How could Stereophile's equipment reviews be improved? The listed choices are for your convenience; use the "Comments" box to make other suggestions.

How could <I>Stereophile</I>'s equipment reviews be improved? The listed choices are for your convenience; use the "Comments" box to make other suggestions.
More budget gear
13% (30 votes)
More mid-priced gear
20% (47 votes)
More exotic gear
4% (9 votes)
More photos of gear
4% (10 votes)
More bench tests
1% (2 votes)
More side-by-side comparisons
13% (30 votes)
More three-way (or more) comparisons
27% (62 votes)
More electronic and acoustic theory
3% (8 votes)
More consideration of compatibility with associated gear
9% (22 votes)
More emphasis on reliability
2% (5 votes)
More emphasis on upgradability
1% (3 votes)
Mention manufacturer's track record with similar products
2% (4 votes)
Total votes: 232

A continuation of last week's question. Equipment reviews are <I>Stereophile</I>'s bread and butter. Do they strike a good balance between technical details and subjective impressions? Are the measurements, charts, and graphs useful to you?

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COMMENTS
chef derf @aol.'s picture

More speakers;and fewer tweeks that do very little or nothing at all in the average listening envronment.

Garland J.'s picture

As a consumer, I think more reviews of the "mid-priced" gear would help your readers a bit more. Products in the $1000 to $2500 dollar range seem to appeal to many more "real-world" audiophiles. For those who are just starting out in the high-end, reviews on such gear could actually help to strengthen the consumer base of the high end. By providing beginning audiophiles with information on more accessible products, Stereophile would only improve its position as an industry leader. Although reviews of the big ticket items are the highlight of your magazine, "real-world" reviews are needed from time to time so that audiophiles on a tighter budget can have a reference that they identify with and use when making a purchase.

Peter Li's picture

Side by side comparisons may be cruel to the loser but it is definitely much more helpful to us readers who are not professional reviewers. However, it very important to set down the various criteria on which the equipments are compared and rate each one within that context and in arriving at an overall rating. This is very similar to car comparisons in auto magazines. Nowadays, it is difficult to buy a "bad" car but there are still characteristics of a particular vehicle which would appeal to different consumers.

Samo Jecnik, Slovenia's picture

More of everything you mentioned above!

Anonymous's picture

Go back to how you used to reivew componenets. You used to talk more about the product sounded. Reviewers also used to talk about their preferences more.

Ken's picture

I enjoy your reviews, but I often wonder how a piece that gets a rave review holds up over time. How does the builder deal with problems that arise? Is the product upgradeable? I remember the Mazzaratti bi -turbo. It looked great, ran fast, and quickly fell apart. Some audio gear fits in this category. It may look great, it may sound wonderful, but if it does not hold its tune or falls apart, it is not high-end to me.

Wayne Thibodeaux's picture

I would prefer less subjective/flowery language describing the sound of the components, and the use of standard terms. Perhaps a rating system similar to what is used in automotive magazines could be employed. Instead of categories like handling, acceleration etc. you could use dynamics, soundstage, imaging, etc. I would really like to see close-up photographs of the insides of the equipment. I'm more concerned with whatever the signal passes through then any outer veneer.

R.H.PEDERSEN's picture

Need to compare comparable units against established reference models with quality (available) source material.

yongfei's picture

Occassionally, a few products that really sucked!

Mark Mason's picture

After subscribing to Stereophile for the past four years, and sampling most other high end journals, I still receive a better overall impression of the performance of a component from the reviews in Stereophile, with Positive Feedback a close second. You do a good job of maintaining a balance between all the different aspects of a componet, particulairly its musical presintation. If I had to mention one improvement, It would be to include more comparisons. Wes Phillips and Sam Tellig have included several comarison information in many of their reviews this year, which I find as one of the most helpful parts of developing a perspective on a componet. Keep up the good work

John Crossett, JC3RD@AOL.COM's picture

Your choices above were all very good, and I for one wouldn't mind seeing some of them implemented. However, the one thing that I would like to see more of in your reviews is exactly what music your writers are using to test the equipment in question. I always read J-10's reviews because he always mentions a jazz record I don't have, and as soon as I find a copy I see why he liked it. I also see why he used it in his review. I find that a lot of reviews lately don't always do this. By not including this information, your writers make it very hard to test the piece under review for ourselves in our systems and use that information to better tell if a given writer's tastes are similiar to our own. Keep up the good work, and improve as best you can. I'll be reading.

Charles Purvis Kelly, Jr.'s picture

To answer your two questions: (1). Not Always. (2). No (Improvement is needed in this area). And I would appreciate more reviews of budget and mid-priced gear. I cannot in good faith keep reading about $60,000.00 Speakers, and $35,000.00 amplifiers month in and month out. After all, I do work for a living. My name is Charles Kelly, not Bill Gates. Charles Purvis Kelly, Jr. chaskelljr1_@hotmail.com

Gary W.'s picture

Give comparisons to other gear. Most reviews sound very positive, so it's difficult for readers to tell which items y'all really prefer. Sometimes the only way to know is to check the "Recommended Components" list, but that doesn't always help either. Additionally, it would be nice if you listed more of the shortcomings of each piece of gear. The more info the consumer has going into an audition, the better prepared he/she will be to make a wise decision!

