Jonathan Valin the best audio writer, EVER.

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2011
3,154
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Alpharetta, Georgia
I love Valin's RCA Living Stereo Bible. Great info on those recordings.

For two years running at RMAF shows, I've tried to convince Valin to publish an electronic version of this. He's considering it.
 

IanG-UK

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2011
245
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My personal fav is Martin Colloms. Not much in terms of writing style, but he more than makes up for it in terms of content.

For those who still haven't subscribed for his ads-free Hi-Fi Critic - I highly recommend to do so.

I also enjoy reading Michael Fremer and Dick Olsher among others. I wish Corey Greenberg was still writing about audio. He was THE entertainer for me.

I agree - Martin Colloms is a good reviewer - his reviews in Hifi Critic are full of data and precise opinion though, as a result, the style is too intense for an enjoyable read. The weakness with Hi-Fi Critic is that (I guess) 60% of it (excluding music reviews and non-technical articles) is written by Colloms and this probably rises to 75% when looking at high end stuff. This is probably an economic imperative in the UK these days but one or two other regular reviewers would be welcome.

It is the same with Alan Sircom, in HiFi+, another good writer but one who ends up writing 60% of the magazine.

HiFi News seems (in my opinion) to have just one good writer now, Paul Miller, unlike the case a generation ago when we had Crabbe, Atkinson, Humphreys, Jeanes, Messenger, Colloms, King, McKenzie, ... all great at their job.
 

Brian Walsh

Well-Known Member
Jul 7, 2011
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ttsetup.com
If Valin would lose the rug he might engender some trust. As has been the case all along, that furry animal garners more chuckles and snide remarks behind his back than anyone can imagine.
 

Andre Marc

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Mar 14, 2012
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If Valin would lose the rug he might engender some trust. As has been the case all along, that furry animal garners more chuckles and snide remarks behind his back than anyone can imagine.

Oh smack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
14,336
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My personal fav is Martin Colloms. Not much in terms of writing style, but he more than makes up for it in terms of content.

For those who still haven't subscribed for his ads-free Hi-Fi Critic - I highly recommend to do so...

I agree - Martin Colloms is a good reviewer - his reviews in Hifi Critic are full of data and precise opinion though, as a result, the style is too intense for an enjoyable read...

Big fan of Martin Colloms and like HiFi Critic.
 

georgemg

Well-Known Member
Feb 11, 2013
56
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The last opinion on the JV about the best setups of Hiend munich 2013 was kidding, I do not read anything from someone who is not reliable. Like someon said above: Zero credibility.
 

murrayp

Well-Known Member
Mar 1, 2012
31
2
913
I've attended a number of shows that JV has reported on - even to being in the same room when he was listening. I have not talked with him personally, but observed him doing his job. I found him both modest, very polite and hard working. I have found his reporting easy to read and understand, and to align very closely to what I heard. I've found he is a true enthusiast who calls it as he hears it and I can't really understand where all this animosity comes from. He reports on expensive gear but is not seduced by it - despite manufacturers doing their level best at shows to convince him. He was quite critical of a serious high end set up (say $200k) at RMAF release about two years back - he described it as I and a friend also heard it - rather bad to our ears. Other reporters gushed over the same system. Regarding his favourites - well, we all have them; he gets to hear lots and it gets better - is the man not allowed to find new favourites?
So I can read and appreciate his reviews. I also know that when I read certain other reviewers their tastes are different to mine (one just bought a pair of mono blocs that I tried and sent back - so clearly we have different tastes). Celebrate our differences ;o) In my view absolutely, certainly, JV adds to our community. Life is too short for all this negativity.
 

