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Thread: Do some audio reviewers need protection against themselves?

  1. #1

    Do some audio reviewers need protection against themselves?

    Today I visited the AVS showroom website of Peter Breuninger. I had not done so for quite a while and I must confess that what I experienced greatly puzzled me (to say the least).

    Firstly I would like to say that I really like/admire Peter's idea of reviewing components and giving us show reports with the help of videos that can be viewed on the internet and respect the time and effort he puts into his website. Pictures and sound (however mediocre the sound quality might be) trough videos/the internet gives you in my view a (much) better picture about the performance of audio components than words that are published in audio magazines.

    That said I viewed a few videos, inter alia from the Axpona 2017 audio show and the Audio Note UK set up at his home, that amazed me. If I concentrate on the latter my question is: why on earth does a reviewer wants to state that a certain component is the best in the world? And not only once but several times! And while doing so he included two turntables - components that were not reviewed at all and were therefore not part of this video/review - that were 'rewarded' with the qualification 'best in the world' as well.

    While talking about the Audio Note UK set up Peter Breuninger made several comments (such as "audio God") that were so over the top that they (even) embarrased the founder and big chief of Audio Note UK!

    So I am wondering if some reviewers are so out of touch with reality that they should be advised (ideally by someone the reviewer (greatly) respects) to behave/review in a different way in order to protect such a person against himself? I am asking because in my view this kind of rather strange behavior of audio reviewers will (in the long run) damage the credibility of our hobby.

    Or am I wrong of this and maybe need protection myself?
    Last edited by Audiocrack; 05-07-2017 at 05:41 AM.

  2. #2
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    There is no changing Peter. I will say that I would be concerned about announcing to the world that I have a million dollar system and a $400,000 turntable as I would think it might attract unsavory characters to my home unannounced and uninvited, especially when I was not at home.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Whip View Post
    There is no changing Peter. I will say that I would be concerned about announcing to the world that I have a million dollar system and a $400,000 turntable as I would think it might attract unsavory characters to my home unannounced and uninvited, especially when I was not at home.
    So you are saying he does not understand that he is seriously undermining his credibility as an audio reviewer?

  4. #4
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
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    likely I view Peter's efforts similarly to you. the video's do allow for a more involved experience on certain levels, but the hyperbole get's in the way of a comfortable aftertaste. OTOH, I do appreciate the less veiled promotional approach. Peter, to some degree, is only a bit more obvious with his promotion than others, and part of that I would guess is intentional to rise above the noise of all the other approaches. and establish his 'brand' as distinct (I'm not saying it's my cup of tea).

    there are degrees of exaggerated verbiage and headlines; and maybe Peter is at the top of that list, but not the only one on it.

    in an objective sense, what's the difference between what Peter does and what 6 Moons does? where the manufacturer has to advertise to get a review? or the long terms loans of gear that happen on a regular basis? or accommodation pricing for reviewers? or the manufacturer paying the magazine to use lines from a review as promo material on their website or brochure's?

    all these things clutter the strict objective feedback loop......but some hit our restrictive zones as demeaning and crass.....such as Peter's.

    as individual audiophiles, we appreciate respect and accolades when judged credible and properly expressed. we'd like to have others think highly of our efforts, but not cross the line of propriety. it's the culture of our hobby. so Peter's over-the-top approach makes us uncomfortable. his filter......well.....maybe he has no filter.

    is Peter likely only hurting Peter? yes, I think so. is he self-aware of this effect? don't know. but he is also attracting attention on some levels for his efforts. I wish him well and hope he is accomplishing what he intended to accomplish. and that he is having fun.

    are his comments credible? so far the one's I've 'heard' in the video's appear to be sincere. he apparently does believe those things he says when he says them.
    Last edited by Mike Lavigne; 05-07-2017 at 08:24 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Audiocrack View Post
    So you are saying he does not understand that he is seriously undermining his credibility as an audio reviewer?
    I doubt it. After all, isn't he the best of the best, the biggest of the biggest? take a look at what he said of the VS Master Built room. I was not there and it would appear that it was one of the best rooms at Axpona but what he says is so over the top, I can't take it seriously. Although I can see the comments showing up in some ad copy somewhere.

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    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    IMHO most people expect too much from an audio reviewer. Reviewers are expected to give us an idea of how a component sounds in a determined system, not to tell us what is better in absolute terms.

    Reviewer credibility is not determined by rankings, that will reflect his momentaneous preferences and system, but by how well he manages to describe how a component sounds in a system.

