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blackfly
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MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

As a faithful 14B SST owner I could not of been more upset with MF for his unflattering review of the 7B SST2 in the January 2010 issue. He tried to be flattering but in the end it only ended up being insulting.

MF: has it occured to you in your analog world that most likely the LP you are listening to was mastered and/or recorded on a Bryston amp? Did the "colourations" you alude to pop up from the recording at any other time? I didn't think so. It seems that neutrality and "honesty to the signal" are not what the high end is about; rather, it is making sure your sound correlates to the sound of the reviewer. Strange that the reviews of other Bryston products from Stereophile and other high renown publications all have given Bryston glowing reviews. For their amps, preamps, CD player and DAC. I wonder if MF thought sticking out would be noticed.

This of course does not include the fact Bryston has the INDUSTRY LEADING 20 year warranty. My 14B will for sure be handed down. I wonder if in that time the companies MF uses will actually be around in that time. History is not so kind. Many have come and gone...

I am not so sure but from my point of view the pair of 7B SST2's that MF so slammed are in fact probably a pair of amps most real world users would die for, and here MF treats them like a poor release, even suggesting the power transformer (made by Plitron, no slouch in power devices) was substandard. But perhaps it is MF who is substandard in his review. Anyone feeling the need for high end power boxes and power cord ends in their system (Oiyeda) must gleen some inner detail the rest of us miss.

But I rest easy knowing that in the next 19 years my amp is with me through thick and thin and should anything arise Bryston will help me out. Not only did I work for the money for my amp but it was an actual purchase, not extended loan or "long term review". I can be forward in my review because I earned it. If MF actually had to earn the 7B SST2 I wonder if his point of view would of been more kind, or at least, more real world.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

You really should relax... Have a warm glass of milk or maybe some whiskey...

Reviewers all have different sonic preferences... just like us consumer audiophiles... So MF not liking the Bryston should in no way impact on you liking yours... Clearly he likes a more 'exciting' sound, which is definitely not a word I usually see associated with Bryston...

linden518
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

blackfly, you're essentially telling MF to lie. One of the refreshing things about his review was that he was uncompromising and faithful to what he heard. No reviewer's opinion is gospel, so no need to take so much offense in it. Just about the only thing one could ask of a reviewer is to report honestly, and I think MF lived up to his billing. And how is sounding out his reservations about the power transformer a failure on MF's part? If you actually read the review, you'd have noticed that Bryston THEMSELVES actually agreed and in fact swapped out the transformer, and agreed that the change was for the better!!! So by the extension of your logic, are you also going to claim that Bryston indeed produced substandard gear? Didn't the "substandard" reviewer Michael Fremer hear correctly then, in pointing out substandard transformer, the point of which the Bryston also conceded by sending MF version 2 with different transformers?? I think your love for your equipment let you cloud your judgment here.

I think far too often, the people who are owners of a certain gear become so enamored of their gear that they lose objectivity; if you think about it, isn't it a weird concept to tell someone - a reviewer, or even a friend who hears otherwise - that the person is simply wrong because he doesn't hear the same thing in the same piece of equipment as you do? This is not a slight on you, because a lot of audiophiles do it, especially distributors and dealers... I think that's crazy and fundamentalist, and ultimately laughable, to impose one's preferences and criteria on someone else.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

I agree SD- you can get way too personally attached to your gear choices and really get down when a review isn't stellar. After all, if you are going to take reviews to heart, then at least go for consensus, and even then, there are going to be times when what the rest of the pros think isn't going work for your tastes.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:
blackfly, you're essentially telling MF to lie. One of the refreshing things about his review was that he was uncompromising and faithful to what he heard. No reviewer's opinion is gospel, so no need to take so much offense in it. Just about the only thing one could ask of a reviewer is to report honestly, and I think MF lived up to his billing.

Post of the Day, Selfdivider.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

blackfly
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:
You really should relax... Have a warm glass of milk or maybe some whiskey...

Reviewers all have different sonic preferences... just like us consumer audiophiles... So MF not liking the Bryston should in no way impact on you liking yours... Clearly he likes a more 'exciting' sound, which is definitely not a word I usually see associated with Bryston...

I take from MF that he likes his gear "voiced" because clearly he does not like neutral, which Bryston makes no defense of. So as long as the company in review has "voiced" its gear to the reviewers liking, the gear will be favourably reviewed. Probably why I do not take restaurant critics to seriously. And the high end wonders why it has such a disconnect with the real world.

And I am relaxed. A good workout with a good red wine afterward is the best way to relax to my system. Not sure how the milk suggestion fits in, however.

