"Why no bad reviews?" -- Twittering Lavorgna

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Eno_Fan, Nov 23, 2021.

  1. Eno_Fan

    Eno_Fan Staring into the abyss: Brockman BIF, Pilbara WA Thread Starter

    Izieu, France
    Why No Bad Reviews? - Twittering Machines

    What's this all about for those who've looked? I make a point of never visiting his site in case he gets any click-advertising-revenue from the hit (for his various prior absurdities, e.g., listening to the non-existent audio differences between SD-cards, having his head turned by a bit of ultrasonic noise in his spurious claims about the unambiguous superiority of DSD coding over PCM whilst using an SACD that was later documented to have a PCM step in the authoring chain, etc., etc.).

    I'm just intrigued is all, as I'm guessing that the answer "...Because I am a cloth-eared digital-shill" is not there.
  2. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Senior Member

    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Oh it's this thread again. We've gone over this in other threads. And here we go again.

    The reason there are none or few negative reviews in Stereophile, The Absolute Sound, and other professionally done review publications is because they weed out the bad gear before it gets to the review stage. Doing a review takes time and money. It is best to spend that time and money reviewing good gear that the audience is interested in. Spending a month to review a piece of bad gear is a waste of time and money. So the professional reviewers weed out the bad gear or mediocre gear before it gets to the review stage. The professional reviewers have access to way more good gear than they can possibly review. They get to hear gear in demos and shows before they decide to review it. They know how to weed out the bad stuff before it gets to a review.

    The hobby reviewers and a lot of YouTube reviewers aren't so selective and will review everything they can get their hands on. They end up reviewing some gear that deserves a poor rating because they aren't selective about what they review.
  3. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Senior Member

    As well as, of course, they want their freebies to continue. They aren't going to risk that by giving a bad review or two.
  4. Mr.Sign

    Mr.Sign Forum Resident

    And also there is hardly any "bad gear", it is more a difference in voicing and " taste". Perhaps some gear might be overpriced but that does not make them "bad" just too expensive.
  5. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    Whatever reason publishers give for "no bad reviews" at best is head scratching, at worst it just complete BS.

    In things like trade publishing, or specialty interest/hobbyist publishing, your sources and advertisers (and in the case of trade publishing, audience), are basically the same single community. It's not like a general interest publication like the New York Times or something. Publishers in this area are completely at the mercy of that single community of advertisers/sources for both revenue and access to information (or in this case equipment). If they loose this revenue or access, there's no other, it's an existential crisis for the publication. So they are VERY wary about ever doing anything to lose their advertiser/sources favor. It's a reason that a publication like Consumer Reports, with no advertising, came to exist.

    Back in the day -- when there was a bigger audience for this stuff, when publishers had more power, and frankly, maybe when we as a society expected more from ourselves and our journalism -- some of these audio publications did bad reviews when it was warranted. In those days, they had more market power, there were more ad dollars available too so they had a greater margin for risk.

    If, in fact, the publications are really making the decision only to review good gear and never publish a bad review, even when they come upon a bad piece of gear, because they only have so much news hole and they don't want to "waste it" on a negative review, I say that's a horrible decision for the audience, and totally undermines their credibility as a news publication.

    First of all, the audience deserves to to be warned off some bad piece of gear, especially if it come from a "name" manufacturer or is some kind of big, important statement piece. A newspaper would never choose to review only movies it could give good reviews to, because readers want and deserve to have reviews of all the newsworthy movies being released that they may be considering seeing. First you make the decision if the piece of gear, or the movie, or the book, or the restaurant, is newsworthy, important for your readers to know about, then you review it, and if the result is a bad review, well, the public needs that information just as much as they need to know a good review (maybe more).

    Second, having only good reviews of gear (and often gear from the same brands over and overs) in a publication, like, say Stereophile, while at the same time having a public "we don't waste space reviewing bad gear" policy, creates an impression for the reader that the gear the publication reviews is the approved good gear, and, if there isn't a review, there must be, or at least, might be something wrong with the gear, but no one wants to tell you about it.

    Third, knowing that the publication has a policy never to publish a bad review but to quietly return the bad gear to the manufacturer with a note, completely undermines the publication's credibility in the readers' eyes. No longer is the publication concerned with fearlessly information the reader, good or bad, providing information of interest to the reader, the perception is now that protecting the manufacturers' reputation comes first as an editorial decision.

    I spend many years in the journalism business, including some in trade publishing, at every kind of level -- reporter, editor, publisher, business owner -- across a lot of different media -- print, broadcast, digital. (FWIW, I also have a degree in journalism from a top J-school, and taught journalism to undergradutes too). In my estimation as a profession, the editorial decision to never publish a bad review is a horrible one that shows a publication turning away from the interests of its readers, undermining its credibility, and making a choice that puts its ethics in question. It's one of the reasons I don't bother reading these publications anymore (and, back in the day when we actually subscribed in print to stuff like this, I subscribed to multiple audio titles). It would almost be a perfect J-school cases study in what not to do.

