Suggestion Box: Give Us Your Ideas for Articles in TAS

Tom Martin -- Sat, 05/24/2008 - 07:31

The editors of The Absolute Sound would love to hear your ideas about themes to cover, technology to analyze, trends to forecast, new products to cover, different categories of products you'd like covered, new kinds of articles or other suggestions.

So put on your thinking caps and post your ideas here.


crobb -- Tue, 05/27/2008 - 11:25

ilxman wrote:After reading the Nov07 PF Online rave of this new (putative) SOTA contender and reading Polymer's thought-provoking website (, it seems to me that this speaker fairly demands further exploration and a review. While still expensive, the company has lain down a highly provocative gauntlet re "value" in the SOTA end of the audiophile pool. RH, whaddya think?

Robert Harley -- Mon, 06/02/2008 - 17:04

I have not heard of this company, but would be interested in hearing the speaker at a show and learning about their US distribution.

rlw3 -- Thu, 05/19/2011 - 14:15

Robert, Hi- I would like to ask for better constructed reviews. I think every speaker review should clearly state how a speaker sounded at low, medium, and high volumes.there should be a standard test cd at various standardized volumes. Also the size of the rooms need to be stated. it would be nice to know what speakers are too big for what sized room-especially lack of room width. 2 I think preamp and amp reviews need to be clear about how much heat they throw off. i would like a general review that might help identify the solid state amp manufacturer with best depth or deail etc-more comparative info if that can be done without pissing off the manufacturers

Syd -- Tue, 06/03/2008 - 16:46

Here's one suggestion for you.

The HeadFiShow 2008 also know as CanJam 2008, was recently held right in back yard in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I attended this show for the first time this year, and I could not believe how much high end gear and high end headphone technology was at this show! High end digital and analogue front ends such as Wadia, Meridian, VPI, etc. were feeding tube and solid state electronics for all sorts of headphones. Aside from the familiar headphone companies like Stax and Sennheiser, I was not familiar with many of the other headphone companies exhibiting.

I was invited to attend by a buddy of mine, Oswaldo Martinez, who runs a local high end shop nearby called Let There Be Sound. He was involved with putting on this show and was one of the few exhibitors that had a couple of traditional 2 channel speaker based music systems set up (e.g., The new Genesis 5.3 speaker and reference amplifier, new System Audio Loudspeakers, the full Cary Audio stack, Acoustic Solid Turntables, etc.), The rest of the show was focused on headphone gear and to a lesser degree, laptop/desktop audio.

There might be some crossover with Playback, but given the amount of high end gear at this show, I thought it might be more appropriate for TAS to cover it (if you are interested). It is a very interesting industry niche.

Check out these show reports to get a sense of what was there:

The two exhibits that really caught my attention were the following:

1. Smyth Virtual System (SVS) - This is a prototype 5.1 virtual surround headphone system whose accompanying white paper subtitle reads "Headphone surround monitoring for Studios". Peter Smyth, PhD. Invented DTS and is well known is the “surround sound” studio community for his accomplishments. He was on hand to demonstrate the SVS.

At its core the system has a computing engine that captures and recreates the sonic character of any 5.1 speaker system and the acoustic space (namely the room ambiance and room speaker interaction) that it is playing in, tailored to the ears of the person listening through the headphones. There is a 15 minute speaker/headphone/ear calibration procedure that you first go through to set up the system. Since ear calibration is part of the process, the procedure must be performed for each person (at the listening position) that wants to listen through the headphones. After the procedure is completed, you can A-B the headphone system to the 5.1 speaker system in real time. Once the levels are matched between the speakers and the headphones, you conduct the A-B by listening to the system in the room and then listening to the system through the headphones. The headphones automatically mute the speaker output when you put them on, and re-enables it when you take them off. This allowed for very quick and repeat A-B and A-B-A comparisons to be made without any downtime when switching.

After going through the A-B-A process multiple times, I sat there in sheer amazement, as what I heard through the headphones was remarkably close to what I heard from the speaker system playing in the room (including all of the dynamic range, surround effects and room ambiance cues properly placed in space and time). The system also compensated for the sonic effects of moving or turning you head from side to side.

