Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Eno_Fan, Nov 23, 2021.
Richard echoes several of the points I made earlier.
More than just kind of crazy. Really crazy.
This is just audio. The gear is fleeting. It is transitory. If the gear is so expensive that you can't treat it as transitory then you couldn't afford it to begin with (or need better insurance). My gear does not define my existence. All of it is something I could replace with something different by a different company and still be happy. Which is a good thing. Because if my home burned down I'd have to do exactly that.
The hypocrisy is this. Those who are slam reviewers hard here for being untrustworthy etc would not have the gall to do it with the same intensity at hifi shops if the dealer start to say the models or brands being sold is just darn good. Lol
Head-fi is full of shills, buyers beware. My favorite one:
...as if we didn't know Head-fi was the home of the shills...
Those same people slamming reviewers would also slam hifi dealers for being shills that are only promoting products that give them the most profit. The truth is that the good audio dealers select the gear they carry because they have listened to different gear and selected what sounds good and especially what sounds good together. Even if that different gear is carried by different distributors and isn't as convenient for them because they now have to stock from multiple distributors. They carry the gear they do and recommend the gear has synergy together. But people who don't believe audio reviewers are telling any sort of truth aren't going to believe that dealers are telling any sort of truth.
About 10yrs ago, the editor of 6 Moons published an editorial explaining their review process.
Exec Summary: Unless a component is electrically unsafe, violates laws, or otherwise is not usable for the purpose in which it was designed, it will not be given a bad review. He further stated that a lowly reviewer is essentially unqualified to render a negative review of a functioning component unless said reviewer was an actual designer of audio components.
The same publisher now operates as a pay to play webzine- no review unless you buy ads.
I still subscribe to a few magazines, mainly as habit and receiving them for so long. Nowadays I mostly just look at the pictures and read the letters. At most, I’ll read the last paragraph with the inevitable high praise and - should be on your list if you’re looking for a product like this kind of thing. It’s pretty formulaic so I don’t even waste the time reading everything.
That website is an UI aesthetic abomination. The proportions of text relative to the screaming large photos and advertisements make it one of the most tiring reads to navigate. It's like a test case in how not to design a reading-friendly website.
The UI at 6moons is cluttered and difficult to follow. It's not an example of what to do. But it does get advertisements on the page even though I use an adblocker (because the sponsor ads are served from 6moons and not from an adserver).
6moons is pay for play for reviews. And the review style is overly flowery and sometimes too wordy. But he does do real reviews. He listens to the gear and describes what the gear actually sounds like. He doesn't just make it up. When he's reviewed gear I've heard before I can recognize that he's describing real sonic characteristics of the gear. He's not making it up. The reviews at 6moons also often give some history of the company or explanations of the design of the gear that you don't get from other reviews.
An interesting example is the review at 6moons of the Eddie Current Balancing Act headphone amp. The review is wordy and the flow difficult to follow. But he does explain the history of Eddie Current and how it started with Moth Audio. It is one of the few reviews of the Balancing Act that explains the style of sound that it does. The sound has a big large soundstage that has depth. On headphones the sound is all around your head, outside your head. The sound is so clear with transparency. A wonderful example of the style of clear transparent sound and large soundstage with 3D imaging and sonic holography that you can get from the best tube headphone amps. It is one of the best.
Well, one would 100% expect someone trying to sell you something to be doing so in order to maximize income from the sale. Of course you want a happy customer who might be a potential return customer and who might pass along positive word of mouth to other buyers, so it would short sighted to sell something that isn't going to make the customer happy just because it creates maximum profit. But I don't think anyone has the same expectation of a retailer whose job it is to sell you something, and a critic or journalist whose job it is to tell you truthful information that is useful and that you need to know to make a buying decision anymore than anyone has the same expectation of a salesman at a car dealership and a writer for Car and Driver. They're two completely different jobs. And the relationships with the customer/reader is a completely different one in the two cases.
There seems to be others who think there are differences in SD cards for audio. Have they been bamboozled by Lavorgna?
Best Micro SD Card For Music - Top 5 Picks Of 2021
Totally unethical, completely devoid of credibility in terms of basic journalistic standards, but, hey, I gotta give him credit, he was upfront about it. Since the day he published his pay-to-play editorital, I've never looked at the site again, and I hope anyone who does understands what it is are reads everything there with a substantially skeptical eye.
The internet is fully of hobbyists with limited professional experience or expertise in a field, or in writing, writing at their leisure about what they like. It's really fanboy blogging. Fanboy blogging is fine, I guess. It's certainly fun for the fanboy doing the writing. I'm not sure it provides much service or value to the reader, but it gives other fanboys a center of attention to gather around and a platform for them to argue amongst themselves (which, as you've described, can escalate in an unhealthy way very quickly). It might be interesting if one of these audio group blogs of fanboy writers did a little editorial experiment and gave different writers the assignment to write about equipment one of the other writers had selected. Get writers out of their comfort zones, get them questioning their preferences, get them to write about something they're not already biased towards when the encounter it. But that would require a central editorial mission and a goal to minimize bias. I mean, really, what's the value of a review from someone who is already a fan writing about what they like?
