|Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson|
You Asked For It!
As youll undoubtedly notice, this month we unveil some significant new pieces of SoundStage! that many of you have asked for in one form or another. We first introduce the Review at a Glance box, followed by our Reviewers Choice tag, and finally the SoundStage! Equipment Database. The three go rather hand in hand and aim at fulfilling your requests for how we would rate in some ultimate way the components we write about. We hope all three meet your expectations.
Of course, there are any number of ways to categorize and classify audio equipment, the best-known of these being Stereophiles Recommended Components. In reply to those enemies of Recommended Components who argue that its less than helpful, I would say that it just isnt perfect -- and no system as all-encompassing as it is could hope to be. Most of us have mentally composed a letter or two to Stereophile when our favorite component was classified lower than we thought it should be, and manufacturers either love RC or hate it -- sometimes both. We all know that matching various components to make up a musically satisfying audio system is whats most important, and for years, maybe since the inception of RC, Stereophile has suggested as much at the opening of every Recommended Components listing.
In contrast, we wanted to provide you with a way of doing your own categorization -- based on whats important to you -- while steering you toward components that we feel are extraordinary for any number of reasons. Hence, we will include with every review we publish a Review at a Glance box that summarizes the most important points about the equipment under evaluation in four different categories: sound, features, use and value. All Review at a Glance boxes will then be collected and displayed in tabular form in the SoundStage! Equipment Database. This layout will allow you to peruse an entire category of equipment, noting whats important about each individual component and allowing you to figure out which reviews to study further. We will begin rolling out categories -- amps first, with speakers, preamps, etc. to follow -- this month, and as part of this process well go back and create Review at a Glance boxes for previously published reviews. If this seems like a lot of work, it is. But we think its important work.
So where does Reviewers Choice come into play? Components we feel offer something special -- tremendous sound, great value, and any combination of these and other noteworthy aspects -- will earn the tag Reviewers Choice. In the reviews of these components, the Review at a Glance box will include an extra line expressing succinctly why the component has earned this high honor. Again, we will go back and bestow the Reviewers Choice tag on components we reviewed in the past, and this information will appear in the Equipment Database for you to see.
And the plan doesnt end there. Each year we will vote among ourselves in order to further award those products that best exemplify what the high end is all about: great sound in the service of great music. We will evaluate products at various price levels, and I will tip my hand here to say that those products that combine sound and cost in such a way as to be especially appealing and affordable to the music-loving public will get bonus points. However, this does not mean that we will ignore the very best products, which often cost the most money. Well call em like we hear em, but we wont completely ignore our wallets in the process.
We know that we wont make everyone happy, especially those who want us to rank and categorize everything we review. If theres anything weve learned from building SoundStage! its that we cant please everyone. In the end, we want for SoundStage! to continue to be an informative and enjoyable place to visit, not the root of further audio angst on the Internet. As Review at a Glance, Reviewers Choice and the Equipment Database mature, let us know how were doing. Well be here.
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