Page 1 of 29 1234567891011 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 286

Thread: The Absurdity of Some Recent Audio Reviews in Stereophile.

  1. #1
    Addicted to Best! marty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Far Hills, NJ
    Posts
    740

    The Absurdity of Some Recent Audio Reviews in Stereophile.

    I should begin by saying that I like Stereophile Magazine. In fact, I adore it. If I were asked to name something else that comes to my mailbox every month that I look forward to with equal enthusiasm, I would be hard pressed to provide another answer, with the possible exception of TAS and Gramophone. I should also mention that I appreciate just how hard it is to review audio gear for a living. Although to many of us it sounds like a dream job which allows the opportunity to hear the very best and latest gear, I’m sure that in reality, with limited time to complete thorough evaluations and publication deadlines constantly at hand, the actual job is harder than we might have guessed. I also like Stereophile’s commitment to providing technical measurements that gives the reader additional information that might be important or useful in trying to assess the full measure of a piece of gear under discussion.

    But enough accolades. Despite these strengths, there are some obvious and tragic examples of audio reviewing that really leave me shaking my head at the stupidity of remarks that are made by people who should know better. One wonders- why is it we never, ever see a bad review in Stereophile? (I thought the days of “everything is great” were over when Julian Hirsch left the field? Apparently, not.)

    Two fine examples can be found in September's Stereophile. In discussing a Cary CD player, Mike Fremer comments that “the sound….was never less than complimentary to every disc played, even those that were warm and mid-bass heavy, or slightly rolled off on top- another indicator of the skill with which the player has been voiced”. Mikey; two things. First: “the sound….was never less than complimentary to every disc played”. What the hell does this even mean? “Second, “….the skill with which the player has been voiced.”? Are you kidding me? Look at the damn frequency response Mikey. It’s ruler flat from 10Hz to 20KHz. Do you even know what the word “voiced” means? You generally need some deviation in frequency response to have any sort of genuine voicing options at all. Seems like a ridiculous comment to me. But as enjoyable as that gobblygook was to read, it was not quite the equal of John Atkinson’s review of the Violoncello II speakers.

    Get this. Here is a speaker that shows a frequency response characterized by a rising top end over 6K that is up 5 dB between 10KHz and 20KHz! It’s so insufferable that Atkinson had to insert a 600-ohm series resistor in the tweeter feeds just to reduce the level above 10KHz to acceptability. In fact, he said the ionic tweeter sensitivity is “too high for a completely neutral on-axis response” so he had to resort to “toe-in” just to listen to the damn thing without frying his ears. Atkinson says “this won’t be an issue in a well-damped large room”, but meanwhile the top end is so hot in his room you can fry an egg on it. Add to the fact that the impulse response is a total train wreck with out of phase driver responses and level mismatches that are a sonic embarrassment, and you simply have to shudder when you read his final conclusion that the speaker is “highly recommended”!!! John, what the hell are you thinking?

    Wouldn’t it be really nice for a change if a reviewer wrote something honest that was totally believable in an audio review? How about “although the dynamics were impressive, the basic flaws for a speaker of this price ($80K) leads me to conclude that you can do a lot better for far less money elsewhere. In fact, based on the fundamental anomalies of frequency response and impulse response, the speaker essentially sucks and you’d have to be nuts to even think about owning these”. I know that many folks including me have beat up Valin for saying that everything he seems to test recently is “the best”. But its not just the occassional review in TAS that lacks credibility. Stereophile has done a great job of displaying their own lack of credibility in the two examples I cited. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to discourage them from reviewing the latest gear. But what I’d like to see is more reviews that reflect the reviewer’s honest opinions. And not a review that is couched in language so as to meet the following standard: “ Jeez, these guys spent a lot of money to advertise with us so I have to figure how to say something nice about the product even though it really isn’t very good. I just have to figure a way to say it so our average reader can’t figure that out yet the manufacturer will continue to advertise with us!"

    Do you have your own tale of dumb audio equipment reviews? Please share them. We all need a good laugh now and then and I’m sure there are plenty of equipment reviews out there to laugh about.
    Last edited by marty; 08-14-2010 at 10:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Site Founder And Administrator Steve Williams's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Coto De Caza, California on the 13th fairway of the south golf course
    Posts
    24,343
    Marty

    IMO as long as these guys need to sell ads in their magazine I would be hard pressed to see any bad reviews however polite they might be
    Steve Williams
    aka oneobgyn
    There's ALWAYS another Steve Williams BUT there's only "oneobgyn"
    Dealer Lamm Electronics
    My System

  3. #3
    [WBF Founding Member] Ron Party's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    2,456
    Quote Originally Posted by marty View Post
    In discussing a Cary CD player, Mike Fremer comments that “the sound….was never less than complimentary to every disc played, even those that were warm and mid-bass heavy, or slightly rolled off on top- another indicator of the skill with which the player has been voiced”. Mikey; two things. First: “the sound….was never less than complimentary to every disc played”. What the hell does this even mean? “Second, “….the skill with which the player has been voiced.”? Are you kidding me? Look at the damn frequency response Mikey. It’s ruler flat from 10Hz to 20KHz. Do you even know what the word “voiced” means? You generally need some deviation in frequency response to have any sort of genuine voicing options at all.

    <snip>

    Do you have your own tale of dumb audio equipment reviews? Please share them. We all need a good laugh now and then and I’m sure there are plenty of equipment reviews out there to laugh about.
    That IS funny!

