AIAP: New Audio Industry Publications Association

Elliot G.

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for context....



autos are BIG business. i'm part of a local dealer group that advertises in my local market for Honda. it's tier 2 (Tier 1 is the manufacturer, tier 3 is the dealer). there are almost 200 said groups just for Honda in the USA for every local market. our local ad budget (based on a fee per car sold in our market) is $6m-$10m per year. that's probably similar to all of the world wide hifi ad dollars combined. and this is only tier 2 in part of one small state out of 50 for one auto manufacturer in the US. every manufacturer has a similar arraignment.

auto reviews? not relevant at all.


hifi is hardly a rounding error in comparison, and that's being kind to hifi. most hifi consumers, even those identifying as an audiophile, don't go to hifi shows. maybe the 'influencers' do mostly. the most invested 5% or 10% might. if i go to my local audio club meeting maybe 3-5% go to shows.
others are getting their info at dealers, or on line forums or reviews, or word of mouth. especially at the entry level. so each of these info streams carry considerable weight and matter as to how products get recognition.

bottom line; it takes effort and intention to get educated about hifi, the info does not get forced on you. so the degree of effort expended, and relative truth attained, is as variable as people are. with cars you are bombarded everywhere from every direction. unless you live under a rock, car info is part of your subconscious.
In fact the Audio Industry is totally under capitalized as compared to almost every other luxury industry. If you look at the ability to advertise and promote the numbers are so miniscule as to be almost irrelevant. It may be the love and hobby of all on this site and all who read and watch videos however those numbers at most represent such a small portion of the population as to be statistically meaningless.

We once did a series of exit interviews around NYC at fine shops and restaurants to see what if any people new the names of high end audio brands and to be honest it was very funny. Virtually no one named anything that would be carried by a place like Lyric ( which is where i was and we did this exercise) . Think about this the whole world knows the names of almost every car, watch, clothing, appliance etc in the high end.
Audio basically not at all. Sad but true. Today we live in a branded world and the brands of audio have not yet ( being optimistic here) reached anywhere near these other luxury products.

What is the total circulation of all these publications worldwide?
I would guess that the gross revenue of the Honda dealers in the state of Washington would exceed the total of the entire US High End business easily.
 
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PeterA

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I think the perspective of most people who have shown disagreement with the AIAP document. is being skewed by the "skepticism" divagations. I fully agree and support the existence of a code of ethic, statement of principles or what it may be called it - some audio publications already have it and publicize it - I consider such practice very relevant.

What is being questioned is this particular code, the forces behind it and its strategy, as well how the absence of information on the whole process.

Also being asked, or at least commented on, is whether or not such a document and association will make any difference to anybody in terms of the value of the review.

I agree with you that a code of ethics is nice in principal.
 

microstrip

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In fact the Audio Industry is totally under capitalized as compared to almost every other luxury industry.(...)

I once was shown some comparative data about the high-end revenues and still remember that, for example, the annual revenue of Bang & Olufsen was around one hundred times higher than that of Audio Research.


 

andromedaaudio

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others are getting their info at dealers, or on line forums or reviews, or word of mouth. especially at the entry level. so each of these info streams carry considerable weight and matter as to how products get recognition.

That might well be the case , but it doesnt make it right a lot of the time
Many audiophiles are stuck in a kind of buying -selling routine , plus you have the whole cable issue .
Which swallows a lot of $$
So something is not going as planned for a lot of beginning audiophiles.
I had the same issue when i started.

Ps in my view they can better visit a big hifi show like in munich and save $$$ in the process , get a feel of the house sound of the brands .
May be they will hear the topcontenders , but based on that they might go shopping in the lower product lines
 
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tima

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I fully agree and support the existence of a code of ethic, statement of principles or what it may be called it - some audio publications already have it and publicize it - I consider such practice very relevant.

What is being questioned is this particular code, the forces behind it and its strategy, as well how the absence of information on the whole process.

Micro, you like to have hard facts yet what you offer is vague. Be specific if you want clarity. Don't refer to some past post or reference as if you expect your reader to do work in order to support your argument. This not personal -- I want you to be better and believe you can. Make yourself worth reading.

Thus far your issues seem mostly meta issues that are irrelevant to the AIAP purpose. How was this group formed? What is its strategy? Why didn't I know about it? You don't seem to object to the operating principles themselves.
 

