Honest Reviewers ?

Ever wonder why 99% of all reviwers seem to use the same expressions. No ? Well, I sure have been thinking about this. It's not that I have nothing better to do, but I keep asking why do they say the same things like .... " It sounds like a veil has been lifted" or "it sounds like the glass has been wiped clean" and the current favorite is "it just gets out of the way and let the music play ". Stereophile and the Absolute Sound seem to compete for the most stupid cliches. It appears that CABLE reviews will make reviewers go wild with verbal intoxication. Just sit and think about this crazy idea I am about to suggest. A group of 2 or 3 honest people with high expertise in the audio arena deciding to call the shots as they see them ! They would compare equipment or cables against each other and list their relative strengths, they would even offer opinions on any possible synergy between equipment and cables, if such a thing exists. They would have no fear. What a Concept !
It's possible that the same phrases recur in reviews because they come as close to expressing what the reviewer has experienced as any words might. "Lifting veils" and "letting the music play" convey a perception clearly, in my opinion...and have been applied by reviewers to other components than cable. With respect to synergy, reviewers in the magazines you mention typically indicate the component complement with which they've auditioned cables (and, again, other components)...and frequently compare the cable under review with other cables used in the same system. What's problematical here is that (all too) frequently the equipment with which the review component is associated is in the megabuck stratosphere that I know I sure as heck can't traverse. The proof of the pudding, of course, is in the listening...which is why your best option might be to take up the offer of some vendors to audition the cable in your home for up to 30 days before making a decision on whether to buy. Reviewers can take you only so far, after all...perhaps only as far as piqueing your interest. _You_ have to do the "dirty work" of evaluating whether the product suits you.
It just has to do with what becomes an accepted mode of discourse in the industry/hobby. That's always the test of the creativity of a reviewer: If he can come up with a new descriptive phrase, that might "catch on" and become understood by the rest of them, and their readers. We've all been resentful of the perks reviewers get on a daily basis at one time or another, but we get over it after our systems get to a certain level of satisfaction, IMHO. Of course they can never be perfectly objective, and sometimes they're f^%&!#@ liars, but as a whole they do more good than bad for our hobby.
This idea can be drawn out further. Is it possible that magazine advertising influences what the reviewer says? I can't recall ever seeing a review where the reviewer said: "don't buy this product if you want a good home theater" etc. If that is the case then how can one trust any review that comes from a consumer magazine? Although I have a subscription with SGHT I usually cross-check all their reviews with places like: http://www.audioasylum.com/ and http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/main.html
Gentlemen, As I stated 4/15/00 in what I had written in Opera System for $30,000, Where I had sited catch phrases, and Reviewers dishonesty, and or stupidity.. I restate that there will be a Web Site coming out to address these issues. I have personal knowledge of reviewers demanding equipment for positive reviews.. from importers and manufacturers.. Of course an audio magazines would never risk offending a sponsor with a negitive review!! They are a business their chief concern is the bottom line.. Their profit. Do you think peterson publishing cares if you're happy with your Hi-Fi? They are in it for the buck.. They are not good samaritans! They do not love this hobby and want to share the joy it can bring with others.. Be serious Of all the magazines.. FI at least tried to impose ethics in it's reviewers by issuing a go through the magazine policy, when reviewers wanted to make a purchase.. They were not to deal with the manufacturers directly, and If they did the policy was termination. They tried to do the right thing.. Perhaps that's why they were short lived. But of coarse it's hard to control what goes on behind closed doors, besides most of the reviewers had worked for the other mags and were trained it the art of extortion.. No my friends, no magazine would risk losing revenue with negative reviews. If a reviewer were to write an extremly negative review they would have to consider that A) they would make an enemy, and risk getting a componant they might like from the manufacturer at a later date B) Be Black listed By that manufacturer from reviewing future items. C) Scare off other manufacturers from letting them review their equipment. Even it they did put the review in, it would be sensored by the Editor in chief.. What would the ad salesmen say to the company in question? "Gee mr so and so I know we said how awfull your $15,000 amp was last month.. But how much would you like to spend in advertising with us next issue? a 2 page spread maybe? Most of the high end companys are small and owned by the equipments designer.. They view bad reviews as personal attacks!! We don't like it when someone critizes our choices in equipment. Can you imagine how you would feel if someone said the equipment you designed was lousy! The Web site I've been speaking of will be comprised of dedicated Audiophiles who love this hobby and have worked hard to push the envelope in what we can achieve in sound, and have amassed years of experience and knowlegde. They will be tight knit and will confer with each other if forming opinions about equipment. They along with selected reviewers and audio professionals, sole purpose will be to help audiophiles with their passion.. I'm told there will even be a resident electronics genuis on hand to answer questions and offer solutions for Do it yourselfer's. It will be no holds barred and No B.S. I can't wait.. Snoop
I have read many reviews from stereophile and absolute sound. All I can say is this. Do not buy based on what they say. After reading thier reviews (I won't mention the reviewer's name here) I was disgusted in thier review of cables, amps and many other front ends. I know this because I personally have owned most of these ultra expensive high ends and have found the hard way that synergies do matter and that most of the reviews (based on their associated equipments) are complete waste of readers time. A person who is looking to purchase a $20,000 amp is most likely not going to use with $100 cables, or some low front end that costs $1000. These reviewers at Stereophile should get real. Where do they get these goofs anyway. Their reviews are off and by a big margin in most cases. Hopefully you can befriend someone who has personally owned the equipments you are looking to buy and ask for honest opinion. Because these reviews are half nit-wits. There are however few good one's as well in both magazines, but even they do not have the courage to say, this product is not worth the cost, or even state honestly on the product performance. It is interesting that there are reviewers out there who are writers, with bad hearing, and lack of experience in high end. Having been n the audio industry since 1983 and seeing the evolution of high end, it is comical to see some of these jokers writing reviews. They should be transcribers and reviewers.
