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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
October 2001

A Refrain

Thanksgiving here in the US is next month, but recent events have us all looking more acutely within, and for me this gives rise to the immense gratitude I have for my life, and the people and things that give it rhythm. Even without the public forum provided me as the editor-in-chief of the SoundStage! Network, I would be writing this down, just to remember all that constitutes my life.

First, of course, are the people -- family and friends. I am not being the least bit trivial when I also include the people I work with at the SoundStage! Network. I haven't met a person with more fire than Doug Schneider, and our writers are high end all the way for their dedication to the task of writing about electronics, music and movies, and their willingness to listen to a sometimes-ornery editor when he's not at his diplomatic best. So much goes on behind the scenes -- the computer work, copy editing, proofreading, business development -- that I often wonder if we make it look too easy to be fully appreciated. But then I know we are appreciated. You let us know every month with your praise as well as anxiousness for our content. So I add you, our readers, to my list too. We wouldn't be here without you.

I also feel utterly grateful for all the music I am able to enjoy and learn from. Music teaches? Absolutely. It teaches about art, aesthetics, humanity, history, beauty -- the list is almost never-ending. We audiophile music lovers live in a golden age; great recordings are plentiful, and the remasters that are appearing daily are uniform improvements over previous versions. The truth of the master tape has finally become a priority. I just bought the SBM remaster of Dire Straits' self-titled debut album, and it's so much better than the older CD that the two are not rivals in any sonic way. JVC's recent XRCD2s are amazing for their musical involvement as well as the inspired choice of material, which now includes classic orchestral performances. Premium CDs aren't cheap, and DVD-As and SACDs can cost even more, but in terms of bang for the buck, music rules as far as I'm concerned. Once I buy a disc, I own it, and I can play it whenever and wherever I want (within reason). In his "Audio Hell" column this month, Bill Brooks discusses a Garrison Keillor monologue about the power of music for citizens and rescuers in New York City, and it makes the case better than I can. But still I try.

Another thing we audiophiles have to be thankful for is the wealth of great equipment available at all price levels. I love the Lamm and Wilson Audio products I've been listening to, but the buzz among us SoundStagers has been about the little Axiom Millennia M3Ti speakers, which a number of our writers have heard, claiming that they aren't just good for their price, but good, period. I haven't heard these small wonders, but I have heard some mighty good budget-priced gear, and in many ways it's more impressive than the expensive stuff. Its compromises dwindle as time passes, and its sound quality has the ability to bring new audiophiles in to camp -- or make it easy for us old-timers to have good sound all over our houses.

These are uncertain and trying times -- and more so for some of us than others. But remembering what I have to be thankful for makes me realize that even the bad things serve to define my life, giving rise to great sympathy for those whose hard times seem unimaginable, and gratitude to those with whom I spend my days. This is the melody of life. We must listen -- and sing.

...Marc Mickelson

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