But to view MF's gear setup and then expect me to take him seriously in his review of the 7B SST2, or to take it with any merit, only shows me that any "true neutral" gear should not, in the future, ask for a review from him.

And if the music was not to his taste, why does MF, and most every other high end user, never use an equaliser to "fix" the voicing. If the midrange is too forward, receed it a bit. Highs too subdued, bring them out. Amazing concept, I know, but the high end world baffles me in that it expects the gear to be equalized to the users' tastes but then expect perfection without equalizing regardless. You would be suprised what a good EQ can do (and cannot) if used right.

Taste is taste but to be dismissive on gear that is better made than most with a warranty that backs it up is showing not only hubris but ignorance. But that, I am told, is bliss.

blackfly
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:

Quote:
blackfly, you're essentially telling MF to lie. One of the refreshing things about his review was that he was uncompromising and faithful to what he heard. No reviewer's opinion is gospel, so no need to take so much offense in it. Just about the only thing one could ask of a reviewer is to report honestly, and I think MF lived up to his billing.

Post of the Day, Selfdivider.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

I would expect a response like that from you JA considering that it would jeopardize advertising dollars. I read somewhere about a hand and not biting it....

Since when did reviewers, of ANY genre, get any authority on what they review? Did MF go to university and study music, electrical engineering, or any other music related degree? And more interesting is the fact you yourself JA measured the 7B SST2 to be textbook in response, and then expect one to then take such measurements and correlate it to what MF HEARD which is what we all know to be subjective? Rediculous.

Like I said: the high end wonders why it is the subject of such ridicule outside of its own subgroup and yet relies on one's own UNVALIDIDATED subjectivity as food for thought. That is like an unlicenced driver being asked to review a Mercedes and we are supposed to take one at their word because they can afford it. Why? Because MF has a very expensive system? Is eloquent? Well read?

At least Bryston was above such morass and simply thanked MF for his review and noted that their forte, neutrality, was met. And it puts another spin on things as well. The Bryston BCD 1 and BDA 1 are highly reviewed and renown, as the 28B. So is the 7B just a bad apple, or is every other reviewer of Bryston products wrong? What does MF see (or hear, or think he hears) that EVERONE else does not. And since when is the high end not about neutrality?

blackfly
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

selfdivider: if you are so right tell me why no other company in the high end will match Bryston's warranty? Because the know they cannot (or will not) honour it? Know they will not be around as long as the warranty?

I find your retort long but fails to miss the point: a reviewer is able to find a "flaw" with gear that is so strongly stood behind by that the manufacturer will back it for 20 years. Moreover, does it occur to you that the original transformers were working perfectly but to placate MF Bryston "changed" to appease him? No suprise why the high end is so gullible.

True MF might of heard something, maybe even a flaw. But if only he heard it does that mean the gear is bad, enough to make a company go out of its way to change the gear to satisfy him, or that perhaps (dear I say it) MF is full of you-know-what and no one is willing to call him on it, even Bryston, who understand the subtlites of politics and the appearance of "being better than". I see it and not so sure why others do not.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Blackfly,

Your argument assumes that the Bryston amp is neutral. How do you know this?

It seems to me that you like the Bryston amp and are upset that MF did not validate your opinion. Why can't you like the Bryston amp and MF not like it? Why do you need Michael's validation and yet dismiss his expertise and opinion in the same breath?


Quote:
Since when did reviewers, of ANY genre, get any authority on what they review?


Quote:
The Bryston BCD 1 and BDA 1 are highly reviewed and renown

Just so I'm clear; in the same post you renounce all subjective reviewing and also embrace it? I don't understand.

If you don't want to read subjective reviews, then only read JA's measurements. My guess is if JA measurements are unflattering of any equipment you like, you'll be on this forum dismissing his measuring equipment and techniques. If that doesn't work then you'll accuse him of being on the dole from advertisers.

For what it is worth, your own post seems full of the same hubris you accuse MF of.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

I think that over time we all "accept" what our systems sound like and might assume that it is "very accurate" (what ever that really means) and we are satisfied.

Very few have the staggering amount of gear coming through our places like MF and the other writers have, so they can decide if some new piece of gear is better or worse than what they own based on THEIR preferences.

I have no doubt that the Bryston amp would kill my Yamaha M60, but I cannot afford them so I would not put myself through all of that. I would accept that the Bryston amp IS better even though I have not heard the Ayre Mono blocks, Boulder, Moscode, and any of the hundred amps reviewed by Phile and they are probably better or worse...how can you even say any of these amps is not great to begin with.

It also seems like MF has been changing out much of his system lately and can do as he likes and may have some new ideas of what HIS system should sound like. what he is hearing I can only dream about. I am also sure that I would probably think that your system is to die for as well.

