Got around to reading the February issue of Sterophile and headed first to Art Dudley's review of the Cayin A-300B integrated amplifier. Dudley's been around for decades and has always had an ear and a pen that follows his own muse.
This is how a review should be written, in my opinion.
Pay some attention to the fact the objective measurements do not scream state of the art design as most people reading the measurements would be put off by the amplifier's 2% T.H.D. spec. The amplifier under consideration is, of course, a S.E.T. and such measurements are typical of the breed. Also typical of well designed S.E.T.'s the subjective comments regarding the amplifier's strength, "the manner in which it let solo voices and solo instruments pull themselves out of the mix to appear before me with a presence unequaled by other amp technology", is also consistent with the circuit topology. Dudley's descriptive "dynamic shadings" replaces the more ubiquitous "micro-dynamics" of most reviews. "Peaks in the music startled me more than once" substitutes for simple garden variety "macro-dynamics". "Clarity" and "precision of stereo imaging" inform me more completely the amplifier has the capacity to involve me in the music than a dozen references to "soundstage width and depth" or "'palpability'of the holographically 3-D effect". If I were shopping for such a product, I would definitely want to audition this amplifier after reading the review. I, for one, would prefer Stereophile return, as Dudley has here, to informing us about the musical prowess of a product rather than the artifice of the design.