Ron Resnick

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The following are my own thoughts. I neither represent nor speak for the AIAP consortium.

Ron, I think your intentions in your post (above) are right-headed. However citing 1 sentence in isolation out of the entire item #11 and the other items before it yields a mis-leading interpretation of how it can be read. If not mis-leading, it is a singular interpretation and fails to consider the full context of item #11 and surrounding items. Some people - perhaps looking to find a way to object to the entire initiative - have latched onto your comments which focuses on that one sentence and the notions of 'full disclosure' and 'no conflict of interest'.

I believe you know it is not advisable to take things out of context. Pulling one sentence out of context liables it to many different interpretations made possible without the benefit of context.

First, some background stated in the AIAP document prior to item #11:

The essence of item #9:

This is followed by examples. Member publications or contributors writing for member publications will not and do not engage in conflicts of interest.

Item #11 is about acknowledging that relationships exist between members of the press on the one hand and designers, manufacturers, dealers and distributors on the other. Item #11 speaks openly about the positive value such relationships can yield in getting information to readers.

I can vouch for this. Every review I have written could not have been written without the opportunity to ask questions of the manufacturer about his business, his products, and his approach to design and audio in general. Fwiw, I tell every manufacturer, etc. that what they say to me is under an NDA and I will only disclose what they want in a public review. This has helped tremendously in gaining trust and access to product information that would not have been given otherwise. I put my own reputation on line. I can tell you that every manufacturer is highly sensitive to and seeks to avoid disclosure of proprietary information.

But I don't see this type of disclosure as what item #11 speaks to.

Item #11 reiterates #9:


Then, instruction is given to AIAP members. Or consider it a prescriptive statement of agreement among members about how they will act to avoid any conflict of interest:


In other words, members agree to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest through full disclosure.

Perhaps you read 'equals' as equivocation - that might work if you focus on that sentence out of context. That's not how I read it.

The notion of "curing a conflict of interest" is irrelevant. Item #11 is not about fixing or repairing or restoring, it is about avoiding a conflict of interest. It provides an example of what it is talking about - did you see the example? The example has nothing to do with "curing".

There is already agreement about not engaging in conflicts of interest in #9. Item #11 advocates for transparency in disclosure as a means to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

As a matter of statutory-type drafting there is too much explanatory text surrounding the actual and operative prescriptions of the Statement of Principles. Anything that is not a prescriptive mandate is non-operative explanatory superfluousness that should be stated not inside of individual principles, but rather as a preamble preceding Principle 1. The current version of the Statement of Principles easily can be edited into a simpler, cleaner and crisper form.

In Principle 11 I'm not taking anything out of context. The problem is that the first five sentences of Principle 11 function as a meandering and confusing preamble which seeks, but fails, to explain or, in your analysis, to condition or to modify, what follows. The first five sentences are gauzy generalities.

The only specific, substantive element and operative element is sentence six: "When in doubt, the general guideline that 'Full disclosure equals no conflict of interest' should apply." This sentence is a safe harbor, which renders void any provision of the principles which is inconsistent with the safe harbor.

In statutory construction there is a canon which provides that the specific trumps the general. It is not a matter of taking anything out of context. It is that the specific safe harbor sentence trumps and defeats the generalities and attempted explanations in the sentences around it. This is not a case in which the generalities functioning as a preamble condition or modify the safe harbor. This is a case in which the safe harbor takes precedence and overrules the generalities and examples.

While styled as a "general guideline" in fact the provision "'Full disclosure equals no conflict of interest' should apply" is very specific. It is not a mere guideline: it is not the general; it is the specific. It is even set in quotes, as if to emphasize the self-executing nature of its operation as a safe harbor, as a standalone mandate.

Operationally the sentence prescribes that disclosure and transparency cures what would otherwise be a conflict of interest. There is no distinguishing between "apparent" conflict of interest or "actual" conflict of interest. Compliance with the same harbor cures -- cleanses -- both of them.

Respectfully, your suggestion that "The notion of 'curing a conflict of interest' is irrelevant" is non-sensical. There is another canon of statutory construction which provides that effect and meaning must be given to the provisions in a statute. Your suggestion emasculates and ignores the words contained in the sentence. You are ignoring that the words are linked in the middle with the operator "equal" to create a safe harbor equation.