Well, as a musician once said, "writing about music is like dancing about architechture." There comes a point where searching the lexicon yields diminishing returns and futility, especially when trying to describe the elusive properties of sound and music. But I would agree there is a suspicious plethora of glowing reviews. I'm new to the audiophile world, but as a professional pianist and studio musician, one exception I've found are the reviews found at Mix Magazine's Field Test Archive, http://www.mixonline.com/resources/ftesttoc.cfm. While the reviews are on professional recording equipment (and you guys should consider Genelec 1029A's, Westlake Audio or Meyer Sound Labs for loudspeaker alternatives), most are objectively reported in real-world applications, and many are accompanied by lab bench tests to support the conclusions. Another exception is Keyboard Magazine, which is far more objective and willing to call an overpriced heap what it is. Wish I could have found the same objective comments online or in mags, but ended up talking to Albert Von Schweikert on the phone before purchasing a used set of VM-2's, and am quite happy with them.
GENTLEMAN,let your ears be the judge,we are in a hobby where money and profit levels dictate the sonic quality of a product.just read the first few pages of the hi-end audio magazines,it's mainly discouraged audiophiles who's had it with HI-END.NOW some companies are thinking of offering warranties on second hand equipment,does that come with a 136 point inspection?PERHAPS of YOUR WALLET.
A wide range of opinion is expressed in the previous responses, however, the question of honesty is never really addressed. The question of the relationship on advertising dollars on editorial content is addressed. The question of whether reviews are being sold for money or equipment is never quite covered. Possibly Carl_Eber comment in a different thread is applicable, let your ears make their own judgements. Trust your ears, reviewers are only a crude guide at best. Some are better than others, some have no context at all, however, better yet, if you are going to spend megabucks on equipment, develop your own context to evaluate equipment and then use reviewers whose observations are verified by your experience as a starting point in your search for the ultimate.
Thanks for the positive comment, "underdressed". Lately, I've been spending too much time talking to women in forums, and wouldn't you know it, I wind up arguing with them too!
It's easy to become cynical about the review/reviewer of the latest and greatest Belchfire 900 (amp, preamp, CD player, speaker, cartridge, wire, etc.) that stages well, focuses tightly, images palpably and holographically, renders instruments timbrally correct, etc. While many of the words and phrases we're all familiar with are not usually applied to a live musical event ("You notice, Ed, the air around the bass player")--except for distortion, they appear to be one of the few common means available to describe the audiophile listening experience. Overused, obligatory, contrived and sometimes so much BS? Probably. Necessary? Definitely, in some universal form. Arcane jargon isn't confined to audiophilia. Consider the patois of wine reviewers: bouquet, supple, round in the mouth, structure, etc. It's up to us to sort through the review and based on experience, cull the crap and consider--hopefully with knowledge of the reviewer's biases, our expectations of the product, and the maker's track record--the content of the piece. A review should be only a guideline; you have to hear it, experience it yourself, as noted so many times in audiophile discussions. As to honesty, do we believe all reviewers and publications are on the take? Some, perhaps, in various ways, such as: the "rave" review for everything--"the best I have heard (since the last best I heard), "I bought the review sample," "You must have _______,"--whether merited or not, for all the reasons stated in other's opinions above. Would we rather have no reviews and no publications? Doubtful. But the idea of an on-line panel of owner-reviewers and experts drawn from various areas of audio certainly is interesting. Expectation? More insightful and balanced comparative analyses of all things associated with audio to make the purchasing process less of a crap shoot for many. A great number of us don't have a friendly dealer who's willing to lend an expensive piece of gear for home audition. Many times, the dealer who will loan equipment doesn't have the piece in question. Solid, no-holds-barred, comparative reviews on the net as noted by Snoopdog would add another element to help all of us make reasoned decisions.