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This new site was launched in July 2010. Visit the older site to access previous articles by clicking above.


Make no mistake, Munich’s High End is no ordinary hi-fi show—the scale is so jaw-dropping that you need to recalibrate your senses. The show comprised three vast exhibition floors, each seemingly the size of a major indoor concert arena, housing 550 exhibition rooms and 1500 brands. It was an awe-inspiring demonstration of the scale, richness, and power of the global audio industry. Everyone from the exhibitors to the visitors seemed to be revelling in the experience—in short, this show is to audio what Le Mans is to motor racing.

You may be wondering why I’m once again writing about Vivid Audio’s flagship loudspeaker, the G1 Spirit. That’s a good question. And there’s more than one answer.

On April 15, just two weeks ago, we launched a brand-new feature on this site: Reference Systems. I’ll tell you all about that, but first, let’s recap what’s been available on SoundStage! Ultra.

Near the top of the SoundStage! Ultra homepage, you’ll find the regular tabs that are always present in the menu:

Last month I wrote about “The Reference System” for the March 1 update of SoundStage! Ultra. In that article, I examined the notion of the reference audio system, outlined the types of folks who have them, explained why these systems matter, and provided some insight into how to go about assembling one. I concluded by promising to explore reference audio systems on SoundStage! Ultra “in greater depth and in some very exciting ways in 2022.”

Reviewers have reference audio systems. Audiophiles have reference audio systems. Dealers have reference audio systems. Manufacturers have reference audio systems. Cue up the internet meme: Oprah shouting from the stage, “Reference audio systems for everyone!”

Most of my friends are not audiophiles. In other words, most of them don’t care all that much about the actual sound of the music they play in their homes. Or their cars. Or at the gym. They care about the music, of course, but the sound of it—whether it passes a certain threshold we’ll call, um, audible—is of little consequence to them.

My wife, Andrea, and I have two kids, Abigail, 17, and Ian, 15. The two of them grew up training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), a grappling-based martial art that I studied and taught for many years. Abigail started at age seven, Ian at six. Abigail still trains BJJ—mostly with me—but Ian transitioned to the sport of wrestling at the ripe old age of ten. He wanted to do a sport that he could pursue in college one day, and he loved life on the mat.

I’m writing this on December 15, 2021. Since Christmas is a week from this Saturday, I thought it would be the perfect time to list some of the many things connected to the audio industry and my position with SoundStage!—editor in chief—that I’m thankful for. So here they are (in no particular order).

On October 20, 2021, Stereophile published a review of the Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems Progression M550 monoblock power amplifiers ($44,950 USD per pair) by Jason Victor Serinus.

The jaded among us will tell you that being an audiophile is mostly about “playing” with expensive audio equipment. I’m here to tell you—and my experiences with Sonus Faber’s Maxima Amator have strongly reinforced this notion—that being an audiophile is mostly an ongoing journey of discovery.