[SOUNDSTAGE!] Marc Mickelson is the
Editor-in-Chief of SoundStage!
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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
January 2000

Us and Them

As we know, the big audio news for January will be made in Las Vegas, site of the CES and T.H.E. Show. What you probably don’t know is that Doug Schneider and I will be in Las Vegas three days before the start of either event, so our coverage will begin early too. I guess it’s not enough to do just live coverage; you have to begin it early too. At any rate, keep an eye on our Las Vegas 2000 site starting January 4 and you will not only be rewarded with the most extensive and complete coverage of "the really big shoo," you’ll see it before anyone else.

The CES is always a place to gauge the direction of the industry -- not only what’s being displayed there but also how it’s covered. We can almost predict what will create the greatest buzz this year -- new digital gear -- but only after the CES has ended and agreements have been made for reviews will we really know the significance of the equipment on display. And like many of you, I am concerned with the tremendous proliferation of reviews, some of which are written primarily or solely as a sales tool and others produced as part of a far less-than-formal review process. What do I mean by this? Simply that it’s easy to borrow equipment from a dealer or friend for a few days and then write about it, not taking proper setup into account or the deliberation necessary to get under the skin of the subject. As I’ve stated many times, the most important question to answer in a review is "What does it sound like?" and this is difficult to do if the gear has to go back the next day or the "reviewer" has little experience behind his or her estimation.

Why we would care about this is obvious, but what many of you may not know is the extent to which this happens -- and the extent to which we go to ensure that our reviews are as complete and aurally accurate as possible. Without giving too much away, I can say that we go about our work very deliberately, trying to cultivate a publication-wide point of view so that our results travel from review to review. We also get important second opinions on pieces of equipment we review, often publishing after-the-fact follow-up reviews or sidebars along with the original review, both of which we plan to do more of.

Finally, we ensure that our writing staff is highly informed, making sure we place pieces of equipment with particular writers for maximum effect. This means that over time our reviewers not only get better at writing about analog, for instance, but also become better educated -- as they hear more similarly functioning equipment. Readers come to expect a lot from Doug Schneider, for instance, when he writes about another pair of minimonitors, or Doug Blackburn on power-conditioning products. We’d have it no other way.

So as you peruse the online and print worlds, read the reviews you encounter carefully and critically, and know that we’ll be here writing about many of the same products and many others that you won’t read about anywhere else. Like Las Vegas, SoundStage! is always open.

...Marc Mickelson

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