This sure would make late night movie watching a breeze when the rest of the family is asleep!

2. Headroom laptop/desktop system - A pair of biamplified Harbeth mini monitors (which Headroom markets with there system in addition to Amphion Ion's which I did not hear) were driven by a preamp/DAC combo (if memory serves me correct) and a pair of class D amplifiers by Headroom that are presented in attractive, matching scaled down black chassis (plural?). The deep wide soundstage, 3-D imaging and nuanced detail that I heard from this nearfield desktop system belayed its modest dimensions and quite literally sucks you into the music with a purity of presentation that is typically reserved for a traditionally sized high end system playing in a “calm” room. It was uncanny, to say the least, to be experiencing this from a desktop system setup on a table in a hotel ballroom.

Headroom also markets some very cool (and heavier/sturdier than you might think by looking at them) stands that raise the Harbeths (and any number of speakers with similar dimensions) to ear level while storing the preamp, DAC and amplifiers within the stand to minimize the systems foot print. The sturdiness of the stands to reduce cabinet resonances coupled with the height of the speaker being at ear level really added to the fidelity of the system as compared to when the speakers are sitting directly on the table. It also looks pretty cool to have your laptop flanked by downsized, stacked high end gear.

System Price - $5,000 (not including laptop).

In any case, that's my report and I'm sticking to it!

Robert Harley -- Thu, 06/05/2008 - 07:05

I've heard the Smyth Virtual System and it is amazing---particularly when you turn your head and the imaging remains stationary as it would if you were listening to loudspeakers.

majesticgiraffe -- Wed, 06/11/2008 - 22:05

How about an article on audio racks and the various technologies employed and eschewed by different manufacturers that would be in layman's terms. For example some racks are into vibration control; others in tuning and yet others into just mass loading. Manufacturers like Goldmund employ mechanical grounding and so spending 5k on a vibration or resonant control rack actually is said to defeat the engineering and not clean up the sound.

Robert Harley -- Thu, 06/12/2008 - 22:18

We've never done a feature on racks; it's a good idea.

The designer of the Versa Dynamics turntable (the forerunner of the modern-day mega-turntable), John Bicht, told me that if we could hear our audio equipment with zero vibration, we'd be shocked at the improvement. He uses solid slabs of granite, cut by a tombstone maker, as supports for his own system.

RichTeer -- Thu, 07/17/2008 - 17:29

I'd like to see articles about the systems TAS' reviewers use (including their biases and musical tastes). In addition to the equipment (which is admittedly listed in most reviews), I'd like to see plan views of their room(s).

When describing their systems, I'd like to know what items are on loan (I know that long-term loans are a perk of the job), and perhaps more importantly, what items the reviewer actually purchased themselves. I think it was AHC who purchased one or two PS Audio power conditioners; as a consumer, a reviewer buying stuff really impresses me...

Robert Harley -- Thu, 07/17/2008 - 18:27

Thanks for those suggestions. A series of articles on our listening rooms and listening biases is a great idea.

Anthony Cordesman seems to buy about half the gear he reviews. The rest of the reviewing staff relies mostly on manufacturer loans. This gives us more flexibility in changing equipment and keeping up to date.

capsfan7 -- Tue, 09/02/2008 - 21:25

OK RH, I emailed you back in early 2007 regarding the Music Golden Ear Awards that WEREN'T in the December-January '07 issue. At the time, you stated that the feature had been moved to the August issue. Despite suffering through a LAME edition in '07 (many of the key writers did NOT submit selections), I was still anticipating the '08 feature (I only purchase that issue, as there are no other compelling reasons for me to subscribe). But lo and behold, when I make my trek down to the store to check out the August issue.....NO MUSIC GOLDEN EAR AWARDS!! What is the story now??

mantisory -- Fri, 09/26/2008 - 09:52

i'd like to see more pure reviews, rather than these "editor's choice" awards, and "golden ear" awards, seems like every third issue has these types of articles and they get to be repetitive and devalues the usefulness of the magazine overall, IMO.

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!

mantisory -- Fri, 09/26/2008 - 09:53

i'd like to see more pure reviews, rather than these "editor's choice" awards, and "golden ear" awards, seems like every third issue has these types of articles and they get to be repetitive and devalues the usefulness of the magazine overall, IMO.

