Audio and home theatre websites
Here we list webpages that cover the home hi-fi, pro audio and AV field and feature news, discussions, small ads and sundry other material, they are classified by language since their generic nature defies any other classification
Audio Ideas Guide (Canada)
Audio Video Revolution (USA)
The sites primary worth is as a news and film review site, those 2 sections are constantly updated, the hardware reviews are showing up less and less frequently however and the newest music reviews is over a year old when this was written, and the last SACD review was written in 2005. The site also features a forum but it is a fairly low volume one.
High Fidelity (Poland) See --> High Fidelity (Published in both English and Polish)
Mono and Stereo (Slovenia)
Positive Feedback Online (USA)
Soundstage Network (Canada)
All the sites have the same basic writing team although each has a separate editor and all are the same format, i.e. they emulate a traditional hi-fi/AV magazine in having hardware and software reviews alongside opinion pieces, interactions with the reading public go through a separate letters page rather than on article/content as with most websites, and so on.
The good aspects of the site (sites?) are the reviews, they are fairly professionally done although a bit limited in scope at times, and you do get provided with test data in some cases especially the speakers, where the site takes advantage of the fact that the Canadian National Research Council runs an excellent anechoic chamber in Ottawa that they rent time out in at quite reasonable prices.
The negative points are that the reviews are not quite up to the scope, quality and length of what we expect from the printed press, although they are not far off really and we would especially like to see waterfalls in the speaker reviews, FR plots only show if something is seriously wrong and few speakers are that bad these days. Still is should be noted that while the reviews are perhaps not always up to the standards of the printed press they are nevertheless a class above their competitors on the net. The high ratio of reviews featuring equipment from site sponsors and factory tours from the same is a tad irritating as well.
What really is lacking are interactive features and that has quite obviously hurt the operation since the sites readership has been falling over the years while most other audio related sites have been growing their readership, this is especially notable for the AV part of the network which around 2000 looked like it would become more popular than the hi-fi part, but Soundstage was at that time running 2 separate home theatre sites in addition to further two that contained some AV content. The problem is that the more popular AV sites out there have leveraged simple interactive features such as forums and in page comments to increase their readership, simply because where some user interactions are provided, punters show up more often on the site than with published content only.
We are willing to bet however that Soundstage is going at the least partially interactive in the near future, they recently switched to a content management system called Joomla, that is both buggy and just about the slowest CMS out there, its only saving grace is that it has a rich variety of interactive features available, both in the basic system and as extensions, so the fact that the company has chosen that CMS over something more scalable like Dupal or Typo3 speaks volumes.
Soundstage background & history
Run by Canadian company Schneider Publishing Inc., not to be confused with the USA based newsletter publisher of the same name, and despite originating in Canada the permanent writers are largely from the USA. This operation started out as a monthly webzine in 1995 published by Kanuk hi-fi nut Doug Schneider and called simply Soundstage!. It was, to be frank, a bit dull at the time and would probably have sunk fairly quickly in todays market but since there was a dearth of audiophile material on the web in the mid 90's it hit the right spot at the right time which meant that as early as 1998 the site was one of the 2 largest audio equipment related sites on the net.
The operation expanded by adding a number of sister sites which in retrospect may seem a bit off since it breaks one of the rules of publishing "do not water down your brand", however this made perfect sense at the time. People had not yet started using search engines as their primary gateway to the internet but mostly relied on links, either from other homepages or from link hubs such as Yahoo! & DMOZ, so as odd as that may seem today, the more separate landing pages and domains you had the larger the potential audience. Soundstage used to have even more sites that it has now, for starters there was a specific PDF version of soundstage that you could access under "soundstagemagazine.com" that the company announced would be sold rather than a free download but it is not known it that was ever implemented, then there was "Home Theater & Sound" which was the main home theatre offering but was later merged into SoundstageXperience. "SoundstageAV.com" was a sort of a review archive site that collected most of the reviews that appeared on the other Soundstage sites and so was "AudioVideoReviews.com" but a bit earlier if we remember it correctly,"reviewerschoice.com" on the other hand collected the accolades that the various Soundstage sites had awarded equipment.
"Onhifi.com" and "Onhometheater.com" were another hi-fi and AV reviews and opinion sites edited by Wes Phillips who is a well known personality in the USA audiophile press, "mastersonaudio.com" and "mastersonvideo.com" was a similar publication but edited by Canadian veteran Ian G. Masters. , "AudioVideoNews.com" was an audio and home theatre news site, the company still uses the brand but not the domain, the news content is now on the main Soundstage Network domain. "Planet Hi-Fi" was published between 2002 and 2004 and featured the writings of Greg Kong, the company has a full archive of all the Planet Hi-Fi issues located here."SoundStageLIVE.com" appears to have bee a predecessor to Soundstage Global. And there were other Soundstage controlled sites that no-one can remember what function they performed such as "AudioVideoTrends.com", we think that was a "digital" site with coverage of satellite radio, iPod's and so on, but honestly we no longer remember, or care for that matter. While "audiovideodirectory.com" was a sort of a directory site that took over from an earlier incarnation called "avgateway.com" and there was a site that collected information on and links to retailers called "AudioVideoRetailers.com".
The company actually held out a host of other domains such as "AudioVideoAnswers.com", "AmplifierMeasurements.com", "PreAmplifierMeasurements.com" "SpeakerMeasurements.com", "AudioVideoShows.com", "Goodsoundguide.com", "RecommendedComponents.com " some of which were only developed for a short while and others were never developed but simply pointed to resources on other soundstage sites. The company begun to trim the number of sites they operated around 2003/4 and again around 2011.
The Stereo Times (USA)
Highly recommended reading but arcane design makes the site less easy to traverse than it should.
Audio musings by Sean Olive (English)
Audiotech Industries (USA)
Next Page : Defunct audio websites