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rs350z
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Why is Stereophile way behind the other magazines

i'm keeping my subscription, i need to read something in the bathroom. I have some ideas why I think Stereophile is behind the other audio magazines:
1) why waste the ink on doing measurements on each product reviewed. There is no need to. I don't care if the distortion is .00005 or .00007, nor do i care about all of the other tests you do. What i care about is the sound, quality, finish, looks. Sometimes you compare yourself to the car industry. What magazine takes measurements of a Porsche when reviewing it? Just like when I bought my Porsche, i didn't get a detailed measurement sheet telling me what the compression was for each cylinder, brake pad thickness for each brake, or the thermostat setting. I judge the car by my right foot for gas and brakes, and the steering wheel for handling. I don't need a 3rd party telling me the compression in cylinder 3 is 2 lbs lower than cylinder 4. Let your ears make the decision for audio gear.
2) in sams column, it seems that it is a review of mostly musical fidelity or roy hall items.
3) it also seems to me that you only review manufacturers that advertise in your magazine.
4) you NEVER give negative reviews. You will state some negative comments in the review but at the end, you will praise it for other things to go around the negative issues. If you do give a sort of negative review like you did in the past on the Totem speakers (which was very wrong IMO), you tried to make it up giving a glaring review for their worst sounding speaker. Very odd!
5) A lot of your reviewers downplay music servers because of their complexity. But these are the same guys that take days to rebuild a TT or mount a cartridge. Very odd!
6) Your reviewers often state that this is the best sounding XXXXXXX i have heard in my system. OK, this does not tell us anything. Most of the time, when your reviewer is reviewing a new updated product, the rest of their system nowhere matches the old system that they reviewed the earlier model. If you change 1 piece of equipment between reviews, then there is no way you can state that this is better than its predecessor. Also, when stating that this is the best XXXXX you have heard in your system, it just tells me that you don't get out much. You can't state that 1 piece makes a system. If i follow your review and go out and buy the Magico speaker that you rave about and hook it up to a pioneer receiver, will the owner think that this is the best speaker made? i doubt it. I would think you would have to qualify your statements with all of the equipment you had installed to make this 1 piece stand out.
7) you are way behind the other mags when it comes to computer audio servers.You have a review every so often but the other's have much more press on the subject.

If you are not the lead dog, the scenery never changes!

tmsorosk
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?

I've always felt Stereophile was far ahead of the other rags that I read.
rs350z's comments suggest he doesn't read S-phile much, subscriber or not.

jgossman
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This is silly

I was a subscriber off and on for several years and still check in on the site almost daily. I rarely read the measurements but I'm glad they are there. Like most of us, I find it interesting that a magazine that gives decidedly subjective reviews is still interested in searching out the link between measured and perceived performance. The thought that they ONLY review companies that advertise is first false, because most full page ads are from retailers, not manufacturers. And perhaps your most dubious claim is that they only give positive reviews. First of all, the reviewers tend to point out negative aspects of equipment fairly honestly and sometimes abruptly. Secondly, have you paid attention to the biggest achievement of the audio industry of the last 20 years? Most audio equipment, especially equipment from the US and China, is remarkably well designed, build and good sounding. My 600.00 Cambridge integrated is in most ways comparable and in some ways better than the 1300 Arcam I bought 8 years ago, and more detailed and for lack of a better word expressive than a cousins Krell 300i at a cool 3k from a little over 10 years ago. Most equipment out there right now, well matched and with quality cables, is just really good. And when there is a stinker, they generally say it.

wkhanna
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Emergency TP......

I have printed rs350z's post to keep in my bathroom.
But not necessarily to be used as 'reading' material......

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please -

tmsorosk
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wkhanna wrote:
wkhanna wrote:

I have printed rs350z's post to keep in my bathroom.
But not necessarily to be used as 'reading' material......

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob

- just an “ON” switch, Please -

lol

michael green
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what you make it

Hi 350z

As much as we as readers would like to think we have advice to give Stereophile from time to time, on how they may make this hobby a better one from our personal point of view, we have to stop and look at their history as being one of the two magazines that in many ways gave birth to this part of the hobby, and give the "phile" it's do respect. True some of the guys may lean in the direction of charts and graphs that you and I may pass over, but just as true is the fact that this hobby is made up of as many engineer types (probably more) than listeners. A balance that shifts as the industry continues to shape itself and as writers roll over.

