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SoundStage! Audiophile Podcast

Arts & Culture Podcasts

The official podcast for SoundStage!, featuring hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger


United States


The official podcast for SoundStage!, featuring hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger






Bernie Grundman, the Music Master - Mastering Defined | Digital vs. Analog | Radio vs. Streaming

In this week’s episode, host Jorden Guth is joined by legendary mastering engineer Bernie Grundman to discuss what mastering is, what it isn’t, how mastering differs from remastering, and why vinyl sometimes sounds better than digital. Sources: “Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section” by Joseph Taylor: "Is It Just Me, or Are CDs Too Loud?" by Joseph Taylor: "The Music Man" on the SoundStage! Audiophile Podcast: Chapters: 00:00:00 Announcement 00:00:20 What does a mastering engineer do? 00:20:25 Musical interlude: “Say No More” by Julian Hartwell 00:22:49 Digital vs. analog and radio vs. streaming 00:35:24 What music moves Bernie Grundman


What We Measure and Why - What Does(n’t) Matter | Signal-to-Noise Ratio | Competence | (Im)Perfect Volume Controls

In this week’s episode, host Jorden Guth is joined by SoundStage! founder Doug Schneider and electronics measurements specialist Diego Estan to discuss the publication’s measurement philosophy and methodology, and also get to the root of what the heck quadrature is and why you should have paid attention in physics class. Along the way, they discuss some of the best-measuring gear they’ve experienced, some of the most idiosyncratic, and how and why these measurements matter. They also talk about an important topic to Doug: volume-control accuracy, something that surprised Jorden. Sources: “This is Why We Measure” by Dennis Burger: “Should You Buy More Amplifier or More Speaker Than You Need?” by Dennis Burger: “NAD Masters M23 Stereo/Mono Amplifier Measurements” by Diego Estan: “Atoll Electronique IN200 Integrated Amplifier Measurements” by Diego Estan: “Is 'Trickle Up' Tech the Future of Hi-Fi?” by Dennis Burger: Chapters: 0:00 Announcement 0:20 What we measure 20:43 Musical interlude: “An Issue” by Lalinea 21:52 How much do these measurements matter? 1:03:59 Canadians rock!


Daryl Wilson: Growing Up and Into Wilson Audio - The Wilson Household | Building WATT/Puppy Speakers | North Star Measurements and Listening | Pink Floyd Fridays

This week, host Jorden Guth is joined by Wilson Audio CEO Daryl Wilson to talk about what it was like to grow up alongside the storied brand, which his father, David, and mother, Sheryl, founded; how his path through life led him back to the company; and how Wilson speakers are designed, built, and voiced differently from other loudspeakers. Sources: “The Great North American Loudspeaker Tour: Wilson Audio Specialties” by Jeff Fritz: Wilson Audio Specialties WATT/Puppy 7 Loudspeakers review by Jeff Fritz: Wilson Audio website: Chapters: 0:00 Announcement 0:20 Growing up on Wilson Audio 21:54 Musical interlude: “Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Summer: 3. Presto” by the Dover Quartet 22:18 Reference standards, the importance of time alignment, and the future of hi-fi 47:28 Pink Floyd Fridays and guilty pleasures


Simaudio’s Étienne Gautier & the Art of Marketing Moon - Baumgartner Restoration | Taskmaster

Host Jorden Guth is trotting the globe this week and is tight on time, so he and producer Dennis Burger dug into the vaults to pull out an interview from last year with Simaudio’s marketing director Étienne Gautier. In this extended cut of the conversation, Dennis and Étienne discuss how the company’s marketing strategy is evolving and why Moon by Simaudio decided to sponsor the best art-restoration show on YouTube. Sources: “Moon by Simaudio Has Exited the Echo Chamber” by Dennis Burger: "The Maverick" by Baumgartner Restoration: Taskmaster on YouTube: Hania Rani: Chapters: 0:00 Announcement 0:20 Why brand awareness matters 5:51 Musical Interlude I: "Jazz it Up" by Wesly Thomas 6:18 In conversation with Simaudio’s Étienne Gautier 23:45 Musical Interlude II: "Jazz it Up" by Wesly Thomas 24:07 The importance of emotional connections