They are all steps to what each of us think is sonic nervanna. I also would not take offense at gear MF doesn't own that I might.

I will also tell you that the manufacturer's reply was one of the classiest every written and makes me want to be a Bryston owner all the more. I put their 20 year warranty as one of the best things in audio ever. Someone who stands behind their product gets all my respect.

You own one of the best amps of all time. Enjoy it as I know you do. Forget what anyone else thinks.

jamesgarvin
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:
I would expect a response like that from you JA considering that it would jeopardize advertising dollars. I read somewhere about a hand and not biting it....

Lemme see if I get this straight. JA is apparently concerned with advertising dollars in his post here, and that is a bad thing, but is apparently not concerned about ticking off Bryston and losing their advertising dollars, which I would imagine is not insubstantial, by publishing an apparently negative review of one of their amplifiers? And to risk that by publishing a poor review?

I must admit that this is the first time that I have heard anyone claim JA is too concerned about advertising while discussing a review which could only hurt that advertising. I've now heard it all.

You like Bryston, and think Fremer wrong. Get over it.

linden518
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

blackfly, MF himself applauded the 20 year warranty that Bryston has in standard. It's an exemplary practice that I only wished other manufacturers followed. But it's crazy to assume that some equipment sounds the best because of a great warranty. Hyundai has a lifetime warranty so surely it performs better than a BMW, right?

I've no doubt that your Bryston sounds swell, but you miss the point. The reviewer heard what he heard, and he reported it. There are many many pieces of equipment that measure perfectly, but measurements tell only a part of the story, surely you know this. (Don't you?)

You have a world class amp in your system, and if it pleases you, why let this review impede your enjoyment of it? And every time you try to disparage MF, etc., you come off looking worse for wear, so please stop. If you read the review, Bryston claims the superiority of the new transformers themselves. MF is not making this up. I'm not making this up. What's worse is that if you think Bryston did so to "placate" MF, then it doesn't bode well for Bryston as it implies that the company is so bent on appeasing whims and moods of a mere reviewer. It seems that Bryston is a solid, reputable company with strong principles, so it seems that you are very wrong. So just stop with the presumptions, pls.

I'd also disagree that MF likes to veer from the neutrality, because in my eyes, he adheres to the neutrality side more than other analogue-guys with multiple tubes in every possible stage of amplification, etc. His reference cartridges are Lyra Titan and Ortofon A90, carts known for being well on the revealing/analytical side. The Continuum Caliburn is not known as some bloomy, romantic TT, and neither is that crazy Musical Fidelity solid state beast he uses. If I remember MF's review right, his main complaint seemed to be that he wasn't getting as much musical detail and information out of the Bryston as he was with the Musical Fidelity and the Parasound. That doesn't mean he is seeking some techni-color out of an equipment.

And if you think JA's hankering for advertising dollar, it just goes to show how short-sighted you are because all you have to do is click on the other thread about Totem review, how Totem pulled out all advertising from Stereophile because of a review that was unafraid to voice an honest opinion. As an editor, if JA was so concerned about losing those dollars, he could have found a way to soft-pedal the review. Just get your facts straight before mouthing off, yeah?

Just enjoy the music and stop straining too much. OK? Happy New Year.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:

Quote:
Post of the Day, Selfdivider.

I would expect a response like that from you JA considering that it would jeopardize advertising dollars. I read somewhere about a hand and not biting it...

No sure I get your point, Blackfly. If I were at all cncerned with appeasing advertisers, wouldn't I have frowned on Selfdivider's post? In fact, wouldn't I have spiked MF's review in the first place and not published it rather than upset a major advertiser?


Quote:
Since when did reviewers, of ANY genre, get any authority on what they review?

This question does come up occasionally. Regardless of their technical and musical qualifications (and those do exist, please note), ultimately Stereophile's reviewers get the necessary authority because I have been convinced that they are careful, rigorous listeners who can describe what they hear and that those descriptions of sound quality are transportable, ie, if you were to sit down with Michael Fremer and do the same comparison of the Bryston and Parasound amplifiers in his system, you would hear exactly what he described.

However, when it comes to preference, that has to be a personal matter. I suspect that from what you write that you yourself would prefer the Bryston's presentation over that of the Parasound's, even though you would agree with Michael on the actual description. That's fine, that's why there is both vanilla _and_ chocolate icecream in the world.

We offer guidance, not validation.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Buddha
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

On the plus side, nobody is upset at the claim that the different transormers affected the sound of the amp!