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!

RichTeer -- Fri, 09/26/2008 - 13:12

As I alluded to in a separate thread, I'd love to see a review of the Martin Logan Spire.

Julian -- Thu, 10/16/2008 - 12:54

I'd love to see a serious balanced discussion on blind testing -- one that addresses the theory, findings, the methodological problems, and the practicalities too. If the right group of writers could be drawn on this, it would prove a landmark issue (or cause widespread wailing, ymmv)

horizons -- Fri, 10/17/2008 - 11:33

More music reviews, especially those of chill, trance, and alternative music.

I left Stereophile for their lack of/poor music coverage and TAS has them beat in this area already. But increased and expanded coverage could crush Stereophile IMHO.

Julian -- Thu, 10/30/2008 - 11:40

And after the excellent article on signal processing for home use in the current issue, how about a round up of the specific options now available to us in terms of how the components work, how we actually do it, how much it costs, and what associated gear we need to make it work. I know various DSP components have been reviewed over the last couple of years but what are the current offerings?

tish -- Thu, 12/04/2008 - 07:59

Hi, This is my first post. I would like to suggest an article for future publications. Do a report on some of the web only factory direct companies such as-Decware, Parker Audio, Wright Sound, Hawthorne Audio, Space Tech Labs, Bent Audio, Vaughn Audio,and Hagtech just to name a few. A few of these offer amp, DAC and speaker kits that are a good value also. Most offer in home auditioning, that for some would be the only way to hear gear in their own systems.
Just a thought, Tish 

Tom Martin -- Thu, 12/04/2008 - 17:54

Would you want to see reviews of their products or an article discussing this part of the industry?

CEO and Editorial Director, Nextscreen LLC

tish -- Thu, 12/04/2008 - 22:31

Hi Tom, Well, first I think maybe an article should be written on this part of the industry, interviewing some of the people involved just to get a sense of who they are with backgrounds, philosophy, etc. and maybe a review or two of the products that impress you. I know that most of these companies don't advertise and rely on word of mouth from customers, but I feel that the cottage industry should be given due as that is how a lot of big companies got their start. I have been reading The  Absolute Sound since the beginning and still have every issue! I remember how some small companies would send in their gear hoping for a good review so that they could make the big time, some did and some sunk. I know that the industry has gotten a lot more sophisticated, but lots of cutting edge stuff is going on in basements and garages of these guys who have turned a love for their hobby into a business. Thanks for replying,  Tish   

andrewK (not verified) -- Tue, 12/09/2008 - 00:35

I have been an avid reader of the magazine for many years.  The future of audio is clearly hard drive or other non-optical disc based media for delivery of music to the rest of your system.  I have switched from a CD/SACD source to the Apple TV and could not be happier in terms of unfettered access to music.  

On that note, I would like to see a really well done comparison of the best CD players feeding the best master clocks and DAC's compared to say an Apple TV feeding that same master clock and DAC.  Say something like Apple TV into Esoteric GOrb and D-03 vs Esoteric transport into same setup.  In the past I have found a computer source to be rather thin sounding when placed into the DCS components versus a dedicated overbuilt CD player.     It would also be interesting to compare this to the Soloos feeding the same system to answer whether the digital source makes any difference or is just different based on convenience/interface factors.  You could also feed the Wadia Ipod dock into the same system to further test for any differences.  

As the  Soloos does cost $8,000 more than the Apple TV,  in my system I chose to spend the money on the Esoteric G25 feeding the D03 instead of an expensive server feeding a cheaper DAC.

So the question is are bits bits or does the purely digital source matter?  If you re-clock does that resolve any source component differences, making the DAC the real differentiator? 

I think the issues with initial CD playback of "perfect sound forever" taught us that more is at work here than just O's and 1's.  So it would be very interesting to try and give your readers the info as to where their dollars are best spent.