    Sorry to disagree on this aspect, but "pictures and sound (however mediocre the sound quality might be) trough videos/the internet" do not give us a better picture about the performance of audio components than words. A proper review, well carried and written, can carry a lot of information.

    A ranking of preference should be a statistical affair - when such statements are emitted in an absolute way by a single person they are meaningless, bordering the ridiculous. It is why I will never say that the DCS Vivaldi is the best existing digital system ...

    And yes, reviewers supply us mostly information and entertainment ... All IMHO, YMMV, surely!
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    He may be hurting himself, but his forward-thinking alternative to the traditional is not. He took a chance on a new approach, which appears to be paying off based on the views he's getting, and for that IMO he should be commended.
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    Hey, I need protection for my audio views and I am not even a reviewer!

    On Peter, I have been to a number of suites at shows where he was getting ready or doing his videos. The manufacturers move heaven and earth to accommodate him. The do so because he is always kind to them. I don't think I have ever seen a video from him where he puts down the system. After all, he is there with the company representative and that video would not be finished if said anything negative right there and then.

    I consider his commentary to be an "overview" not a "review." He hands softballs to the manufacturers as any friendly reporter would.

    The gold in his videos therefore is not what he says he thinks of the equipment. It is the fact that we get to hear the company representatives talk and express their views of their equipment, show, etc. That, can't be captured across 400 suites at a show like AXPONA in words and pictures. In that regard I think he is providing an excellent service to the audiophile community. Indeed while I mind major reviewers taking over a suite and dominate the discussion, music played, etc., I don't mind him doing so for his videos. The former is a power play. The latter is useful to all of us.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    likely I view Peter's efforts similarly to you. the video's do allow for a more involved experience on certain levels, but the hyperbole get's in the way of a comfortable aftertaste. OTOH, I do appreciate the less veiled promotional approach. Peter, to some degree, is only a bit more obvious with his promotion than others, and part of that I would guess is intentional to rise above the noise of all the other approaches. and establish his 'brand' as distinct (I'm not saying it's my cup of tea).

    there are degrees of exaggerated verbiage and headlines; and maybe Peter is at the top of that list, but not the only one on it.

    in an objective sense, what's the difference between what Peter does and what 6 Moons does? where the manufacturer has to advertise to get a review? or the long terms loans of gear that happen on a regular basis? or accommodation pricing for reviewers? or the manufacturer paying the magazine to use lines from a review as promo material on their website or brochure's?

    all these things clutter the strict objective feedback loop......but some hit our restrictive zones as demeaning and crass.....such as Peter's.

    as individual audiophiles, we appreciate respect and accolades when judged credible and properly expressed. we'd like to have others think highly of our efforts, but not cross the line of propriety. it's the culture of our hobby. so Peter's over-the-top approach makes us uncomfortable. his filter......well.....maybe he has no filter.

    is Peter likely only hurting Peter? yes, I think so. is he self-aware of this effect? don't know. but he is also attracting attention on some levels for his efforts. I wish him well and hope he is accomplishing what he intended to accomplish. and that he is having fun.

    are his comments credible? so far the one's I've 'heard' in the video's appear to be sincere. he apparently does believe those things he says when he says them.
    As (nearly) always you are mild in your comments, Mike.

    When Peter in one of his videos more or less shouted to us (or is 'demanded from us to accept his absolute truth' a better way of saying it?) that his two turntables are the best of the world - a rather stupid expression for an audio 'reviewer' in my view -, it was time for me to leave his website. Anyway, I am not going to return to his website because I consider him no longer as a valid audio reviewer. And as mentioned before, I am of the opinion that this kind of behavior in the end is not good for the audio industry and our hobby.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    IMHO most people expect too much from an audio reviewer. Reviewers are expected to give us an idea of how a component sounds in a determined system, not to tell us what is better in absolute terms.

    Reviewer credibility is not determined by rankings, that will reflect his momentaneous preferences and system, but by how well he manages to describe how a component sounds in a system.

    Sorry to disagree on this aspect, but "pictures and sound (however mediocre the sound quality might be) trough videos/the internet" do not give us a better picture about the performance of audio components than words. A proper review, well carried and written, can carry a lot of information.

    A ranking of preference should be a statistical affair - when such statements are emitted in an absolute way by a single person they are meaningless, bordering the ridiculous. It is why I will never say that the DCS Vivaldi is the best existing digital system ...

    And yes, reviewers supply us mostly information and entertainment ... All IMHO, YMMV, surely!
    I think we expect the same from a professional reviewer, Micro.

    As regards sound videos versus words: let's agree to disagree. Imho is is very difficult to describe in words what a certain audio component is doing, in particular in comparison to other high quality audio devices.

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