For the first 25 years of its existence, SECRETS was published in standard HTML form, but in keeping with modern trends, as of January, 2008, the magazine has been published as a full database-driven website. SECRETS uses numerous CMS (Content Management System) modules which allow readers the best experience possible, including in-depth searches, submission of comments on reviews, and expanded content viewing.
The SECRETS mission is to provide straightforward, technical information about new products and emerging technologies, along with music and movie reviews and special features including our video interviews with industry leaders.
The SECRETS Forum provides an interactive means for our readers to discuss reviews, technologies, and questions. The forum is actively moderated by our Editor and staff. The Manufacturer's Corner on the forum is available to anyone wanting to post press releases about new AV products or industry information.
The SECRETS A/V Resources Directory invites any A/V company to include company information and link their listing to their website. Additional promotional options are available to directory participants. Please contact us for further information.
The SECRETS Blog offers a platform for our Editors to discuss relevant AV topics and current events and invites reader response.
The SECRETS Primer has been transformed into an Encyclopedia of Words, Terms and Concepts. The Primer will be actively updated by our Editorial staff and Readers are invited to add additional technical information through our comment feature throughout the Primer.
As always, everything that has ever been published by SECRETS over our 25 years of publishing, is available on-line through our SECRETS Archives.
The SECRETS readers are serious audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts, consumers, and manufacturers, who are seeking technical, yet understandable, information about products and technologies.
Readership averages 300,000 unique readers each month and reflects a broad international following. January is traditionally the highest readership month, primarily driven by interest in the Consumer Electronics Show coverage.
As an avid movie lover, Chris was unable to turn away the 50-inch Samsung DLP TV that arrived at his door one day, thus launching him irrevocably into an obsession with home theater. Dissatisfied with the image quality of his new acquisition, Chris trained with the Imaging Science Foundation in 2006 and became a professional display calibrator. His ultimate theater desires were realized when he completed construction of a dedicated cinema/listening room in his home. Chris is extremely fortunate that his need for quality audio and video is shared and supported by his wife of over 25 years.
In his spare time he enjoys riding his recumbent trike at least 100 miles per week, trying out new restaurants, going to theme parks and spending as much time as possible watching movies and listening to music. Chris enjoys bringing his observations and discoveries about every kind of home theater product to as many curious and well-informed readers as possible. He is proud to be a part of the Team and hopes to help everyone enjoy their AV experiences to the fullest.
I learned to play the guitar in high school, hoping to persuade Berma Sanchez to date me, but alas, no such luck! In the late 1970s, a neighbor who was the station engineer for the local PBS network took me under his wing and taught me the electronics of audio reproduction. Throughout college, I used that knowledge to modify Dynaco vacuum tube equipment for friends.
After graduation from LSU, I took a job in the chemical manufacturing industry, learning about industrial hygiene and the mechanics of hearing.
In the 1990s I learned to write, initially as the newsletter editor for my local Safety Engineering chapter. In the early 2000s, I had my first book published (I’m now working on my third).
A few years ago, the Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity website issued a call for authors. I responded and was excited to be selected. Over the years, I’ve published a number of equipment reviews and am honored, in 2019, to be given the title of “Senior Editor.”
But none of the above offers the “why” of my interest in home audio. My musical tastes are highly diverse, and my love of music (acquired probably in the church choir of Grace Baptist Church) has been passed on to my daughter, who got her B.S. degree in music and her M.S. in violin performance and music education before being switching gears and then going on to graduate from Harvard Law.
Although the majority of my extended group of friends and family prefer hobbies such as hunting, fishing, football games, etc., I’ve found that I still greatly enjoy time with my audio system and discovering new music. At some time in the fairly near future, my hearing will decline and I’ll no longer be able to listen analytically. But so long as my audiograms show acute hearing, I’ll keep doing what I enjoy best - listening to wonderful music and sharing my thoughts and impressions with like-minded friends.
Craig Chase intends to become the rebel of our team. (We welcome one more rebel to the SECRETS Team!) He got his start in audio while still in high school in small town Pennsylvania, and took his love of audio to Penn State, where he was a campus rep for Electrovoice, Advent, Altec-Lansing, Pioneer and Technics. This mini career with audio set him on the path to making audio a lifetime passion. After graduating Penn State at the low point of the 1982 recession, a terrible time to start a career, he took a job selling cars at a Ford-Datsun-AMC-Jeep dealership in Erie, Pa. What started off as a job until something better came along turned into a tremendous career, and now Craig has a thriving financial services company and owns a Chrysler-Jeep-Ram-Dodge dealership in the university town of Edinboro, Pa.
