Has any audiophile gizmo ever got a bad review?

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

  1. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    no...many realized how ridiculous this gimmick was...
  2. johnt23

    johnt23 Forum Resident

    There should be a good faith agreement between the two parties. Otherwise, the whole review process is a bit of a farce.

  3. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    Of course. However, one does need to acknowledge that the parties do have different perspectives.
  4. Pythonman

    Pythonman Forum Resident

    I bought a yellow stick on cd ring in the 1980s that I put on the second CD I ever bought, Creams Disraeli Gears. I don’t know if it did anything but, 30 yrs later I peeled the ring back off and the CD works as good as ever still.

    I never did go for the Shakti Stone or Bricks or Clocks etc. just remembered reading about them.
    Mike-48 likes this.
  5. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    Audiofoolery is filled with quackery. I just laugh when I read glowing reviews for cables, conditioners, magic cable elevators, and other gizmos but the old saying about suckers born every minute is as true today as when Barnum said it all those years ago.

    I thank God every day that I don't have the audiofool's golden ears. ;)

    I do find that carefully placed amethyst crystals can mellow out harsh trebles and Morgan silver dollars are known to define flat bass response. But remember, placement is everything...
    vwestlife and ds58 like this.
  6. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    This is true in Dagogo's case as loudspeakers get by far the biggest readership.

    I have not come across tweaks that were worth a damn so you are higly unlikely to ever see me write a review.

    I did write a positive review for a power conditioner as it helped clear up high frequency hash from my CD player. So it worked. But even here it is tough to recommend for everyone because maybe it was my building's old obsolete electrical system. I had a hum from Sugden amp in that apartment that existed on no other home I lived in. So it's possible that such a device 8n one place could make an improvement and do nothing in another.

    So generally I stay away from reviwing them. Since then I have covered no such devices or cables of any kind. Most of the tweaks of they work can't be a guarantee in a different systems and cables are largely tone controls...at best. At worst they are very expensive placebos.

    Generally I prefer reviewing an entire system. Like reviewing an entire car is easier than tires. Maybe the tires will seem awesome on a Honda Civic but second rate junk on a Ferrari.
    Mike-48 likes this.
  7. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    There is a preselection process. Reviewers try and fet the stuff they like. Art Dudley reviews a lot od Shindo and Audio Note and other tube SET amps. The SS lovers like Fremer get the kilowatt amps. So unless something goes terrobly wrong it should be a positive review.

    UHF magazine is the one you guys should look up and order back issues if you can. They gave a LOT of negative reviews. Indeed. B&W, Paradigm, and Arcam stopped sending them gear as the reviews were so scathing.

    They had a panel of 3 to 5 listeners who would evaluate gear.

    And they also noted that:

    "Selling cables was safer than stealing, and easier than working" They also took measurements for the gear they reviewed. The magazine was available in English and French. They are based in Quebec, Canada.

    Hi Fi Choice also used to put out a lot more 2 and 3 star ratings. 2 stars out of 5 for Paradigm Speakers and a mere 3 out of 5 for a Bryston.

    Not to be confused with What Hi Fi.
    Rolltide, Shawn, BroJB and 3 others like this.
  8. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks for that. It's on the Web.
    Cyclone Ranger likes this.
  9. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I would also suggest the Ad-free Hi-Fi Critic. Martin Colloms was the measurements guru before he left Stereophile and runs his own magazine now.

  10. mcbrion

    mcbrion Forum Resident

    BECAUSE, many designers designed components without ever attending live concerts of unamplified music, so they had no idea how the "real thing" sounded. One designer actually said he didn't have to know that real music sounded like to build components. (His never went anywhere).
    So, the designer is upset because the review points out that certainly frequencies, while "clean," have none of the harmonics that take place in the lower highs and up and the component is more a "hi fi" component than High End component. and perhaps he does' have a speaker than goes down to 16 hZ and that is pointed out in the review? Is it accurate to say so? YES, OF COURSE IT IS. Does that mean the designer doesn't get angry about it being pointed out. Please. Get real.

    You are overlooking people's egos. You think when someone wins Ms. Universe, there aren't 10 other women thinking they were better than the winner? EGO.

    Also, designers (not manufacturers) did not always have access to the most revealing equipment, and so their component suffered. I mean, Dave Wilson started out the WATTS without any woofer system, just a front panel that helped with the lower midrange. And it had a less-than-one-ohm impedance in the treble. David eventually realized the WATT was an unfinished product and built the Puppy. But an honest review of the WATT in TAS ended with the reviewer saying he couldn't live with The WATT, despite its marvelous achievements. And THIS, while Dave Wilson is A REVIWER FOR TAS. So, no special treatment even if the reviewer was a designer, too.
  11. myles

    myles Forum Resident

    Near Marlow, UK
    This is my personal experience:

    Cables. On the UK forums we have cable makers, small output home hobbyists who buy decent components and make nice looking bits of kit. The process goes like this; cables made and advertised, cable maker gets a friend (usually an influencer on that forum) to review the cables well, others are influenced and the good reviews keep rolling in.
    This is where it gets interesting, the cable maker asks the users to compare the new cables to their current cables - just to give the cable a ranking really (!), well the compared cable is usually by another small footprint cable maker. The fact an influencer has already favourably reviewed the cable means these other cables will be now getting duff reviews by the new users, because no-one wants to go against the big hitters. The cable maker usually drops in a few barbed comments about other cable makers and their products - 'I've had to repair cables made by xxxx' and was surprised by the plugs/cable they used, or the soldering wasn't great'; little tactics to push their product out ahead of the rest.