One thing though no matter what point of view you have, Stereophile has always published "letters to the editor" and provided a place where your voice can be heard, whereas many other places in this industry are extremely sheep-herding in their approach.

Additionally, I look at this forum and say "my God" what a brilliant place to expand the hobby's brain. If this hobby is going to experience change it will happen on the forums once people are able to be constructive (which stereophile is one of the best) with their thoughts and practices. One must also look at the other forums, and if so will see agendas that reach to feed the belief systems and egos of the participants, over the call to music. Stereophile is far more open minded in it's approach to this state, and this is how futures are shaped.

Lastly, if someone is to make a change (a difference) they must be a part of. They must first learn the art of reasoning and be able to make their points with self based experience. An example, I like this forum because I have my own and find this one to be the closest relative to my own thinking. I have learned as many things from Stereophile as I have given to Stereophile and it's readership. Not all about sound, but as someone in the sound hobby and biz. If your going to say something is wrong you need to present the "right" in a way that is helpful to the whole, understanding why they may want the specs, graphs and charts, and you present the otherside so they can understand why you think the listening side is more important. I for one agree that the listening is what it is really about, but I also see the need for many in this industry to read something as they can hold on to. I feel the gap between spec and listening need to grow closer and become more real, but until then the hobby is both.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

tmsorosk
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Agreed but

Have you ever had a letter published in the paper magazine ? I've had two, both very heavily modified to the extent that the point was completely skewed.
Back when, there were an equal amount of positive and negative letters, today it's not so. July's issue starts off with three very positive letters followed by a less complementary letter but in the end Roy claims he be a reader till he's a hundred.
Don't get me wrong, I'll also be a subscriber till the end , but I'm not blind to whats becoming a heavily censored publication. Can anyone disagree?

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Censorship?
tmsorosk wrote:
Have you ever had a letter published in the paper magazine ? I've had two, both very heavily modified to the extent that the point was completely skewed.
Like all publications, we reserve the right to edit letters to the editor, for syntax, grammar, and to eliminate tautologies and extraneous content. Our goal is to preserve the correspondent's points while shortening the letter to fit the space we have available.

We certainly don't "skew" the point that is being made and I am concerned that you feel that to be the case. Could you tell me which published letters you are talking about, and I will retrieve the originals from my email archive and compare with the published versions.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John Atkinson
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Reviews of advertisers vs non-advertisers
jgossman wrote:
The thought that they ONLY review companies that advertise is first false, because most full page ads are from retailers, not manufacturers.

There are actually many full-page ads from manufacturers as well as from retailers. But you are correct that there is no correlation between a company advertising and getting review coverage. I am saddened that this accusation refuses to die.

I examined this subject in depth in 2006 - see www.stereophile.com/content/great-wall-china-0 - and the analysis showed that 47% of the products reviewed in the previous year’s issues were from advertisers, 53% from non-advertisers. I don’t believe this ratio has changed significantly in the years since.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Ads

I guess I never really counted. It just doesn't seem like I see allot of ads from manufacturers. That said, I stand by my point that the reason there are so many positive reviews (in most audio rags) is that most equipment at this point is actually really good. Not all, but I think you guys are pretty fair.

wkhanna
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+1

I am in total agreement with you, Jgossman.

commsysman
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REVIEWS

I think Stereophile does a great job on their reviews. The subjective reviewing is balanced against the objective measurements and comments, and this gives the full picture.

I particularly value the impedance measurements and graphs on the speakers and amplifiers, because this information is available almost nowhere else in most cases.

If there is anything I would criticize about the reviews, it is that they go too easy on the defects. I can appreciate the need to not do a total hatchet job, however, because the reality is that advertisers support the magazine, and it is unwise to make enemies.

iosiP
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You know what they say about statistics...
John Atkinson wrote:

I examined this subject in depth in 2006 - see www.stereophile.com/content/great-wall-china-0 - and the analysis showed that 47% of the products reviewed in the previous year’s issues were from advertisers, 53% from non-advertisers.

Since no more than 10% of manufacturers advertise in Stereophile, it means that you (roughly) reviewed half of the advertisers and only 6% of the non-advertisers.