These companies have allowed Craig to build two things he loves: a 20-year-long stint writing reviews for audio equipment on several forums and helping people and animals in need. Few things are more rewarding to Craig and his family than rescuing a dog, cat or even a horse. The Chase family currently has 11 rescue animals and has helped place hundreds of others. Craig also works with several shelters in northwest Pennsylvania that provide direct aid to people in crisis. It is this love of helping others that has also made his tenure in audio so enjoyable. From the time he installed his first system in a friend's dorm room as a college rep to more recent experiences in the forum world helping someone assemble a system, Craig knows the sense of accomplishment of letting someone in on our SECRET: a music system can make life more enjoyable.
Gene Hopstetter has been collecting records since 1981, when he walked into a record store and spent $36US on every AC/DC album he could find. He also ended up sending cash-stuffed envelopes to Australia to addresses in the back of music magazines to get more AC/DC albums. He continues to this very day to exhibit that same sort of behavior to find records.
In high school in the mid-1980s he landed a job as a stockboy in a local Hi-Fi emporium, which is when his HiFi journey began. When not unboxing Sony TVs he recorded MFSL albums to cassette on their Luxman components and AR turntables. This is where he first heard a Compact Disc, on a Sony CDP-101, but he resisted the temptation to sell all of his vinyl. He has always had a record player and vinyl in his life. His insatiable thirst for new music led him to join the staffs of two university radio stations, where he got involved with local music promotion and album production. And he still can’t believe he got paid to listen to records.
Gene was born and raised in New Orleans, where music and food were invented. He earned degrees in Creative Writing and Journalism from LSU, which he somehow manages to use in his current career as an IT professional.
His current system is mostly vintage: McIntosh MC30s, MC2505 and C28, 1977 Klipsch Cornwalls, a cream Garrard 301 with two tonearms, an Audio Research Corporation SP-6B, with an Oppo BDP-105 for silver discs and digital streaming. Several turntables and 1970s receivers are in varying states of refurbishment as well. He also two Playstation 1 consoles which are surprisingly good CD players, a fact he finds endlessly hilarious.
Jay is an attorney by day, and a musical omnivore by night. Jay seeks out multichannel recordings, with or without video accompaniment. He also enjoys 2-channel music on digital and vinyl, as well as TV and the odd flick. Jay picked up his love of music from his mother, who was cool enough to go to Woodstock…but square enough to actually buy a ticket for it.
Jay approaches audio and home theater from a music-first perspective. His main interest audio-wise is gear that pushes the boundaries of realism in the home, especially speakers and room correction systems. However, he is also very interested in products that expand the possibilities for music lovers on modest budgets, and gear designed to provide a well-balanced sound in spaces where a full-bore audio system is impracticable. Jay has a special interest in correlating subjective impressions of speakers and room correction systems with acoustic measurements. A Washington DC native and die-hard Washington football fan, Jay lives in Atlanta (ITP) with his wife, daughter, and their two ferocious mini-lions.
Mel spent most of his life working in television journalism in Ohio, Florida, the BBC in London, and in Seattle, WA. He won a few EMMY awards along the way which most people mistake for bowling trophies.
Being around all those expensive monitors frustrated him when he got home to his threadbare TV and stereo, so he began to improve things, brand by brand, upgrade by upgrade. He’s got a lovely OLED TV now, flanked by Magnepan 3.6r speakers, and a Home theater with an Epson Projector and Focal speakers. Also scatted about the house are HiFiMan headphones, and 6 Sonos Connect devices that are spraying his rather large music collection from room to room. Other equipment is from Oppo, Sony, Aurender, PS Audio and Emotiva.
Musical tastes range from Classical to Jazz to New Age to classic Rock and Roll. Mel has written a biography of film producer Samuel Bronston (El Cid, King of Kings) and is working now on a second film related book. He resides in Arizona where, when he’s not adjusting his home theater, he dabbles in landscape and astronomical photography.
Mike was unexpectedly lured into hifi as a 10 year old when he first spun the vinyl of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Intrigued by the album cover and inserts, he wasn’t aware that he’d find a connection with music through stereo sound and atmospheric effects. Finding similar music to enjoy and a great stereo to play them on became a new quest for his young, moldable, budding audiophile mind. The laserdisc player later converted him to a videophile too, and he was determined to earn his ISF certification while working at a HiFi shop that was paying his tuition. It was here where high fidelity audio and video collided at full force; video calibrator by day and music lover by night (and his studies whenever he could fit them in). He continued to work at various HiFi shops once graduated with his B.A. (Hons) in Political Science and Anthropology at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. The dream of becoming a politician or an archaeologist soon faded into oblivion.
After receiving M.Ed. at Daemon College in Amherst, NY, Mike changed his full-time career path to teaching but remains ever-present in the audio-video community in Ontario. As a highly active and respected THX/ISF calibrator, Mike has contributed articles to Canada HiFi Magazine and can still be found speaking at video seminars, measuring product performance for manufacturers, and performing calibration work for both consumers and Toronto’s post-production community. He has a strong commitment for video performance with an emphasis on measurement but understands that you can’t get blood from a stone, especially when most environments are compromised. It’s not all about pretty looking graphs, it’s about making good pictures.