    Then another cable maker comes along and the cycle starts again....
  12. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks to all who have replied so far.
    I do appreciate that suggestion, though I'm not sure that ads are the most important part of this phenomenon. At play are a complex stew of human emotions, including herd mentality (as pointed out by @myles ), non-financial relationships between makers/sellers and reviewers/buyers, expectation bias, and a human tendency to find value in any nonrecoverable expenditure. After any change, people may listen with new ears and appreciate what their systems provide -- i.e., the gizmo may focus the user's attention, to good effect. I'd expect that effect to be short lived.

    What is one to make of the reviewer who loves one cable brand and dislikes most others? A brave truth-teller, or a friend of the manufacturer?

    On the other hand, some gizmos may improve the sound in a non-psychological, non listener-specific, way; i.e., repeatably. If there were more negative reviews (thanks, @Kal Rubinson; and belatedly, J-10), one might find the many positive reviews more convincing. Right now, it seems to be a swamp.
  13. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I can only speak for myself as a reviewer but in general I have no idea who advertises with dagogo nor do I particularly care so I think the ad thing is kind of silly. Reviewers typically have nothing to do with that side of the magazine.

    Human bias is human bias and no one is immune. You have the option to put faith in the blind level matched review process (Hi Fi Choice magazine does this about as well as magazines can do it). They often have a panel of listeners who make notes without knowing the product in use - hence blind. The problem is they don't seem to do it all the time so you have to read the review shootouts rather closely. But they try.

    I review stuff I tend to like because I really don't want to waste a month or two listening to rubbish. So I have largely pre-screened what I want. On forums I usually tell you the stuff I didn't care for and why. In my reviews I try to tell the reader what my biases are at the outset. Anyone who claims they don't have a bias are liars. We all have them.

    Now I took psychology and ran DBTs in different areas so I don't put all my trust in audio DBTs because to me they are painfully inept - even the ones at Harmon International under Floyd E Toole are IMO atrocious self serving crap. He gets a paycheque from a speaker company - so gee I wonder which ones can pass the test. Meh. Single speaker mid room - anyway I have gone on about that before. A proper DBT needs to follow the range rule - that a system under test mirror the way the product will be used in real life. Those tests are abject failures. It can be done but it has to be done independently. Hi-Fi Choice is at least at arm's length.

    Alternatively - I would suggest using a correlational process.
    1) find a reviewer who likes the same things you like - most of the time. Therefore if that reviewer makes a suggestion - it may be worthy of your time. If reviewer likes 98 out of 100 movies you like and reviewer two only likes 4/100 then you are statistically more likely to like reviewer 1. Simple - and it works.

    2) sheer numbers. If you see a product that gets rave reviews over and over and over from many magazines all around the world - and many of the reviewers shelled out their own money to buy the thing and it has lasted on the market for 20 years without upgrades then that thing is very likely to be a very good piece of equipment.

    I am not a fan of Magnepan speakers BUT - that is a moot point - the speakers have sold for over 40 years - they stay unchanged for long periods - reviewers rave about them (even though they measure bad) and customers always rave - therefore even though I personally am not a fan I ALWAYS recommend that people give them a serious audition. I am the anomaly on them perhaps.

    The DBT thing while probably the best way is the way that is least practical - it simply isn't going to happen and in some cases just can't be done by the average reviewer. So you sort of do combos - my AN E speaker was raved about by critics I trust - it is raved about in virtually every magazine on the planet - it has won oodles of best sound at audio shows - reviewers have purchased the speakers (unlike VPI they actually had to pay money for them) and they've been around in one form or other since 1982. Oh and they also won every blind test they've been in.

    I am sure you can find dozens of other examples - those kinds of products IMO should be the first dozen or two on the audition lists. Indeed, then you don't need to ever read all these reviews. Make your own correlational graph.
    SBurke, jfeldt, Mike-48 and 3 others like this.
  14. Xarkkon

    Xarkkon Would you like a Custom Title?

    While I'm sure the self-selection of reviewers to focus on good products is true to a certain extent, I have a strong suspicion that there are many financially biased professional reviewers out there. No worries about wasting time reviewing bad equipment as long as they are being paid to do so.

    Youtube and blog reviewers are more of a mixed back. There definitely are some shady characters out there, but there are lots of honest and sincere people around (Thomas!)
    nosliw likes this.
  15. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    I can appreciate that reviewing audio accessories (gizmos) is tricky, as

    a) they only work, if you actually have a sub-optimal set up, equipment or conditions in your own home (and most of us do, I suspect), e.g. a power conditioner will only work, if you do not have clean power, etc.

    b) there is a huge variety of gizmos out there, and there are likely some that are placebos or simply frauds. But those are likely to be weeded out of review candidates.

