Sometime last spring, it became clear to me that I’d be upgrading my hi-fi setup before the year was out. Not that I was dissatisfied with the gear I already owned—quite the contrary. I loved listening to that system, which comprised an NAD C 658 streaming DAC-preamp ($1999, all prices in USD), a pair of Elac Navis ARF-51 active floorstanding speakers ($3999.96/pair), and an SVS Micro 3000 subwoofer ($899.99). That system has provided countless hours of listening pleasure for me, my music-loving missus, and visitors to our home.
Since the 1970s, record labels and audio manufacturers have been trying to convince music lovers to move beyond two-channel stereo. Music doesn’t just happen in front of us, argue proponents of surround music; it happens all around us. We could get a better experience if we added speakers beside and/or behind the listening position.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying the SoundStage! Audiophile Podcast, which is hosted by Brent Butterworth, senior editor of SoundStage! Solo, and Dennis Burger, senior editor of SoundStage! Access. Brent and Dennis tackle a wide range of topics and do a ton of preparation for each episode. The production is polished, the discussions are well-informed and thought-provoking, and the presentation is casual and inviting.
I never wanted to purchase new speakers. I never wanted to go digital. It all happened by accident.
The greatest audio show on earth is back. After a two-year, pandemic-induced hiatus, the 2022 Munich High End show took place from May 19 to 22. The SoundStage! Network sent a four-person editorial team to Bavaria: founder and publisher Doug Schneider; editor-in-chief Jeff Fritz; Edward Kramer, editor of SoundStage! Australia; and Jonathan Gorse, a UK-based contributor to SoundStage! Ultra. Together, they filed 18 dispatches from Munich, which you can find on SoundStage! Global.
When it comes to consuming music, you can split the SoundStage! team into a few broad categories: those who are big into physical media, those who have fully embraced streaming, those who rely on downloaded and ripped music, and those with feet in all these camps.
Across the SoundStage! Network, you’ll find coverage of all kinds of audio products: high-end gear on SoundStage! Ultra, affordable components on SoundStage! Access, headphones and accessories on SoundStage! Solo, lifestyle audio here on SoundStage! Simplifi, portable Bluetooth speakers on SoundStage! Xperience, news and events on SoundStage! Global, and all manner of gear on the mothership—SoundStage! Hi-Fi.
One of the occupational hazards of writing for an audiophile website is a condition photography enthusiasts call GAS—Gear Acquisition Syndrome. After hearing about a new lens (or amplifier), you decide you really, really need this new toy, even though the gear you already own is more than adequate for your needs. During my adult life, I’ve experienced GAS hundreds—maybe thousands—of times, and succumbed to it more often than I care to admit.
Was 2021 the year that lossless and hi-rez music streaming became mainstream? Last year, Spotify promised it would start delivering lossless music, but failed to deliver. Three months later, Apple announced plans to offer lossless and hi-rez content, and started delivering shortly thereafter. Amazon Music HD had been offering lossless and hi-rez music since 2019; but following Apple’s move, Amazon reduced its price for the service. These aggressive moves by major providers like Apple and Amazon led several smaller streaming services to revamp their own pricing plans in 2021.
Today is Simplifi’s birthday. Five years ago, on New Year’s Day 2017, the SoundStage! Network launched a site dedicated to “convenient, lifestyle-oriented hi-fi” with a short feature by Al Griffin, entitled “Why Simplifi.”
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