September 2009

One Big Month Followed by Another and . . .

There’s never a slow time around here at the SoundStage! Network. Even in summer, when some businesses virtually shut down, there’s always work to do -- usually something to do with setting up, listening to, and writing about a product, or traveling to visit a manufacturer. No matter the time of year, people always want to read about audio gear, and our job is to write about that.

Of course, some times are busier than others, and when September comes around and things really kick into high gear, the amount of content we produce nearly doubles. We have all the work we usually do, plus all the other things that start happening at this time of year.

If you’re reading this at the beginning of September, it’s when Jeff Fritz will be in the middle of the "The World’s Best Audio System: The Great North American Loudspeaker Tour," a journey in which he visits six speaker companies in Canada and the US, all in ten days, and reports on his adventures in Ultra Audio, a SoundStage! Network sister site.

Given the Ultra Audio slogan of "Sound to the Extreme," it’s no surprise that the companies Jeff is visiting and the speakers he’s seeing, hearing, and writing about tend to be at the extremes of design, performance, and price. It’s the stuff that only a few people can actually own, but that nearly all of us like to read about. If you want to follow Jeff on his travels, you can do so in the "TWBAS" section of that site. His "TWBAS: TGNALT" updates will be going online throughout the tour. And don’t be surprised if, in the spring of 2010, you see "The Great European Loudspeaker Tour."

If you’re reading this toward the middle of September, it could be while I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, for CEDIA Expo ’09. CEDIA stands for Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association, so this show is largely about custom-install products: multichannel, multiroom, whole-house stuff. But it’s also a showcase for two-channel audio and home theater. Along with the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, many companies use the CEDIA Expo to introduce their new products -- and that’s why we attend.

I’ll probably be writing about some of my Expo experiences here on SoundStage! next month, but the main coverage of CEDIA will appear on SoundStage! Network A/V Tour 2009, our dedicated show site, which has not only coverage of the CEDIA Expo, but also of High End 2009, held in May in Munich, Germany, as well as the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF), to be held in Denver, Colorado, in October -- I’ll be there, too, along with Jeff, who I hope will have recovered by then from his speaker-hunting trip.

RMAF isn’t as big as the CEDIA Expo or the Munich High End events, but it’s still significant -- it’s just about the only US-based two-channel audio show left of any size and scope. Mostly US firms exhibit at RMAF, as you’d expect, but in the past many Canadian manufacturers, and even some from overseas, have displayed their wares there. RMAF is held October 2-4; as with the CEDIA Expo, daily reports will be filed on the A/V Tour 2009 site.

Right now, I don’t know what November holds, let alone December, but if past experience tells me anything, those months, too, will be big.

The SoundStage! Network is a dynamic, fast-moving organization, and our focus right now is to build the best group of publications in the world covering audio, home theater, and music. We tend to make decisions thoughtfully but quickly, so that we can act fast enough to keep ourselves at the fore of audio and home-theater publishing. That’s how I ended up on a last-minute flight to the Netherlands last November, to get a sneak preview of Crystal Cable’s Arabesque loudspeaker, then write about it so that the world could get its first glimpse here. It’s more likely than not that this November and December will bring more surprises like that.

These big months at the end of the year can be a little overwhelming -- even daunting, given the work involved. But it’s all part of the business. Since 1995, we’ve been leaders in online publishing about audio, and more recently we’ve challenged ourselves to improve what we do even more. So it can’t be any other way. It’s one big month followed by another, and then by many more to come.

. . . Doug Schneider