    Power conditioners did go through a steep learning curve over the last 20 years. There were (now) known problems that the filtered out noise was not properly discharged via the ground connection, for example.

    These gizmo are hardly mass products and any design and production effort in low numbers has to be earned back. Yes, that is more expensive than kitchenware, but I believe that with the right gizmo you can save more money than buying new, costly components for your audio chain.

    Below, the EISA has just released its prestigious products of the year award; that includes two “gizmos”!:agree:

    For those interested here is a link to the other winners in various categories:
    Hi-Fi | Awards Categories | EISA – Expert Imaging and Sound Association
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  16. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Doing product comparisons.

    Most gear today is neither 100% good or bad, but has different chartastics.

    By comparing the piece being reviewed to otheg gear, that people may have a familiarity with, then you can compare different aspects.

    Definitely a benefit.
    Mike-48 likes this.
  17. Chazro

    Chazro Forum Resident

    West Palm Bch, Fl.
    My views on reviews hasn't changed in decades. I've always used reviews as a general guide by consensus. If enough reviewers, pro AND amateur, have written positive findings about a gizmo, it MIGHT warrant my attention. Perfect example is the current white-hot buzz the IsoAcoustics line is enjoying. It's one thing if a product gets a rave review, but it inspires confidence to buy when you literally read hundreds of positive testimonials! I remember how I came to trust certain reviewers who seemed to share the same views, but that was a looong time ago. I haven't bought an audio magazine in over a decade! I've never developed any patterns with online reviewing, I'll read them irregularly, but it's nothing like what it used to be!
  18. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    Audiophile “gizmos” in my experience exist on the margins and don’t get reviewed much by publications and writers I care about. (Expensive cables are the obvious exception and cause endless grief, and rightly so, for legit outlets that publish purely subjective “a veil was lifted” reviews.)

    Mostly “gizmos” get chuntered about by high-end true believers and people making fun of them.
    Mike-48 likes this.
  19. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan Born in the '50's

    This is an astute comment.
    The only internet forums I participate in are this one, and Yelp. I started with Yelp eleven years ago because it was an excuse to go out to eat, and a way for me to develop my writing skills. Now, many reviewers rate a restaurant five stars for very average food, or one star if they are eating al fresco and a fly lands in their soup. This cheapens and devalues the whole website, which, I suppose, is suspect anyway, unless you consider the opinions of anonymous strangers meaningful. It can unfairly hurt businesses, though, which is why I never leave negative reviews on Yelp. I think everyone should have a fair chance to earn a living without undeserved criticism.
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  20. maglorine

    maglorine Forum Resident

    Would love to see a review that indicated the product was “just ok”, like in the AT&T commercials.

    I’ve tuned out reviewers who accept advertising and prefer to scour the internet for information from actual everyday users. Of course this means I’m never on the leading edge or buying the latest product releases but I wasn’t doing that anyway so it works for me.
  21. I own some gear I consider "just OK", and one or two things I consider worse than OK. The gear I like and listen to is the gear I consider much better than OK. I'm not a reviewer so I don't write about my experience with all of my gear or all of the gear I get to hear. I don't write about the gear I consider "just OK" because why would I write about such gear. That would be a waste of my time. I write and comment about gear and sound that I like.

    If you want to figure out what I consider "just OK" and what I consider worse than "OK" you can probably figure that out by looking at the gear listed in my profile and comparing my comments about certain gear and lack of comments about other gear against what's in my profile and figure it out.
  22. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Agree that this would be the way to do it. I have seen this for audio components, but not really for accessories.

    For testing accessories one would ideally want to set up a “flawed” test room and then test a range of the same type of gizmo and see which gizmo is best in working away the flaw. For example, put a TT on poor, vibration sensitive floor/stand or hook up the audio to “polluted” power supply, or by all means use really long cables to test cables*.

    *Strictly speaking I do not consider cables as gizmos, as they are an integrated, required part of the audio chain, if you count out Bluetooth. You can argue the value of money of costly cables, but you going to need them and you have to settle at least at a minimum spec.
  23. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    My minimum/maximum speck for cables is the cost of copper wire plus good connectors and quality construction.
  24. elmoe

    elmoe Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    Cheap cables will sound just fine so long as they're properly built. Don't even get me started on the hundreds/thousands of dollars digital cables that people compare "oh this one sounds less veiled and more dynamic" yada yada. I've seen even the smartest most knowledgeable people in hi-end audio fall prey to cable foolery. Buy cheap, well built cables such as Monoprice premium cables and rest assured that they will pass your audio signal along, analog or digital, just fine.
    SBurke, csgreene and SandAndGlass like this.
  25. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    My minimum spec‘s interconnects :

    They are made by my local dealer from quality grade copper. They are directional, as the crystal structure of certain grades of copper apparently form a Y-shape during rolling, which causes eddy currents when going against the Y shape. They cost 130€.

    These definitely sounded better than my old (fancy) looking cables for ca. 100€.:)

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