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Opinion

I was recently in the market for a new SUV. The odometer of our family’s 2012 Toyota Highlander had recently rolled over to 200,000, and I was feeling less confident that the car would hold up through a couple of long road trips we’d planned. I began my search as most people do these days: I went online and read reviews. I’d been super happy with the Highlander, so of course my first thought was to buy another one. I scrolled through comparison tests from YouTubers as well as the usual magazines -- Car and Driver and Motor Trend among them -- to see what others thought of the current-model Highlander and its competitors. Having not shopped for a new vehicle since buying the Toyota new in 2012, I had no idea just how much the market in midsize SUVs -- and the pecking order among them -- has changed.

In my multiple articles on luxury audio over the last decade, I’ve missed some things. Today, I come to you a changed man -- or, at least, a somewhat more experienced audio journalist.

Luxury audio has recently been gaining market share in an industry that was, at its beginning, about the pursuit of the high-fidelity reproduction of sound and music. I’ve seen the shift in more and more product introductions of the past decade -- components costing six figures and systems costing millions abound.

Last month I wrote “System Finished: MSB Technology Discrete DAC.” In that article I detailed what went into my selecting this fantastic digital-to-analog converter from California as a permanent part of my audio system. Then I gave a rundown of everything in my new audio rig, which I began assembling in July 2017. As stated in that article’s title, that system is now finished, and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

In July 2017, I published the first of my six articles in the series “Jeff’s Getting a New Stereo System.” Now, 35 months later, I’m finally done.

Man, can I drag things out. I wrote the first installment of “Jeff’s Getting a New Stereo System,” for SoundStage! Ultra, in July 2017. That series of six articles, the most recent published in December 2017, chronicled my search for -- you guessed it -- a new audio system. When I conceived of the series, I was about to move from our former home, had just sold my $400,000 reference stereo system, and was looking forward to whatever might be next. Perhaps the title of the series should have been “Jeff’s Getting a New Stereo System . . . or Not.”

I wondered -- if I were putting together a system of used components today, what would I buy? So this morning, housebound by COVID-19, I passed some time by going to Audiogon.com and assembling a virtual audio system. Because, well . . . why not?

I cut my audiophile teeth on Krell amplifiers. I loved them and owned many of them, from KSAs to MDAs to FPBs -- even the flagship Krell Audio Standards. Back in the day, Krell amps provided what I wanted from an audio power amp: the control, the sweetness, the bass. To say I held founder-designer Dan D’Agostino’s work in high regard would be an understatement.

“If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life.” My father used to say that, but like so many things in life, it’s easier said than accomplished. I began writing for the SoundStage! Network in 2011, while finishing grad school. I was young, bright-eyed, and naïve. When I took over as Senior Editor of GoodSound! (since rebadged SoundStage! Access), I had a hunger to learn and write as much as possible about the high-end audio industry. Given my consumer-oriented obsession with value for money, Access, the SoundStage! Network’s budget-oriented website, was the perfect fit.

As the editor in chief of the SoundStage! family of websites, I’m sometimes pitched ideas by reviewers. Often these ideas are quite good. For example, our resident jazz expert, James Hale, inquired about writing “Best of the Decade in Jazz” for the December 2019 edition of SoundStage! Xperience, in place of his monthly review. I gave him the go-ahead, and the resulting article turned out to be one of my favorites for the year, and one I’ll consult when I’m in the mood to hear a jazz release I might have missed.