The Music Man - Joe Taylor on Vinyl and Cassettes | Next-Gen Audiophiles | Curated Music Selections

In this episode, host Jorden Guth is joined by SoundStage! Xperience senior editor Joseph Taylor to discuss his love for vinyl, the cassette tape revival, creating the next generation of audiophiles, and the ways in which music mastering has changed over the decades. They also dig into Joe’s ongoing “Curator” series of articles, how he finds his inspiration, why he focuses on certain artists, and how he and his daughters influence one another’s musical tastes. Sources: “Experience ‘Xperience’ Anew” by Joseph Taylor: “En Attendant Ana: Juillet" by Joseph Taylor: “Savak: Human Error / Human Delight" by Joseph Taylor: “James Brown, Curated” by Joseph Taylor: You can also find links to all of Joe’s “Curator” articles at: Chapters: 0:00 Announcement 0:20 Why Joe still loves vinyl 20:06 Musical Interlude: “Freerolling” by T. Bless & the Professionals 20:32 Crafting “Curator” and picking desert-island discs


The Inveterate Adventurer - Headphones as Hi-Fi’s Gateway Drug | Bluetooth Quality | The Best Noise-Canceling Cans

In this episode, host Jorden Guth is joined by SoundStage! Solo editor Geoff Morrison to discuss headphones as a gateway drug into hi-fi, traveling with over-ears vs. on-ears, and mixing audio for a variety of headphones, speakers, and even YouTube. They also dig into dedicated music players vs. smartphones, whether or not Bluetooth can deliver good sounds, if anyone can do noise canceling better than Bose, and Geoff’s personal recommendations for good in-ears and on-ears for on the road and at home. By the way, Geoff’s first international trip since the pandemic was in 2022, not 2020, and feels horrified he said the wrong year during the podcast. Sources: “Bald Nomad – adventures described in words and pictures” by Geoff Morrison: “A Bluetooth Blind Test” by Brent Butterworth: @GeoffMorrison on YouTube: "Eardrum Suck: The Mystery Solved!" by Brent Butterworth: “Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Hurt Your Ears? You’re Not Alone” by Brent Butterworth and Lauren Dragan: @inveterate_adventurer on Instagram: Chapters: 0:00 Announcement 0:20 Getting to know Geoff 23:09 Musical Interlude 24:15 YouTube, Noise canceling, and whether anybody can beat Bose


Introducing Jorden - Hi-Fi Marketing | A Love Letter to KEF | The Three Best Speakers at Florida International Audio Expo 2023

In this first episode of the second season of the SoundStage! Audiophile Podcast, new host Jorden Guth is joined by SoundStage! founder Doug Schneider to discuss the road forward. Although Jorden has been working for about ten years in high-end hi-fi as part of our video team, to most he is a new face in the hi-fi scene. But he has the experience and he is also keenly award of trends that appeal to young music listeners and to electronics purchasers in general. So when he and Doug start talking about Jorden and his background and where he will take this podcast from here, it quickly turns into a discussion about what the hi-fi industry is doing right and wrong from their perspectives–which Jorden inadvertently turned into a love letter to the UK brand KEF. The two also take a virtual tour of the Florida International Audio Expo 2023 by way of SoundStage! Global’s coverage by Hans Wetzel and Doug Schneider, and discuss three speakers that really stood out to Doug, which are featured in the coverage, as well as in an article by Doug on SoundStage! Hi-Fi this month. Sources: Florida International Audio Expo 2023 - Tampa, USA: “The Best of Florida International Audio Expo 2023” by Doug Schneider:


Season 1 Grand Finale - TAS Speaker-Sensitivity Rant | 500 vs. 250W Amp | Geoffrey Morrison Plans | Goodbye