Worldcat

Well-Known Member
May 30, 2012
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High End audio is just that an opinion of what people like. So when you say the greatest speaker ever made come on. The stuff cost crazy prices with no validity on how good it sounds (or what it should sound like). Just like you said you heard a 200k system and it sounded very bad.
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,236
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1,725
New York City
I've attended a number of shows that JV has reported on - even to being in the same room when he was listening. I have not talked with him personally, but observed him doing his job. I found him both modest, very polite and hard working. I have found his reporting easy to read and understand, and to align very closely to what I heard. I've found he is a true enthusiast who calls it as he hears it and I can't really understand where all this animosity comes from. He reports on expensive gear but is not seduced by it - despite manufacturers doing their level best at shows to convince him. He was quite critical of a serious high end set up (say $200k) at RMAF release about two years back - he described it as I and a friend also heard it - rather bad to our ears. Other reporters gushed over the same system. Regarding his favourites - well, we all have them; he gets to hear lots and it gets better - is the man not allowed to find new favourites?
So I can read and appreciate his reviews. I also know that when I read certain other reviewers their tastes are different to mine (one just bought a pair of mono blocs that I tried and sent back - so clearly we have different tastes). Celebrate our differences ;o) In my view absolutely, certainly, JV adds to our community. Life is too short for all this negativity.

M just curious what $200+ RMAF system you're talking about?

One thing though to keep in mind. These systems can sound like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde depending upon the source that people are listening to eg. tape, LP or digital.
 

murrayp

Well-Known Member
Mar 1, 2012
31
2
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Message sent to Myles. Agree that there can be many explanations for differences in reporting.
 

NMMark1962

New Member
Jun 29, 2013
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M just curious what $200+ RMAF system you're talking about?

One thing though to keep in mind. These systems can sound like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde depending upon the source that people are listening to eg. tape, LP or digital.

My thoughts exactly...my first RMAF was in 2006. One of the rooms I visited (with ESP Concert Grands and other various stuff) sounded horrible (and I had been told how wonderful the ESP Concert Grands were supposed to be). I went back the next day (at the invitation of one of the room's managers) and the sound was substantially improved. They had removed all of the speaker cables as well as interconnects and replaced them with Silversmith Audio cables. To say the room sounded better was an understatement. Since I was writing for PFO at the time, I was terrified I had made a serious gaff by promising to come back to a room (for photos) I had truly disliked. I am glad I did because now the room had become worth something (well, to me anyway) to actually include in a show report. Funny how something as simple as the changing of interconnects and speaker cables made such a difference....

Cheers,
 

andromedaaudio

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Jan 23, 2011
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Vey funny mep :D you should start reviewing
Dick Olsher drives me nuts because he won't review a piece of tube gear without substituting tubes from his personal stash. No tube gear sounds *good* until Dick rolls in his magic tubes. I still smile when I think about the time that Dick reviewed a VTL amp back when David Manley was still running the company and of course the amp didn't sound good until Dick rolled in his favorite tubes. David Manley was furious in his comments and you could just tell that David would have loved to plugged in a 211 into Olsher in a place where the sun doesn't shine.
 

plurn

Well-Known Member
May 13, 2016
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Australia
I wrote this comment on the absolute sound site for the "Magnepan 30.7 Loudspeaker, Part One" but it was quickly deleted as spam even though it was not spam. I think they just did not like what I had to say. So posting it here.

My comments point out some glaring issues and inconstancies with Jonathan Valin's reviews that in my opinion invalidate them. I am basically comparing his comments from his old "Magnepan 3.7: Further Thoughts (TAS 214)" review, to his new "Magnepan 30.7 Loudspeaker, Part One" (yes I know they are different products - but it is relevant). I would encourage anyone to read these two reviews to draw your own conclusions (if you don't want to suffer through my conclusions).

The main point I would make is that it seems when he reviews something, he will say lots of nice things and very little on issues, and will say bad things about its predecessors. Then when a new model comes out and he reviews that, he will say the new one is great (often for the same reasons the old one was great for in the previous review) but will do a backflip on the old item saying it has issues he never mentioned previously. Surely he should have mentioned the issues in the original review!

I think the following points this out but I am sure there are many other examples:

---


What Jonathan Valin said about the magneplanar 3.7 in his old review of the 3.7 (Magnepan 3.7: Further Thoughts (TAS 214)):

" In fact, I was always aware of the ribbon-Maggies’ presence because the discontinuity between the true-ribbon tweeter and the planar-magnetic drivers was always obvious.

