[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
December 1998


December 22, 1998

Dear SoundStage!,

Thanks to Todd Warnke and Frank Alles for their prompt and professional assistance in helping me select my new speakers, the InnerSound   Eros electrostats. These guys never told me what to get, but they used their insight about the products to steer me in the right direction. Not only did their help make a major upgrade a little easier, it made the process more enjoyable as well. (Hell, this is supposed to be FUN, after all). Add to that the speed of online communications and it makes for a superb scenario all around. Oh, I e-mailed Harry Pearson at The Abso!ute Sound, but apparently my message got lost in some mainframe somewhere; no response on my Eros queries to this day.

Once again, kudos to what's fast becoming one of the most authoratative and user-friendly sources of info on high-end audio in North America! Go SoundStage!

...Paul A. Basinski

December 18, 1998

I just bought a DVD player and quite acidently discovered that movies I purchased (Contact, First Contact, Mask of Zorro) are all in 'widescreen' format. I happen to have a 4:3 aspect ratio 35" TV and these movies are somewhat hard to view because one loses about half of the vertical height in order to get a broader horizontal scene. Why don't more DVDs put the picture in both formats as they do with the Fifth Element so the majority of us who have standard aspect ratio TV's can enjoy a larger picture area? Is there a web site with listings of DVD movies by format so I can search for more dual format or just 4:3 formated DVDs?

Thanks in advance


Excellent question...'widescreen'   displays more accurately the image that the filmmaker originally created. A number of different aspect ratios exist and below I will tell you how to find out what is correct for that movie.  With 'full screen' (1.33:1 aspect ratio) you get more height information at the expense of seeing all the image.  When creating a 'full screen' presentation they may either 'pan and scan' the image and give you the most important parts and lose a considerable amount of the information remaining on the left and right.   Or, they may simply show you the center portion and cut off, haphazardly, the left and right.  Regardless, videophiles tend to prefer the 'widescreen' presentation since it shows all of the original information.  However, it does at the expense of resolution since the height on a standard TV screen is truncated.  You are right, depending on the TV it can be harder to view.  Some disks do contain both formats, but when they only contain one then it is usually 'widescreen.' 

How does one find out what aspect ratio is given on the disk?  I use two sources.  First, I go to the Internet Movie DataBase at www.imdb.com, find the movie and look up the technical specifications to see what aspect ratio the  original film was shot in.  I like to know that what I'm seeing on the DVD is correct.  Next, I go to a retailer like DVD Empire (www.dvdempire.com). When listing movies they normally list what screen formats are contained on the DVD and when multiple formats exist on the same disk they usually list both.  I hope this helps...DAS

December 16, 1998

I have been researching the purchase of a stereo system and have found a good resource at www.goodsound.com. I followed a link from there to your site. Anyway, I have been trying to find out how I can find a dealer or resource locally so that I can see what some of this equipment is like, how it sounds, etc. I haven't been very lucky so far in finding on the Internet a local dealer of the equipment that I see discussed. Most of the local stereo shops fit into the "chain store" mold -- low-quality/cheap equipment. I have no knowledge of these brands. I live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Can you suggest any area dealers, or do you know of a database that lists high-end dealers by state?


...Jason Crow

Hi Jason. SoundStage! has a listing of high-end dealers by state -- Dealers Online -- but it is subject to participation by the dealers. You can look there. I would also post a question on our Talk Online area. This way our readers can give you their recommendations....Marc Mickelson

December 15, 1998

I would like to congratulate you on your excellent website. It is an oasis of information and reviews for both professionals involved in the audio business and amateurs (audiophiles) alike. Keep up the good work. Best of success.

...Christos Tsiatis

December 14, 1998

I truly do not believe that you can improve! More than Stereophile, TAS, Fi or others, you give everyone, even the little guys, a fair shot. I look forward  to each issue and would PAY for the chance if that is what would keep you afloat. I purchased Muse, Von Schweikert Research, and many JPS Labs products simply based on your reports. Not hearing them, just your reports. I have not been disappointed yet.

Keep up the good work

...Thomas Portney

Hi Thomas, thanks for the kind words. Don't worry, you won't have to pay for us anytime soon!  We believe that by providing thorough, honest reviews that allow consumers to make good decision is the key to long-term success.  A good review of a bad product or a poor review for a good product does no one any good.  In addition, to provide really useful information one must review a wide cross-section of products, which we believe we are achieving...DAS

December 7, 1998

I wish SoundStage! and other publications would more explictly state which of these shows are open to the public and which are only for the industry. I realize I might not read these things as carefully as I should, but I think access should be mentioned in a more up-front fashion. I was making plans to go to Vegas when I discovered that industry credentials were required.

...Greg Fredericksen

A very good point. The CES requires credentials that CEMA issues, as does T.H.E. SHOW. To get credentials you have to be somehow a part of the industry--retailer, manufacturer, press, etc...Marc Mickelson

December 4, 1998

Dear David Sherman,

Thanks for the review of Paganini's Dreams.

To answer your explicit question, the reasons the master tape was made were that Mr. Ricci wanted to do it, it seemed like a good idea, and everybody had fun.

I studied the violin under Henryk Kowalski at Brown University, and believe me, you'd rather hear ol' Roger than spry me!

The reason JMR put out the remaster CD is that I hope to be breathing at age 70, let alone doing sequential descending left-hand pizzicati that sound like corn popping over an open fire! And, Mr. Ricci wanted to do it, it seemed like a good idea, and everybody had fun.

To answer your implicit question, I would rather hear Mr. Menuhin or Mr. Ricci 'slide into home' than any number of young whiz kids nail it, but with a total absence of soul.


We have asked Mr. Ricci to pencil in some time in July 1999 for a new recording. No foolin'. However, the focus will be slower, sentimental works.

Best regards,

...John Marks
John Marks Records

December 2, 1998

Have more instructional articles, for example an article about what specs  really mean, how they are derived, and what can be gleened from them  about how a particular component will sound (and also what specs CAN'T tell you about how a component will sound!). Maybe an article on harmonics, overtones, how they define the timbre of instruments and what is important in an audio system to reproduce them faithfully, etc.

...Joosten Kuypers


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