Measurment fun that was missed in 2009: "Break in" of the Esoteric speakers - measuring before and after for a speaker that offered such notable change with break in; and the Bryston amp with each transormer.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Michael Fremer, Music Fidelity, Mo-Fo...are you getting the connection? No wonder...

I think Bryston fans should take a little comfort that their amp fared so well in this review compared to ones that cost, what... 3 times more? The remarks MF made about the Brystons would have seemed a lot more positive if not for the constant comparison to his favorite Titans. The nature of the review seemed more about how much better the Titans were than what great stuff the Brystons were doing, but it's Fremer's review and he can do it as he likes.

commsysman
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Hey, blackfly; I think you missed the point!

Has it occurred to you that the 7 does not necessarily SOUND the same as your 14?? It IS NOT exactly the same amp sonically!!!! The earlier review of the 14B-SST makes that quite clear. To assume that a negative review of one Bryston amp applies to them all is a BIG mistake; they DO sound different, if one takes the trouble to listen critically.

I personally think that the 3B-SST is the best-sounding Bryston amplifier of them all!! I love it.

I think that the 3B-SST is the best by far, and the 4B is not too terribly far behind. The 7B is not quite as good, in my opinion, and the review seems to agree with that opinion. It is too bad he did not choose to review the 3B, because it is the audiophile gem of the Bryston line, in my opinion.

I think that Bryston has engineered the Model 7 primarily to give a lot of power for the money, and not primarily as an audiophile-quality amplifier. I think that this was the wrong amplifier for Stereophile to review, because it is intended more for the pro-audio market. I wish they would review the 3B-SST; I think they would be very impressed.

Let's not assume that all Bryston amps sound exactly the same; THEY DO NOT!!!!

KBK
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

The best sounding was always the 2b, hands down.

Since they are (or were) scaled versions of the same circuit, the 2b makes a very strong and clear statement about how multiple paralleled transistors (or tubes, for that matter) tend to destroy micro detail and the resultant micro transient temporal smear is heard as 'accentuated detail' or increased 'micro detail', when in fact, it is distortion, or noise.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:
This question does come up occasionally. Regardless of their technical and musical qualifications (and those do exist, please note), ultimately Stereophile's reviewers get the necessary authority because I have been convinced that they are careful, rigorous listeners who can describe what they hear and that those descriptions of sound quality are transportable, ie, if you were to sit down with Michael Fremer and do the same comparison of the Bryston and Parasound amplifiers in his system, you would hear exactly what he described.

However, when it comes to preference, that has to be a personal matter. I suspect that from what you write that you yourself would prefer the Bryston's presentation over that of the Parasound's, even though you would agree with Michael on the actual description. That's fine, that's why there is both vanilla _and_ chocolate icecream in the world.

We offer guidance, not validation.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

In fact, we likely will never know whether the Bryston and Parasound amps sound any different in MF's system without a controlled blind test, unless something untoward shows up in the measurements.

You may consider your reviewers' abilities to hear the differences they claim to hear and to describe them, but I have no such confidence in them, or for that matter, in anyone else, it's nothing personal, not with accurate amps like Brystons and Parasounds. I have no reason to share your confidence in them.

Even on subjective reviewing grounds, one would expect a decent reviewer to use the amp with several speakers.

KBK
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Stop the presses!

I may have found the disconnect. Yah never know.

In the Bryston days of yore, there was a warm up procedure that very nearly equates to CRT projector warm up, which involves CRT projector alignment procedures and implementation of those procedures.

When aligning a projector for a customer, you have to ask the owners of their viewing habits and how nitpicky they are. If they turn it on and watch right away and watch at only one resolution, then the projector is set up that way in stable room (Temp and humidity), and done in the first 30 minutes to the first hour and tweaked to perfection as quickly as possible....

This is because the viewing/image of the projector from a cold turn on up into full temperature and electronic stability WILL follow that set up pattern and timing exactly.

The joke at the CBC studios which were and still are (IIRC) using Bryston amplifiers was that if a serious recording session was going to be done on Monday..the amplifiers were turned on,as was the entire system..on the FRIDAY before, a full three days before.

This is because the amplifiers sounded their best that three days later.

I've heard this effect MANY times myself with every Bryston I've ever owned or used.. It can be sped up to some degree, but not by much - by a bit of hard running.

You can take a stack of warmed up Brystons in a studio and shut them down for 'just a minute'..and they will take a full hour to sound their best again. This is not to say they sound bad at all, but their PEAK perfection follows a pattern that is identical (even in the time frame aspect) to their burn in and final tweak/calibration that is done at the factory.

