Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

The SoundStage! Network's mulit-author blog section related to hi-fi, home theater, and more.

How Going Half Deaf Made Me Stop Worrying and Love the Beatles in Mono

Perhaps the scariest thing that can happen to an audio enthusiast and journalist is sudden and near-complete hearing loss.

Ask me how I know.

Read more ...

New Noise #4: Little Box #2

Sometime after the last Leo’s Stereo closed, my father would take me to The Wherehouse on Saturday mornings to shop for CDs. When that chain of stores folded, he moved on to Target or Best Buy or Sam Goody at the local shopping mall. That one could own music, a tangible thing for personal enjoyment, shaped my upbringing. What we didn’t know then was that store shopping—seeing the newest displays, rifling through plastic letter dividers and name placards—was an endangered endeavor.

Read more ...

The Reavon UBR-X200: One of the Few Available High-End Universal Disc Players

If you’re like me and use your audio system to both enjoy stereo music and watch films with multichannel audio, you’ll appreciate a high-quality, universal disc player. Optical disc players are still the best way to watch movies with 4K Ultra HD video and uncompressed Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, and there are also some audio enthusiasts who still like to play SACDs, CDs, and even DVD-As. Granted, there aren’t many audiophiles whose main systems do double duty like mine, and with the proliferation of streaming services for both music and movies, optical disc players in general, let alone universal disc players, aren’t as highly sought after as they once were.

Read more ...

Going Places with Harley-Davidson and Rockford Fosgate

SoundStage! isn’t my only side hustle. Through the spring, summer, and fall here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I also moonlight as senior editor of Inside Motorcycles, a Canadian print magazine. My duties at IM mirror those here at SoundStage!—I test stuff and write about it. I test motorcycles, helmets, clothing, and parts, and I write touring travel articles. But mostly I test motorcycles.

Read more ...

Garrett Hongo's "The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo"

My book, The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo, tells the story of three journeys—my own audio quest for the past 15 years, my love of all kinds of music since I was a kid in Hawaiʻi back in the 1950s, and the story of amplification itself from early acoustic instruments and classical amphitheaters to modern electronics and speakers. It’s part memoir, part personal audio chronicle, and part essayistic history of audio itself told through selected highlights. It took me a long time to write.

Read more ...

New Noise #3: A Little Box

The term format agnostic has been showing up lately in certain hi-fi circles. I’m no linguist, but I am a fan of words and the creative ways we use them. These two words, in combination, caught my attention.

Read more ...

Magico's Impressive Quality Control

Most high-end speaker manufacturers practice some form of quality control (QC) measures to ensure that their products leave the factory performing and looking exactly as they intend them to. These QC methods typically involve visual inspections—sometimes with special lighting or other tools that make obvious the smallest cosmetic flaws—and listening tests. The best manufacturers add acoustical testing to these QC steps.

Read more ...

Gryphon Stereo Amplifiers and Me

There was a time when I was an audiophile but not an audio-equipment reviewer. Although I have been with SoundStage! since 1997, I recall a time before that when I had the gleam in my eyes that comes from pursuing the audio truth with limited means but an unquenchable curiosity. I dare say it was a more enjoyable experience in many ways than being “in” the industry. Sometimes, though, I feel brief moments of wonder like I did in my youth.

Read more ...

New Noise #2: An Unexpected DIY Surprise

On the morning I submitted my previous (first) column, I stepped outside to my backyard workshop shed and unfastened the wood clamps from a fun little project I had no intention of keeping.

Read more ...

New Noise #1: Embracing the Unexpected

I’ve long felt that a kid who doesn’t know what he wants to do will soon find out exactly what he doesn’t want to do. That is, there is no greater motivation for suddenly embracing (any) plan B than first being confronted with a disagreeable plan A.

Read more ...

Why I Decided to Review the Alta Audio Alec Loudspeakers

Something struck me when I interviewed Michael Levy, president of New York’s Alta Audio, for a recent SoundStage! Talks video on the SoundStage! YouTube channel. First, Michael is a wealth of information, and his speaker-design knowledge goes back—way back. If you haven’t checked out that video, and you only know Alta from a few ads and maybe a quick experience at an audio show, you’ll gain a whole new perspective on the company and its products from watching that Talks episode.

Read more ...

Building the Magico A Series Loudspeaker Cabinets

When I visited Magico at its Hayward, California, factory back in July of this year, my main focus was exploring the new Magico flagship, the mighty M9 ($750,000 per pair). I saw M9s being built and tested, and I got to hear a pair of these in Magico’s custom listening room. It was quite a treat.

Read more ...

Evaluating the SVS SB16-Ultra Subwoofer

With the process of setting up the SVS SB16-Ultra complete, it was time to put this monster of a subwoofer through its paces to see how it performs. The first question I wanted to answer was whether the SVS app is preferable to the included small, plastic remote control. In a word, yes. The remote does provide basic controls such as volume and turning the display on or off, but the app gives the user far more control with direct access to functions such as the Parametric EQ and adjustable crossover. For users who don’t want their smartphone by their side in the listening room, the remote is handy in a pinch. The app, however, is made for you control freaks who want everything the sub is capable of right at your fingertips. I’ll use the app.

Read more ...

Pairing the SVS SB16-Ultra Subwoofer with My Monitor Audio Speakers

I’ve had a set of Monitor Audio Studio standmount speakers ($1400 per pair when available, all prices USD) anchoring my multipurpose music/movie/YouTube stereo system for a few years now. This two-way minimonitor (mini Monitor?) is a high-resolution transducer, what with its AMT tweeter and dual midrange-woofers—both drive units derived from the company’s costlier Platinum series of flagship loudspeakers. The thing they lack, though, is deep bass. That is of course where SVS comes in.

Read more ...

Exploring the Heart of the SVS SB16-Ultra Subwoofer: An Interview with Smith Freeman

In my May 1, 2021, SoundStage! Ultra article, “What Matters Most in an Audio System: The Loudspeaker Drive Unit,” I interviewed Vivid Audio’s technical director, Laurence Dickie, one of the world’s preeminent loudspeaker designers. The interview was all about drivers, obviously, and their importance above all other single factors in the design of a finished loudspeaker. In that article, Dickie—whose Vivid loudspeakers such as the Giya series are legendary in the industry—said something important:

Read more ...

Newest Videos