[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
January 1998


January 25, 1998

It's half-time at the Super Bowl, so I decided to check out Talk On-Line. I think your two-week test period prior to opening Talk to our readership produced solid guidelines for behavior, resulting in a very informative, well-written, and friendly audio forum, the likes of which do not exist anywhere that I know of (I can't access TAN from here.). I used to monitor rec.audio.opinion, and saw scant civility, a tendency toward one-upsmanship, and a lot of bad writing. In Talk On-Line, you are making a real contribution to forming an audio community in cyberspace. I think it will increase the overall appeal of SoundStage! and help to attract many more readers.

Best regards,

Jim Saxon
Paradise Correspondent

January 21, 1998

Dear Soundstagers,

Thanks for supplying the on-line community with a great audio "magazine."   It provides a welcome alternative to the "BEST SPEAKER THIS MONTH!!!" covers of the magazines available here in Singapore.

I like that you tend to review items that the mainstream mags miss. I find that some of the smaller companies create some of the better value, better sounding equipment on the market. They don't have huge corporate structures, or excessive marketing requirements that create inflated prices. Unfortunately, until manufacturer X gains mindshare most retail outlets won't carry X's gear.

That's where SoundStage! comes in. A positive review can be the "nudge" I need to go the extra mile to hear a component for myself. Much better than reviews of stuff I can easily listen to myself at the local hi-fii hut.

I've enjoyed reading your evaluations of equipment that other mainstream audio rags have missed. The Blue Circle, Spectron, Warner Imaging, Meadowlark, and other articles have been very interesting and thoughtful.

I realize that due to your dispersed staff, and smaller nature it is difficult to line up similar components for "sound off's". If you could somehow pull this off though, it would be great. I find reviews of say, speakers less than $3000, very revealing as differences can be compared in detail.

Also, any chance of a review of Audio by Van Alstine products? I'm very intrigued by their FetValve Amp, but won't be trying one out as they only sell direct. They do offer a return policy, with restocking fee, but most people aren't likely to go this route.

There are already reviews of AVA's FETvalve, but SoundStage!'s reviewers have similar music and systems to mine. Besides, you guys have already reviewed the other affordable components on my watch list. :)

In case you're as intrigued as I am about a triode/MOSFET amp for $1700, the http is www.avahifi.com.

Keep up the good work in 1998.

D. Barrett

P.S. I was suprised to see the Loth-X speakers you saw in Las Vegas are made here in Singapore. I haven't heard a peep about them.

January 24, 1998

I recently 'disovered' your fantastic on line magazine. Although I have just been to the 98 WCES, I still enjoy so much of your coverage of the Show because I missed so much (every year, it could never be fully covered by one or two people, no matter how many miles of walks one did). I also read the reviews of the DH Cones with great interests. I bought some at the Show from Allen Chang and found them really good and reasonable in price. Anyway, please keep up the good work (high end in general) and I hope that you won't commercialize your magazine (we have to pay to get in), ever!

Take Care!

...E. Cheng

January 15, 1998

Hi Guys:

Thanks for a nice pictorial/commentary on CES, and a new record for
publishing time following CES.

I'm working on AC power in my system, so I thought I'd reflect on that in light of your Bybee/Curl pictures. There are people who swear by, respectively, Bybee, TG Audio, and Marigo for power conditioning. How's a person supposed to get a handle on this? To me, comparative evaluation of AC products is one of the crying needs for review, yet nobody has picked up on it. In the absence of comparative review(s), we're left with the situation where an audiofool is on his own to try to catch up with these products. Since they're not, or haven't been, mainstream products, getting ahold of them for home audition is a daunting task Hey, send a box of products to me in Alaska, will you?? Hmmm.

By the way, I acquired a Marigo Power Distribution Center recently. All I know so far is, it trounced the VansEvers unit. The Marigo is Ron's Ultra AC cord terminating in an outlet strip disguised as a box. No electronic doodads in there. However, I bought without attempting to compare with others -- ElectraGlide, for example. My two main AC cords (CD and int. amp) are next ... and I *will* do some comparative testing.

Furthermore ... while SoundStage! has done a great job of scooping new products, it's still the shotgun approach. In general, I'd like to see much more focused and systematic reviewing than we get in any of the mags, paper or electronic. There is a great need for review of classes of components that are, or should be, really important to the marketplace -- for example, $1500 floorstanding speakers (Totem, JM Labs, Morel, System Audio -- think how much FUN this would be!). And can't somebody do something definitive with isolation feet? Does EVERYONE have to go through a dozen iterations of cones and balls and pucks while the bills dribble out of the holes in our pockets? With every type of component, comparative reviews of key price-point component groups could be done, to great advantage. And I don't think a component has to be on hand for three or six months to do a decent review.

I really admire and appreciate SoundStage!'s commitment to developing a quality 'zine. I know it takes a lot of vision, dedication, organization, and effort. Keep up the good work!!


...Dave S.