I do not know if this is the case with the latest designs, but that is the way it used to be. I do not believe that the initial calibration..then warm up, break in and final calibration procedure has been changed. This final calibration is done after approximately 3 days of continual running. I was just visiting the guys a few months back at the Bryston factory...and one of the Bros (Brian? Hi dude!) gave us the 2 dollar tour as we were all running late that day. I think he said the burn in procedure has NOT changed one iota. It ain't broke, don't fix it.

This means that the Bryston, designed initially for a pro environment of constant running should NOT be turned off at all. For the sonics that Mikey speaks about sounds exactly like what a non-warmed up Bryston sounds like. What it would sound like is a properly working amplifier..then literally...3 days later, of continual uninterrupted running...it becomes a notably better amplifier in the exact sonic areas of contention.

When that Bryston finally warms up all the way..it literally happens in ONE hour. You can freaking HEAR it happening. It is darned weird but it does make sense when you think about it. This may sound like an odd way to do things, this method of calibration, for professional environments, it is exactly the right thing to do. For example an amplifier (any given amplifier) that has it's final crossover notching and tweaking done at the 1/2 hour to 1 hour mark in the production line, I'd say that it is far from sounding it's best. It could do better, if left to fully break in, warm up etc, before final calibration. Amplifiers do the same thing as the video projectors on their warm up, though. If the final calibration is done too soon on the given video projector, meaning too close in time to the initial calibration and warm up..then long term viewing can cause the projector's physical drift and warming to pass through that perfect alignment...and then look WORSE, not better.

The same issues apply to amplifier calibration/tuning. You have to control and calculate the timing and execution of the projector calibration for the given viewing environment's demands and usage. Different/various resolutions can and will cause different thermal and electronic drift patterns to emerge.

So the final calibration of the Bryston is handled the way it is: When the components are fully stable. Exactly as in the pattern of use in a stable professional environment.

So if you have a Bryston and you always turn it off.....Dudes: You have ~NO IDEA~ how good they actually sound. Why do you think that Bryston always stated that you should just leave them on? essentially, if you Don't shut the Bryston off, even into the second day..you are still only hearing the initial set-up and burn-in calibration, you are not hearing the final tweak....yet! What I mean, is that on even the second day, it is slowly drifting toward that final calibration..but then it happens...all of a sudden....boom! Wow. There it is.

In essence, this leaves a question: Where the given review amplifiers left on all the time? As well, Mikey, your space is in the basement of the house, IIRC. What is the temperature down there on the floor? A cold floor will extend that warming period.

Orb
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

TBH I do not see any disconnect, I appreciate some will see this as a tenious link but consider also MF review of the Chord Electronics SPM650.
Both Bryston and Chord Electronics are used in many recording studios (and quite often both can be found in the same studio, especially it seems in mastering rooms).

After owning KW550 and Chord Electronics, and listening to Bryston at my favourite dealer (who also sells MF Titan) I do feel there are differences between how the Bryston and Chord present music compared to MF.

Bearing in mind reviews are subjective, we may not agree with everything in a review but we should appreciate it must include the writers subjective preference and where the product sits in comparison.
And in this MF cannot be criticised IMO, even though I feel the review of the Chord probably damaged them more than anything said about the Bryston.
Some or even many may not like the musical presentation of the Bryston or especially the Chord amps while others do; hence why follow-ups (linked to original review on website) are pretty critical to get a broad base of different reviewer comments, whether good or bad but in the real world of subjective musical enjoyment never all the same.

Cheers
Orb

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Having listened to many reviewed components over the years, I can't think of a single instance where I thought the review didn't describe the same things I was hearing in the component. This isn't to say that I agreed with the reviewer on a component's merit or to what degree the component's character was relatively minor or major here and there. In fact, I've loved components that were not well regarded and hated components that were widely praised. But, and this is the important part, I can't recall disagreeing with what was described.

Over a period of time, readers can generally get a feel for each reviewer on what they consider objectionable and what they deem laudible in the components they review. You can also get a good feel for their personal tastes in music and recordings. Toss in the "associated equipment" that reviewers keep for long periods of time in their own systems and each reviewer becomes a little less ambiguous.

Perhaps in some future issue, JA could persuade the regulars to do a little writing on themselves and their own biases and personal preferences with regard to this topic.

Orb
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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Apart from at some point (as an example) you may find a component fatiguing while someone else does not and same with what one finds over exciting or not, hence why I may disagree with MF now and again (rarely and only in certain aspects I must say) especially with his review with the Chord Electronics; for myself and quite a few others they arent fatiguing or over exciting amps.

These are acceptable differences and why one should always appreciate a review is subjective to an individual, and why one should never be upset with what they perceive or think to be a bad review.