As the years passed, Maggie tamed this brightness and discontinuity to an extent, but even the most recent true ribbons (and with Maggie, “recent” has, until the last couple of years, been measured in decades) have had a vestige of this sonic legacy. The 3.7s are the first true-ribbon Magnepans that don’t." ...

"I really don’t know how Maggie has done what it’s done here— and Wendell Diller, who paid me a visit to install the speakers, ain’t saying—but if I were to speculate, I would guess that the ribbon’s output has been damped down somewhat and its distortion (and that of the other drivers playing alongside it) reduced—in part via a re-engineered crossover. ... past experience ... suggests that when crossovers are successfully re-engineered to eliminate group delay and reduce out-of-passband “break-up” modes, the sonic effects are sizeable and easy to hear."

"... there is no doubt that the 3.7’s ribbon tweeter is no longer “there,” no longer an easily audible and obviously separate part of the sonic presentation. The blend is so complete—and so successful—that I would have to say this is the most coherent Magneplanar I’ve yet heard. There is simply no part of the frequency spectrum you can point to and say, “This sounds different than or stands apart from the rest of the frequency spectrum.”"

"Are the 3.7s more coherent than the very coherent all- quasi-ribbon 1.7s? Yes."

-

This is what Jonathan Valin says about the 3.7 in this review of the 30.7 (Magnepan 30.7 Loudspeaker, Part One):

"And until just a few short weeks ago, the Maggies, particularly the large single-panel Maggies (the 3.7s and the 20.7s), brought burdens as well as blessings.

First, there was the matter of driver-to-driver coherence. While Magnepan’s true ribbon tweeter is a technological and sonic marvel, to my ear it never blended smoothly with Maggie’s quasi-ribbon drivers, which also didn’t blend seamlessly with Maggie’s planar-magnetic panels. (This is precisely why I’ve always preferred Maggie’s all-quasi-ribbon 1.x series to the larger single-panel speakers in its line. Yes, you lost some of the extension, resolution, and sheer glamor of Maggie’s true ribbon on the top end—and you definitely lost some of the amazing soundstage size and low-end reach of the bigger ’Pans—but what you gained back in octave-to-octave smoothness was well worth the sacrifice.)"

-

What Jonathan Valin says about the 30.7 (Magnepan 30.7 Loudspeaker, Part One):

"This is the first and only Maggie I’ve heard in which Magnepan’s true ribbon tweeter doesn’t immediately stick out like a sore, uh, true ribbon. The blend—in speed, resolution, output, timbre—with the quasi-ribbon midrange is forehead-slappingly seamless, suggesting some kind of major reduction in the quasi’s breakup modes (or other distortions) through the crossover region, and perhaps some sort of taming of the ribbon tweeter itself."

- - -

Hmm - some big contradictions and "about faces" in there. How can the 30.7 be "the first and only Maggie I’ve heard in which Magnepan’s true ribbon tweeter doesn’t immediately stick out like a sore, uh, true ribbon", when he has pretty much said the same thing about the 3.7 when he said "there is no doubt that the 3.7’s ribbon tweeter is no longer “there,” no longer an easily audible and obviously separate part of the sonic presentation. The blend is so complete—and so successful—that I would have to say this is the most coherent Magneplanar I’ve yet heard.".

Quite an inconsistency yes? Perhaps he was lying in the review of the 3.7. Perhaps he is lying now about the 3.7. Perhaps he is lying now about the 30.7. Perhaps he just indicates that the latest product is the best (well until a new one comes out) and everything that came before it is horrible. Rinse and repeat.

He now indicates that the ribbon tweeter and quasi-ribbon drivers of the 3.7 and 20.7 never blended smoothly. Why did he not tell us about this glaring issue with the 3.7 in the actual review of the 3.7 - why wait till now? In fact in the review of the 3.7 he made a big point of saying how well they blended. I don't see how anyone could think Jonathan Valin has any integrity. What glaring issues are there with the 30.7 that he has not told us about. I guess we will have to wait till the release of the 30.8 to find out.

