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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
March 2002

Audio Evolution

As you've undoubtedly noticed, SoundStage! has undergone an extensive face lift. Karen Fanas, our graphic artist, began working on this redesign a few months ago, and between then and now, Doug Schneider has worked to translate Karen's vision into HTML. I especially like the more orderly nature of the site, which should load a little faster now, as well as the pictures of our columnists, all of whom work hard to convey their visions each month. Last month we welcomed back Jim Saxon, and this month we say hello to Jerry Kindela and his "Ultra Audio" column. And there's more to come next month, when we unveil the new "Planet Hi-Fi" column with the former editors of the website with the same name, Greg Kong and Dennis Hartwick.

This month we also will be making our annual trek to Montreal to cover the Son & Image show. It too has changed from previous years. In the past, the show was housed in the Delta and Sheraton Four Points hotels, which made it a very large show by any standards. This year, the Holiday Inn, which is very near the other two hotels, is added to the roster, making this show larger than any consumer-oriented A/V show in North America. There are two factors for the growth, as I see things. First, the rates for display rooms are unbelievably low by trade-show standards. I don't know the exact figures this year, but in the past they were around $1200 Canadian, which translates to well under $1000 USD. In comparison, the CES charges at least six times this. The Montreal show has also grown in attendance, and the people who do attend love their gear and music. There is enthusiasm in abundance among the attendees, and I think much of this is due to the great assemblage of equipment and music in one place, and a great diverse city at that. If I didn't cover this show, it would be the one I'd most want to attend.

But more than just signs of change, our site redesign and Son & Image's growth demonstrate a shift in the ways you are able to find out about high-end audio. Before we began SoundStage! almost seven years ago, there was print, and that's it. Now with the SoundStage! Network firmly entrenched in the A/V world, there is an alternative to the print press, and one that costs readers nothing but their time. I will put our reporting on audio products up against anyone's, and our measurements are second to none. Add to these our columns and you have one of the most complete sources of audio information -- and it all appears monthly. Likewise, Son & Image has eclipsed the Home Entertainment Show, which will once again be in New York City this year, because, I believe, it's more industry friendly. Small companies that can't even consider showing at the HE show because of its cost can swing the Montreal show for about the cost of a sleeping room for four days in NYC. Perhaps the organizers of Home Entertainment don't mind that small companies don't display at their show, but you should. You deserve to see all that high-end audio has to offer.

Of course, I'm biased toward our group of websites, and I admit the same for the Montreal Son & Image show, about which I've told countless companies, some of which you'll see there this year. But my bias has relevancy because there is great merit to what we are doing at SoundStage! Network and what happens in Montreal at the end of March. Slowly, the establishment is evolving, and this is only good news for consumers, whose knowledge base is broadened by the added points of view.

Please let us know what you think of our redesigned website. And if you have room in your schedule to travel to Montreal March 22-24, you'll find the city and show waiting to entertain and educate you. Bienvenu.

...Marc Mickelson

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