Well, exactly. Publishers make the decision not to publish bad reviews to protect their ad base and preserve their access, not because they think audiences shouldn't know about the bad equipment they encounter. It's putting the publication's financial interest and the power and interest of the manufactures ahead of the readers' interest. These conflicts of interest in hobbyist, specialty interest and trade publishing are not new. Balancing the publication's ability to survive with the mission to inform the reader is a conflict this kind of enterprise has always faced, in fact it's really a conflict that all news organizations face in some degree. Those willing to put the readers' interest first earn a reader's respect and faith. Those who put other interests first, risk losing a reader's respect and faith. There's nothing extraordinary about that dynamic.
It is crazy. It's the heightened emotional temperature that also seems to be a symptom of the internet opinion echo chamber, though there have always been some nutty people willing to hurl the worst kind of invective, and, as in this case, something worse than just insults, at, say, newspaper columnists or writer who express different opinions than their own. The big difference now seems to be that for almost any otherwise seemingly rational person, the emotional temperature arising from internet discourse seems to be able to escalate from strong disagreement to death threats in very short order. That same person would never be hurling death threats at you if you were having a conversation about the same topic face to face. Also different today is the sense that the threat of violence seems to be something that people are more likely to actually act on. Maybe that's more perception than statistically supportable fact, but it sure feels that way.
I respect that everyone can get heated or say some dumb **** from time to time - been there myself. You're having a bad day someone triggers you and you say something you normally would never say.
The internet however adds an element wherein people are conversing with strangers and not their selected friends. The anonymity of avatars and fake names means you get to say what you want - or act tough - when in the real world you may be anything but. There is a kind of power gained in this alternate world, not unlike a video game.
This forum has a key feature called the ignore function. I never thought I'd use it but it comes in handy because if someone loathes me and is constantly trying to goad me - then I can no longer communicate with those people. They view me one way and that's not going to change.
On other forums where there is no ignore function, it is hard to ignore because it is like roadkill. You look even though you know you shouldn't. With politics and religion, these days the escalation to name-calling is fast and furious. As you note in the real world, this would not likely happen in part because we can't get away with it as easily and in the real world, we choose who we associate. The guy on the forum ranting at me and my politics can keep ranting week after week year after year on a forum. In real life, these are people I would emigrate to avoid.
I agree with your points on reviewing. The review outfits - print or online - I have stressed for years is entirely entertainment and should in no way be regarded as real journalism. The word professional reviewer is also a BS term because none of the review industry belongs to a professional body of audio reviewers. As a professional teacher - other teachers can call me out if I do something egregious - bring me before a board and my ass is fired. There is no such ethical body in audio reviewing - at best folks in reviewing have a degree in English, Psychology, maybe Engineering but none of these is better than the others - an engineer or recording engineer doesn't necessarily hear better or have better taste in music or music playback. Albeit they may be able to speak better about the technological elements of a given item - but that assumes his engineering skills are superior to the manufacturer.
In the Commonwealth - a professional belongs to a profession. As noted, their peers sit in judgement and there are standards you have to pass to be able to get a certificate in the field such as The British Columbia Canada College of teachers. To become a teacher I had 4 practicums. Each practicum was at a different school. 3 elementary schools and 1 high school. And you had several evaluators. And you had to teach in Urband and rural settings.
Year 1 - Grade 7 - evaluated by the classroom teacher, the school principal, my evaluator from the University (retired teacher)
Year 2 - Grade 2 - Rural school - evaluated by the Classroom teacher, school principal, UNI evaluator (ex superintendent)
Year 3 - Grade 10-12 - two class teachers, principal, Uni (retired teacher)
Year 4 - Grade 4 - class teacher, Principal, Uni (retired Principal)
Getting into the Education program required an A- average in the first two years of university. This was a concurrent degree program so you did years 1 and 2 and then your BA or BSc along with the education degree (7 courses per semester plus practicum and lesson planning).
The point of the above is that to become a teacher I had 5 classroom teachers, 4 current principals, two retired teachers, a retired principal and a superintendent. Plus in our program, you were not allowed to have an assignment over the 3.5 years receive less than a 70% This seems not too bad but the sheer number of assignments was probably what culled 25% of the people in the program after the first year.
The point of all that is that when you come out of this program you have been poked and prodded and you will likely be a pretty good beginning teacher - still a helluva lot to learn but you are a "professional" teacher. The USA seems to take a different view of the word such that you are a professional if and only if you get paid. So long as someone pays you to do a job you are a professional - professional burger flipper at McDonald's etc.
I am a professional teacher - but my career in teaching doesn't transfer to make me a Professional Audio Journalist/Reviewer.
Thus, I am loathed to use the term professional reviewers nor to have people put too much stock in them. But it's a losing battle because every time some publication comes out with their awards or product of the year or Editor's choice, or Golden plaques I roll my eyes. It's all a bunch of BS. But there is advertising revenue to be had from that. I am pleased we haven't gone down that path.