Please appreciate I am not criticising MF in this or previous post, some just need to be realistic that preferences for each of us can be pretty different.

Anyway my previous point was to show a link albeit tenious between Bryston and Chord Electronics that MF may not enjoy and that his writing is consistent, which is all fine to me.

Cheers
Orb

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:

Regardless of their technical and musical qualifications (and those do exist, please note), ultimately Stereophile's reviewers get the necessary authority because I have been convinced that they are careful, rigorous listeners who can describe what they hear and that those descriptions of sound quality are transportable, ie, if you were to sit down with Michael Fremer and do the same comparison of the Bryston and Parasound amplifiers in his system, you would hear exactly what he described.

I think what is the important bottom line to this review is that MF did follow correct Stereophile tradition, and used correct scientfic method process to determine what he heard.

What is a more interesting juxtaposition on this subject is the two Eric Lichte reviews of the Rogue M-180 and the Totem Forest. Here I believe there was a disconnect, and I have sent a letter to the Editor to broaden a few issues in regards to the subjective review process.

In one full review of the Rogue he used correct comparisons and a sound method process that was described accurately differences he heard. In the Forest, he did not use the same components for review or to the same extent of comparisons in amplification (though more amps were on hand it seems for the M-180 review) which given its SE/Solid State nature, has low power and has issues driving speakers of low sensitivity in various situations.

This amplification control process (comparing amps as the control for the speaker or vice-versa) was mentioned in the M-180 review, not the Forest review. The Totem Forest suffered from bass issues, hence the struggling with sand loading, etc., and this could be a similar culprit, as the Pass Aleph 3 was the amp under control for the review of the Forest. This connection is also somewhat similar in nature to the other Pass amp under comparison in the M-180 review.

My impression that due deadlines or a lack of a bit more effort to compare and contrast in the full review vs. the follow-up review really shows the disconnect here. It's understandable, but it needs addressing.

EL's process and conviction in the M-180 review invariably and interestingly affects his technical validity, by the lack of it, in the Totem Forest review.

By this elipitical assessment, MF really did a very thorough job of involving Stereophile staff, doing more comparisons, and appeasing Bryston by getting an updated unit for review. NO wonder Mr. Fremer rarely responds in these forums. It seems that everyone sometimes forgets the fundamental tenets of what created this awesome magazine. To MF, I have seen very little review process mistakes ever in his writing (yes, despite all the shit the man has to hear).

I look forward to a re-validation (so kidding) after this minor but interesting journalistic hiccup. It really does remind me of Corey Greenberg in so many ways. Whatever, it's all good.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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My impression that due deadlines or a lack of a bit more effort to compare and contrast in the full review vs. the follow-up review really shows the disconnect here.

That impression is mistaken, I am afraid.. Just as much set-up care and attention to detail went into the Totem Forest Follow-Up as in the Rogue review. Your point is thus moot.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

My impression, John, has always been of care being taken when the possibility of what may be considered a negative review does arise. This would, of course, only indicate decent behavior on the part of the given involved reviewers and associated staff. The opposite does seem to hold true as well, for when there is the possibility of a rave review of notable 'seeming' excess, you folks routinely seem to send the given item to another for a second analysis for verification. As in any system of analysis, what may feel like an anomalous point of data does indeed tend to need a bit more specific attention, in order to verify it's validity in the pantheon.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Thank you for the response. What about the lack of mention of the other amplifiers on hand for the Rogue M-180 review, and no mention of it in the Totem Forest review? To doubt EL skills was a bit much (nor was it my point), but my focus was to show that those areas of amplification and review comparisons seemed to have no mention, especially to the level of the comparisons in the Rogue review.

I just felt that other readers that might agree with the lack of comparisons in the review, and they may see a more in-depth process for the M-180 review. It may not be a foible in the Stereophile review procedure, but as a reader I see this issue, and wondered about future reviews having a lack of comparisons, and as a result, mislead the reader into thinking a thorough review process was not done. Clearly you claim that it was, and I do believe you. No ones' integrity in the magazine has ever been suspect, but I can see where hypothetical arguments could come up regarding the writing that was there, and perhaps some of the more casual statements EL made in the Forest review.

I understand there is less room in the Follow-Up, but the lack of a mention on the other amps to test, or even the mention of an exhaustive trial and error to move the Forests around in the room just seemed be glossed over. My statement is coming from a reader's standpoint in the Totem review, and I could see where Victor Bruzze would be confused as to why references were made to effective comparisons in the Rogue review, but not the Forest review.

