with. So you can always try to save yourself some money bargain hunting for deals on speakers, AVR's HDTV's, subwoofers, etc. Then having someone else install them for you!
Most important of all, try to find an installer who really concerns himself with service, especially after the initial installation. A lot of us do-it yourselfers don't require it, but for those who do, it is really worth it!
Best of Luck!
MusicFirst....thanks for sharing that experience. Very interesting.
Kind of reminds me of an old joke....
"What do you call the person who finished last in the class at Med School?"
Point being, like anywhere else, there are going to be both good and bad "authorities". That's true in the AV field, too.
Clearly, the Rotel sales person isn't all that knowledgeable. At least the Magnolia sales person asked some of the right questions.
Most who hang around AVS are AV enthusiasts. As such, we can put up or tear down an entire installation in our sleep. Personally, I've run so much cabling in and out of my walls/ceiling that I'd bet there's still some sweat in there that hasn't evaporated.
Not only with HT/Audio set ups, but any project that's sizable, the DIY-er will save gobs of money over the person who pays for the privilege of having someone else do it for them. A long time ago, I used to change my own brakes on my car at about $60 for materials. I choose not to do that anymore, and I pay $250 to have someone else do it. I can do it. I know how to do it. I just don't want to do it.
Setting up a HT system from scratch can be a daunting task...even just setting up a single component for a complete HT. For the longest time, I had wanted a Pioneer KURO TV. For the longest time (since the first ones were introduced a few years ago), they hovered in the $6,500-$9,000 range.
When I spied the newest models (6020) at Costco, for $4,000, I jumped on the deal (especially since by using my AMEX card, the warranty strung out to 3 years). Sounds easy enough. But, I had to get the thing loaded, transport it home, unloaded, and set it up. What would happen if I broke it while loading it? Or, while transporting it? Or, unloading it? Or, unpacking it? Or, setting it up? They aren't small, and they aren't light. They're mostly made of glass, too.
With a measuring tape, a hammer, a few screws and a screwdriver, I could wall mount the KURO in less than 30 minutes. I can run speaker or AV cable through my entire HT in less than an hour. Give me a few hours on a dreary winter afternoon, and I can totally tear down my entire system, and replace every piece in it, connected, and have it calibrated.
You get my drift here. I feel like I know what I'm doing. So, it was no "big deal" to me.
However, I certainly understand one's belief that it's just too much of a job for them to handle.
Set up has become much, much easier in recent years. One HDMI cable has replaced 3 component cables and one digital audio cable. Auto room/speaker correction has replaced analyzers and SPL meters (to good effect).
Even ISF calibration may or may not yield better results than what I can do on my own. I know I can get mighty close to what an ISF calibration will yield.
My installation will yield better results than even the best installer. But, that's because I've done so many of them, for myself and others (for little more than the price of a few beers).
I may not agree with the set up Magnolia has speced for paramr. But, it looks fairly good. I noticed one glaring omission...that is a power conditioner/surge protector. I have no issue with paramr letting them do his entire installation. There may be better installers out there (or maybe not). But, the installation either works, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, I'm of the mind that Magnolia will fix it.
I wouldn't let them do my installation, for no other reason than I trust my work more than theirs (or anyone else's).
As a side note regarding Direct TV. That company is one of the most underhanded, "Non-customer friendly", bordering on unethical, establishments I've ever come across.