One thing you suggested is a good idea that we review gear out of our comfort zone but then it would take a more herculean effort in terms of finances. CR can do it - the magazine is a company that can buy all the gear.
The problem for the individual reviewer is getting the appropriate gear to be able to do justice to match the other gear. A wealthier reviewer or a magazine or reviewers who take freebies or are known to be an automatic great review can attain more gear. So let's say my editor would like me to review a Wilson Audio Speaker to get out of my comfort zone. If you're Wilson why would you send me a speaker? The only reason any company sends a review is to get advertising. They don't want to send the speaker to the guy that doesn't really like Wilson. On top of that, will my amplifiers be deemed "good enough" by the readership? I have 250 watts or so Class D monoblocks from Wyred4Sound but if my review is negative the first thing in the comment section will be - well your amps are too cheap or still not enough power. Even if that is untrue - readership is what matters not the 1% who may know better.
Basically, there is no win here. The manufacturer loses, the magazine won't get further Wilson speakers, my gear (Wyred4Sound) might get blamed by readers as the culprit thereby hurting their reputation, and I wasn't a fan of the stuff to start with so I'll be accused of confirmation bias.
And what do I win? People who don't like Wilson will say "you tell it like it is Richard -- agree agree clap clap" and the people who love Wilson will say "that cloth-eared idiot wouldn't know good sound quality if Julie London sat in his lap and sang him Happy Birthday."
The solution is too expensive and difficult for a relatively off-the-beaten-path hobby like this. And there are few to zero independent outfits. Sure a Harmon International spends a bit of time on it but they have a MASSIVE conflict of interest. Something it seems Americans are more okay with like their view of what makes a professional. Harmon's research is coming from people trying to sell you a speaker. Huh? Big Tobacco for decades said Cigarettes were totally safe. And they have scientists with degrees telling everyone it was safe. A CR for high-end audio would be ideal.
Not audio related but I’m impressed with the process you went through to become a teacher. Could use something similar here in the good old USA.
Bottom line is we lament there are no bad reviews, then when we get one or two and many don't like that either.
Recently, I enjoyed the exchange between Fremer / Mike at ITG regarding lacquers, and then the Oznow vid, mainly because they were the type of candor and strong opinion we need to hear from our review / audio community.
Unfortunately, I don't own or have any vested interest in lacquers, nor do I own any Zero Dust type doo dads.... so I'll wait for similar passionate discussions about more salient topics like digital cables, audiophile fuses, power cables etc from our review community. There are some topics that I'd like to hear what the eggshell walkers *really* think. Plus, it would have the benefit of helping me decide which reviewers I really should be paying attention to for my needs.
But I also realize many won't like that either. It's a no win in some ways.
Not so much overt collusion, more so a financial reality. If TAS or Stereophile began publishing negative reviews, the audio manufacturing industry would cut the publications off entirely, and that would be the end of the magazine. And all their jobs.
The advertising and editorial departments don’t need to formally collude, the very foundation of their business is to collude with the industry they cover.
Not collude in the sense that TAS gives a positive review of gear that sucks, but rather a collusion to not write at all about gear that sucks.
Yes, it’s not overt deception, it’s more of a self preservation diversion of attention.
It’s like a local newspaper only writing about positive stories about their town to boost tourism. Is it collusion or deception to only write about the positive? That depends on your definitions. Am I deceiving you if I omit the negative?
In the end, who cares!? We’re discussing an expensive and ultimately meaningless hobby. The actual newspaper is so filled with dark stories, maybe we need a bit of “augmented reality” from the journalistically feeble audiophile press?
So some rich fool buys a $25K amp based on an ethically murky Stereophile review, who cares?
It’s so bad but it has been that bad for decades. I don’t want it to change. It’s nostalgic!
Sorry but that's not how the hifi world works. There is enough influence at the major publications that we can publish a negative review if we wanted. And we have. A loss of a manufacturer or two would not change our business much. But what's the point of a bad review? Far better to spend time promoting the joy of owning good audio gear. There is so much good gear to be covered.
In reading through these latest posts here, I have a polite suggestion for members here getting more out of audio reviews...
Find a set of reviewers you trust. Read reviews and see what reviewers have comments that appeal to and maybe describe your feelings toward the same or similar gear. Early on in my journey I found some reviewers (both Stereophile and TAS) that seemed to have a take that appeared credible. I also found a few good reviewers in online websites.
Read them and decide on a simple shortlist of gear to audition. Go visit a dealer. Trust your ears (and budget!) and decide what gear to buy.
you uhhhh didn't read those links, did you? They're comparing the speed of the different SD cards, NOT differences in audio quality (because there aren't any!)
What about read speeds, sans a buffer?
did you have something you wanted to say about unbuffered read speeds on sd cards?
sad, but so damn true! can't bite the hand that feeds them.
I certainly wouldn't!
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