Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Eno_Fan, Nov 23, 2021.
I would not want to be in that position...
I don't know, if it meant regular free records, good ones too, or great quality hi-fi gear, as well as a wage, I think my principles could soon be very quickly dropped!
One could ask a very simple question....IF it is pointless to give a negative review, is it not just as pointless to review any product at all?? IOW, if the negative aspects are not going to be addressed, just the positives, are you now not simply reading (writing) an advertisement and nothing else? ( and in some cases a very dishonest advertisement- if the reviewer hears the failings and yet has no problem writing hyperbole anyway!)
In the video above, the "reviewer" ( BTW, i'm not sure what credentials this guy has for this position, or for that matter many/most of his peers?), decries the idea of a negative review ( due to a number of reasons, including the aspect of poor synergy! ( which IMO should be realized before by the reviewer in the first place, assuming he has enough KNOWLEDGE to comprehend this!)) ( then we have the other aspect, about why should the reviewer review something that he doesn't like? Again the answer is ...that's the JOB!!)...and gives his justification for same, yet my question above is therefore now more than pertinent, IMHO!
You mention'accommodation pricing' that these folk enjoy! Probably the main reason so many are doing this enterprise..
HiFi audio is an interesting market for sure, and driven by it's unfortunate small size. While I do understand why it may be a bit suicidal for a magazine not to provide only positive reviews, it would be refreshing to read an assessment of gear that mirrored more closely to auto reviews. At least Car & Driver gives the crappy cars a 7 so we all know what they thought of it without having to give it a 2. Maybe audio could do the same?
Then I would be most curious to see the “weeded out of review” list and detailed descriptions of why those pieces of gear made the list.
And I'd like to see a publicly posted list of all of the people you've decided not to have sex with along with descriptions of why.
Well, if you were spending your hard-earned money for my reviews of those with whom I've had sex, then you might be entitled to see such a list.
Most of the audio reviews you read are free. The few that cost money can be had for $10 or less per year. Spending $10 a year on a Stereophile or TAS subscription doesn't give you the right to demand them to open their books and let you see under their kimono to find out what they decided not to review and why. If you want to see that info then get hired on as the CEO or invest enough money to become a majority investor in the publication. Otherwise what you're asking for is private information and private dealings.
Part 2 of the Jay's Audio Lab YouTube video posted above explains why professional reviewers don't take the time to do negative or critical reviews. It simply isn't worth their time or money to do negative reviews. So they don't.
If you want negative reviews of high-end gear then start a patreon account to fund a publication that dedicates its time and the time of all of the reviewers to do negative reviews. What a miserable job for the reviewsers of a publication like that. Always having to spend 90 days with crappy gear in their system just so they can do a through review of the bad gear. What fun. Who would volunteer for that? Who would do that for the measly amount of money a reviewer would make for a review? Only masochists would be writing reviews for such a publication.
Who's demanding? I'm only requesting.
OK. Then spending $10 a year on a Stereophile or TAS subscription doesn't give you the right to request repeatedly in a demanding manner that they let you look under their kimono and see their private decision making and about what to review, what not to review, and why.
I don't want to read negative reviews in professional publications. There are other more personally relevant ways of getting critical opinions about audio gear. One way is to be active in local audio clubs where everyone in the club tries different gear, lets others in the club listen to that gear, and then talk positively and critically about that gear and also talk about system synergies and what gear works in some systems and not in others and why. That's what local audio clubs are for. If that's what you want in yoru audio hobby then do that and be active in local audio clubs. The national professional audio publications aren't that outlet.
Not sure what you're referring to? I never formally asked Stereophile anything, much less made any demands of them. I merely stated here that I would be curious to see such a list. Perhaps you're confusing me with someone else.
If you are one of the believers that reviewers should only review gear they like and never give a poor review, maybe you could answer this question…how valuable to you is this review vs. a simple advertisement for the same product?
Even glowing reviews always contain the reviewer's statements about things the item under review do better than other gear does and what it does worse. Those insights are invaluable to me if it is a reviewer whose opinion hews close to my own.