In their final episode as co-hosts of the SoundStage! Audiophile Podcast, Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger kick off a super-sized rant by digging into Robert Harley’s editorial from the February 2023 issue of The Absolute Sound to discuss what speaker sensitivity ratings actually mean and whether using volts instead of watts as a reference is deceptive (4:48 to 38:04). From there (38:46 to 55:59), they dig deep to get to the bottom of the most important question in the domain of audio reproduction: what makes a 500-watt amp sound different from a 250-watt amp? Next (56:51 to 1:21:06): an in-depth conversation with Geoffrey Morrison, the new senior editor of SoundStage! Solo, about his plans for the publication and how his travels influence his taste in and experience with headphones and portable audio in general. Finally, Brent and Dennis take a few minutes to say goodbye and thanks to everyone who made this first season of the SoundStage! Audiophile Podcast possible. Sources: The Absolute Sound: "World Premier - Zesto Audio Eros 500 Select Class A Monoblocks" by Robert H. Levi: Bald Nomad:


The Connected Future of Something or Other - CES 2023 | The Harman Curve Again | Looking Forward

In this week’s first segment (2:26 to 22:02), Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger talk about the former’s experiences at CES 2023, and reminisce about what the show used to be, both in terms of hi-fi and as an overall barometer of the state of the consumer-electronics market. Next up (22:44 to 45:57), they return to the Harman target curve well yet again to talk about a new video from The Headphone Show, which discusses their move away from the Harman curve as a result of their adoption of the B&K 5128 head and torso simulator. Finally (46:48 to 58:57), they wrap up this week’s episode with a bit of a retrospective and a look toward the future. Sources: "Best audio tech at CES 2023" by Hamish Hector: "Say goodbye to the Harman target" by The Headphone Show: "New Headphone Measurement Target FAQ" by The Headphone Show: "Introducing the newest SoundGuy: The Bruel & Kjaer 5128" by AJ Wykes: “A Fond Farewell” by Brent Butterworth:


How Much a Lemon is S’posed to Squeeze - Favorite Products of 2022 | Audio Distribution Changes | JBL and Headphones

This week, hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger kick off the discussion by digging into SoundStage!’s year-end coverage (3:17 to 26:06). In addition to discussing their favorite products of the year, they also talk about three people who deserve recognition for significant contributions to audio reproduction. Next up (27:03 to 45:43), they dig into a piece from Stereophile about the ways in which audio distribution is changing, especially at the higher end. That leads right into a conversation (46:27 to 1:01:40) about JBL hitting an important milestone in the headphone market, and what implications that may or may not have for the validity of the Harman curve. Sources: "The 2022 SoundStage! Network Awards for Outstanding Achievement and Products of the Year" by Doug Schneider: "Henry Kloss, Dead at 72" by David Lander: "Sivga SV023 Headphones Offer Outstanding Performance & Value for $450 - Take 2 Headphones" by Mike Perez: "Re-Tales #27: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in the hi-fi industry" by Julie Mullins: "JBL Hits 200 Million Headphones Milestone":


That One Where Geddy Lee Raps - TAS on Taiko | CheapAudioMan Power Cable Test | ”XTC, Curated”

This week, hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger start by taking a look at The Absolute Sound’s coverage of the Taiko Audio Extreme music server and evaluate some claims made by the manufacturer and reviewer alike (4:48 to 20:43). Does a glorified hard drive really need 700,000µF of capacitance? And should your music server really serve double duty as a space heater? Next up (21:43 to 43:40), they check out a recent video by YouTuber Cheapaudioman in which he blind-tested a mid-level power cable and compared its performance to a stock cable with the same model of amp. More importantly, they dig into the comments section, which is surprisingly constructive. Wrapping things up this week (44:23 to 56:28), Brent and Dennis skim the surface of a new article by Joseph Taylor on SoundStage! Xperience titled “XTC, Curated,” and also discuss other entries in the series, which dig deep into the history and output of a variety of musical artists. Sources: “2022 Golden Ear: Taiko Audio Extreme Music Server” by Matthew Clott: "The Art of Electronics, 3rd Edition" by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill: "Do Power Cables Make a Difference? The Results Surprised Me - Blind Testing the Audioquest NRG-Z3" by Cheapaudioman: “XTC, Curated” by Joseph Taylor: “Curator” category page on SoundStage! Xperience:


Emerson, Lake & Palmer at the Grocery Store - Audio Science Review Misses | Audiophilia in Harper’s | Hi-Fi and Skateboarding