Robert Harley -- Tue, 12/09/2008 - 15:40

Thanks for that suggestion. My experience has been that data sourced from a hard drive or solid-state memory results in better sound than CD when decoded through the same DAC. My experience includes the Sooloos and QSonix music servers, an iPod though a Wadia iTransport, and the PC-based server described in the January issue.

tish -- Fri, 12/12/2008 - 13:15

Hey,  Just received the new issue of TAS and found a review of an internet only speaker companies - AV123 X-Statik  Loudspeaker. This is what I was talking about in my post above! Boy, you guys work fast, I ask and you deliver!
  How about some more?      Thanks Tish 

sosa (not verified) -- Wed, 12/24/2008 - 07:24

Yeah i just checked out that review of the x-statik, i couldn't figure out whether the review was really in favour of the speaker or neutral to it, what do you guys think?

Ryan (not verified) -- Mon, 12/29/2008 - 15:28

I enjoy reading your reviews of MBL speakers, especially the 101 X-Treme's in the latest issue.  I drool over them and aspire to own them in the future.  How about some reviews of affordable omnidirectional speakers?   The new Ohm Walsh 5000's, AV123 X-Omni's or Duevel Planets would work.

Robert Harley -- Mon, 12/29/2008 - 20:34

The X-Static speaker by AV123 was an all-out rave, in my view.
We'll be on the lookout for more omnidirectional speakers at the upcoming CES.

RDawkins -- Wed, 12/31/2008 - 17:37

I'd like to see an investigation into the differences between speakers used for mixing and mastering music and consumer playback. I am thinking of a listening comparison between speakers that have risen to the position of being most widely respected in the pro world, such as the Klein und Hummel (K+H) 0300/0800 system, the Barefoot MM27 - the most talked about speaker in the business right now, and the Focal Twin 6, not to speak of PMC and ATC, much less the mythical German Geithain. It's probably worth mentioning that the first 3 mentioned are all internally tri-amped.
I just bought the K+H 0300/0800 set, by the way, and am quite enamored of the sound, particularly the clarity in the mids and bass.
I'd like you to do an article on just how these differ from the most highly respected consumer speakers.

Robert Harley -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 17:14

I’m not familiar with the professional monitors you mention, or of any recent vintage pro loudspeakers. I have some experience with studio monitors of the late 1970s through mid-1980s and have recorded and mixed a number of records on Westlake, UREI, and JBL monitors. In my own studio I used hi-fi speakers as monitors (ADS L810s) which I trusted more than the pro monitors of the day. The acid test of a mix, however, was always playback on a cassette through my car stereo.
Your idea of comparing the best professional monitors with consumer loudspeakers is an intersting one. I suspect that most audiophiles would not like the sound of studio monitors; they are designed to be a microscope on the signal so that the engineer can detect flaws. It's worth noting that the word "monitor" comes from the Latin monere (to warn, admonish, or advise). I think most music listeners would prefer loudspeakers that are not designed to "warn, admonish, or advise." But this opinion is based on my experience with studio monitors of 25 years ago.
Do you know of a place where I could hear the K+H?

RDawkins -- Sat, 01/03/2009 - 16:54

They are distributed by Sennheiser USA, although you would never guess looking at their website - no mention. Maybe this is one reason they are not better known in the States.
I don't know your location, but you should be able to arrange a listen. The 0300 are unusual in terms of not only performance per dollar, but also per cubic foot and pound - these things sound much bigger than they are. The surprise to me is the refinement of the midrange.
This is their email information:  info [at] sennheiserusa [dot] com
and address/phone
1 Enterprise Drive
Old Lyme, CT 06371

Phone: (860) 434-9190
They are pretty strictly pro, but their 0410, in particular, would seem to be a head to head match with high end home speakers except cheaper as measured by performance, again, partly because the power amps are built in.
Here's a relevent page:
I think the 0 110, 0 300, 0 410 and 0 810 are the most interesting
Here's a discussion thread:

Michael Kaplan (not verified) -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 04:39

 Update list of HP recommended vinyl recordings.  HP comments on other reviewers SOTA components especially speakers i.e. Wilson Alexander.  I want him to be used much more than he is currently utilized.  

