Honest Amp Reviews: Impossible?

So, I’ve noticed a flood of class D junk hitting the market over the last several years. They come from many different brand names from people you’ve never heard of before like "VTV", to popular Internet-in-the-know brands like PS Audio to famous names like Marantz. One thing they ALL have in common: the complete inability to find honest reviews online for these products.

For example, let’s take for instance the Stellar series from PS Audio. Class D junk with the usual attempt to improve euphonics with some kind of input stage. They call this scheme class AD, I guess to differentiate all the other brands that do something similar. However, you’ll never see a review site point this out; they’ll comment briefly on the design and then dutifully call it class AD afterwards as if it isn’t just a class D amp like many others.

Next, the reviewer will invariably lie about the sound. This lying usually takes the form of lying by omission. They’ll gush about how beefy and controlled it is, how neutral it is, how wide and natural the soundstage is, etc. What they WON’T mention is how lifeless, flat, boring and ultimately fatiguing they ALL are. The buyer who doesn’t know any better has to find that out for themselves while he slowly grows to distrust anything a reviewer has to say about anything. So, the only way to actually get value out of a review is to see if a certain amp has the positive attributes you are looking for while trying to painstakingly research any problems it might have because the reviewer won’t mention them.

In addition to the lies of omission, there’s the usual con of giving certain gear to certain reviewers who will appreciate / like the piece. That Stellar will NEVER be put up against a Dan D’agostino or a Pass for example. This could be valuable to the buyer to see how a lesser amp stacks up against a high end one, but it’s not, apparently, useful to the reviewers. Why? Why is telling the whole truth about amps -- all gear really -- taboo?
It’s not a matter of whether I agree with a review or not. The problem is that the reviews aren’t honest. For example, go to any hi-fi review site. You can always tell if a piece of gear is good at imaging or not if the reviewer mentions it. If the reviewer praises imaging it’s probably good at imaging but if he doesn’t mention imaging at all it’s probably bad at it. This is lying by omission and a tactic which seems heavily deployed against low-budget audiophiles.

Furthermore, I constantly see this phenomena of budget audiophiles becoming emotionally attached to budget gear, as if they found an amazing value club allowing them hang out with the big-dollar crowd. In reality they’ve just been marketed to successfully by cost-cutting manufacturers. This marketing scam is facilitated by the review sites which do nothing but feed into peoples’ confirmation bias. The reviewers should be telling these buyers what they are actually getting into honestly. No, there isn’t a free lunch club. There are some legitimate better-than-standard value manufacturers out there but they get swamped by the cost-cut marketing scheme, and these reviewers are complicit in this.

For example, take PS Audio. They make great gear. But they also market class D junk to budget-minded audiophiles. You will search in vain for any review which points out the drawbacks of class D, and often you’ll see lying about how PS Audio defeated those problems if mentioned at all.
The problem is that the reviews aren’t honest.
I don’t know where you get your info or whatever super-duper lie detector you think you possess, but as a former reviewer I can tell you from many years of experience this is hogwash you’ve invented in your own mind to support your notion of some conspiracy theory that doesn’t exist — or at least not nearly to the extent you imply.

If the reviewer praises imaging it’s probably good at imaging but if he doesn’t mention imaging at all it’s probably bad at it. This is lying by omission and a tactic which seems heavily deployed against low-budget audiophiles.
This is also just a load of self-imagined, delusional crap. Reputable reviewers are not gonna potentially trash their reputation to misrepresent what they hear. If I happened to not mention something in a review it was because it was fine and not noteworthy relative to other characteristics that stood out more. Most every review I read has some mention of caveats or limitations where lesser or negative qualities are discussed. They might be lightly worded so as to not completely trash a product someone has usually worked very hard to produce, and this is done because reputable and responsible reviewers realize they’re not always right or infallible and that severe criticism could potentially damage or even drive a good company out of business. So yeah, you sometimes have to read between the lines a bit, but there’s a good reason behind that.

Sorry to pontificate a bit here, but sometimes uninformed and ignorant conspiracy garbage needs to be called out for what it is so it hopefully doesn’t unnecessarily poison even more minds out there. Peace out.

So now you have a BRAND?????!?!?!!

Oh, yes.  I attract all the rift-raft [sp.] who reply to my every post.