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Get your numbers correct, please.
iosiP wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
I examined this subject in depth in 2006 - see www.stereophile.com/content/great-wall-china-0 - and the analysis showed that 47% of the products reviewed in the previous year’s issues were from advertisers, 53% from non-advertisers.
Since no more than 10% of manufacturers advertise in Stereophile, it means that you (roughly) reviewed half of the advertisers and only 6% of the non-advertisers.

I don't know where you are getting your numbers from. Did you read the linked article? In that article I wrote that the set of brands eligible for review in Stereophile is 370 at maximum, of which probably 150 brands currently advertise in Stereophile.

So you are incorrect to state that "no more than 10% of manufacturers advertise in Stereophile." The proportion is actually 40.5%.

That means, as I wrote in the article, that there is a slight bias in favor of advertisers, in that instead of 40% of the products we choose for review coming from advertisers, the proportion is actually 47%. However, there are other factors that need to be considered: the set of companies that advertise in Stereophile has high correlations with: the set of companies that have a high profile in the marketplace; the set of companies that have been in existence for 10 or more years; and the set of companies whose products have been favorably reviewed previously, not just in Stereophile but in all audio magazines, and are thus more successful in the long term. Such companies also exhibit more regularly at Consumer Electronics Shows and have a higher profile at dealers, and are thus more likely to have their products auditioned by Stereophile's reviewers when they are trying to decide what to write about in future issues.

And remember that Stereophile insists that products distributed through regular retailers must be available through 5 or more dealers. It is also probable that those brands are more likely to advertise, thus weighting the analysis in that direction.

But again, to contradict the original poster's uninformed opinion: as more than half of the products reviewed in Stereophile are made by companies that don't advertise in the magazine, there is no truth to the statement that "only advertisers" are reviewed.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

iosiP
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Mr. Atkinson

1. 2006 is not 2014: plenty of new companies have emerged, so I think a "refresh" of the figures published eight years ago should be useful.

2. You reviewed the Caliburn, which did not meet the "5 dealers" test. Why?

3. There is no review (at least, none that I could find) of Raidho speakers. I guess these are well represented in the US (if not, this a pity since they are on par with Magico). Why not?

4. Ever heard of Karan Acoustics? I presume these also have at least 5 US dealers (although I cannot vouch). So, why not?

I suppose the list could go on, but I don't find "investigative journalism" to be my strong point (or even my main interest), so... ???

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Please read what we actually write
iosiP wrote:
1. 2006 is not 2014: plenty of new companies have emerged, so I think a "refresh" of the figures published eight years ago should be useful.

As I wrote, the situation vis-à-vis advertiser vs non advertisers has not changed since I did that analysis. I assume you are a Stereophile subscriber—there is therefore nothing to stop you going through a year’s worth of issues and doing your own analysis.

iosiP wrote:
2. You reviewed the Caliburn, which did not meet the "5 dealers" test. Why?

Please read what I wrote. I said “Stereophile insists that products distributed through regular retailers must be available through 5 or more dealers.” When a product is not sold through regular retailers, as with the Caliburn, that does not disqualify it from review coverage, but the decision depends on other factors. See www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html, where I wrote “It is the editor's decision whether a product distributed by mail-order or via the Web qualifies for review. However, at minimum the company must have a formal US presence and must offer a 30-day, money-back refund policy.”

iosiP wrote:
3. There is no review (at least, none that I could find) of Raidho speakers. I guess these are well represented in the US (if not, this a pity since they are on par with Magico). Why not?

My team and I have auditioned Raidho speakers at shows, but have not yet felt that we should review the brand. That may well change.

iosiP wrote:
4. Ever heard of Karan Acoustics? I presume these also have at least 5 US dealers (although I cannot vouch). So, why not?

Again, I don’t feel the brand is ready for prime time in the form of a full review in Stereophile. Having 5 dealers is not a guarantee of review coverage.

iosiP wrote:
I suppose the list could go on, but I don't find "investigative journalism" to be my strong point (or even my main interest), so... ???

Yet you devote your few postings to our site to unsupported and unjustified criticisms, criticisms that you would not make if you made any effort to read what we have actually written. You may not feel that "investigative journalism" is your strong point, but surely if you are sufficiently curious about Stereophile’s policies, you should do some research instead of firing from the hip.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Catch22
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I'm going to go out on a limb here

And suggest the OP owns Totem speakers.

wkhanna
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Would those be.....