Moreover, it clearly seems that MF went to greater extents with the manufacturer and Stereophile staff to get a more thorough process for the completed review. I guess I just saw differences in the depth of the written review, and made some connected assumptions about the review process itself. Very sorry.

While I am trying bring up all of the important review aspects of the process that were missed or not mentioned, I am not trying to insult EL's intelligence nor preferences.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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. . . but the lack of a mention on the other amps to test, or even the mention of an exhaustive trial and error to move the Forests around in the room just seemed be glossed over.

My impression is that all of the reviewers try various companioning components, set-up, types of music, etc. to wring out the equipment under review.

They seem to indicate if this is otherwise; e.g. "I listened only with the VBX amp because my focus at the time was primarily on reviewing this amp, but I did note that speaker RTG responded by . . . "

Accordingly I grant EL (I so want him to be ET) this same assumption unless he states otherwise.

Frankly, I expect these guys to work their butts off. They seem to.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

I guess I was more concerned about the technical writing showing depth of coverage and trying to demonstrate the review process, as I always assume these guys reviewing skills and process are sound. That was what I was trying to get at. The communication was just a bit lacking in the Forest review, though the process is sound. I know these guys are total professionals- sometimes criticism is misconstrued as an attack as opposed to trying to get to the heart of the issue at hand. The writing ommitted comparisons, which were in abundance in his preceding review, one page prior.

Please keep in mind I am a Reader, not an Editor. I take the tenets and processes of a lot of publications, in print and online. As a critical, audiophile reader, I see several obvious faults regarding the writing ABOUT the process (which was misconstrued I criticized the process ITSELF) which I've clearly stated to the Editor and here in the forums, under both areas of discussion.

Personally, I would be horrified if i was lumped in with the Flat Earthers, and was construed as implying that the staff isn't thorough in their process. I have been reading Stereophile consistently for 25 years, and nothing would break my heart more.

Well, I mind as well print the letter here; It ain't goin' nowhere else. Perhaps I did make an ass of myself as well:

-
Dear Editor,

I have been an avid, 25-year reader of Stereophile and I do have an enduring respect and sense of awe for this form of technical writing. It combines many forms of writing and disciplines, and pulls them together for music lovers in a controlled, scientific, yet passionate way.

Eric Licht

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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It may not be a foible in the Stereophile review procedure, but as a reader I see this issue, and wondered about future reviews having a lack of comparisons, and as a result, mislead the reader into thinking a thorough review process was not done.

I directly compared the Totem to the similarly priced Revel F30's. How was this not a comparison? I also think it was a fair comparison.


Quote:
I understand there is less room in the Follow-Up, but the lack of a mention on the other amps to test, or even the mention of an exhaustive trial and error to move the Forests around in the room just seemed be glossed over.

See my comments elsewhere in this thread regarding my work on getting the best performance out of the Totems. I actually spent much more time working with this speakers and trying every amplifier, cable and placement combination I could muster than I did with the Rogue which sounded great with everything I tried it with.

You have to understand that when reviewing a product we do not simply throw the piece under review in our system for 20 minutes, make some notes and write a fancy review. We LIVE with the product in the same way a customer would. This is the whole basis and method of a Stereophile review. It

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

An excellent posting, Erick. You said what I was gong to say but said it more clearly, more directly, and more persuasively.

What I will emphasize is that the same amount of care and rigor goes into every review published in Stereophile, whether it be a full report or a follow-up. And, in fact, when there is some aspect of the product's sound that is negative, this results in even more attention to detail, because the writer needs to make sure that the problem is truly associated with the product being tested and not due to a system mishap or incompatibility.

And thank you "glotz," for having read Stereophile for such a long time. I hope we continue to provide an entertaining but also informative and reliable read in the years ahead.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


Quote:

That must been some GOOOD doobie!

The killer shit always makes me a little paranoid. Maybe Glotz should have exhaled.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

It was some killer! But I guess I just felt really bad for Victor and the review. I forgot the basics of the follow up. I became a Don Quixote for my own selfish observations. Sorry about that.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

No worries.

Just for the record, it is "Vince" Bruzzese, not "Victor."

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It was some killer! But I guess I just felt really bad for Victor and the review. I forgot the basics of the follow up. I became a Don Quixote for my own selfish observations. Sorry about that.

Not so, Glotz. You expressed your concerns and assumptions with civility and grace and gave others the benefit of a doubt. The exchanges were refreshingly mellow.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Thanks! It's good to be forgiven as well.

I was very wrong about the reference EL did make very succinctly- "I moved the Forests around the room and tried all the amplifiers I had on hand."

I did not do the required research on the my second read, prior to the letter going out.