This week, hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger visit the Audio Science Review forums to shine a spotlight on an overlooked comment by Dr. Sean Olive. The topic? Who should and shouldn’t be included in listening panels and whether a university janitor’s opinions about good sound are as valid as those of your average AES member (4:28 to 21:25). Next up (22:25 to 39:08), they opine about something of a unicorn: an article about audiophilia in a completely mainstream publication. In this case, it’s a piece by Sasha Frere-Jones in the latest issue of Harper’s titled "Corner Club Cathedral Cocoon.” In this week’s final segment (39:52 to 57:34), Brent and Dennis watch a new episode of SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi, in which founder Doug Schneider discusses what skateboarding and hi-fi have in common, and why the resurgence of popularity of the former is good for the latter. Sources: "Headphones and the Harman target curve" on Audio Science Review: "Where Are We At With The Harman Curve?" by Brent Butterworth: "The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality" by Sean Olive: "Corner Club Cathedral Cocoon” by Sasha Frere-Jones: “View of the World from 9th Avenue: by Saul Steinberg: “Hi-Fi Will Never Die, Because Skateboarding Didn't - SoundStage! Real Hi-Fi (Ep:48)”: “Rubik’s Cube: A Craze Ends” in The New York Times Archives: "Rubik’s Cube And Spin Master: A $50 Million Deal With Endless Possibilities" by Joan Verdon:


An Ultra-Mega Special Guest - Steve ”The Audiophiliac” Guttenberg | Dolby Atmos | SVS and Totem Acoustic Speakers

This week, hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger are joined by their old friend Steve Guttenberg—aka ”The Audiophiliac”—to discuss his recent interview with Professor Edgar Choueiri, the man behind the BACCH-SP Stereo Purifier (4:00 to 20:15). Steve was also kind enough to stick around for the second segment (20:54 to 46:15) to discuss Dolby Atmos for music and movies alike, as well as some particularly disastrous surround sound mixes from the DVD-A/SACD era. Wrapping things up this week (46:50 to 1:06:27), Brent and Dennis dig into two speaker-system reviews from Gordon Brockhouse on SoundStage! Simplifi: the new SVS Prime Wireless Pro, as well as the Totem Acoustic Kin Play Tower. Despite being superficially similar, in that they’re both speakers with their own internal amplification, these are actually two quite different products likely to appeal to two very different consumers. Sources: "Professor Choueiri perfected SPATIAL (3D) AUDIO!" by Steve Guttenberg Audiophiliac: "SVS Prime Wireless Pro Active Loudspeaker System" by Gordon Brockhouse: “Totem Acoustic Kin Play Tower Powered Loudspeaker System” by Gordon Brockhouse:


A Purposeful Grimace & A Terrible Sound - Lavardin ”Memory Distortion” | Spotify Platinum | Products from Audio Video Show 2022

In this week’s first segment (3:54 to 26:09), hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger dig into a review of the Lavardin ITx20 amp and discuss the manufacturer’s claims about “memory distortion” and how its circuitry eliminates that. This leads to a larger discussion about another big bugbear in the audio industry: the time domain. Next (27:03 to 41:30) they unpack the news that Spotify is supposedly introducing a new $20 Platinum pricing tier that adds lossless hi-fi audio, as well as some other new features that are ill-defined as of yet. Will listeners be willing to pay $20 a month for CD-quality music, or is Spotify hoping the other doodads are the biggest draw? In this week’s final segment (42:21 to 55:17), Brent and Dennis continue a time-honored tradition of vicariously visiting an audio show by way of SoundStage! Global’s coverage thereof. This time around, it’s Audio Video Show 2022, which was held in Warsaw, Poland. Sources: "Lavardin ITx20 Review" by Alan Sircom: “The Most Important Algorithm Of All Time” by Veritasium: "Spotify could be readying a hi-res audio Platinum plan" by David Nield: "Audio Video Show 2022 - Warsaw, Poland" by Doug Schneider and Jason Thorpe:


Dennis Said Something Nice - Qobuz’s THX Spatial Audio | Hi-Fi Components that Matter | Factory Tours

