[SOUNDSTAGE!] Marc Mickelson is the
Editor-in-Chief of SoundStage!
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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
December 2004

Your Audio System for a Horse

Where I live horses are a big deal. People own them, board them, raise them and especially ride them. Although there are magazines that cater to horse lovers, the people who read them know that at some point they have to ride the horses they own. Horses are too big and too expensive to keep as showpieces, and they aren't viable house pets -- watch your step! Owning a horse is a participatory avocation. If you own a horse and sit around reading about doing so, you're wasting your time (not to mention the horse's).

Very soon I will begin my ninth year "in the biz" --  audio, that is, not horses. In all of my work writing about audio equipment and music, and editing the work of others who do the same, there has always been one thing about it that has puzzled me: the zeal that some audiophiles have for reading about audio equipment. Listening to well-recorded music on a fine audio system is a joy that everyone who reads SoundStage! can surely understand. You visit us primarily because we write about products and recordings that interest you, the idea being that you will seek out some of these to audition for yourselves and perhaps buy. A purchase begins a relationship not unlike that with a horse -- if you own an audio system, you have to use it, and using it means listening to music.

However, reading about and discussing audio have become hobbies unto themselves, and they're the equivalent of watching a horse walk around its stable. Time is painfully finite, and yet audiophiles spend lots of it arguing about all manner of audiophile subjects, and therefore spend less time enjoying music -- the heart of their hobby.

We in the press are not blameless. Too many of us have supposed artistic aspirations, but don't have the writerly talent to back them up. Reviews meander and run on with little or no consideration for those who will read them. If you want art from your reading, pick up a good book. Where I live there is a very good public library that's well stocked and free.

If all of what I say is true, why then do we at SoundStage! produce so many audio reviews? First, our staff enjoys the challenge of writing about audio products and music, and takes pride in attempting to produce the most informative reviews you'll find anywhere. Writing is hard work, so you have to like putting out the effort if you're going to do it with any amount of expertise. But more than this, we publish reviews to help those who read them make informed buying decisions that will lead to greater musical satisfaction.

So just as you have to ride a horse, you have to listen to your audio system. Put down your magazines, turn off your computer and turn on some music. The art and entertainment awaiting you there are greater than you'll find in any audio review or online forum. Anything less is just horsing around.

...Marc Mickelson

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