    Now, it is possible that in the realm of high end hifi gear today, you almost never come across stuff that is truly bad anymore. I believe that's true. Even a lot of cheap portable DAPs, and wifi speakers, are way better and more consistent sonically than gear was 50 years ago. And the reader of Stereophile isn't necessarily interested in reading a review of a Crosley all in one turntable system. But someone is. And there's really no credible source of information anymore for someone who might be getting their foot in the door wondering what is good or bad when publications effectively pretend bad gear doesn't exist.

    Audio reviewing today -- which is mostly hobbyist blogging, a kind of vanity press that serves the ego of the reviewers and publishers first and foremost -- seems to start not from the premise "what is it important for readers to know," readers and the responsibility to inform them, almost never seems to be front of mind, it starts with the question "What gear to I, the reviewer, want to listen to today."
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  6. Tim 2


    Alberta Canada
    Manufactures don't like to see bad reviews of there products and will blackball publications.
    Reviewers know in advance if a product is not to there liking and avoid it.
    Manimal likes this.

    HIRES_FAN Forum Resident

    Thanks for this whole comment man...it should be tagged at the very top.

    Audio reviewing today -- which is mostly hobbyist blogging, a kind of vanity press that serves the ego of the reviewers and publishers first and foremost -- seems to start not from the premise "what is it important for readers to know,"

    .:D :D
    I should have taken some journalism classes (on the side) when i went to engineering school to become the engineering grunt...
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
    timind likes this.
  8. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    If you don’t like reviews just leave them alone. No one is forcing you to read or listen to them. Simple as that.

    As I said before, call them out, point for point, for the reviews done. Show that their thumbs up product is crap. Show it’s misleading. Show it’s all window dressed.

    Take them on rather than make such sweeping statements of them being charlatans.

    Lawyers do not go to court talking like this.
  9. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    The problem here isn't what is written in reviews that are published -- though that can be a problem too with all the throat clearing and naval gazing that has become a kind of tick in audio reviewing -- the issue is what editors and publishers choose not to cover at all, and why, and whether or not it best serves the mission of informing readers of important information useful in guiding their decision making, or whether the choice of what not to publish is counter to that mission (which is really fundamental to consumer journalism), and how the policy of never publishing negative reviews impacts the impression of credibility in the minds of readers. The question of what is in the reviews that are published is a different topic entirely.
    rofffe and Swann36 like this.
  10. WildPhydeaux

    WildPhydeaux Forum Resident

    Imagine what the audio hobby, community and forum discussions would be like if all the audio rags ceased to publish and Consumer Reports did all the reports. I wonder what that world would look like...

    OC Zed and DancingSea like this.
  11. Ontheone

    Ontheone Poorly Understood Member

    I agree there is very little "bad gear" being offered in the market, but there is a lot of decent sounding gear that represents poor value. Reviewers will touch on this topic gingerly but I wish they'd go there more often. Value in audio products is of keen interest to many. I've received some of the best input on this topic from a handful of truly "good" dealers, much more so than reviewers.
    DaveyF likes this.
  12. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    Consumer Reports may not have top notch audio expertise, but you know, automotive magazines used to regularly publish negative reviews. And, you know, potential buyers really should know if, say, the Mitsubishi Mirage sixth gen, which had some of the worst reviews of a new car in recent memory, is not a great car.
  13. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    They are not obligated to publish reviews on non-performing products. Accept that fact. It is not a legal or moral obligation even.

    Core issue is whether the equipment published is a fair and honest review or totally white washed.

    Why don’t you go publish reviews on lousy components? It may be a hit (not being sarcastic). Why place an obligation on the publication? If you can do that then I can say you should be publishing about lousy products since you are so concerned. But such a premise is totally absurd since you also are under no obligation to do so.
  14. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    As a professional journalist, I disagree with your assessment of a publisher's ethical obligation to a reader/viewer. Consumer journalism really arose exactly for the purpose of informing the public of faulty and problematic products and business practices. If a publication built around consumer product reviews has the mission to serve its readers, it does have an obligation to present important decision-making facts before the readership including, and perhaps especially in the face of less than adequate products. Furthermore, if a publication expects to have the full faith and confidence of a readership/viewership, that readership has to feel confident that the readership's interest is being put first, not the adverstiers' or the sources', an impression that is undermined by an editorial policy to never publish a negative review, and instead just return the piece to the manufacturer. Matters of reputation -- not just actual conflicts of interest but the impact of even the appearance of such conflicts -- are things that professional journalistic institutions worry about very much, and should. If the publication is not serious about consumer journalism, nor about the confidence or interests of the readers, then it's just a marketing shill and it's not really operating within the bounds of what most journalists would tell you is a journalist's ethical obligation.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  15. nosliw

    nosliw Delivering parcels throughout Teyvat! Meow~!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    On the contrary, I've seen a lot of big-name audiophile and cheapophile YouTubers who employ the exact same tactics as the said stereo publications, which they use clickbait/sensationalist titles and thumbnails, employ false premises in their arguments, speak in flowery and hyperbolic language, etc. A whole lot of them still receive kickbacks from companies, while relying on Google Ad Sense and Patreon, the latter for shilling purposes.

