To Aron Garrecht,

I’m a longtime follower of SoundStage! Ultra and have to say it’s a wonderful job you have, especially when I read you can have a $16k Simaudio DAC on “loan” for the last four years then have it upgraded at no cost to you.

It’s also great to read that $30k is a “steal,” and I’d really love to know what an “industry accommodation price” might be to you for such a product.

Of course other people might call such long-term loans and accommodation prices bribes for good reviewers and reviews, but I know SoundStage! is above that sort of thing.

I just get frustrated at the glib way reviewers refer to their relationships with manufacturers and how easy it is to lose sight of how much money $30k is for most people. Although maybe not Ultra readers.

I know it’s impossible to put a value on good sound, but it might be a useful service to readers if reviewers stated beside their list of Associated Equipment what they actually owned and paid for themselves, what is on loan (long term or otherwise), and what was provided free by manufacturers.

Keep up the good work. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

United Kingdom

Thanks for writing in and posing some good questions. I’m happy to address these, and I’ll start by responding to your comment regarding the long-term loan of the Simaudio Moon 780D DAC. This was an unusually long loan; the longest I have kept any product, in fact. Back in 2016, I reviewed the original 780D, and towards the end of that review Simaudio reached out to see if I wouldn’t mind holding on to the 780D as a new version was in the works, with changes that were expected to be software-based only. Scope creep pushed back the release date of the 780D v2 several times, and then in early 2018 I was asked to review a pair of Simaudio Moon 888 monoblock amplifiers. Despite the 780D v2 having already come out, I was asked to hold on to my review sample until after the Moon 888 review, then return it with several other components Simaudio sent along with the monoblocks. It was late 2018 by the time I sent back all the Simaudio gear, but was asked again to hold on to the 780D v2 as it was slated to go on the road for some upcoming shows. That plan fell through, and it wasn’t until late 2019 that Simaudio reached out for me to return the unit. It’s now gone.

The EMM Labs DV2: As a reviewer, I’m afforded the opportunity to demo and review a lot of expensive gear most people don’t have access to, and I stand by my assertion that the EMM Labs DV2 is something of a steal amongst its peers. Here’s why: I believe the DV2 has no peers. Now, I understand where you’re coming from -- $30,000 is a lot of money for any audio product -- but for those with the means to shop at this level, the DV2 poses a genuine value in terms of build quality, performance, and technology.

This brings me to accommodation pricing, because, even after the discount offered by EMM Labs, the DV2 was still more than I could afford. Accommodation pricing varies depending on product and manufacturer; therefore, there isn’t a number I can put on it, but think dealer price, which is roughly 50% the retail price. I understand how long-term loans, industry discounts, and rumors around free product handouts can lead to various assumptions, but we at the Soundstage! Network pride ourselves on highlighting the good and the bad for each product we review, and we have strict policies governing product purchases and loans. . . . Aron Garrecht