  4. #4
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Johnny Vinyl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Calgary, AB
    Posts
    8,544
    Quote Originally Posted by marty View Post
    But what I’d like to see is more reviews that reflect the reviewer’s honest opinions. And not a review that is couched in language so as to meet the following standard: “ Jeez, these guys spent a lot of money to advertise with us so I have to figure how to say something nice about the product even though it really isn’t very good. I just have to figure a way to say it so our average reader can’t figure that out yet the manufacturer will continue to advertise with us!.
    Welcome to the real world! And frankly, I don't think it'll ever change. To expect complete 100% impartiality from any reviewer associated with any publication is a pipedream. Would be nice though!

    John
    I love the smell of vinyl in the morning!
    John Adrian Spijkers - "Live Life! Leave A Legacy!"
    Dynavector DV20x2L - Genesis G7.1f - Marantz Reference PM KI Pearl - Nitty Gritty 2.5Fi - Oracle Paris Mk.V

  5. #5
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    4,861
    Look at the damn frequency response Mikey. It’s ruler flat from 10Hz to 20KHz
    i'm not saying the review was correct; in fact i rarely read reviews of digital products since i'm typically not that interested in them. however; Mikey never sees the measurement data until after he writes his reviews. it's possible you were inferring that all digital players have a flat response from 10hz to 20khz; but you did not say that.

  6. #6
    Addicted to Best!
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Western burbs of Detroit
    Posts
    262
    This is why I never use stereophile or tas equipment reviews when considering the purchase of gear. I like and subscribe to both magazines, I totally agree with Steves point about selling advertising, a lot of the equipment that I have would never be reviewed (good or bad) in either magazine because they are small companies offering hand built equipment. I use the music reviews more than anything in both magazines to find new music like this months tas I just ordered Standing Next to a Mountain a Jimi Hendrix tribute album by Steinar Gregertsen a Norwegian slide guitarist. This is why I find both mags are still worth subscribing to.

  7. #7
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member]
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    11,222
    Quote Originally Posted by DWR View Post
    This is why I never use stereophile or tas equipment reviews when considering the purchase of gear. I like and subscribe to both magazines, I totally agree with Steves point about selling advertising, a lot of the equipment that I have would never be reviewed (good or bad) in either magazine because they are small companies offering hand built equipment. I use the music reviews more than anything in both magazines to find new music like this months tas I just ordered Standing Next to a Mountain a Jimi Hendrix tribute album by Steinar Gregertsen a Norwegian slide guitarist. This is why I find both mags are still worth subscribing to.
    Personally, I think the absurdity is people continually making baseless accusations of Stereophile of linking advertising with reviews. John Atkinson has provided the statistics to refute these allegations and yet people still accuse them of unethical practices. Not only that, I think at the least, it's defaming SP unless anyone can present any corrobable evidence to back up their allegations (yeah so far lot's of rumors and inuendos from disgruntled manufacturers). So far, no one has ever come forward and until then, it's just another baseless accusation by conspiracists IMHO.

    If audiophiles think that print magazines survive on subscriptions, then they clearly don't understand the publishing industry. They are a for profit business. Sit down and calculate the costs involved in a print magazine: paying the staff, writers, editors, graphic artists, etc (note that SP pays their writers the best in the industry); paying for the printing costs which ain't cheap (esp. with the price of paper going up all the time); shipping costs that aren't cheap either; rent; travel; phone bills; shipping bills; mass mailings that cost 100-200K; hopefully you get the idea that running a print mag isn't cheap. In fact, the statistics show that it actually costs a magazine $80 or more/subscription. But all magazines try and make back that investment by building their subscriber base and distribution (subscriber being more important since SP is one of the only magazines whose subscription numbers are audited unlike TAS) so they can charge more for their advertising. That's how it works gentlemen. Manufacturers want maximum exposure.

    Now that doesn't take into account maybe smaller, niche based, targeted publications who aim with a more limited distribution to get greater product sell through on their advertising.

    Now that's not to say other audio magazines don't sell their covers for instance.
    Last edited by MylesBAstor; 08-13-2010 at 04:48 PM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by MylesBAstor View Post
    Personally, I think the absurdity is people continually accusing Stereophile of linking advertising with reviews. John Atkinson has provided the statistics to refute these allegations and yet people still accuse them of unethical practices. Not only that, I think at the least, it's defaming SP unless anyone can present any corrobable evidence to back up their allegations (yeah so far lot's of rumors and inuendos from disgruntled manufacturers). So far, no one has ever come forward and until then, it's just another baseless accusation by conspiracists IMHO.

    Now that's not to say other audio magazines don't sell their covers for instance.
    I agree, Myles. I don't think Stereo Review, or any other reputable publication is selling their reviews. I just think guys like Fremer and Atkinson write bad fiction. I've read the few copies of Stereo Review I've picked up in the last couple of years in the same spirit with which I read the summer reading edition of Esquire. Saves a lot of angst.

    P

  9. #9
    [WBF Founding Member] Gregadd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Metro DC
    Posts
    6,113
    "...not corrupt. just incompetent."

    Now that's not to say other audio magazines don't sell their covers for instance.

    So Myles" inquiring minds want to know." Who is selling their cover?

  10. #10
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member]
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    11,222
    Quote Originally Posted by Gregadd View Post
    "...not corrupt. just incompetent."

    Now that's not to say other audio magazines don't sell their covers for instance.

    So Myles" inquiring minds want to know." Who is selling their cover?
    Incompetence is different than corrupt

Page 1 of 29 1234567891011 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 145
    Last Post: 06-18-2013, 05:59 AM
  2. Wine reviews and ratings - are they worse than audio reviews?
    By ack in forum Fine Wines and Champagne Forum
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 05-02-2012, 09:50 AM
  3. Replies: 92
    Last Post: 09-11-2011, 11:41 PM
  4. Replies: 8
    Last Post: 08-31-2011, 02:42 PM
  5. Why do you read audio reviews?
    By microstrip in forum General Audio Forum
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 04-18-2011, 07:56 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •