Working: Recommended Components
Hi! Where've you been?
I've been working on the new entries for our upcoming "Recommended Components" feature. Our "Recommended Components" feature is big. It appears twice a yearin our April and October issuesand is a fun way for readers to become quickly familiar with the many products we've reviewed. Every product listed in "Recommended Components" has been placed in one of four or five quality classes. Components in Class A offer something extraordinarily special, but every component included in our list is truly excellent or offers excellent value for money. The Class rankings, by themselves, mean nothing.
Nothing nothing nothing
What the rankings do, however, is measure potential for sound quality. A Class A-rated, five-way, floorstanding loudspeaker costing $150,000/pair undoubtedly has greater potential for excellence than a Class E-rated minimonitor costing $250/pair, but the former would probably suck total butt in my 350sqft Jersey City apartment, and I don't even know how I'd get them up the stairs. I'd rather put together a system that fits my needs and tastes, regardless of its ranking. You should do the same. Use our recommendations, read our reviews, read other reviews, get opinions from your friends, and listen. In addition to a ranking, each component listing includes a brief summary of its original review. A blurb. I write these blurbs.
I write the blurbs, I write the blurbs.
There's not much real writing involved, actually. All of the writing has already been done. I'm more of an arranger. In one hundred words or less, I try to state what the thing is and what makes it special; describe how the thing sounds using a few quotes from the reviewer; and maybe, if space allows, wrap it up with the results of John Atkinson's technical measurements. In the past, I've discussed this arranging process in somewhat greater detail. Everything I wrote here remains completely true. The process is always interesting in the same sorts of ways. I gain a deeper understanding of a lot of things, including how much torture I can stand. The only difference this time around is that I gave myself less time to get it all done. The entire task usually requires two solid weeks of work. Due to CES and production cycle stuff, I had to accomplish it in only one week. I stayed up later than usual, and slightly lost track of some other things. Such as eating and fresh air. [Note to self: I do not recommend this method.] With the raw copy off of my cluttered desk, I am now worried about the sanity of our copy editor.
There's more. Because we want our readers to get the most for their money, we draw attention to those products that we feel perform much better than might be expected from their price. A product such as the PSB Alpha B1, an unquestionably great value for its $279/pair, is decorated with three dollar signs ($$$) next to its listing. And we want these excellent products to remain recommendable for long into the future. We're not about fast-fading fads; we're about long-lasting classics. Those products that have remained on our list in one incarnation or another for at least three years are awarded with a five-pointed star. You'll find such a star sitting right beside the wonderful Linn Sondek LP12 turntable, for instancea product that defines "classic." In addition, we also list the product prices (all of which have been meticulously researched to the best of our ability), and tell you where you can find the original review. It's inevitable that different people will use the "Recommended Components" list in different ways. If you're using the "Recommended Components" list to assist in building a system, we highly recommend that you also read the full review. A blurb is a very fine thing, but can only do so much.
For some reason, "Recommended Components" tends to draw a lot of fire and fury from certain readers. I imagine this is simply because they care. But, really, "Recommended Components" is meant to be a nice thing, something for our readers to enjoy and put to good use. For a better explanation of the list, please read JA's excellent "Recommended Components: Really Recommended." Or his fascinating "Recommended Components: The Stereophile Way." Or his resolute "Recommended Components: If It Works, Don't Change It." Or his sassy "Return To Recommended Components." Or even his "500 Components. Recommended." Like the components on the list itself, they're all good.