As the son of an audiophile and classic rock enthusiast, Peter’s exposure to high fidelity audio equipment began at an early age, when his father, Carlo, outfitted their basement to be a home theater and constantly listened to music in his studio while Peter sat and drew. His taste in music would initially stem from his father’s: comprised of Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, and other household names of classic rock. Peter fondly remembers making a mixed tape with his father that included these pillars of musical history, using an old Sony Walkman. As he grew older, Peter began to branch out to heavier forms of music, such as Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Saxon, Dio, Black Sabbath ... then on to doom and psych metal such as Sleep, Elder, Kyuss, The Sword, and the Melvins. The music only got heavier from there. Peter’s development into a denim-sporting headbanger was accompanied by newfound respect for the higher echelons of audio equipment that he previously regarded as gaudy and unnecessary.
He enjoys going to concerts to sweat, thrash, and yell, but also enjoys sitting down with an LP and listening to it front to back, something that seems to have gone missing from the current generation. Peter is also notable for his offbeat sense of humor, a factor that is sure to be present in all he writes.
Robert's passion for audio was awakened at an early age by his father's purchase of a pair of original VonSchweikert Audio VR-4 floor standing speakers. Much like wine lovers (himself included) remember that first "Ah ha!" moment when they try their first "great" wine tastes a wine icon, this was his "Ah ha!" moment in audio. From this point on he was on a quest for what he considers "Audio Truth", a belief that the ultimate reproduction of sound is to produce the identical auditory experience as if it were live, without coloration, enhancement, refinement, or other influence imparted by audio equipment. As he has not found this "Audio Truth" yet, he has decided to share this quest with others by writing about it.
Robert's reference setup includes a custom built "floating" room using the Cardas "Golden Ratio" for dimensions specifically designed for audio evaluation. His gear includes an Oppo BDP-105 Blu-Ray player, Jolida Glass FX tube DAC, Marantz AV 8801 pre/pro, Marantz MM 8077 multi-channel amplifier, Sony 1080p VPLVW60 Projector, and Stewart Filmscreen 130 Reference Screen. For home theater speakers, he has Definitive Technologies CLR2500BK 150 watt speaker for the center channel, Definitive Technologies BPXBK speakers for side and rear surrounds, and Definitive Technologies 1,500 watt SCIBK Super Cube Subwoofer all connected via 14AWG x 4 speaker cable. The front two channels are heavily modified Von Schweikert VR-7SE MKIIIs, with 4" thick cabinets, custom milled speaker isolation spikes powered by a Channel Island Audio D-500 MKII monoblocks on dedicated 20 amp lines direct to the breaker box. The VR-7's are connected to the Marantz pre/pro (in Home Theater bypass mode) via Mogami quad star balanced ICs, and to the CIA monoblocks via "shotgun" Master Built cables.
Robert attended Baylor University where he met his wife (who beat him at fencing). He attended medical school at UTMB in Galveston, TX, served his Internship in Internal Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and completed his residency in Radiation Oncology at Tufts Medical Center. He is currently a practicing Radiation Oncologist in the Greater Atlanta area and enjoys fly-fishing, cooking, playing with his new daughter, and of course pursuing "Audio Truth". (and somewhere in there he went to culinary school)
Tyler's interest in music started at a young age. He began instruction in classical guitar at the age of 7 and gradually progressed towards rock in his early teens. He expanded his musical horizons in college, earning extra cash as a DJ spinning house and trance music and learning the basics of sound reinforcement. Starting with a humble 27" Sony Trinitron CRT television, a Pioneer DVD player, and just two channels of sound, his home theater system has continued to evolve over the years in an effort to recreate the sense of energy and emotional excitement that comes from attending a live performance. Tyler holds a B.S. in Business Information Systems from Lehigh University and will be completing his M.B.A. at the University of Massachusetts in 2009. He is currently employed as a Systems Analyst for a large health care organization in northern New Jersey where his primary specialty is in the area of digital cardiac imaging.
Stacey Spears is a widely recognized expert on the science of color in video, best known for his work with Don Munsil. Stacey has co-authored many high profile articles on video decoding, image processing, and deinterlacing. The Spears and Munsil calibration discs are widely regarded as the definitive tests for a range of video formats. Spears and Munsil were also the first to publicly document and explain the now infamous chroma upsampling error in a variety of decoders. They published their findings in Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity years ago.
Stacey led a number of development efforts for sixteen years at Microsoft before being recruited by SpectraCal, including significant contributions to the Xbox, Smooth Streaming, VC-1, and Media Foundation.
He holds over a dozen patents in video and image processing, including “Strategies for producing quantized image information” (2007), “Image processing using linear light values and other image processing improvements” (2007), “Strategies for performing scaling operations on image information" (2008), and “Regions of interest for quality adjustments” (2012).
Stacey is currently a Senior Editor at Secrets, specializing in Video Technology.