Jean Paul Gaspard's picture

Next week vote: What would you like to see less in Stereophile?

gulliver@pacinfo.com's picture

I really wanted to check TWO boxes: more mid-priced gear and more consideration of compatibility. I feel that mid-priced gear (say $1-2K per component, up to $5K on speakers) constitutes the bulk of what your readers are buying. I also feel that gear in this range is most susceptible to difficulty from poor system matching. The best of the ultra-expensive equipment (in theory) should be very neutral and, therefore, should mate well (again, in theory) with any equipment of similar quality (I believe the exception to this rule do not prove it wrong, but rather prove that some very expensive pieces are flawed!). The most affordable equipment often lacks the detail necessary to bring out the flaws of associated equipment. That mid-price band, though, tends to be trouble. There is enough detail to show many flaws, and few pieces are neutral enough to have no compatibility issues. So please, bring us more reviews of mid-priced gear (ranging from the best of companies like Rotel and Adcom to the lowest cost, entry-level, stuff from companies like Krell). And, give a LOT more information on compatibility and system matching these pieces. Thanks,

John P Hoyt's picture

the font on the current bench test is so small I no longer even try to read it!

Martin Bruczkowski's picture

No amp is an island . . . every component will end up as a part of an audio chain, and its sound quality must be evaluated in terms of how it interacts with other components. The reviewers should test the equipment with a WIDE variety of other popular gear on the market.

Klaus Armbruster's picture

I'd really like to choose more than one: More side-by-side comparisons, more three-way comparisons, more photos. Please, don't test more budget gear, there're plenty of magazines out there for that. Your criterion should be the musical quality of equipment, not price.

Concerned Audiophile's picture

Let Stereo Review cover the over rated integrated garbage,that seems to be flooding the market.

Craig Stenstrom's picture

More budget gear and more emphasis on compatibility. Complete systems. Which components work well together. Don't review budget speakers with expensive associated equipment. Revive the Audio Cheapskate column.

Dana R.  Bingham's picture

There is a large used-equipment market in which many of us enjoy shopping. If possible, a monthly reivew of some "classic" piece of gear compared to a similar piece currently available would be informative and entertaining. For instance, how does a Marantz 8b stack up against a Golden Tube SE40? Or how about a pair of McIntosh MC30s or Dynaco Mk.IVs against Cary monoblocks? I know I've revealed my bias (pun intended) by my examples, but these reviews could be limited only by the equipment's availability. You could even have an early-megabuck digital processor go head-to-head with one of today's "recommended" budget models. An early-model Theta (Pro Prime, Pro Basic, etc.) can be bought for about the same dollars as a new Theta Chroma. Which sounds better? I'm sure you get the idea. I'd bet there are plenty of your readers who would, like me, thoroughly enjoy such a column. Please give this some thought.

Frank Steele's picture

Mid to me is $500 -$1500

MFB's picture

Not just more side-by-side comparisons, but more reviewer-by-reviewer comparisons. It would be helpful to hear from at least two different writers of different tastes reviewing the same piece of equipment.

john's picture

Any component is part of a chain finaly rezulting in what we hear and perceive as MUSIC. The interrelation between gear can make a great difference between a mediocre and a great sounding system regardless of cost. I believe that more emphasis in describing associated gear will significantly improve readers ability to make a decision in purchasing a certain piece of gear.

Adi Lungu's picture

Try to find the right components for different budgets ($1000, $2000, $3000, etc.) and for different type of music (rock, classical, etc.).

Brian Kheel's picture

Comparison with higher priced (when new) gear now selling at similar price on used market.

Dave Carpe's picture

Considerations of compatibility are really important. I have had several friends and acquaintances come to me after buying equipment based on their ratings in Stereophile and egged on by the dealer they used. In the dealers showroom they just don't spend enough time with it and the result at home was less than the sum of the parts. I have spent time with these people and helped them improve the sound of their systems by choosing components with more of eye to compatibility and helped them increase their musical enjoyment tremendously. An example was a friend who bought Thiel 3.6 speakers, a Classe amplifier, Mark Levenson CD player and preamp, all wired with Audio Truth interconnect. All fine equipment but also all leaning more into the yin side of sound and the result in his room was too much of a good thing. He has since changed his preamp and amplifier to a Melos MA-333 Reference and MAT-1000 Monoblocks and is very happy with his system...it is just a better match between the equipment his room and his tastes. Granted, he should not be relying so much on the recommended components but neophytes tend to be in a hurry to get the best they can afford and not do the necessary homework. Also, too few dealers spend the time anymore helping a person choose a muscially satisfying system. Stereophile can help by pointing out in the reviews and recommended component listing is a product works better with certain types of equipment or if it has tendency to favor some aspect of sound over another. This strikes me as an excellent topic for a discussion panel, perhaps at a future Stereophile Show.

Ken Smith's picture

too bad you don't allow more picks because I would select 1) more bugit gear and also more photos.

Miles Ferguson's picture

This may be difficult, but I would love to hear about how the sound is similar or different within a manufacturer's line. Often the most expensive model is reviewed, but I can afford only the 50W, not the 250W model. What, if anything, has trickled down?

kcso's picture

Actually, I would probably enjoy reviews of a companies top offerings with follow-ups on their lesser offerings with information on differences. For example, there was a review on the Classe CAP100 but how does the CAP-80 compare to it?

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