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


The first leg

If you pay attention to the news, you’ve no doubt been alarmed if you have travel plans booked that involve multiple flights and tight connections. The number of flight cancelations reported in the past several months is enough to make even the most seasoned travelers nervous—especially if you have a tight itinerary booked once you arrive at your destination. When my wife, Andrea, and I made arrangements to travel to Europe in July with our two teens—Abigail, 17, and Ian, 16—we experienced some skepticism that it would all work out, particularly since we had a packed schedule once we landed.

I loved High End 2022, this year’s edition of the largest audio show in the world, which took place from May 19 to 22 in Munich, Germany. It was great to be back after two COVID-19 years at home. The show was a smashing success with lots of product introductions and many terrific-sounding systems. You can read the SoundStage! Network’s coverage of the event, which I contributed to, on SoundStage! Global. Also check out Jonathan Gorse’s “Munich High End 2022: The Cream of Analogue,” published in this space on June 1. Jonathan is a devoted vinyl aficionado and had some favorite analog—um, analogue (Jonathan’s a Brit)—products to tell you about.

This past week a reader wrote to me with a simple question: “Jeff, good morning. Why have you never reviewed Avalon loudspeakers? And thus they do not make it to your ‘Definitive List of Loudspeaker Brands’? Thank you!”

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.