An alleged wrongdoer accused of a conflict of interest who discloses the conflict of interest will zero in on this single sentence as a complete defense to the conflict.
 
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tima

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As a matter of statutory-type drafting there is too much explanatory text surrounding the actual and operative prescriptions of the Statement of Principles. Anything that is not a prescriptive mandate is non-operative explanatory superfluousness that should be stated not inside of individual principles, but rather as a preamble preceding Principle 1. The current version of the Statement of Principles easily can be edited into a simpler, cleaner and crisper form.

In Principle 11 I'm not taking anything out of context. The problem is that the first five sentences of Principle 11 function as a meandering and confusing preamble which seeks, but fails, to explain or, in your analysis, to condition or to modify, what follows. The first five sentences are gauzy generalities.

The only specific, substantive element and operative element is sentence six: "When in doubt, the general guideline that 'Full disclosure equals no conflict of interest' should apply." This sentence is a safe harbor, which renders void any provision of the principles which is inconsistent with the safe harbor.

In statutory construction there is a canon which provides that the specific trumps the general. It is not a matter of taking anything out of context. It is that the specific safe harbor sentence trumps and defeats the generalities and attempted explanations in the sentences around it. This is not a case in which the generalities functioning as a preamble condition or modify the safe harbor. This is a case in which the safe harbor takes precedence and overrules the generalities and examples.

While styled as a "general guideline" in fact the provision "'Full disclosure equals no conflict of interest' should apply" is very specific. It is not a mere guideline: it is not the general; it is the specific. It is even set in quotes, as if to emphasize the self-executing nature of its operation as a safe harbor, as a standalone mandate.

Operationally the sentence prescribes that disclosure and transparency cures what would otherwise be a conflict of interest. There is no distinguishing between "apparent" conflict of interest or "actual" conflict of interest. Compliance with the same harbor cures -- cleanses -- both of them.

Respectfully, your suggestion that "The notion of 'curing a conflict of interest' is irrelevant" is non-sensical. There is another canon of statutory construction which provides that effect and meaning must be given to the provisions in a statute. Your suggestion emasculates and ignores the words contained in the sentence. You are ignoring that the words are linked in the middle with the operator "equal" to create a safe harbor equation.

An alleged wrongdoer accused of a conflict of interest who discloses the conflict of interest will zero in on this single sentence as a complete defense to the conflict.

I suppose we will agree to disagree. At least you responded and I give you credit for that.

Your notion of statutory construction and canons attempts to move the AIAP document into the legal realm. It sounds officious. From what I know, you are not a lawyer, I am not a lawyer, and the document makes no claim to be a binding legal document. Its principles are not statues. You have built your case on a false premise.

At best you are objecting to the style of the document, claiming that its examples - attempts to provide clarity - have no meaning, or that the document is written poorly, or that its construction determines it to be something it is not. Think what you will of it, but the idea that one principle is in effect an escape clause to all other principles is the interpretive claim of an adversarial sceptic or someone denying an intended interpretation I would not turn to you to explain its intentions.

A publisher takes on the liability for what it publishes. The idea that someone (a writer) accused by their publisher of conflict of interest has access to some notion of due process is ludicrous.

The AIAP principles are a good faith statement by a business about what it expects from its employees. Actually writers (typically) are not employees; the relationship between publisher and writers is not one of contract. Prior to publication of a review or article, writers agree to hold themselves accountable to guidelines laid down by the publisher. Publishers buy a writer's work (pennies) and the AIAP document describes what the publisher expects from those whose work they purchase. The publisher takes on the liability for their publications. I do not believe you have access to publisher policies and are actually taking the entire effort out of context.

Until shown otherwise - that is by acting in a way that endorses conflicts of interest or other unethical behavior within its realm -- I believe the AIAP founding members are acting in good faith . Perhaps that is where our basic disagreement lies.

Although it will not change my view here, if I have mistakenly observed that you are not a lawyer or a paralegal, please correct my error. I invite you to present your concerns to AIAP - if you do, please let us know their response.
 

Ron Resnick

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I suppose we will agree to disagree. At least you responded and I give you credit for that.

