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).
The SoundStage! staff: I’m so very thankful to be surrounded and supported by so many great people while I’m doing this SoundStage! thing. Our writers are a talented and committed bunch, and in a pinch, they’re always willing to help with anything I ask of them. These folks—Roger, Hans, Jeff S., Dennis, Thom, Gordon, Brent, Rad, Joe, James, Diego, Wes, Vince, Aron, Jason T., Mark P., Philip, S. Andrea, Ken, Jonathan, Jason D., and the newest member of our staff, Carlo—are mostly regular people with ups and downs, good spells and bad, but they keep plugging along in the ever-changing landscape of online audio publishing. We’ll be challenging this team more than ever in 2022—our content will grow and we’ll be leaning on these guys heavily to help us accomplish that. Our editing crew of Renata, Jeb, and Graham help us uphold strict standards of clarity and readability in everything we present, and are always willing to do what’s necessary to make SoundStage! better—even after the 14th proofing-note email about the placement of a single comma.
SoundStagers (left to right): Aron Garrecht, Jeff Fritz, Hans Wetzel, and Roger Kanno
My SoundStage! partners: Did you know that SoundStage! is co-owned by three people? Doug Schneider is the founder and most outspoken of us, but Karen Fanas, our art director, and yours truly, are also partners in this endeavor. We’ve been together for well over two decades, and we’re still getting along with each other well enough to enjoy this journey. I am very thankful to have these two in the audio trenches with me—even if Doug can get on my last nerve at times (although Karen is always a pleasure).
Our supporters: The companies that support SoundStage! through their advertising are critical to our work. They give us the freedom to do what we do every month, and whether you believe me or not, all they ask is a fair shake when it comes to reviews and coverage. We try our best to give that to everyone. The exposure that the SoundStage! websites and media channels give these companies is the main reason they’re with us, but we never overlook the fact that they also recognize the value of our work enough to keep us going every month. Thank you.
The innovators: The only way I could keep moving forward with my current enthusiasm is because of all the men and women out there in the labs and anechoic chambers, at the test benches, and in front of their computers until 2:00 a.m., listening over and over, trying to make it all perfect. These are the people who design and produce the products we all love, and I’m profoundly grateful that they’re out there doing what they do. Knowing that I might receive someone’s life’s work via courier, and that I may perhaps even be witnessing the birth of a future classic audio product, is humbling to me. This is where the true talent in the audio industry lies.
Our competitors: OK, so even though I do give the Stereophile folks the business sometimes—last month’s opinion is a case in point—I am inspired to do my best work because of what I see others doing. I tip my cap to these competitors often, and I’m (mostly) willing to admit when these guys and gals do a better job than I do. It takes all of us to push this audio thing along, and so let’s not forget the Atkinsons, Harleys, and Millers, among many others. I’m glad you’re there.
The artists: Where would I be without new music to experience and delight in? The hobby would die a slow death, at least in my household. The joy of discovering a new artist or hearing a new release for the first time over my audio system is the current that moves this raft downstream. I know that when I load Qobuz and see what’s new, my eyes light up each time.
You: Without our readers tuning in every month, we simply wouldn’t be here doing this job. I appreciate all the emails you guys send, most of which are positive. I am thankful to those of you who cast a critical eye on what we do as well. It keeps us on our toes and forces us to be more thorough, more accurate, and push our own boundaries. If you’ve read my work and found value in it over the years, I’m especially thankful for your readership.
My family: Without my wife’s unlimited patience and my kids’ help in schlepping gear into my listening room, I could not do this job. For instance, there was the time when I had a 900-pound Wilson Audio Specialties XS subwoofer delivered and moved into my listening room. When the delivery service called and asked my wife about our “receiving capabilities,” she didn’t blink. I’m truly blessed to have Andrea, Abigail, and Ian.
I hope you all have a merry Christmas season, happy holidays, and a wondrous year of new listening experiences.
. . . Jeff Fritz