September 1, 2009

Keeping the Ultra in Ultra Audio

When Ultra Audio was launched in October 2002 as a brand spankin’ new SoundStage! Network site, the introductory editorial by Doug Schneider stated: "Each month you will read about cutting-edge products that are, more than likely, out of the ordinary -- ‘to the extreme,’ as Ultra Audio’s tag line goes." We’re just a month shy of celebrating Ultra’s seventh birthday, and I think we’ve done justice to Doug’s goal for the site.

Nowhere is extreme more evident than in this month’s content. First, a biggie: We’re publishing the first North American review -- and perhaps the first review anywhere -- of Crystal Cable’s Arabesque loudspeaker. This glass-enclosed work of audiophile art -- the vision of company co-owners Gabi and Edwin van der Kley -- has been written about in show reports, talked about on high-end-audio message boards, and photos of it have appeared on the Internet and in print magazines. But these questions remain unanswered: What is it like to live with the Arabesque? How does it sound? Our own Jason Thorpe, whose opinion is always wholly original and cutting-edge, has been sitting in front of a pair of Arabesques for a couple months now. His full review appears elsewhere in this issue. It’s a must-read.

Crystal Cable's Arabesque in Jason Thorpe's listening room.

Another striking example of extreme appears this month on Ultra Audio: The Great North American Loudspeaker Tour. If you’re reading this on September 1, the first installment of this six-part "live" series is now available in "The World’s Best Audio System" section of Ultra Audio. I’ll have already wound up my first stop, Wilson Audio Specialties, in Provo, Utah, and, as you read this on September 1, I should be at YG Acoustics, in the hills of Colorado. Other stops on my Great North American Loudspeaker Tour itinerary are Verity Audio, Rockport Technologies, and EgglestonWorks -- and a surprise destination you’ll have to check in for (yes, it’s to cover another new extreme audio product).

In short, the review of the Crystal Cable Arabesque and The Great North American Loudspeaker Tour are only the latest examples of what Ultra Audio is all about. Let’s face it: With a name like Ultra Audio, we have to think outside the box, and following up The World’s Best Audio System 2009 was no easy task. That event was a raging good time, and we don’t want to slide into the mundane. We’ll leave that to some of the other audio publications. (Just joking!)

"Life’s too short for mundane audio." Anyone want to make some T-shirts?

The SoundStage! Network staff has more ideas about what to do next, not only on Ultra Audio but throughout the SoundStage! Network. Following our usual show coverage this month (CEDIA Expo) and next (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest), you’ll see some huge new initiatives from us in November and December. But I’ll save that for later.

OK, got to start packing. Now, where’s that darn laptop case . . . ?

. . . Jeff Fritz


footer.jpg (5527 bytes)