Your notion of statutory construction and canons attempts to move the AIAP document into the legal realm. It sounds officious. From what I know, you are not a lawyer, I am not a lawyer, and the document makes no claim to be a binding legal document. Its principles are not statues. You have built your case on a false premise.

At best you are objecting to the style of the document, claiming that its examples - attempts to provide clarity - have no meaning, or that the document is written poorly, or that its construction determines it to be something it is not. Think what you will of it, but the idea that one principle is in effect an escape clause to all other principles is the interpretive claim of an adversarial sceptic or someone denying an intended interpretation I would not turn to you to explain its intentions.

A publisher takes on the liability for what it publishes. The idea that someone (a writer) accused by their publisher of conflict of interest has access to some notion of due process is ludicrous.

The AIAP principles are a good faith statement by a business about what it expects from its employees. Actually writers (typically) are not employees; the relationship between publisher and writers is not one of contract. Prior to publication of a review or article, writers agree to hold themselves accountable to guidelines laid down by the publisher. Publishers buy a writer's work (pennies) and the AIAP document describes what the publisher expects from those whose work they purchase. The publisher takes on the liability for their publications. I do not believe you have access to publisher policies and are actually taking the entire effort out of context.

Until shown otherwise - that is by acting in a way that endorses conflicts of interest or other unethical behavior within its realm -- I believe the AIAP founding members are acting in good faith . Perhaps that is where our basic disagreement lies.

Although it will not change my view here, if I have mistakenly observed that you are not a lawyer or a paralegal, please correct my error. I invite you to present your concerns to AIAP - if you do, please let us know their response.

Beyond my initial critique in Post #4 I have no concerns to present to AIAP. As I wrote effusively above:

I think codification of these principles is a wonderful idea, and I applaud each of the participating publications for signing onto the Statement of Principles! (Post #3)

Even with Principle 11, with the Statement of Guidelines exactly as it is posted presently, I think the Statement of Principles is an excellent and very important step forward toward addressing these issues and to professionalizing our industry. Thank you to the people driving this project and achieving a successful outcome. You have performed a great service for our industry! (Post #4)

The only "concerns" I am presenting here are my concerns about your opinions in your Post #55, and, now, in your Post #87, about the interpretation and meaning of certain provisions of the Statement of Principles which are not well-founded, and, it turns out, which are not based upon any education or actual knowledge about principles of statutory construction or of contractual interpretation.
 
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microstrip

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Micro, you like to have hard facts yet what you offer is vague. Be specific if you want clarity. Don't refer to some past post or reference as if you expect your reader to do work in order to support your argument. This not personal -- I want you to be better and believe you can. Make yourself worth reading.

Thus far your issues seem mostly meta issues that are irrelevant to the AIAP purpose. How was this group formed? What is its strategy? Why didn't I know about it? You don't seem to object to the operating principles themselves.

My post (and the previous ones, BTW ) was very specific, you managed to make it vague omitting the first sentence of the paragraph in your quote. A pity that when you do not have arguments you systematically switch to insults and condescendence - IMHO AIAP deserves a better supporter. I will not enter such fight.
 

Lee

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In fact the Audio Industry is totally under capitalized as compared to almost every other luxury industry. If you look at the ability to advertise and promote the numbers are so miniscule as to be almost irrelevant. It may be the love and hobby of all on this site and all who read and watch videos however those numbers at most represent such a small portion of the population as to be statistically meaningless.

We once did a series of exit interviews around NYC at fine shops and restaurants to see what if any people new the names of high end audio brands and to be honest it was very funny. Virtually no one named anything that would be carried by a place like Lyric ( which is where i was and we did this exercise) . Think about this the whole world knows the names of almost every car, watch, clothing, appliance etc in the high end.
Audio basically not at all. Sad but true. Today we live in a branded world and the brands of audio have not yet ( being optimistic here) reached anywhere near these other luxury products.

What is the total circulation of all these publications worldwide?
I would guess that the gross revenue of the Honda dealers in the state of Washington would exceed the total of the entire US High End business easily.

It is indeed a small industry. We reach across all channels over 1.3 million audiophiles. It’s very difficult to get a good number but based on Facebook market stats, it may be around a TAM of 3 million audiophiles.

We are certainly not the Swiss watch business but we are certainly a worthwhile hobby.
 
