Soundsmith's Peter Ledermann: Building, Mastering, and Giving Back

Six weeks ago, Jana Dagdagan and I visited the Peekskill, New York factory of Soundsmith—her first time there, my second. Although I didn't mention this to the company's President and Chief Engineer, Peter Ledermann, the thing that most impressed me during my second visit was how little had changed since my first, in April of 2015. In particular, all but two of the employees I saw at Soundsmith this year had been there during my first visit; that suggests an experienced workforce—no small advantage in the manufacturing of phono cartridges, where the requisite skills are specialized, to say the least—a setting where people feel sufficiently challenged and appreciated that they stick around for years rather than mere months.

And Peter Ledermann's record collection had grown—always a sign of intellectual curiosity, erudition, and just plain good sense, if you ask me—as had his collection of vintage gear. And I admit, not only did covet his Marantz Model 5 mono amplifiers, but during my recent visit I made a lame effort to talk him into selling me his fixer-upper Garrard 401 turntable. But no dice.

Fact is, I reserve the greater portion of my envy—the respectful rather than covetous sort—for his skills. The idea of an American mortal retipping a cartridge remains, to me, so unthinkably out there that I laugh when I consider it; perhaps more so, I envy his ability to run a record-mastering lathe—self-taught, as we learn in this video. But that's just one of Ledermann's many skills, and one he literally gives away, under the auspices of Soundsmith's charitable subsidiary, Direct Grace Records, which you'll also learn about here.

Speaking of skills: This was the last video made for by the estimable Ms. Dagdagan, our former editorial coordinator. Working with her has been a pleasure and an honor, and I wish her all the best.

latinaudio's picture

Ok for the Soundsmith report, but the real news here are: Is Ms. Dagdagan leaving Stereophile? Since Lisa Astor there were no females on the mag pages. Ms. Dagdagan personal charisma and commitment were invaluable. I wish her the best and hope she'll find a good place to continue her career. Meanwhile, I believe this is a second strikeout to the mag,_ the first was Stephen...

John Atkinson's picture
latinaudio wrote:
Is Ms. Dagdagan leaving Stereophile?

Sadly, yes. Jana has left us. She was initially let go by our new owners. However, she was subsequently offered a different full-time position that would have allowed her to continue contributing videos to our sites, but she didn't accept that offer.

latinaudio wrote:
I wish her the best and hope she'll find a good place to continue her career.

So do all of us at Stereophile. In the 2 years she worked for us, she made a major contribution.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

2_channel_ears's picture

Who's staying?

funambulistic's picture

Except for the ones that are leaving, of course.

digilog's picture

Both Fremer and Hertsens make good videos BY THEMSELVES.

Vids aren't a major effort nowadays with smartphones and browser editing (YouTube will let you edit in the app).

AVTech Media Americas Inc.....way to go!!!

johnnythunder's picture

I hope you appreciate audio equipment and music with more insight than you have about video pieces. Videos aren't a major effort these days ? Do you know the difference between a smartphone video and a smartly produced, shot and edited video piece (like Jana's? ) Obviously not. And very classy to celebrate the end of a well liked Stereophile contributor. Way to go troll.

prerich45's picture

I'm saddned by Jana's departure from Stereophile, I loved reading her articles. I wish her much success in her future endeavors.

veentage's picture

I was a Jana fan. She got me excited about Stereophile. She consistently produced high quality work and was clearly passionate about her job. If she turned down this magazine's offer, there has to be more to the story. This is a sad turn of events. Thank you, more power, and all the best to Jana!

digilog's picture

Too much contrast -- overly bright. Can't resolve much detail.
Use camcorder "Auto" settings next time.

johnnythunder's picture

if you think Jana's videos are of poor quality. I'm in the video industry and you have no idea what you are talking about, in fact, I think you are being a troll.

tonykaz's picture

I think they are referring to the "jiggle-cam" Record Player Guy, not our Jana.

Jana's absence leaves a vacuum that a few of the more progressive Journalists might now fill by using their own newer Smart Phones but how many feel themselves to be Producers, and/or Content Creators with appropriate tools like an iMac with Video Software? Who among Stereophile's Staff is willing & able to spend significant time ( perhaps 8 hours ) to edit a 20 minute video?

Jana's work is loved and appreciated.

Stereophile looses Value by loosing Jana.

Tony in Michigan

tonykaz's picture

for me it's alarming, Tyll and now Jana the Vlog Girl.

She was just getting multi-cam editing mastered.

There will be a rather high price to pay if it doesn't work out ( it won't ).

Stereophile seemed to be becoming the Google of Audio by Jana's Videos of these important people like Soundstream and Paul McGowan, etc...

It's a bad sign when the New owner sabotages the Management by scaring off the Talent. It's Undermining.

The Message is : YOU are not bowing far enough, you loose ONE of your little darlings. ( I've seen it many times in larger Organizations ) . Stereophile got too dam good for it's own sake.

I'm sorry for the loss of Jana !

More May 2018 sadness

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

I'm the "Glass is more than half full" guy. Jana was perfect for the job, as someone learning a skill (video) and also learning about the content (audio), obviating the need for Stereophile to shell out $300/hour for a pro team to do that work. Better for her, better for us, and better for the new video/interview person whom I'm excited to meet on these pages here.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

So, is somebody else gonna do binaural recordings and videos? If not that would be a great loss too ......

prerich45's picture

Here, here!!!!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I very much enjoyed watching JA's keynote speech at AXPONA ......... Also, it was great watching and listening to IRS reference speakers at PS audio factory .......... It would be a great loss if we don't get anymore of those types of experiences ..............

johnnythunder's picture

man and his work.

ok's picture

Jana’s role in Stereophile had already been undermined since she moved from the fore of writing to the backstage of filming. She makes nice videos alright – but her intelligent articles and opinionated show reports should have brought her wider recognition instead.

John Atkinson's picture
ok wrote:
Jana’s role in Stereophile had already been undermined since she moved from the fore of writing to the backstage of filming.

Pivoting to video was actually Jana's initiative. Yes, she is a talented writer and observer but video was her primary passion.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

digilog's picture

You PC commentary inaccurate.

An audio enthusiast can, for example, run a successful laundry business and use its profits to purchase Stereophile class-A-rated gear.

dalethorn's picture

Seems to me that hers was a logical career move. Here, her video efforts served the audiophile content and personalities, but I'd guess where she's going she'll be exploring a lot of things in video that go beyond the content.

digilog's picture

I nominate you as the next Stereophile video editor. You're qualified for many reasons... An important one being the sheer amount of your commentary here at Stereophile (and elsewhere). Devotion and passion for the hobby are paramount qualifications.

Another important reason being your already-proved "skillset" with your YouTube vlog.
Luuuuv all those outdoor reviews. Especially the one with the guy cuttin' the grass in the background.

Of course, your efforts are to be provided Pro Bono. Money's tight these day ;)

dalethorn's picture

Your worship of my work isn't necessary. I offer these things to my followers to help them with their lives.

dalethorn's picture

BTW, if you still have a sense of humour, here's about youtube: I had an additional 200 videos from 2011 onward, most done indoors - mass reviews of flagship headphones et al. Then youtube updated their customers, or most of them, to google plus. I rejected it, so they started inserting comments that I couldn't get to to moderate, and those had to do with google plus. So I deleted every video and started over with comments disabled. And to tweak the nose of the worst trolls, I started filming in the car and hamming it up in certain ways. You might have even heard the shadilay greeting on some of those. Enjoy it while you can. BTW-2, I never did dink around with electronics - I was always an idea guy who had a career developing algorithms for software projects, which is why the trolls never got a clue.

theBman's picture

VERY sorry to hear of Jana’s leaving - wish her the best - loved the video - have been thinking about getting a new cartridge to augment my Ortofon Cadenza Bronze - Lyra? Miyajima? After seeing this video it has to be a Soundsmith - GOT to support Peter!!!!

volvic's picture

Also, would love to get my hands on some of that vintage Tandberg gear - if any of them are working. Great video, Ledermann is a true renaissance man.

Ortofan's picture

... charitable relief efforts.

Did two scenes from the video get left on the cutting room floor?
The first wherein PL convinces AD that the induced magnet (micro moving cross) type cartridge operating principle is inherently superior to that of any moving coil and AD in turn agrees to forego his SPU and EMT cartridges.
The second in which AD writes out a check for a sizeable contribution to Direct Grace and then heads for home toting a Marantz Model 5 amp under each arm.

fetuso's picture

Is it me, or has Art Dudley appropriated Michael Lavorgna's look? I did a double take at the start of the video.

So is any of that gear in the video for sale? There looked to be quite a few vintage receivers, speakers, etc. Wonderful thing for PL to be giving to such a worthy cause.

shawnwes's picture

He's still fully energized but I sure hope there's someone who will carry on after he's no longer able to. It would be a real loss to have this enterprise end with him.

shawnwes's picture

I will truly miss her videos and think it was misguided to let her go. She is one talented Filipina & has the nack of capturing and editing IN the personality of her video subjects. The videos from Fremer, and others, are nowhere near the quality she was able to produce.

I hope she stays involved with the audio press but wish her well in whatever endeavour she embarks on.