For example, a glowing review of a new turntable by Michael Fremer may say that it sounds better than a Clearaudio Innovation Wood but is has much less low-end kick than his reference Continuum Caliburn.
Likewise, a review of the Lyra Etna cartridge is likely to tell me both how much better it is than other cartridges but in what areas it falls short of the Lyra Atlas, but it will still be an overall positive review.
Reviewers who have a good reputation and have done reviews of gear I'm familiar with and that matches what I hear in such gear have value to me. The marketing department at an audio gear company that writes advertising copy has poor value to me. The reviewers who review gear I'm familiar with and get it wrong have poor value to me. And there are plenty of YouTube and blogger reviewers who have demonstrated that they are worthless to me as a review source.
On this well-worn topic, seems to me folks often dismiss the micro and fixate on the macro. I have a theory why, but that's a discussion for another day. Yes, big picture, the vast majority of reviews are "positive" overall, for reasons already stated by others far more eloquent than me.
But don't ignore the micro detail: the specific impressions and comparisons that many readers, quickly skimming a review, gloss over. That's the real value add.
As an example of an intelligent review, read (like, actually read) Alex Halberstadt's review of the Jadis DAC in Stereophile. It's an excellent review because (1) it's entertaining (well written), (2) he's giving easy-to-understand, almost tactile, listening impressions and (3) he's putting the DAC, and his review, into context (as he's reviewing, he's thinking about reviewing -- the value of reviews). Notice how he says that while the DAC is enormous fun, he found himself missing out on the level of resolution that he's used to with his much less expensive Sonnet DAC. And that at the Jadis's not insignificant price point, it should be closer to perfect, and at its price point (and well below), there's a lot of competition -- and he names competitors the reader should also look into.
This is an A+ review -- not because the product is an A+ (I've no opinion about it), but in terms of how he goes about reviewing it.
Jadis JS1 MkV Reference D/A processor
I think they’re all good because TAS and Stereophile aren’t listening to Chinese-made Bluetooth speakers like the rest of us. I’m sure I’d be throwing bouquets at the WORST stuff they get to listen to.
Every once and a while (and honestly it doesn't happen much at all), our magazine will get a product that, as our editor puts it, "isn't ready for prime time". Sometimes its a software bug that crops up, sometimes it isn't compatible with the gear we have on hand, sometimes there's a hum/noise and we cant figure out if its the fault of the product, or a bad system interaction, but rarely, sometimes its just something that sounds not right to our ears, to the point beyond a matter of taste. The problem is, there's a number of variables that could contribute to the problems listed above. Rather than put a small company on blast for issues that MIGHT be their fault (or might be another compounding factor), we just say "not ready for prime time" and ask for a return shipping label from the company. Usually we communicate with the company about whatever issues we're having and give them a chance to try and resolve them, or at least give them feedback.
We're not consumer reports here to do a spreadsheet of 16 different preamps and give you a point by point guide to which one you definitely should buy and which one should be run out of town with pitchforks. I and many colleagues see the job of audio writers as people to help consumers and enthusiasts do two main things:
1. Get a basic idea of what sonic characteristics a piece of gear has
2. Get an understanding of what a piece of gear is like to live with and how it could fit in different types of systems
Those two things arm people with the kind of information that can help them decide if a piece of gear might be worth finding out more about or trying to listen to. For any expensive piece of high end audio, you should never buy blind and we will come right out and openly advocate that you not buy blind (hell half our reviews end with "if you are looking for _____, you should definitely go out and hear this", they almost never end with "you should go buy this, trust us". The only exceptions to this rule that I can think of was a $150 phono stage available on amazon with free returns, and a record cleaning machine that isn't exactly a matter of taste sonic taste). There's lots of interesting gear out there, most of it is objectively pretty good, there's not a lot of high end audio out there that is just garbage being made by career criminals looking to pull a fast one. Now, that doesn't mean bad sound doesn't exist, but bad sound is A. Highly Subjective, and B. Incredibly dependent on the interactions between different pieces of gear that might sound completely different were they to interact with other gear in a different system.
