[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
August 1998


August 21, 1998

To: Todd Warnke

Thanks for the great review of the Puccini SE integrated. I'm a serious audio guy who believes that an integrated amp is the only way to go and clearly what "real people" need in an audio system. My own amp is a modified Audio Matière integrated with a replacement value of around $7500. Besides using a single box and saving one interconnect, you save buying one AC cord (EVERY component needs a replacement AC cord at 20-30% of the component’s cost) and the shelves, isolation, filters, Shakti Stones, etc. for a second component.

I'm presently helping a couple of friends begin to upgrade low-fi racks to systems that make music. I've made endless lists of equipment choices, and I have a rack full of ring binders with literature. Did you know that the year-old Audio equipment bible lists 189 integrated amps?! And many have hit the market since.

Aside from the babble, my comment would be that I believe every review should compare similarly priced and functioning components. Only in that way can we readers build a database of useful information on a component niche. It is so incredibly difficult to get components for audition, and do meaningful listening. And the farther outside the mainstream (e.g., the Puccini SE) a component is, the more difficult it is to find it. Suppose I'm interested in integrated amps that have made a splash in the news -- say, the Creek 4330, the Magnum, the Audio Refinement (YBA), Densen, Jolida, and the Puccini. Do I have a prayer of finding even three or four of these? Doesn't matter whether I live in Alaska (which I do) or Nebraska, Houston or Boston. The answer is "No."

If I were a reviewer, my goal would be to work on one niche or segment at a time, something of interest to me, and follow through on that. It hasn't been done much. One example is Stu McCreary's work a couple of years ago on tube amps in Positive Feedback. A minor case is Stereophile's recent set of reviews on CD players in the $3000 range.

And if you don't compare similar products, how is the reader to know what your frame of reference is? Your statement that the Puccini SE "raises the bar" is great to hear, but have you had the opportunity to listen to other recent offerings, like the YBA, which IER says is one of the best solid-state amps, period? A review is only really useful when it's in a clear comparative context.

The products that really intrigue me right now are the mid-priced solid-state integrated amps from SimAudio, Edge, Plinius, and a couple others I can't remember right now. Now there would be a fun set of products to review!

Anyway, I only mean my remarks constructively. I'll be on the phone to Audio Analogue.

...Dave Sturdevant

August 18, 1998

Thanks for reviewing "entry level" hi-fi stuff like the Arcam equipment and the Audio Analogue Puccini SE that are widely available. Some of us readers on the Web can't afford the most exclusive stuff, but still enjoy our music.

Why not review a few more on a regular basis, especially those that sit on the steep part of the "value for money" curve before it flattens out (suggestions: Cambridge Audio, Musical Fidelity, etc).

...Meng Shi Lim

August 13, 1998

SoundStage! is great! I check it out on the web frequently. I like the balance of music and equipment, both of which are reflected in the name: it's about music.

Keep on doing a great job.

...Robert Meier

August 9, 1998

To: Greg Weaver

I just made the $10.36 interconnects [see Synergizing, February 1998] and they are fantastic!!! I'm calling Monday morning for the fixin's for the Silvers....Thank you so much for this article and all of them for that matter. I would say between the SL-S320, lead shot, 150lbs of sand, bicycle tires, ferrites and cones in this room, you and your cohorts at SoundStage! have done about as much for the sound in my system as any single component has and for less then the cost of any of them.

Thanks again.


...Jeff Davis

Whew! Another happy reader. The article that has helped many of our readers and costs next to NOTHING! Jeff is referring to Greg Weaver's popular DIY article for interconnects. They may not smoke everything, but they give plenty of bang for the buck...DAS

August 7, 1998

Your boards are excellent [Talk Online] because you somehow avoid a lot of the trash writers on other boards. Thanks much for your boards. Also, your new audiophile review board [SoundStage! LIVE Readers Recommend section] will be a great service to the field because, for the first time ever, actual audiophiles can circulate their findings among a substantial audience rather than mouth to mouth as in the past.

