YouTube videos aren’t new to the SoundStage! Network. We first started publishing videos on our YouTube channel over ten years ago, and our SoundStage! InSight series, a YouTube playlist that profiles companies through their products, began seven years ago. We followed it with other series with industry-leading video production values, such as SoundStage! Shorts, SoundStage! Encore, and SoundStage! Expert, and we now have more than 180 videos on YouTube. If you haven't already done so, subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when we post a new video.

Real Hi-Fi

But in the past year, my colleagues at the SoundStage! Network have heard me bring up YouTube more often than before, mostly because YouTube hasn’t just become an important additional source of information for hi-fi enthusiasts—it’s becoming the source of information for many. One just has to look at the tens or hundreds of thousands (or, occasionally, millions) of views that some hi-fi-related videos get and compare that to, say, the combined sales numbers of hi-fi print magazines scattered around the world to understand what I’m talking about. Those sales numbers probably amount to 100,000 copies, give or take a few, so even one high-performing YouTube video can surpass them all!

Print magazines aren’t the only ones at risk, though—online publications are being affected as well. Maybe not so much, because navigating from YouTube to a website, or vice versa, only takes one or two mouse clicks. Still, I believe that any publication, print or online, needs to have a strong YouTube presence to supplement their content, or at least has to get on YouTube very soon. If not, it’ll be a nail in their coffin. And if you look at the downward trend of the print publishing industry over the last 20 years, it could be the final nail that puts some print magazines under.

Because of YouTube’s increased importance, we’ve done more than just talk about its impact over the last year—we’ve created as much content as we could for our existing series, and developed new ones. Jeff Fritz started SoundStage! Talks, which presents online interviews with industry figures, while established YouTuber Jay Lee came on board for SoundStage! Take 2, which features follow-up video reviews for products that we’ve written about on one or more of our sites.


Now it’s time to add yet another series—SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi—which features yours truly. As I’m writing this in mid-May, we’ve finished filming two episodes, which will definitely be online by the time this article publishes on June 1. With a little luck and some free time, one or two more could be online by then as well. The intention is to produce at least one episode per week. The series is being shot in my main listening room, which I cleaned up earlier this year in anticipation of the filming.

Whenever we create a video series, the content has to differentiate it from our existing series—and SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi does that by delivering buying advice, something we haven’t really touched on before. For example, in the debut SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi episode, I talk about why I feel that $1200 (in USD) should be the minimum budget for a quality hi-fi system. I think I’m qualified to give that kind of advice because I’ve been involved with hi-fi for 40 years, in varying degrees.

Listening room

In 1979, I began shopping for my first hi-fi system, which I finally purchased in 1980, when I was 16. I remained an audiophile/enthusiast until 1995, when I founded the SoundStage! Network. At that point, I became an audio reviewer, which I have now been for over 25 years. But while I’ve been pumping out those reviews, I’ve overseen the operations of the SoundStage! Network and gained valuable insights from the dozens of reviewers we’ve employed and the thousands of articles we’ve published. I mentioned those experiences in the first video, but there’s something else I didn’t mention that I think is very important. In those 25-plus years since the SoundStage! Network began, I’ve traveled to more hi-fi shows, been into the factories of more hi-fi companies, and talked to more designers than any hi-fi journalist in the world.

It’s my combined experience and the focus on buying hi-fi that distinguishes this series from our other ones, but I hope these things will also set it apart from other good hi-fi-themed videos already on YouTube. I also want to bring some candor to SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi, so I told our chief videographer, Chris Chitaroni, that I wanted to talk on-camera the way I talk to people off-camera. In other words, I wanted to deliver real information based on my experiences, as the name of the series implies, but I also want to show the real me. So how you see me on SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi is how I am in my day-to-day life.

Will we succeed with this new series? That’s not for me to say—I’ll leave that up to you. But I am interested to know what you think—along with the topics you might like me to cover in the future. Drop me an e-mail with your ideas about real hi-fi.

. . . Doug Schneider