I don't think we should focus on each term at all. You should get the general gist and if there was an extraordinary reaction to something. If further curious, you should go check it out. This OCD on trying to understand a write-up perfectly can only lead to misinterpretations. No person has one to one coherency between what he listens, what he thinks, and what he expresses in writing (some are better than others) Compound that with another person's different interpretations, if you try to match exactly you will be here forever.
Agreed, Ron was mainly trying to distinguish things in relative terms and people are getting rather tweaked by his use of words to convey those relative differences.
Hello Bonzo, hello Morricab,
I once read hi-fi reviews voraciously.
At one stage, I assembled an entire system around the declarations of a few of them and their recommendations, because their declarations most fit and reinforced a bunch of preexisting biases I had. It was less that they were right, and more that I wanted them to be right to justify my purchasing decisions. That system sucked. Lesson? Never abdicate responsibility for my purchasing decisions to someone else with no skin in the game just because that person commands a form of status based on their visibility or appears as an “authority” based on their experience.(1)
Now, however, I’ve realised that most reviewers get paid to review, not because they have the ability to finely judge sonic and musical nuances relative to the gear they review, but because they can write in a way that convinces us they can. A writer’s main talent surely, is writing. If they’re skilled, they could probably be just as entertaining when writing about fishing reels, or vacuum cleaners, or model airplanes, since the ability to turn thoughts into prose is the job of all writers, or which reviewers are a subset.
But that doesn’t mean the skilled writer will necessarily have the skill to discern and differentiate the nuances apropos music and the way that recorded music is brought back to life through an inanimate object, in the same way a skilled musician or conductor will not necessarily have the skill to write about hi-fi gear, or music, or sound for that matter despite the loose commonality of subject matter. Nor does it mean the skilled hi-fi reviewer will use a process that is commensurate with that of the reader, hence perhaps why we often hear statements like "XYZ is my favourite reviewer" (and its opposite).
Some hi-fi reviewers are great writers. But sometimes, terrible judges of music when played back through a hi-fi system. The reverse is less true, because bad writers generally don’t get gigs as hi-fi reviewers because again, the job is to write not to think.
Of course, as I’ve said before, it’s arguable that what we learn most from people in their assessment of hi-fi gear is much less related to the hi-fi gear in question, and much more related to their own preferences and biases. Even in cases in which the reviewer is both able to perceive and write about music and also able to perceive and write about hi-fi, are they still really only ever telling us anything other than their own perceptual process, and hence, their preferences and biases (whether they can acknowledge the latter or not)?
Therefore, I personally no longer hold the opinions of hi-fi reviewers in the regard I once did (especially ones who appeal to external authorities to justify their biases - I won’t name names). If the job of the reviewer is to review, then my responsibility as the consumer is to review the reviewer. In the process of doing that, I’ve concluded there are only a small handful of hi-fi reviewers whose opinions I value, if only because they have declared their biases and preferences and do not pretend to write about anything but those things.
This, of course, holds true for all opinions. We routinely post ours here. The trick, I believe, it to never attempt to fool oneself into believing they’re any more of less than that.
Be well, gents...
(1) This was not the fault of the reviewers. This was the fault of me not reviewing the reviewers, and abdicating responsibility when the maxim should have been: My money, my responsibility.