Jonathan Valin now says "I’ve always preferred Maggie’s all-quasi-ribbon 1.x series to the larger single-panel speakers in its line" which would mean he prefers the 1.7 to the 3.7/20.7. Yet he clearly indicated the opposite in his old review of the 3.7.

I predict when the 20.8 or whatever new one comes out, Jonathan Valin will also proclaim it to be the "only Maggie I’ve heard in which Magnepan’s true ribbon tweeter doesn’t immediately stick out, and that the 30.7 never sounded quite right" - or words to that effect.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
14,562
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E. England
This thread is a humorous one, yes?
Tongue in cheek, yes?
 

dr k

VIP/Donor
Aug 4, 2016
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California
I wrote this comment on the absolute sound site for the "Magnepan 30.7 Loudspeaker, Part One" but it was quickly deleted as spam even though it was not spam. I think they just did not like what I had to say. So posting it here.

My comments point out some glaring issues and inconstancies with Jonathan Valin's reviews that in my opinion invalidate them. I am basically comparing his comments from his old "Magnepan 3.7: Further Thoughts (TAS 214)" review, to his new "Magnepan 30.7 Loudspeaker, Part One" (yes I know they are different products - but it is relevant). I would encourage anyone to read these two reviews to draw your own conclusions (if you don't want to suffer through my conclusions).

The main point I would make is that it seems when he reviews something, he will say lots of nice things and very little on issues, and will say bad things about its predecessors. Then when a new model comes out and he reviews that, he will say the new one is great (often for the same reasons the old one was great for in the previous review) but will do a backflip on the old item saying it has issues he never mentioned previously. Surely he should have mentioned the issues in the original review!

I think the following points this out but I am sure there are many other examples:

.....

I predict when the 20.8 or whatever new one comes out, Jonathan Valin will also proclaim it to be the "only Maggie I’ve heard in which Magnepan’s true ribbon tweeter doesn’t immediately stick out, and that the 30.7 never sounded quite right" - or words to that effect.

There is not one single reviewer I trust anymore. I have friends in the industry who tell me what goes on behind the scenes dealing with reviewers who get kick backs, gear at factory price, etc. Not saying JV does. But there are a lot of unethical behavior and corruption that normal consumers are unaware of.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
Reviewers aren’t reviewers because of the income. There are some nice benefits such as accomodation pricing. JV, IMO because of his “status”, takes advsntage by having long term loaners. I don’t mistrust all reviewers but most certainly mistrust him.

I am no longer an active potential purchaser but even when I was I always took every review with a large grain of salt! They are just human with biases like the rest of us. Over time I would determine whose biases were aligned to mine and would pay more attention to their reviews. While very different, Kal and Robert Green are my most trusted reviewers. But in the end, the best use of these reviews is to bring to my attention those products I would never find on my own!!
,
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2010
6,129
181
458
La Jolla, Calif USA
There is not one single reviewer I trust anymore. I have friends in the industry who tell me what goes on behind the scenes dealing with reviewers who get kick backs, gear at factory price, etc. Not saying JV does. But there are a lot of unethical behavior and corruption that normal consumers are unaware of.

I know of a few reviewers who are trustworthy...and I am a good friend of one of them.
However, I fail to see why readers always assume that a reviewer has the ability to actually hear well enough to determine the true value of a piece under review?? Many of these guys don't hear what it is that we do...and on top of that
their systems won't let them hear the true failings, and/or strengths, of said piece in the first place. Not saying that this applies in JV's case, but in many other reviewers case it certainly does. Looking at their system make up, I question how any manufacturer would want them writing ANYTHING about the gear in for review! The other danger here, is that the reviewer with less ability in the aural dept and with a less able system, will post a rave! That is the biggest problem I see...because that rave now sells a product that in reality ( for those with far more resolving systems and aural ability) is very sub par!
Best to always to listen for yourself to any new piece of gear and in your own system. Failing that, take the reviewer's opinion ( and after all it is just that and nothing more) with a BIG grain of salt. All IMHO.
 

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