....the recently released Phallus Mini's ?

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Still the best audio mag

I subscribe to TAS as well and two other offered on line. Stereophile is the only one I am really waiting to read. TAS will not be renewed next time. The others never seem to have much that interests me or applies to me. The Phile writers seem to be the best. What I do like are the sister websites that offer great info in each area of hobby. How far behind can "TubePlanet" be with Art leading the way?

tmsorosk
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iosiP wrote:
iosiP wrote:

1. 2006 is not 2014: plenty of new companies have emerged, so I think a "refresh" of the figures published eight years ago should be useful.

2. You reviewed the Caliburn, which did not meet the "5 dealers" test. Why?

3. There is no review (at least, none that I could find) of Raidho speakers. I guess these are well represented in the US (if not, this a pity since they are on par with Magico). Why not?

4. Ever heard of Karan Acoustics? I presume these also have at least 5 US dealers (although I cannot vouch). So, why not?

I suppose the list could go on, but I don't find "investigative journalism" to be my strong point (or even my main interest), so... ???

Your kidding right ?

You expect that one magazine should be able to cover every audio product made ? I would think that reviewing ten percent competently would difficult enough.

Investigative journalism is definitely not your strong point, every question you asked had already been answered many times in the pages of Stereophile.

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tmsorosk, you're right

But then, I want to know what are the criteria used for selecting these 10%?

Stereophile wrote that they try to cater to their readers' needs (or something to that effect). How comes that speakers like Raidho - who, BTW, come in many flawours and price points - are not being reviewed but the Caliburn or the Wavac SH-833 monoblocs get reviews? Do you honestly think there are more readers interested in $80.000 TTs and $350.000 monos than in reasonably priced (well, as far as high-end pricing goes) speakers?

Furthermore, am I the only one to think that the rave review of the Caliburn landed MF an excellent TT bought at an accommodation price and allowed the manufacturer to substantially hike up the price of subsequent samples?

tmsorosk
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iosiP, your right too.

As has been written in the pages of SP many reviewers hear new equipment at audio shows and want to follow up with a review. I'm sure they have brand preferences as we do and seek out those rooms and likely spend some quality time there listening as well as chatting up the reps.
As far as the lads catering to their readers I guess i would fall into the general category as I've not hear of the brands you mentioned but am familiar with Caliburn and Wavac.
SP definitely gives advertiser more review time but it's all part of business and I hope the'll do what it takes to stay afloat and keep things rolling along.

John Atkinson
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tmsorosk wrote:
tmsorosk wrote:
SP definitely gives advertiser more review time but it's all part of business...

As the statistics I quoted earlier in this thread reveal, more than half of the reviews published in Stereophile are from non-advertisers. For a statement from a publisher who argues that publications should only publish reviews from advertisers, see www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/broken/1.html. Needless to say, I disagree with this argument.

tmsorosk wrote:
... and I hope they'll do what it takes to stay afloat and keep things rolling along.

We'll do what it takes as long as it is not in conflict with my principles!

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Catch22
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Some companies do not want JA testing their stuff

And some companies will not provide their gear for review. And a few are really pissed off at Stereophile or JA or a particular reviewer or staff member and so they yank their advertising from Stereophile.

It's a pretty risky business decision to put your stuff up for review. This is especially true for relatively new companaies that could quickly have their reputation that they are trying to establish suffer from a candid review of one sample of their product.

If you want to learn everything you need to know about a company, read their "manufacturers comments" after their gear has been reviewed. Most will simply use the opportunity to further advertise their products, but every now and then you get a glimpse into their philosophy and attitude toward their customers.

There are some pretty big egos in this business that would better serve their companies by letting someone else handle the public relations part of the job.

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Testing leaves claims at the door.

Testing exposes misstatements and glittering prose. The truth is often not in ad copy, but in science. If a manufacturer doesn't want a testing/review then don't submit. Turntables and phono carts are not tested and some of what ST writes about is not. Hopefully people spending serious money would like to know they have more than nice case work.

I'm glad none of this bothers me.

