A Poor Man Can Only Afford to Buy the Best -- Three Tips for How to Avoid a Bad Buy

In July we unveiled a SoundStage! InSight video about Amphion Loudspeakers, filmed in June in Finland. Near the end, Amphion’s owner, Anssi Hyvönen, says: “In this country, we have a concept that a poor man can only afford the best.” He explains that the idea behind it is that you buy something of high quality, then keep it for a long time.

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The Music Server of the Future: Your Phone

According to Statista.com, 122.32 million smartphones were sold in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In 2016, almost 1.5 billion smartphones were sold, and there’s no reason to believe this growth will stop anytime soon. According to a January 12, 2017 article by the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011.

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Estelon, Amphion Loudspeakers, and Hegel Music Systems: Appealing to Different Customers Inside -- and Now Outside -- the World of Audiophiles

As I write this on June 24, 2017, I’m on a flight from Oslo, Norway, to London, UK, where we’ll have a five-hour layover in London before flying home, to Canada. Sitting next to me is our chief videographer, Chris Chitaroni; beside him is the second cameraman for this trip, Jeremy Prudhomme. Oslo was the final destination of an 11-day, multi-country trip to visit three hi-fi companies and shoot videos for our YouTube channel. Those videos should begin pouring out in August, and will be viewable at www.SoundStageTV.com.

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The Best of High End 2017

After a dismal start to the year with the worst Consumer Electronics Show (CES) I’d ever seen, I was thrilled to attend High End 2017, held May 18-21 at the Munich Order Center (MOC), in Germany -- the biggest and best edition yet of this annual event. According to the High End Society’s follow-up report, the number of exhibitors was up 4% over 2016, and overall attendance was up 10%. Furthermore, of this year’s 538 exhibitors, 63% came from outside of Germany, reflecting the growing international flavor of this show. High End has become the most important hi-fi event in the world.

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Is It Finally Time for Active Loudspeakers?

At the 2017 Montréal Audio Fest, held March 24-26 at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Montréal, Canada, I thought the best-sounding room was Bryston Limited’s. Based in Peterborough, Ontario, Bryston began in hi-fi in the early 1970s, first building power amplifiers, then preamplifiers, and, much later, digital source components, external crossovers, power conditioners, cables, speakers -- even a turntable. And no doubt there are Bryston components I never heard about.

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MQA One Year Later -- Suddenly, More Questions

On April 1, 2016, we published “Myriad Questions About MQA,” my article about Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), a digital music format for high-resolution music files developed by Meridian Audio and now spun off as MQA Limited. (Audiophiles define high-resolution music file as a PCM digital file with a bit depth and/or sample frequency higher than the Compact Disc standard of 16 bits and 44.1kHz, aka 16/44.1.)

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Sonus Faber and Vivid Audio -- New Ways to Launch New Products in the New Year After a Dismal CES

Until only a few years ago, the norm for high-end hi-fi companies wanting to showcase their new products at the beginning of the year was to book exhibit space at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held each January in Las Vegas, and then to ship their equipment there, set it up, and show it off to thousands of industry-affiliated attendees from around the world. But for high-end audio, those days are no more.

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The Best of the Worst CES in Decades: 2017

Plenty has already been written about the awfulness of the high-end hi-fi section of the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, including commentary in our own on-the-spot show coverage on SoundStage! Global, Ken Kessler’s “CES-Sux” article on this site this month, and in articles on other websites around the world. Timing and location weren’t to blame -- CES 2017 was held about the same time it always is, January 5-8, and its high-end hi-fi segment occupied the Venetian hotel, as it has for years. But all numbers were way down even from 2016, which itself had been a decline from previous years. Display rooms, exhibitors, attendees -- the totals of all of those paled in comparison to what they once were. The only things that were up were the Las Vegas prices for hotel rooms, food, you name it -- the costs were sky high. Which meant that everyone who attended paid a lot more for a lot less.

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Our 2016 Products of the Year -- One-Sentence Summaries

It’s time to name our Products of the Year for 2016, and below is the list of winners. In Las Vegas in early January, at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, we’ll present a trophy to a representative of each company whose product was chosen. Photos of those presentations will then be posted on SoundStage! Global, which will also feature our coverage of CES 2017. But before you read the winners, it’s important that you know what the awards themselves mean, and how we arrived at our final decisions.

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Warsaw: The Best of Audio Video Show 2016

I had no idea what to expect when, in September, I decided to attend Audio Video Show 2016, held November 4-6 in Warsaw, Poland. (Read my coverage of AVS 2016 on SoundStage! Global.) I’d never visited the show, or even heard much about it. But as my departure date neared, I heard more and more positive things about AVS from audio-industry folks who’d attended past shows, and I began to get jazzed about what I might see and hear there. Still, nothing prepared me for the size, scope, and significance of this annual event. Other than the annual Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, AVS 2016 was far bigger than any hi-fi show currently running in North America.

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