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caesar

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with so many moving parts and nuances to any review, the idea of consumers being served by an audio industry publication association is wishful thinking. it's more likely to simply confuse things more by the appearance of legitimacy and process.....without substance. sh*t is always going to be going on or not. either it passes the smell test or it does not.

i like the current degree of chaos and the obvious responsibility to the reader to do their homework. it's perfectly imperfect.

i could be dead wrong. happened before.

Yes, there are just too many choices and too much noise. For those getting into the hobby, it's a real painful process. It takes a long time to "know" what most things sound like. It's a Herculean effort. And not a fun journey traveling, auditioning, and sometimes buying hyped up dreck.
 

caesar

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To gain credibility all these clowns need to do is be honest about what the gear sounds like and what it doesn't sound like. Since everything is GREAT, and there is no mention of any weaknesses, no one will trust them.

EVER.

If there was an audio writer who was taking suit cases of money from the manufacturers or distributors, but was able to differentiate products and be honest about the trade offs, I would trust them over any of the filthy disgusting mother fukkers signed on to this initiative.
 

Lee

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To gain credibility all these clowns need to do is be honest about what the gear sounds like and what it doesn't sound like. Since everything is GREAT, and there is no mention of any weaknesses, no one will trust them.

EVER.

If there was an audio writer who was taking suit cases of money from the manufacturers or distributors, but was able to differentiate products and be honest about the trade offs, I would trust them over any of the filthy disgusting mother fukkers signed on to this initiative.

Telling us honestly about the sound is what our writers do. And they never take payola for reviews. And they most certainly discuss weaknesses along the way.
 

Lee

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Yes, there are just too many choices and too much noise. For those getting into the hobby, it's a real painful process. It takes a long time to "know" what most things sound like. It's a Herculean effort. And not a fun journey traveling, auditioning, and sometimes buying hyped up dreck.

I agree that having experience is very important to building a great sound.
 

caesar

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Gentlemen,
Just googled this initiative and came upon a site from an online reviewer. He is Dr. something.... Not sure why he needs to let everyone he is a doctor. Maybe he knows a lot about hemmorhoids, or has a deep understanding of some other subject, but how is this relevant to high end audio. Or is he throwing the "Dr." title to build credibility with the most gullible?

Reading his stuff, the guy values "transparency above all". But so does the analytical listener of Magico- Spectral / Wilson CH Precision listener ... what does the idiot mean by transparency? Why doesn't he say what he finds transparent and what he finds non-transparent?

He also seems to love DSD. Yes, there are some excellent DSD recordings. Some sound smooth and spacious. But why not also be honest about DSD weaknesses in many implementations, such as overly smooth sound and a lack of dynamic snap?

Like I said above, until guys are willing to be fully honest about gear and be trusted advisors to the audio fans, instead of serving their egos and interest of manufacturers who give them the free toys for months, they will be considered disgusting scum of the earth
 

MarcelNL

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from the days that I actually read audio magazines I recall you had to learn to read between the lines to find the critique on gear, took a while to get accustomed to the style of writing and what sort of sound a reviewer liked. IMO nothing wrong with that and that there is some sort of bonus is inevitable (they keep writing as long as enough ads are sold, same with 'regular press)
 
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MarcelNL

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Gentlemen,
Just googled this initiative and came upon a site from an online reviewer. He is Dr. something.... Not sure why he needs to let everyone he is a doctor. Maybe he knows a lot about hemmorhoids, or has a deep understanding of some other subject, but how is this relevant to high end audio. Or is he throwing the "Dr." title to build credibility with the most gullible?

Reading his stuff, the guy values "transparency above all". But so does the analytical listener of Magico- Spectral / Wilson CH Precision listener ... what does the idiot mean by transparency? Why doesn't he say what he finds transparent and what he finds non-transparent?

He also seems to love DSD. Yes, there are some excellent DSD recordings. Some sound smooth and spacious. But why not also be honest about DSD weaknesses in many implementations, such as overly smooth sound and a lack of dynamic snap?

Like I said above, until guys are willing to be fully honest about gear and be trusted advisors to the audio fans, instead of serving their egos and interest of manufacturers who give them the free toys for months, they will be considered disgusting scum of the earth
some folks are proud of their academic accomplishments, and while being a Dr in Hemorroids may seem irrelevant for audio it does say that that person has had training in doing methodical research and evaluation of data and how to write things up.