...Noel Keen

Hi Noel, thanks for the response.  The idea behind the board is to give readers the ability to recommend products they like.   There are so many products out there that I feel it nearly impossible for any magazine to even consider getting to them all -- many good products simply aren't given their dues. 

The Internet brings readers in the world over -- it will be interesting to find out components that they enjoy...as always, we look forward to hearing from everyone...DAS

August 4, 1998

I'm impressed by the overall level of quality of your audio reviews, and I am a serious fan of Greg Smith. Stereophile would be a better publication with Greg on staff; his reviews are taut, clear, and just plain fun to read.

I *would* like to see more modestly priced components, however. Greg's "Entry Level" columns are excellent, but please consider expanding that portion of your coverage to perhaps 20% of the total. There are millions of potential audiophiles with ready access to your magazine who will simply laugh at a review of a $1,500 cd player or $1,500 amp, but who may be genuinely interested in $500 cd players or $500 amps. Try preaching a little more to the unconverted - you may end up with a larger flock.

Also, *some* kind of search functionality is called for, don't you think? Being something of a geek, I happen to know how to search your site from engines like altavista, but I don't think that's common knowledge. A simple free-text search form would go a long way.

Keep up the good work. Oh, and give Greg Smith a raise (You wouldn't want him to jump ship to a cushy job at Stereophile, would you?)

...Alan Williams

Thanks for the compliments and the feedback. You are right, others would do well to have Greg Smith on their staff -- in fact, they would do well to have all of our writers! However, we wanna keep them here.

Greg says "fear not," he has more budget gear on the way later this year. Your point is VERY well taken about the number of people interested in lower priced equipment. In fact, I feel many of the people in high-end audio completely miss the boat on what real music lovers do listen to! Do someone have to spend thousands or tens of thousands on a system to be a real music lover? Heck no, they may just want a set of headphones and a portable...DAS

August 2, 1998

To: Doug Blackburn

I just read your recent "August 1998 - Listening More? Enjoying it Less?" article in SoundStage! WONDERFULLY WRITTEN!!! As a young (just entered about a month ago) entry-level audiophile, I am so glad to have read your article and realize that what you say is the reason why I feel like every week I _HAVE_ to try new interconnects, new passive preamps, to squeeze that ever little bit of musicality and purity out of my system that I didn't hear the night before... and I realized that, yes, no wonder, maybe what you said is the reason why I haven't been really wrapped by up my music recently.

So, your article did reach out to me, and in some ways, I think it did
save me. Maybe now I might just turn down the volume of my new system instead of blasting it to hear all the little nuances, pop in two long Broadway musical discs, and play away the night.


Fan of SoundStage!

August 2, 1998

Re: August 1998 Publisher's Editorial - Inter-Activity

Another excellent editorial! I think it depends on one's point of view as to whether or not the high end is in trouble. Perhaps if I were a manufacturer I would think so, given what's happening in the far east, and it does make me anxious from time to time as I see my stocks up one minute and down the next.

However, as an audio/music enthusiast, I don't feel that way at all! To me, in the last forty years, which is the sum total of my experience, it seems that right now is the best audio/music consumers have ever had it. It's a buyer's market and a golden age of audio from where I view it, and for me it's a great time to be alive and I am enjoying every minute of it. There are numerous audio/music print and on-line periodicals of exceptional quality. There is a huge choice or terrific equipment. There is so much terrific software - CDs, LPs, etc. - that it I feel like a kid in a candy store. Man, it is not bad, it's the best it's ever been!


...Jeff Day

August 1, 1998

Good review [re: Bruce Springsteen Tunnel of Love, July 1998 issue]. Who would have thought of reviewing it now?- and yet as a longtime fan of Springsteen, it made me realize that I could go back and give a listen to a few things again.

BTW -- wrong Julianne. Phillips, not Boogie Nights.

...Rick Jensen

Hi Rick, good call on the name -- I wrote the Tunnel of Love review in the same timeframe as the Boogie Nights DVD review. Of course it was former model turned actress Julianne Phillips who was married to Springsteen and not actress Julianne Moore. Too many Juliannes on my mind I guess. All fixed now! Thanks...DAS


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