Fujitsu (not verified) -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 05:02

I would like to read more on detailed factory tours. Especially for legendary high-end brands. Like Levinson's, Krell's,
Pass Labs, etc. Yes, the one like when JV visited MBL factory in issue 189.
This will answer why high end gears are so expensive.
Sometimes I just can't believe how come an imported British made car like a supercharged Jaguar XF-S (TAS189) costs less than A pair of Wilson Maxx3. Material cost and R&D cost are sure be a lot more on car designs and manufacturing than a
pair of speakers. To see the factory might explain this.

Robert Harley -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 17:18

The reason a high-end loudspeaker seems expensive compared with an automobile is sheer scale. Jaguar might sell 100,000 copies of the XF-S, orders of magnitude more units than Wilson will sell of the MAXX 3. High-end audio is generally made on the scale of a large craft shop, not a full-blown industrial enterprise.

konky (not verified) -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:41

How about reviews on budget DAC's like Musical Fidelity's V-DAC or others like Cambridge ? Are they worthwhile?

Robert Harley -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 17:18

We're working on a comprehensive survey of budget DACs (many with USB inputs) for a future issue.

Audioguy (not verified) -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:45

I have enjoyed TAS for some time now. I would like to see an article on B&K products and other epuipment in the apprx. price range. Speakers, amps, pre-amps, controlers that would total in the 12K to 16K range. I think that is where most of the readers fall price wise for their systems. This might be an idea, the best bang for your buck in the used market. Building a system with good used products. Just an example, puting together a system using used B&W 801s, BAT amps and so on. Just a thought.  

lenwfl -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:06

I attended RMAF 2008 this past October and was incredibly impressed by a couple of speaker brands I'd never heard of before: Raidho Ayra and Eben, and Tidal. I don't recall seeing many reviews of foreign manufactured speakers in TAS or Stereophile, so I'd like to see more. Thanks, Len


lenwfl -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:14

At RMAF 2008 I also heard what appeared to be a revolutionary device called a DEQX processor that corrects or eliminates the cross-over in speakers. The sound was very impressive, appeared to deal room acoustics very well, and allowed great imaging from anywhere in the room. I'd very much like to see that device reviewed. Thanks, Len


lenwfl -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:23

I'd also like to see a comparative review of high end cables vs. much more modest cables (e.g., Nordost Valhalla or Odin vs. DH Labs Revelation and Q10). Such an analysis could perhaps help a serious listener to consider spending more on cabling than a given component. Thanks, Len


blackfly -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:47

I would deem it prudent to perhaps make reviews of ultra expensive gear less frequent and flashy.  Fact is most of us cannot afford it and the gear we can afford often does not make the review cut.  Amps for under $10k, ditto for speakers and sources that are under $5k at the most.  I realize the high end world is not cheap but it does exist in a more financially modest form.  I would appreciate if TAS focused on this more rather than gear who's only shock value is the sticker price.  After all, we only focus on what we can afford.

Anonymous (not verified) -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 13:15

I have seen a quote,but I'm not sure exactly where I saw it,or who said it.
"This is not only a speaker I can live with,It is a speaker I can not live without."
I would like to know what product not only can a reviewer live without,I would like to know what product a reviewer would be willing to pay full MSRP.(Just kidding-I don't want to give anybody a heart attack)
I would also like to see more pictures of reviewers room set-up including equipment and speaker placement.
I have seen glimpses of your room.I also recall some photos of a room that was not exactly ready for prime time.
Equipment racks and the choice of listening chairs would be another issue I would like to see addressed.
It appears that Mr.Harley sits in a home theater type of a chair.
I was wondering if a good height adjustable office type chair would be a good option.
I'm sure comfort should be important,but having the ability to change height,especially for a reviewer who has different speakers moving through his listening room,having the ability to change ear level to tweeter height may be high on the list of options.
David Hickman

Robert Harley -- Thu, 01/01/2009 - 17:24

I don't remember that quote, but it's a good one.
We're working on a new feature for this site that will enable anyone (reviewers and readers) to easily post photos and equipment lists.
I use a reclining loveseat in my room, and sit in the middle straddling both seats when listening to music. I can raise the listening height by sitting on a pillow. So far, I haven't found a speaker that requires a lower listening height. Nonetheless, I have an adjustable office chair that can be brought in for such occasions.

