Has any audiophile gizmo ever got a bad review?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Mike-48, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    It's often noted that almost every component review (in magazines or online sites) is positive.*

    How about reviews of gizmos? -- by which I mean pucks, cones, stands, cable lifters, power conditioners, USB filters, special Ethernet filters and switches, cables of all kinds, special outlets, reclockers, attenuators, liquid cleaners, record mats, static removers, crystals, noise-removing bricks, gongs used as acoustic treatments, cryo treatment, and so on.

    I can't remember a single review (in a magazine or online reviewing site) that said, "This made no difference," or "This made the sound worse." If you can, would you kindly post a link in this thread?

    To clarify, I don't mean reviews by an individual -- I've seen those -- but rather reviews under a masthead of some kind, even if of a one-man reviewing site.

    Thanks!

    * My perception is that Stereophile of all publications is most likely to (very gently) bring up flaws, usually in the measurements section.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  2. Dingly Del Boy

    Dingly Del Boy Forum Resident

    Location:
    British Columbia
    The "gizmos" you list are, in general, the "high end" audio equivalent of homeopathy. In other words quackery. I'm sure people who swear by the big improvement to the midrange and depth of the soundstage following cryo treatment of their $10,000 ethernet cables don't vaccinate their kids. :hide:
     
  3. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Most review mags and sites have somehow ‘never met a product that they didn’t like’. :rolleyes:

    If you don’t find that suspicious, you haven’t been paying attention (to their business model).
    .
     
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  4. I recall a review in Stereophile of an audiophile router that came to the conclusion the audiophile router was no better than a standard home router for audio quality. My google-fu can't find the review right now. I think it may have been by Kal?

    My view is that professional reviewers will weed out the crap or poorly performing products before they take the time to do a full review of it. Why would they waste their time for three months doing a full review of the product if it isn't up to par? Professional reviewers get to hear gear in demos and have the resources and connections to weed out the bad or merely average stuff before they commit to doing the time to do a full review. They can't afford to waste their time reviewing the bad stuff.

    It's the YouTube and blogger reviewers who need to review anything they can get their hands on in order to keep up their quota and review schedule. They end up spending so much time reviewing junk that when they do get their hands on something good that good stuff gets lost in the flotsam of their regular reviews.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  5. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I have the feeling that there is an unwritten code that reviews are not published if there is no improvement noticed.

    It would save all kind of potential trouble, as no improvement is essentially saying it is fraud, whilst even a tiny improvement however can already be described by the well known review poetry. Then it becomes reading between the lines, how good or bad this equipment may be compared to its price.
     
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  6. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Years ago it was different, there were magazines that would give things bad reviews, and general interest publications not dependent on audio equipment advertising reviewed stereo gear too. Nowadays, many have a policy, and it's not unspoken, of only publishing equipment reviews when they can give a piece a good review. They say, "we don't want to use our limited editorial space writing about bad products when we could be writing about good ones instead." But to many of us that diminished the credibility of the publication, leaving many of us readers feeling like it's just a policy designed not to scare off advertisers. It also leaves readers with the sense that everything out there is basically equally good with just little differences around the edges (which, who knows, maybe is the case these days).
     
  7. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I am with you on this one. Also, mag’s normally stay away from (minor)gizmos anyway, as it is much more sexy to write about big or popular equipment - and advertising is also an aspect here. If they invest manpower to review a gizmo at all, and there is a finest hint of a possible improvement, there is the art of a making a good narrative to get readers not to switch off.

    And if there is no perceived improvement or even a negative impact, one needs to be very careful not to end up in a lawsuit these days.....
     
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  8. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
  9. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    It's like the blind leading the blind. The whole audiophile and cheapophile market online through social media and various publications is a major racket.
     
  10. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

  11. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
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  12. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    It is pretty clear that there is an agenda going on in that review right from the start. "Audio Line Source lobbied hard for a review. Here it is."

    I read a lot of reviews, but never to make a decision based on their impressions, but to get a sense of the feature set and how it's implemented. Most of these guys are given review samples and in many cases, they are given the product or offered substantial discounts for the review. Spewing a bunch of bad reviews would end or at least slow the gravy train down. The only real exception for this is when they are profiting on being an antagonist. I don't see this in the Audio area, but it's a cottage industry in much of tech. One of the best click generators out there is an Apple bashing review.