Whatever, I expect he actually is allowed to carry that title, so what? does it make the initiative any less?
 
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caesar

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from the days that I actually read audio magazines I recall you had to learn to read between the lines to find the critique on gear, took a while to get accustomed to the style of writing and what sort of sound a reviewer liked. IMO nothing wrong with that and that there is some sort of bonus is inevitable (they keep writing as long as enough ads are sold, same with 'regular press)

Hi Marcel NL,
Thank you. From my perspective, life is too short to follow these guys and learn their writing style and preferences. Yoda Valin and Fearless Fremer, I understand. But most "audio journalists" are worthless to the audio fans. Maybe if someone is old/ retired, and if that's their hobby within the hobby, fine. We are all free to do as we choose.

But if these "audio journalists" expect normal people to follow them, they are delusional idiots. To play in this hobby, one needs a lot of moolah, and to get the dough, people have to work really hard. Following worthless, egotistical, mis-incentivized losers - only to be misled by them - is not a winning formula for getting fun audio toys :)

Finally, reading between the lines is a joke. I read Roy Gregory's review of the top Avantgarde, and he seemed to conclude (hard to decipher his rambling style) that Avantgarde's biggest virtue was "musicality". Can one conclude that the Wilsons or the Garbells he was recently pushing with CH Precision are sterile?
 

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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some folks are proud of their academic accomplishments, and while being a Dr in Hemorroids may seem irrelevant for audio it does say that that person has had training in doing methodical research and evaluation of data and how to write things up.

Whatever, I expect he actually is allowed to carry that title, so what? does it make the initiative any less?

Yes, I hear you. But here's the rub: I find this guy who insists of using the Dr. title, and my expectation, per your comment, is that he will apply a more critical, rigorous approach to the review.

And don't get me wrong, we all have our realism triggers and fetishes in this hobby, and nothing wrong to be passionate about our favorites. He can love his DSD ...

But an expert and a trusted advisor should also understand the negatives and tradeoffs - again his Dr training should have taught him critical thinking.

But he didn't. All the idiot did was rave about "transparency" and DSD being great, without defining the terms and talking weaknesses (DSD being overly smooth and lacking dynamics of PCM) guiding the less experienced folk to their bliss and delight. The mother fuyer didn't do that, however.

So it strikes me, being an outsider in this hobby (really a Stranger, for those well-read guys who may be familiar with Georg Simmel's work) is that he is just an insecure guy and using a false appeal to authority. Guys who go out of their way to hear "transparency" of magico - spectral and are looking for something else will be disappointed. Same with guys looking for dynamic snap of PCM but finding a soft and smooth DSD.

And that is exactly why this new industry association is a joke. No one will ever trust these guys until the guy brings that critical analysis into audio as he should have learned in his training
 

Ron Resnick

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Hi Marcel NL,
Thank you. From my perspective, life is too short to follow these guys and learn their writing style and preferences. Yoda Valin and Fearless Fremer, I understand. But most "audio journalists" are worthless to the audio fans. Maybe if someone is old/ retired, and if that's their hobby within the hobby, fine. We are all free to do as we choose.

But if these "audio journalists" expect normal people to follow them, they are delusional idiots. To play in this hobby, one needs a lot of moolah, and to get the dough, people have to work really hard. Following worthless, egotistical, mis-incentivized losers - only to be misled by them - is not a winning formula for getting fun audio toys :)

Finally, reading between the lines is a joke. I read Roy Gregory's review of the top Avantgarde, and he seemed to conclude (hard to decipher his rambling style) that Avantgarde's biggest virtue was "musicality". Can one conclude that the Wilsons or the Garbells he was recently pushing with CH Precision are sterile?

You sure put on your cranky pants today!

Delusional? Idiots? Worthless? Egotistical?

I totally disagree that audio journalists are "worthless."

I totally disagree that reading between the lines "is a joke." People with open-mindedness and a bit of patience have no trouble following someone like Michael Fremer over a period of time, and understanding Michael's personal sonic preferences and why he prefers the particular components he chooses. With a little bit of experience and effort one can easily read between the lines in Michael's reviews, for example.
 

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