ric escalante -- Sat, 01/03/2009 - 11:01

Seasons Greetings,
Sorry, but I could not start a new topic, so I'm leaving it here, presumably for Mr. Harley.
Suggestions...hmmm. First I would like to see or have access to the former "girlfriends" of the individual reviewers, meaning a detailed list of former "reference" gear, starting from as close to the beginning as is deemed important. What was it, and how did it sound, what were its strengths and weaknesses? What replaced it and why and for how long? This way I would understand as a sort of aural history what it is that is prized by TAS' writers. To me, this would be a very interesting read and it may even be surprising for those who participate.
I would love to see individual histories, that could culminate in a roundtable discussion of what makes a reference a reference. Part of what is so enjoyable about the magazine is the "what's new is best" because technology and its designers are driven to improve. But then there is the "flavor of the month" syndrome, where someone says they could comfortably live with something, but it does not become a reference. You could talk about cost vs. reference--I assume a piece becomes a reference piece of equipment only when one can afford it. RH or JV may be able to afford more expensive reference gear than a Bob Gendron, but Bob's input is also valuable because he probably knows mid-fi better than those who know the expensive side of high end. Also, what did those earlier references cost when adjusted for inflation? How much has the high end gone up?  I know TAS did an article on reviewers listening biases, so I'd like to see it carried a step further with the above.
Looking to the future, I would also enjoy an article that covered something like nanotechnology and how it could (will) revolutionize the quest for the absolute sound. Something in layman's terms, so as not to put HP or anyone else like me that may not understand, asleep. Bybee's come to mind. Tubes vs. Nanotechnology, are we melding old vs new, art vs. science?
If any of this has been done already, I apologize for a redundant suggestion, and request a referral.  Thanks!

Robert Harley -- Sat, 01/03/2009 - 11:57

Thanks for the suggestion. It's a tall order to document every product each of us as reviewed and discuss it in detail; I've reviewed approximately 550 products (a rough guess) in the past 20 years.
Nonetheless, it would be interesting to highlight just those products that advanced the state-of-the-art in an historical context.
Two things have to happen for a product to become a long-term reference: the product must be outstanding, and its maker must be willing to grant a long-term loan. There's no way that any of us can afford to buy the gear we review.
Thanks again for your input.

Bill Carman (not verified) -- Sat, 01/03/2009 - 12:10

I would like to see an article comparing cd replay from dedicated cd players, sacd/cd players, blu-ray players, and universal players.  Is it true that a universal player cannot play cd as well as a dedicated cd player? 

Robert Harley -- Sat, 01/03/2009 - 23:37

In my experience, universal players don't perform as well as dedicated-format machines. This applies, however, to the upper-end players. A universal player is a great solution at the entry-level to mid-price points.

Anonymous (not verified) -- Sun, 01/04/2009 - 22:27

 I would like to read an evaluation of the best sacd players.  I'm presently enjoying collecting DSD/sacd recordings of classical music. Please focus on the sacd play back only for classical play back.  I do not wish to read about cd play back qualities.  Thank You.

Anonymous (not verified) -- Thu, 01/08/2009 - 16:30

 I will try to focus the question stated above.  Please advise to which of these two, Wadia 781 or the dcs puccini sacd players would you advise for  dsd/sacd classical playback?

Bob Anderson (not verified) -- Mon, 01/05/2009 - 09:50

Would like to see reviews about Legacy Audio's Focus SE or HD, also PBN's Montana EPS2 ,XPS Von Schweikert vr 5's,
Mostly in the $7000 -$12000 range.

Robert Harley -- Tue, 01/06/2009 - 13:21

Thanks for the speaker suggestions, Bob. We have a speaker-focus issue in the planning stage, and will keep those models in mind.

DC (not verified) -- Wed, 01/14/2009 - 21:21

Since most buyers will purchase at least one piece of equipment without being able to listen to it, a valuable article would be how to match components based solely on specs.  I hope TAS is not so allergic to specs that this article would not be considered. 

Robert Harley -- Thu, 01/15/2009 - 12:57

There are some specifications that can help in achieving a good technical match between a power amplifier and loudspeakers. This might make a good feature for our upcoming Loudspeaker Focus issue.

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