|Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson|
Goals and MilestonesI suspect that when we at SoundStage! look back and recount the milestones of our growth, much of which is still to come, we will point to February 2000. Why? We debut our first set of measurements to go along with a product review, in this case the Mirage MRM-1 speakers. The measurements, produced by Canada's prestigious National Research Council, are our own doing. Doug Schneider brokered the agreement with the NRC and spearheaded our discussions about the form the measurements would take and what exactly we would like measured. He also does all of the legwork, trudging to the NRC to deliver the products we will measure. For now, we will measure only speakers, but we hope with time that we will have the NRC providing measurements for every review we produce. Yes, SoundStage! is entering the even bigger time.
But some of you might wonder why we would want to produce measurements at all, but I would urge you to keep in mind our professed emphasis -- in our reviews and often in my monthly editorial -- on the sound we hear. Whereas other audio publications and websites base their reviews -- when they have a basis -- on reviewer likes and dislikes, our reviews aim at answering the question that we ask ourselves: What does it sound like? And our measurements are an extension of this -- we want to nail each product in the human realm and in terms of its engineering. While we know that measurements don't tell the whole story, they can tell a lot, and so we look at them as an extension of our ears.
As you can probably guess, measurements are not inexpensive to produce correctly, but we see their inclusion in our publication as being money well spent. While audio manufacturers produce electronics, speakers or cables, we produce content, and measurements are another form of this. What you may not know about us is that our reviews are the product of strict guidelines that ensure consistency and quality. Likewise, we have unwritten guidelines for the production of our show reports, making sure that we cover each show thoroughly (although we invariably miss something) and in a way that will keep you coming back for the duration of the report. Our reviewing guidelines and live show reporting are also milestones.
More than anything else, however, the measurements we publish from this point forward endeavor to make us a more complete publication. We will still write our reviews in the same way, but we'll also have the measurements to back up our aural observations -- or challenge them. Both are good from our point of view, and for you, the measurements offer yet another way to understand what you might hear at home when you audition the equipment we review. While there are no rules for how to produce an audio publication, reviews accompanied by measurements have been our aim from the very beginning, even before we knew we would still be here now, and so I guess we're following through on a goal -- and making a publication that we would like to read. And that's a milestone we are very happy to reach -- and a goal to keep reaching for.
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