August 2009

Going Places

Last month’s editorial, "Going Beyond Borders, Expanding What We Do," described some of the things we’re doing to make SoundStage! not only a broader, more diverse publication, but a truly global one -- the first of its kind for high-end audio.

One of the key things we must do to make that happen is travel even more than we do already -- to shows, events, and companies’ factories, regardless of where they are on the planet. If we’re going to bring the world of high-end audio to our readers, we can’t wait for it to come to our door -- often, we have to go and find it. And over the last month we’ve been doing just that.

In July, I made one of my regular trips to the Toronto area to do two things. One was to visit companies based there -- Toronto has the highest concentration of high-end audio companies in Canada -- and another was to drop by Ultra Audio writer Jason Thorpe’s house to photograph the Crystal Cable Arabesques, for a gallery that will accompany his September 1 review of the speakers. (Ultra Audio is a sister website that’s part of the SoundStage! Network.) Crystal Cable is based in the Netherlands, and the Arabesque retails for $65,000 USD per pair. While in Toronto, I also arranged for us to review two new speakers: Focus Audio’s high-value FC 9, which Colin Smith will listen to; and I’ll be reviewing Blue Circle Audio’s new Penny.

Jason Thorpe’s review of Crystal Cable’s Arabesque, along with a complete photo gallery of the loudspeaker, will appear on Ultra Audio, our sister high-end publication, on September 1.

More trips are planned for the fall, but they won’t involve just me. At the beginning of September, Jeff Fritz is taking Ultra Audio’s "The World’s Best Audio System" on the road, touring at least a half-dozen of North America’s best-known high-end speaker builders. In this, "The Great North American Loudspeaker Tour," he’ll stop at Verity Audio, YG Acoustics, Rockport Technologies, Wilson Audio Specialties, and EgglestonWorks -- plus a bonus stop that he’s keeping secret until he’s on the road. Visiting so many companies in such a short time is unique -- to the best of my knowledge, no one has done this sort of thing before. Furthermore, Jeff will report on his findings as they happen, just as we do with our live show reports. Each night, Jeff will prepare his report and upload his photos, and the next day they’ll be published in the "TWBAS" section of Ultra Audio for the world to see. (For 2010, Jeff has planned the "The Great European Loudspeaker Tour"; more on that later.)

Immediately following Jeff’s return, I’ll set off on another trip, this time to Atlanta, Georgia, home to Expo 2009 of the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. CEDIA’s annual show is a massive showcase featuring the latest in custom-installation, home-theater, and two-channel-audio products, and we cover this important event each year as part of our AV Tour series. The CEDIA Expo, like the Consumer Electronics Show each January, helps keep us on the cutting edge of what’s new -- and reporting on such events as quickly as we do keeps our worldwide readership informed about the latest.

In October, Jeff and I go to Denver, Colorado, for the annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. RMAF isn’t nearly as big as CES or the CEDIA Expo, but it’s significant because so many new products from the smaller high-end companies get their world premieres there -- companies that often can’t afford to showcase their wares at CEDIA or CES.

So we’ll be on the road a lot over the next two months, but it’s necessary if we’re to stay at the top. Traveling to so many places is what gets us ahead and keeps us there -- and keeps us strong as a publication with truly global coverage, reach and appeal.

. . . Doug Schneider