    They should be treated like all yellow-journalism and other rag tabloid papers you find along side at your local grocery cashier aisles.
    timind and patient_ot like this.
  16. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    Dude … will you go to a travel publication and question them why they don’t regularly publish articles of crappy destinations to avoid? Oh come on … lol.

    The hifi publications are under no obligation. Get that right. Zero.

    As long as their reviews are honest, accurate … that will suffice. You can’t blame them when the consumer goes to buy other stuff that’s not revised and pin the blame on the publication.

    Nuff said.
    hifisoup, Hanks3, saturdayboy and 2 others like this.
  17. WildPhydeaux

    WildPhydeaux Forum Resident

    Agreed, but to be clear, I wasn't knocking CRs audio expertise, though it may lack at the moment. But in my imagination scenario, they would quickly staff up to fill any knowledge gaps and offer accurate, pragmatic buying advice. I guess my point is, in that thought experiment, how would it change the face of the audio industry when the vast majority of reviews would essentially be measurements and value for dollar assessments?

    Just a bit of whimsy on a topic that has otherwise been beaten to death.

  18. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    I think you're wrong about the ethical obligations of hifi publications -- at least if they want to be taken seriously as journalism -- and about the impact on their credibility of an editorial policy that says never publish a negative review. No reason to keep repeating it. We disagree. I will note though, as a people, we get the caliber, credibility and ethics in journalism that we accept and settle for.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
    austingonzo likes this.
  19. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    I think we're seeing a lot of that now with the rise of the new objectivism over as ASR and AudiophileStyle. But just basing reviews on measurements and dollar value assessments or features doesn't necessarily eliminate the ethical dilemmas that might arise from never publishing a negative assessment as a matter of policy. Journalistic enterprises are always trying to balance these sometime competing interests -- the publication's own financial viability, access, the obligation to publish the truth, serving the reader's need-to-know interests. It's always a dynamic relationship between competing forces.
    austingonzo and WildPhydeaux like this.
  20. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Let's not forget those affiliate commission links! :D

    "Top 5 products I make money off if you click and purchase!"
    nosliw likes this.
  21. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    @chervokas … you noticed for headfi reviews they do go more in-depth on weaknesses (build quality, comfort, sound quality etc) and there are comparisons with other products in the similar price range?
  22. Eno_Fan

    Eno_Fan Staring into the abyss: Brockman BIF, Pilbara WA Thread Starter

    Izieu, France
    Being unwilling to visit Lavorgna's site, my OP was asking what he actually said rather than what it likely meant -- which I knew full-well with my "...cloth-eared digital-shill" statement, so there's no need for all the "on no, here we go again" angst.

    Certainly, it's a disgusting practice all-around and Audiophilia.com is one of the worst offenders; indeed, they are quite unabashed in how for-sale they are. Check out this Kershaw review-statement (source URL below quote):

    "...I recently reviewed the Pure Fidelity Harmony Turntable, a Vancouver gem with great sound and the best finish on a turntable I‘ve seen. Designer John Stratton was very pleased with the review; he offered me very generous terms to acquire one for the new Audiophilia reference before the review was published".

    My new Reference—The Bergmann Audio Magne Turntable — Audiophilia

    I don't think that 'media whore' is inappropriate wording for such behaviour. I see this sort of sh1t in a review and I'm done with that site, period.
  23. Alright4now

    Alright4now Forum Resident

    New Orleans, LA
    Bad reviews are fun to read. I'm petty like that.
  24. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    I'm not a headphone listener so I'm not much of a headfi reader. But those are user reviews, right? Not editorial reviews?
    PineBark likes this.
  25. chervokas

    chervokas Senior Member

    They are. They're also fun and, in some ways, easy to write. It's actually a little bit of a danger for a critic/journalist/reviewer. It's really easy to get a head of steam up and really start going (I remember a NYT restaurant review that described a dish as tasting like something you'd eat at 30,000 feet). Sometimes you really have to check yourself and make sure you're being fair and not just getting fired up writing a rip job. A reviewer has a lot of power to make or break a product or a company. I mean, the NYT theater critic can close a show and put a lot of people out of work. It's a power to be respectful of and careful in its application.
    Fruff76 and nosliw like this.

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