    The whole internet review model is completely broken anyway. 90% of reviews fall into the 5 or 1 star category. If I buy something and it does what it is supposed to do, it's 5 stars, If I am too incompetent, or even if Amazon or UPS messed up the shipment, it's 1 star, though this has nothing to do with the product. If the world was right, most reviews would be a solid 3 stars. The product that was exceptional (better than I expected and outperforms every other one I have tried) would get the 5, and the one that just did not work would be the 1.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  13. I do wonder if Richard Gray declined to take up an option to advertise in Stereophile.
    All audio journalism exists to sell advertising.
     
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  14. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    What would the review look like if the RGPC label was peeled off and a PS Audio sticker applied?

    My favorite reviews back in the day were Consumer Reports car reviews. I always got a kick out of their bias against US made cars, and Chrysler in particular. I saw one in particular where they gave a particular Mitsubishi a great review, but railed on the Chrysler version (they were absolutely identical cars except for the badge). Seen it with other cross branded cars as well.
     
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  15. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    “Audio reviews are simply advertising by other means.”
    .
     
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  16. Ontheone

    Ontheone Drifting Towards the Dead Wax

    Location:
    Indianapolis
    My hope is that Stereophile simply doesn't publish reviews on products they dislike during review. I do recall their review of the Peachtree 150/300 a couple of years ago when they characterized the amp as having a dry grainy edge to it which I felt was actually spot on. Folks went totally ballistic on them for that criticism of the tone. That's about as negative as you will ever see Stereophile get.

    This is why a forum like this is useful...we collect real world thoughts from real people who are simply consumers with (mainly) objective opinions and views.
     
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  17. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Besides, they make tons of money from "cable" advertising (and related products).
     
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  18. That’s hilarious! Kind of OT, but what incentive would CR have to do that? They don’t accept advertising.
     
  19. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    To add on your views of the Internet review model, a whole lot of them are also fake, especially on high-traffic online stores like Amazon, Best Buy, etc. You get individuals and even companies doing very unethical means to prop up their products with lavish praise by hiring companies to write fabricated reviews.

    That's how you get the whole "argumentum ad populum" logical fallacy floating around with respect to certain products, especially low-end junk products.
     
  20. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    True. Of course there's always a tension in news publishing between advertising and editorial, and good, ethical publications have procedures and policies to try to keep the two as separated as possible. But it is often an existential challenge for the likes of trade publishers and special interest publishers whose sources and the advertisers come from the same, tightly knit industrial pool. Without access to the people and products, and without advertising from the companies, the publications would cease to exist. Having spent a career in journalism, I've very sympathetic to the difficulties of balancing the competing interests. But I'm skeptical that the policy, formal or informal, of avoiding the review of gear if it would mean publishing a bad review, is one that's very effective in achieving that balance.
     
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  21. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I was in the computer business back when IBM clones started becoming popular.

    Back in the early days, IBM offered two different types of monitors, a green screen text monitor that had a specific interface card to drive it. They also offered a color "graphic" monitor, which was not very good for text due to having large visible "dots" and lower resolution and had a specific card to drive it.

    The review some clones and had close up photos of the text on the monitors.

    They showed a Dawoo clone, that was an unsupported piece of crap, with the higher resolution text monitor and an Epson, which was a quality supported product, with the graphics monitor and card.

    To the general public, who did not understand the differences, it showed that the image on the Dawoo was better than the Epson.

    Very misleading, plus they never mentioned the lack of support for the Dawoo as being a major factor.

    Remember when Dawoo was selling cars in the U.S.?
     
  22. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Although some reviews do, they mostly avoid product comparisons. Which I think is useful for the consumer.
     
  23. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    Anybody who would give enough time to review one of those things is already predisposed to hear something positive about them.
     
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  24. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Which one of the two is useful for the consumer IYO? Avoiding or doing product comparisons?
     
  25. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Any numerical rating from consumers is fundamentally flawed in that we don’t all apply the same scale. In a previous customer service job I had, anything other than a 5 out of 5 from a customer survey was considered bad. Knowing that is how some companies view results, I have recalibrated how I respond to things like that. However, my natural inclination would have been that a perfect score is for exceptional product/service, with anything simply meeting my expectations or a little more being a 3 or 4. So depending on how you view the scale, whether that’s a customer service survey or an online product review, any person may be working on a completely different scale than the people using the review as guidance. Not to mention the number of times I have seen a review from somebody who didn’t seem to know how the scale worked at all, giving 1 star and then writing about how excellent the product is. Plus, as you say, people giving bad reviews for things unrelated to the quality of the product. Huge grain of salt with those, always!

    Magazine reviews, of course, are skewed toward not alienating advertisers. Those publications are simply porn for audio gear enthusiasts, not to be regarded as serious guidance (though they can help shape relative expectations, which I don’t think is terrible).
     
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