In this week’s first segment (3:28 to13:55), hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger discuss a story about a new Qobuz playlist featuring songs mixed for THX Spatial Audio. The mixes are designed to make the sound from your headphones seem like it’s coming from within the room rather than right in your ears. Does it work? Is it worth your time? And did Qobuz accomplish something that Apple couldn’t with this? Next (14:58 to 30:48) they pontificate a bit on a new review of the Nordost QNet network switch and QSource linear power supply in Stereophile, except they really don’t talk much about the review itself. Instead, they use it as a springboard for a discussion about which components make a real difference and which components don’t. They also answer the age-old question: “What’s the all-time best jazz-backed beat poem about critical thinking?” In this week’s final segment (31:24 to 52:10), our dynamic duo uses SoundStage! editor-in-chief Jeff Fritz's “Europe Tour 2022” series as an excuse to talk about factory tours, the value thereof, and whether or not engineering tools can truly be considered beautiful. Sources: "THX Spatial Audio on Qobuz: Listen with ANY Headphones!" by Jacob Green: "Playlist: THX Spatial Audio" by Qobuz USA: "NAD C 399 Integrated Amplifier-DAC" by Dennis Burger: "Storm" by Tim Minchin: "Giant Steps: A Player's Guide To Coltrane's Harmony for ALL Instrumentalists" by Walt Weiskopf & Ramon Ricker: “Björk: Sonic Symbolism”: "Europe Tour 2022: Arriving in Vicenza and Visiting Sonus Faber" by Jeff Fritz: "Europe Tour 2022: Sonus Faber Speaker Production and Design Lab" by Jeff Fritz:


A Statler & Waldorf Approach - Surround Sound & Dolby Atmos | CanJam SoCal + Headphone Giveaway | Reel-to-Reel Tapes

In this week’s first segment (7:24 to 22:07), hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger discuss a new piece by Andrew Heinzman about why he thinks surround sound, Dolby Atmos, and headphone virtualization don’t work for music. There’s some agreement. There’s some disagreement. There might even be some nuance. Who knows? Next (23:00 to 35:56) they dig deep into SoundStage! Global’s coverage of CanJam SoCal 2022. What were the highlights of the show for Brent? And which products did Dennis wish he could hear for himself? Wrapping things up this week, (36:38 to 46:25), they riff on some recent coverage of a new reel-to-reel tape machine by Metaxas & Sins that looks like it was designed by and for Tony Stark. If this is the future of high-end audio, count us in! Sources: "Why Surround Sound Doesn’t Make Sense for Music" by Andrew Heinzman: "Jesse Ray Ernster & Bob Clearmountain on Mixing: 'We’re in!'" by John Baccigaluppi: "CanJam SoCal 2022 - Irvine, USA" by Brent Butterworth: SoundStage! Newsletter Signup Form and Focal Celestee headphones giveaway (until Oct. 31, 2022): "2022 Golden Ear: Metaxas & Sins Tourbillon T-RX Reel-to-Reel Tape Deck" by Jonathan Valin: "Metaxas And Sins T-RX Portable Reel To Reel Finally In Production" at HiFi Pig: Elusive Disc: The Tape Project:


Look at My Curves - Sonarworks SoundID SR | AirPods Pro 2G Noise Canceling | JBL’s L75ms Integrated Music System

In this week’s first segment (3:20 to 24:00), hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger have a conversation about a proposed new headphone tuning standard from Sonarworks called SoundID SR. What does it do and why does it exist? And does it reveal any flaws in the Harman Curve? Next up (24:34 to 38:36) they react to the reporting on the announcement and release of Apple’s new second-generation AirPods Pro earphones, specifically the claim that these things block “two times as much noise.” Or is it “two times more noise”? And what do either of those things even mean? (Hint: they don’t mean the same thing.) In the third segment (39:11 to 49:30), they dig deep into Gordon Brockhouse’s exciting new review of the JBL L75ms Integrated Music System for SoundStage! Simplifi. This all-in-one music player combines forward-thinking connectivity and crossover design with retro-yet-timeless styling, all wrapped in a gorgeous walnut cabinet, and Brent and Dennis are here for it. Sources: "SoundID SR for Headphones: A new Headphone Tuning Standard" by Helmuts Bems: “Apple’s new AirPods Pro can cancel twice as much noise” by Chris Welch and Jay Peters: "Phiaton 900 Legacy Bluetooth Headphones" by Brent Butterworth: “JBL L75ms Integrated Music System” by Gordon Brockhouse:


