First let me say that Michael Fremer has personally been a big help to me in setting up my turntable.
Having said that
Michael - and to some degree Mr. Atkinson - have given a positive review to a Zanden DAC/Transport system that costs over $40k and has some of the worst measurements John has seen in years. (The freq response was horrific)
At one point John tried to explain Michael's positive review by stating that maybe Michael stuck with source material that worked well over the midrange region where the measure flaws were not so bad.
This issue opens up a pandora's box
Do the measurements matter? If so why didn't Michael hear the effects of such poor measurements? Should he have? If he chose heavy midrange material doesn't a full and complete review call for exercising the whole player? Is Michael Fremer capable of providing an accurate review (hearing problems? - biased to heavily on certain apects over others?) If this player wasn't so expensive would it have gotten a negative rating? Given Stereophile's bent for not performing A/B tests is it possible the cost and workmanship worked on Michael's subconscious? (Did he think ahead of time it had to be good?)
As a side note I was in the mbl room on 2 occassions when Michael was in the room listening to his material. (Which will be the topic of another thread - was he working for mbl?) Which I believe were digital transfers he made from LP. Listening to these recordings my first impression was that the speakers or set up had a problem in the high frequncies - they were too high in level - especially at the very top end.. This lead me to believe that the room needed treatment as the previous year I believe there was sound deadening material behind the same speakers and I thought they sounded great. Later when other material was played - some of mine included - they sounded excellent with no high end brightness. Given this did Michael realize this and simply compensate based on the room/set up? The interesting part here is that the DAC/transport mentioned aboved dropped off significantly in the high end. If michael had a bias for raised highs or a hearing issue which causes him to like a bright sound - wouldn't he have hated the DAC/transport? This whole thing is confusing to me. (Personally I think this might be a just a case of preconception and Michael not doing a throrough job as opposed to any of the other possibilities I suggested. Still - that is a problem that needs to be dealt with.)