Most of the time audio is a preference, and most of the time, reviewers will tell you in the review what they prefer and why. If we try an amp and then switch out another amp that to us sounds more clinical, detailed, but maybe a bit less full and organic, usually we will say "I favored this amp with these speakers for __ reason, but the other amp did do __ and ___ well" the reason being that some people value different things and what sounds clinical to me might sound focused and insightful to someone else. So rather than say "Amp A is better than Amp B, Amp B sucks by comparison", a good reviewer will try to talk about what the differences are and that way your personal taste doesn't get in the way of conveying valuable information to readers who don't share your same taste. How many times do you read someone completely obliterate a product on this site with no pushback from anyone else that's heard it? Usually its a form of "I didn't like this", "this isn't right for my gear" or "I don't think this is worth the money". Any time its more harsh than that, you're going to get some disagreement. Well if JoetheJazzMan86 thinks your amplifier "sounds like dog****", yeah that's an opinion that someone might read, take under consideration, and then read the people below Joe that don't share his subjective opinion. If a magazine writer makes the same declarative statement, not only does it carry more authority (whether conscious or subconscious) in the buyers mind, but now its just standing on its own with no real discussion , dissension, or back-and-forth for the reader to weigh. And you have to live with the very probable fact that you likely talked someone out of giving a product a chance when they very well could have ended up liking that product had they actually heard it. Why? Because no reviewer has magic ears and no reviewer has tastes that will line up with the tastes of everyone in this hobby. There is likely stuff that I have hated with every fiber of my being that someone out there would undoubtedly fall in love with. And Audio does not exist to serve what is "best" and damn the listener, audio exists to serve the listener, to serve them a musical experience they will enjoy. If they don't enjoy a certain piece of gear, even if the other 95% of people do, then its clearly not best for them.
But all that other stuff being said, do you know the biggest reason why scathing bad reviews are rare? Because if I'm looking at products to review, I'm pretty much only interested in stuff I actually want to hear, just like any of you guys. Do you want to go to the trouble of getting someone to ship you a piece of gear and have to listen to it continuously in your system for 2-3 months if its something you don't care about or doesn't interest you in the first place? If you do, your brain works different than mine. Last year I realized my system had surpassed the capabilities of my speakers, so what did I want to review? Speakers! I was on the lookout for cool recently released speakers that would be interesting for our readers, that would work in my system, that I wanted to hear, and that I could potentially afford to keep if I ended up falling in love with them. I reviewed three different pairs of bookshelf speakers that year, speakers that I expressed an interest in, and put in the leg work to get samples of, and one of which ended up being my goldilocks pair that I purchased. And you know what? All of that was completely transparent in my written reviews! Its the same stuff we read about on the forums here, just longer and more formal.
And in so doing you are failing your readers who might which up buying the product that turns out to be no ready for prime time when some one who knew it wasn't, and whose job it is, nominally, to inform readers about audio equipment, choose to protect the interests of the manufacturer instead of the interest of the reader. This is why journalism has lost the trust of the people.
I pretty much stopped trusting most magazine or website reviews — of ANYTHING — years ago.
The inherent conflicts of interest and the “we never met a product we didn’t like” horse-crap just poisoned the well for me. And the tortured rationalizations for same just make me wince.
Manufacturers — again, of almost ANYTHING — see reviews as advertising by other means. Period. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200.
And I actually wouldn’t mind that so much, really, so long as they just drop the BS pretense of impartiality and ‘demanding standards’… as if they’d ever give a scathing review to a major manufacturer who gives them big-time ad revenue and free product access.
Just can that silly BS and call your mag or site what it is… unconditional-love audio porn, unconditional-love bike porn, unconditional-love whatever porn, etc. etc. ‘Cuz that’s honestly all it is.
Heck, I think I’d even go back to buying audio mags, bike mags, etc., if they’d only stop pretending. Really.
How many had " principles " to start ?
Ah yes writing about integrated amplifiers the wrong way is responsible for the erosion of public confidence in societal institutions. This seems like a totally reasonable extrapolation of your concerns with a niche issue in a niche hobby.
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