The Ka-CHUNK Sound - ”Creem” Magazine | 8-Track Tapes | ”AudioXpress” on Room Acoustics | MidJourney

In this week’s first segment (3:33 to 14:28), hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger start by celebrating the return of Creem magazine and discussing a new article about the resurrection of 8-track tapes thanks to Sacred Bones Records. Next up (15:26 to 37:09) they dig into the August issue of AudioXpress, which is dedicated to acoustics and acoustical treatments. Unsurprisingly, Brent and Dennis have opinions about how the high-end audio industry covers room acoustics, including the fact that the most thorough and conclusive research on this subject has largely been ignored. And for something completely different (38:06 to 51:00), they discuss a recent SoundStage! Access article by Dennis about Midjourney, a text-to-image neural network that might give some insights into public perception of the audiophile hobby. Sources: “Sacred Bones Resurrects the Objectively Greatest Audio Format: The 8-Track” by Grace Scott: “8-track player shootout” by Brent Butterworth: [PDF] “Acoustics and Great Audio Electronics in audioXpress August 2022”: "Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms (Audio Engineering Society Presents) 3rd Edition" by Floyd E. Toole: “What Do Our Future A.I. Overlords Think About Hi-Fi?” by Dennis Burger: "I Went Viral in the Bad Way: A few lessons from my mistake" by Charlie Warzel:


The Race Is On! - on Consumer Trends | Stereophile’s 60th | 2022-2023 EISA Awards

In this week’s first segment (2:54 to 13:57), hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger opine about a new report from about consumer trends in difficult economic times, and speculate about what all of this may mean for hi-fi, especially given how luxury-focused our hobby has become. Next up (14:27 to 28:28) they springboard off an article about the 60th anniversary of Stereophile to discuss how that publication changed the way we read and write about audio, how the industry has changed since the magazine launched, as well as how much it has changed since John Atkinson became editor in the late 1980s. Finally (29:09 to 47:43), they dig into SoundStage! Hi-Fi’s coverage of the 2022-2023 EISA Awards. What are these awards, how are they selected, who votes on them, and which of the awards resonates most with Brent and Dennis? Sources: “Data Suggests Inflation-Impacted High-Income Consumers are ‘Trading Down’” by Ted Green: "60 Years of Stereophile!" by John Atkinson: "Do That Voodoo That You Do" by Brent Butterworth: "EISA's Best Products of 2022–2023" by Doug Schneider: "Sonus Faber Omnia Wireless Music System review" by Gordon Brockhouse: "EISA HI-FI AWARDS 2022-23" by Darko Audio:


The Credible Hulk - KEF LS60 Speaker System | The Absolute Sound on Measurements | Copper on Headphones

In this week’s first segment (3:00 to 15:04), hosts Brent Butterworth and Dennis Burger get the ball rolling by agreeing that Gordon Brockhouse’s review of the KEF LS60 Wireless active speaker system is probably the most important speaker review of 2022, and you should definitely read it. They follow that with a discussion (16:05 to 38:05) about a new blog post from The Absolute Sound’s Tom Martin that effectively presents bad measurements as proof that measurements are bad. Finally (38:54 to 51:20), they dig into part two of Copper Magazine’s coverage of the AES Europe Spring 2022 convention, specifically a paper titled “Survey of User Perspectives on Headphone Technology.” There are some interesting revelations here. Will they influence the way Brent reviews headphones? And what do these data tell us about where, when, and how people are using headphones? The results might surprise you. Sources: "KEF LS60 Wireless Active Speaker System” review by Gordon Brockhouse: "Philosophical Notes: What Is the Trouble with Measurements?" by Tom Martin: “AES Europe Spring 2022, Part Two” by John Seetoo: “Survey of User Perspectives on Headphone Technology” by Milap Rane, Philip Coleman, Russell Mason, and Søren Bech: