Part-Time Audiophile Best of the Year Awards

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by LeeS, Dec 26, 2017.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    I and others appreciate your list, Lee, but I'm sure you knew what would happen if you posted something like that here..
     
  2. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    What is 'cheap'?

    Is that quantifiable in $$?

    What percentage of coverage of cheap to chic? 50/50? 20/80?

    Is high end to be ignored?

    Too cheap is dismissed as not worthy and too expensive is poo poo'd as unobtainable.

    I'm retired and on a fixed income - but would really like to know what is cheap?
     
    LeeS likes this.
  3. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Stuff will always get missed. As a reviewer for Dagogo, you should know that only a limited amount of product can be reviewed. Goodness, your review publishing on that site is much lower in volume than ours. The audio universe is just too vast to cover it completely, so grumpy people like yourself will never be satisfied with any particular list. It seems people are most unsatisfied when their favorite pieces of gear fail to make the list. There's nothing I can do about that. PTA does a pretty good job covering any less covered brands.

    And yes, if your brand is too small to attend an audio show then there is a lower probability I will hear of it and request a review sample.

    As for Sugden, I am a new fan as Jonathan Halpern had one going with John DeVore's speakers and they sounded great.
     
  4. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    I had genuinely hoped the discussion would have been about members' experiences with various gear on the list instead of the 13,809th discussion of high end prices in audio.
     
    Kyhl likes this.
  5. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    One more observation. There is some bias against very small brands. We reviewers hesitate sometimes to recommend a product from a completely new company that might not make it in the first year or two or be able to offer service on the product on a nationwide basis. In that case, the bigger brands do have an advantage...but for good reason.
     
  6. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    You are really going too far with a statement like this. There is no copper speaker cable of appropriate gauge and length for the particular application that prevents any music from going through its conductors under any conceivable circumstances in a home listening room or living room or rec room or bedroom or office or den or wherever. Suggesting otherwise is bizarre. Suggesting that some so-called “great cable” will let more music through is outright nonsense. Stop the cable B.S., please. You’re implying that someone with a budget system (or an expensive system) is not hearing all the music being played because inexpensive speaker cables are preventing some of the music from getting to the speakers. That’s complete nonsense.

    Aside from the cable commentary, I thought your Best of the Year piece was terrific. The experimentation that some of the speaker makers are doing is fascinating. I think the result is most often an absurdly expensive combination of cabinet materials, insanely expensive drivers, exotic crossovers with inductors that look and weigh most like the output transformers on massive valve amplifier, plinths that have micrometer adjustment, gold-plated everything, and enough size to fill a small concert hall. The materials and labor costs and the months and months of work that go into them amount to stratospherically high prices. There is eventually a customer for every single pair of the handful of such uber-creations that most of the major speaker makers produce each year. The speakers are just as much technical statements and experimental playgrounds as they are loudspeakers. At the very leat though, they contain some results that gradually filter down to the more sanely priced models from those makers. Most of the time, at least based on my own listening experience at shows and in the homes of a couple of very wealthy friends (who are also dedicated music collectors), those statement speakers don’t sound particularly good unless they’re very, very, very carefully set up, partnered very carefully with the right amplification, and so on. None of those speakers gives a sweet damn if they’re hooked up with 10 or 12 AWG bog-plain speaker wire or Nordost Odin 2 either - the speakers often sound mediocre no matter how they’re hooked up.

    . . . but I love the experimentation.

    The only actual coverage bone I have to pick has to do with your phono preamp list. I think the sweet spot in the market is the $4,000-$8,000 price point. In my experience over the past four or five years, it’s in this price range where the greatest value, the greatest sound and the greatest number of end-game/long-term phono preamps live. Nothing on the list in that sweet spot.
     
    Steve0 likes this.
  7. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Perhaps it might make sense for PTA to offer a Guide to Affordable Audio. I will talk to Scot about that.
     
    Augustus McRae and Mogens like this.
  8. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    So, Kal, in all seriousness, and this is not unique to Stereophile-- indeed, I think it is endemic to the reviewing process, there aren't direct comparisons of competing components in the same system, for obvious reasons having to do with time, logistics and publishing deadlines. So reviewer A, with X system, thinks the [Krell, Levinson, whatever- I'm deliberately picking names of older gear to avoid stepping on toes here] amp is the bomb. And reviewer B, with an entirely different system, room, ears, etc. listens to the Acme brand* amp and thinks it is the best thing he ever heard. Only in rare cases, do second opinions, involving a second reviewer with a different system and set of ears, adding his views, enter into the process. And that, to me, is a failing that is hard to overcome. I suppose you have some "control" by looking at the reviewer whose views were blurbed, know what his reference system is, and if you are familiar with the reviewer's work, know his biases (we all have them to some degree). I know that within a range, most of the gear is "good," but the whole point is small differences and synergies.
    One of the best reviews I ever read was in HiFi+ when Roy was writing for them. It was a shoot-out of top line stages--all pretty costly. Alan Sircom also weighed in, but the review process involved having all the subject gear at hand and making direct comparisons. (Granted the rest of the components making up the system could skew the result, that's why I think Alan also listened to the gear on his system if memory serves). I happened to own one of the line stages under review at the time, and the review captured the essence of the sound of the thing- both its strengths and weaknesses. Each piece got an in-depth review along with a comparison to the others. It was one of the better journalistic endeavors I've seen in the hobby.
    I know this is close to impossible to do for a magazine, at least on a regular basis. Some hobbyists do it on a smaller scale with a few pieces in play within a system, doing what amounts to an informal shoot-out. These kinds of reviews, rare as they are, seem to be most meaningful to me.

    _______
    *Owned by Roadrunner Enterprises, Inc.
     
  9. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    I appreciate that you liked our list. I also agree with the idea that the sweet spot for phono preamps is the $4-8K price point. Certainly some great stuff going on there.

    However, I am aware of where great cables work equally well on less expensive systems.

    The reason I disagree is that when I started reviewing I had a fairly modest system of older ARC non-Reference gear and very modest digital sources. I was using Kimber Hero and 8TC speaker cable. Because my friend Chris Sommovigo built the Black Cat cables locally (at the time, he is in Japan now), he would bring over some Lectraline to audition. A much more expensive cable than Kimber Hero (all copper one, far cheaper back in the day), the Lectraline made a huge improvement in the sound quality of my system.
     
  10. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Doing comparisons is tricky for several reasons:

    1. The logistics of getting all the products in can be daunting. Some firms use PR firms to manage gear loans and some of these firms are notoriously slow in releasing product.

    2. Manufacturer relations is complex. Some won't lend products for comparison because they feel there is too much risk from not having control of the comparison test conditions and associated equipment.

    3. The upside is more limited than expected as it seems readers never agree with the choices for the competitors.
     
    Bill Hart likes this.
  11. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    ??

    The Stereophile reviews I've been reading for the last several years include direct comparisons of equipment in comparable price ranges, and also include JA's measurements/impressions which can be 'banged' against the main reviewer's opinions.

    For speakers, this includes 2 or more direct comparisons within the reviewer's system.

    I sometimes wonder if people actually read Stereophile reviews.
     
  12. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I don't, anymore. I was referring to the list of Recommended Components, where you have a series of components in each category graded by class. The list is derived, if memory serves, from blurbs taken from reviews done by various staff at different times, with different systems. So, when there is a rating of A for a preamp, or whatever, it isn't necessarily the result of direct comparisons among the components in question--either those within the same grade, or at different grades within the same product category. I'm aware of JA's measurements.
     
    Erik Tracy likes this.
  13. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    I can respect that.
     
    Bill Hart likes this.
  14. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Why?

    If you are in that relative income bracket, why not?

    What makes it 'wrong'?

    Just cuz you and I can't?
     
    macster likes this.
  15. Nightswimmer

    Nightswimmer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I deleted my post, because I regretted getting involved in this offensive subject at all. I'd appreciate it, if you deleted your quote too. If not that is fine, but I won't answer any questions.
     
  16. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Meet me at the Green Dragon for an ale

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    It's still Festivus season - air the grievances. :righton:
     
  17. putz

    putz Forum Resident

    Location:
    NJ
    Lee,

    Thank you for the link to the best of the year gear your site reviewed. Enjoyed it very much. None of us has the ability to audition most of the equipment out there and when I'm considering a purchase, reviews and user comments are a great help to me. Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think anyone is getting rich writing audio reviews and are probably doing it because they love audio. And hopefully they have a good ear for sound.

    I read all 6 pages of this thread with much less enjoyment. I just can't comprehend why alleged audiophiles here take the time to decry what some equipment costs. We're all entitled to our opinions and we all know that some equipment goes for big bucks. What does complaining about it here actually accomplish other than getting worked up and grinding an axe?

    Maybe just spend that quality time listening to music.

    Thank you.
     
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  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Many posts just removed that were way, WAY over the line. Next person who tries something like that will be on the outside looking in here. Consider yourself warned. Think carefully before you post.

    Now, carry on!
     
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  19. rischa

    rischa Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Regarding uber-spensive gear, put yourself in the shoes of the manufacturers--wouldn't you sell $300,000 worth of cables to someone if they were willing to pay? I would! So no judgment from me on the matter. Whatever the market can bear, right?
     
    LeeS and macster like this.
  20. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    The way I look at it, audio is like a score in golf. They don't ask how (much), just how many (goosebumps). Really, that's all there is to it. Buy what you can afford and kudos to you if you just find yourself enjoying music, not worrying what you spent do it.

    I appreciate you posting this Lee, it was a fun read regardless.
     
    macster and LeeS like this.
  21. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Most reviewers aren't being paid. So if the reviewer has a $40,000 system there is a good chance they don't wish to spend a month or two evaluating $350 speakers. There is also a good chance they haven't auditioned a LOT of $350 speakers to make a fair cimparison. For those reviews it is probably better to read What Hi-Fi or Hi-Fi Choice as they bring in group test reviews. The latter also does blind level matched sessions with several listeners including manufacturers.
     
  22. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Sounds like some people just want to nitpick for its own sake. Yikes. You guys font sound fun at all! :yikes:
     
  23. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I like your magazine and heck I am an Audio Note owner and your magazine has been excellent covering them very deeply. One of my favorites. Just don't like lists. I am sorry if you can't at the very least understand why someone takes issue with lists.
     
  24. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Location:
    Deep Maryland
    I'm curious about the Border Patrol DAC . . . Anyone else got one?

    Edit: Holy Moley, they're right up the road from me. I could just knock on their door!
     
    Seafinch and Ham Sandwich like this.
  25. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Atlanta
    I think they sound very, very good.
     

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