Thanks Dave, your comments are appreciated greatly. You are right and that is why for 1998 we are making BIG improvements. Our first goal -- hire a full-time Editor to do EXACTLY the type of things that you are recommending. SoundStage! is growing fast and we must do our best to keep on improving to maintain our spot as number one. I believe that a large part of the future of publishing is on the Internet -- we're more than glad to be a part of it...DAS

January 15, 1998

I've spent at least half an hour a day browsing through your reviews, trying to catch up on it all. Your CES '98 descriptions were anxiously awaited every day!

Great job, all around!

...Kuan L.

January 13, 1998


SoundStage! appears to be growing in Leaps and Bounds. That's great...more to enjoy!!! A thought crossed my mind, so I decided to toss it out for evaluation. Even with all the staff hard at work for SoundStage!, and all the equipment reviewed, there appears to be more products of Exceptional Nature than any group of reviewers can keep up with. I wonder whether or not some forum at this site could be used for  folks to make mention of items they have come across that may or may not come up for review. Or to write in and agree or disagree with a review in constructive fashion. Would "Feedback" be the best site for this?

In regards to products which HAVE been covered, I can throw my two cents in and say that I agree with the praise given products from Merlin, JPS
Labs, and Timbre Technology...I have been fortunate to luck into good deals on demo items and have been very pleased with the results.

As for products that have NOT been reviewed, and may well never make the list, I will toss out the name of a few companies I personally believe warrant more attention than they have hitherto gotten, ones which I would suggest folks learn more about: 

A) G and D Transforms--particularly their UTP-1 transport and UCD CD players. Special attention is given to power supplies and jitter reduction, and the approach appears to be quite successful, especially at the cost.

B) TG Audio Labs--particularly the LineSucker and Bybee-Sucker power conditioners/filters, and the HSRi power cords. In most instances, nothing overly fancy, just exceptionally well thought out and well constructed. Excellent bang for the buck.

C) Electra Glide--though decidedly NOT cheap, power cords from this company have tremendous potential in the right settings.

I would be interested in other folks selections regarding companies to keep an eye on or to make discoveries about...not as a popularity contest, but as a guide for folks who are interested in potentially excellent products from lesser known companies (in a broad sense).

...Dave D.

Hi Dave..right now, as always, we encourage feedback in this Feedback section.   I believe it vitally important for readers to have a voice and it is for this purpose that this section has been created.  If we do one day create a 'reader review' type area, it will be an extension of this section.

As for your suggestions for review products from G&D Transforms, T&G Audio and Electra Glide, we too have heard plenty about these products and made it a point to talk to all of the owners of these companies at CES '98.  One thing is for sure, all of these companies are very busy supplying their products to consumers and don't have samples to spare at this moment, however, we anticipate having review products from at least a couple, if not all of the companies in 1998.

Thanks for taking the time to write in...DAS

January 6, 1998

Re: Greg Smith's Fringe

At last, someone who writes about quality portable audio! It's about time! For years, I've spent more time walking everyday to my job with those devices than in my listering room. Walking in mid to high traffic area with a high crime rate had shown me a few things: I don't need really high resolution headphones and i need to hear ambient noises for safety purposes. After trying headphones I wear at home, I presently use the Koss Porta-Pro. In my case, it is inconvenient to show gear to potential stolers, so a supplementary amp with battery pack in a bag with Headroom logo is out of question. I can't imagine myself running out of hell with all that stuff...so i keep the source secured in the upper inner pocket of my jacket, out of the way of stolers and of the cold that we have in Montreal.

Speaking of sources, I agree that the SL-S320 is a nice little player. Mine has survived a few small traumas without problem. But life is not limited to CD. I am not talking about the oncoming trend of mini-disk but about good ol' cassette. I tape a lot of radio concerts on my Nak that I like to bring along. What i am searching for is a Walkman with a good transport without stupid gadgets like auto-reverse and Dolby. Maybe the only gadget i am looking for is the pin to detect metal cassette. Maybe you can write an article for cassette users since my old Aiwa is tired and my Sony D6 is too bulky.

...Pierre L.

January 1, 1998

Reading Jim Saxon is like reading about James Bond as a teen! He's fresh, witty, at least semi-dangerous, contemporary, connected, and somehow wonderfully disconnected. I will now go light a fine cigar in his honor. Through the smoke I'll see palm trees, with swaying senoritas; I'll sense the distant shake of ice on alcohol; my WATTS will purr like a chorus of ROBB REPORT cars-for-sale.

What fun!

Best Regards,

...Bob W.

I agree with you Bob. When I edit SoundStage! I eagerly anticipate each new article from Jim. I'm glad we've got him on SoundStage!...DAS

January 1, 1998

Re: January Fringe - Panasonic SL-S320 Portable CD Player

The shock resistant mode in portable CD players use a lossy compression system to make a small memory bank be able to hold the audio samples. So it is turning your CD quality audio into MiniDisc sound when the shock resistant mode is used. The Genesis Technologies Digital Lens has a large memory bank, so no lossy compression is needed or wanted.

...Rich H.


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