Thanks to JA for not printing my juuust slightly over-zealous letter. Yeesh, I gotta cut down!

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

that reminds me, I have NO IDEA what radiohead is all about, at all.

But I DID buy that album on double 180g vinyl (or whatever weight it is) and maybe I should open it up...and in my static prone home, Like Stephen (see his blog), maybe try to deal with some schmutz on my stylus. Oddly enough, the urban dictionary mentions Stephen when speaking on schmutz. (various spellings)

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shmutz

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Wonderfully gracious of both of you, and some good additional information came out.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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Oddly enough, the urban dictionary mentions Stephen when speaking on schmutz. (various spellings)

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shmutz

Now this is embarrassing.

I've lived in Scandinavia most of my life and was an avid skateboarder as a kid but I have no idea what a "Scandinavian Axel Stall" is, let alone why it might have left Jordan with a serious rash. I'm concerned I might have missed out on one of life's little pleasures. Stephen, please could you enlighten us?

As Elk would say, this thread is meaningless without pictures.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Oh my lordy, please just open the Ok Computer..! I promise if you smoke pot with it, you're life will be utterly and irrevocably changed! (Ah, for the better- well I hope...) Astounding album, but anybody here can tell you that! Please open the lp, you'll feel better about everything!

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

+1 on Ok Computer

It is excellent. This from a classical music nerd.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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+1 on Ok Computer

It is excellent. This from a classical music nerd.


There was an excellent write-up of Radiohead by Alex Ross, the classical music critic for the New Yorker, a while back. Some discussion of Messiaen's influence on Radiohead, use of the Tristan chord in some of their work, etc... they're the rare band that actually sells records and are most likely smarter than you.

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Stephen, please could you enlighten us?


No comment, other than I have no recollection of this "Jordan" girl.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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I've lived in Scandinavia most of my life and was an avid skateboarder as a kid but I have no idea what a "Scandinavian Axel Stall" is, let alone why it might have left Jordan with a serious rash. I'm concerned I might have missed out on one of life's little pleasures. Stephen, please could you enlighten us?

As Elk would say, this thread is meaningless without pictures.

Apparently "Impressive Looking Rack" means something different in Scandanavian but I'm not going to be the first to post pictures.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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Apparently "Impressive Looking Rack" means something different in Scandanavian but I'm not going to be the first to post pictures.

Busted

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

Wooo Hooo! Thank you Elk! Check out In Rainbows as well, preferably the lp box set only available on their website. It has been wonderfully reviewed globally, and is sonically a treat as well. More low key, with less 'orchestrations', but still equally beautiful, and Thom Yorke's voice is angelic as well! Really, to be honest, all of their albums except the first are completely vital.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

I downloaded In Rainbows when they first made it available on their website. The hype and being able to grab it immediately was a hoot. As I recall the average voluntary payment for the download was something like $8.00.

I agree, it is very good.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

I came late to this discussion, because I had no idea of what Michael Fremer said in his previous review of another product, until I saw the LTE in the Feb. issue. For the record, this happens. Sometimes, I get a bad review in 'Stereophile', at least one that is not really positive. It is important feedback to me, as the measurements will not give me a separate, informed, input. I have designed good measuring amps and had 'Stereophile' find them 'wanting' on at least two previous occasions. It is 'back to the drawing board' for me when that happens. Independent listening tests verified their criticisms.

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I have designed good measuring amps and had 'Stereophile' find them 'wanting' on at least two previous occasions. It is 'back to the drawing board' for me when that happens. Independent listening tests verified their criticisms.

Wow! That is a refreshing attitude, John. How do we clone you?

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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It is 'back to the drawing board' for me when that happens. Independent listening tests verified their criticisms.

That has got to be tough, humbling and an incredible challenge - after you have already made them the best you can.

Kudos.

(I am also impressed that you found the reviews to be of such high quality.)

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2

It is not a 'random' design change. Usually, I have NOT gone far enough into the 'magic' or 'over-the-top' phase in designing amplifiers that made the differences. I proved it, by upgrading virtually the same designs and getting a good review from the same people. This usually entails: removing IC's from the audio thru-path, or using superior passive components, such as bypass caps, wire, and connectors. It works. Why it works, as an engineer is just as much a mystery to me, as it is to many others. However, the physicist in me, mentally living among the interacting atomic structures, sees a glimmer of insight.

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Re: MIcheal Fremers Review of Bryston 7B SST2


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Wow! That is a refreshing attitude, John. How do we clone you?

I believe they broke the mold on this man! I really wish he would do another excellent, low-cost preamp like the Adcom from a few moons ago. Awesome that he is sharing with the writers and the forum!

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