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testing

The only reason I still subscribe to Stereophile is testing. The web is full of unsubstantiated claims of sound quality. If one searches long enough on could find almost any opinion about most products. One could argue which of the measurements are really relevant for assessing sound quality and what measurements are missing like distortions for amps but not speakers.
Presently I have the impression that the audiophile market is governed by pseudo scientific marketing claims and measurements are essential to verify these. I am not saying that everything essential for high quality music reproduction is or can presently be measured but these measurement give a framework to assess sound quality. There are a few european magazines which still do measurements e.g HIFI news or Stereoplay.
I am more interested in facts than opinions.

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John Atkinson][quote=tmsorosk
John Atkinson wrote:
tmsorosk wrote:

SP definitely gives advertiser more review time but it's all part of business...

As the statistics I quoted earlier in this thread reveal, more than half of the reviews published in Stereophile are from non-advertisers. For a statement from a publisher who argues that publications should only publish reviews from advertisers, see www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/broken/1.html. Needless to say, I disagree with this argument.

There is more than one way to look at statistics and percentages. I won't argue the fact that roughly 50% of reviews in are favorite audio mag are from non advertisers. But what is the percent of major advertisers that get reviewed ? Then we must correlate that figure with the percentage of non advertisers that get reviews.

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I would like to add

Hi Guys

I would like to add this if I may from the eyes of one of the reviewed/advertisers. When RoomTune hit, Stereophile did show coverage, and then not sure if they asked us or we asked them, but review samples were sent and then I followed up with a tuning of the reviewers. This was a while ago but from what I remember the ad department was a completely different group of people and certainly a different mindset than the reviewing staff. Obviously relationships in any biz are going to start, life would be boring without that, but if your picturing that there was a "you buy the ad and we'll do the review" that didn't happen in our case. The reviewing staff of Stereophile (to me at least) seemed like they were just trying to keep the audiophiles in the know. I found the reviewers to have different objectives depending on who the reviewer was, and Stereophile has always shown this as there are different guys who favor one part of the hobby over others and I'm sure one brand over another, wouldn't anyone? To me, and I may be wrong, there has always been way more products than reviewers, and the staff would have to be huge to really cover everything. Somewhere along the way you have to draw a line, if your going to give quality reviewing. We all know things don't break in overnight for example and can you imagine having writing deadlines with boxes of components stacking up, no thanks.

So, basically what I saw was, the show reports being one thing, so if a designer was at a show he or she usually got mentioned if they did something that caught someones attention. Then the reviews, if you want a review from anyone you have to get some samples to them and be willing to be there to help if there are questions. Third the ad thing. If you met the reviewers you would see they are not ad salesmen. Sorry guys just telling it like it is. They're for the most part audiophiles with a pen, and each has his own style and groove. For me personally I was surprised at how well the magazine matched me up with the right reviewers to cover my product. I'm sure there is a snob factor, but I was placed with the cool cats with a genuine interest in the product and myself. They painted a picture of me and the product that I thought was pretty close to being on the money. I would have been surprised, and frankly don't think the guys I met anyway, would have asked me about placing an ad. Didn't seem to be their style. Wouldn't you feel wierd being a reviewer and ad salesman both? I would. I know mags do this, but didn't get that feel from these guys.

I placed ads cause I wasn't stupid. Of course I'm going to place ads where I'm being reviewed. I went from 40 to 650 dealers within a year or two. Hello Biff, doesn't take rocket science to figure that out. You do the shows, you help people get great sound, you get reviewed for it, and you place ads so people can find you. I dealt with reviewers about reviews and the ad staff about ads. Pretty simple formula if you ask me.

To be honest, it's kinda wierd that John would ever even need to answer questions concerning this. Shoot I wouldn't even blame them for soliciting ads in exchange for reviews, the rest of the world does, but for this camper they didn't.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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Thank you, Michael
michael green wrote:
To be honest, it's kinda weird that John would ever even need to answer questions concerning this. Shoot I wouldn't even blame them for soliciting ads in exchange for reviews, the rest of the world does, but for this camper they didn't.

While, sadly, there are magazines and websites that offer "pay for play," we have never offered review coverage - or any coverage - in return for advertising revenue, this meme keeps surfacing, as it has in this thread. I feel compelled to comment because the accusation can be damaging.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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And Heaven Forbid

That some ad pops up in the issue that happens to contain a review of said product. That really gets the tin foil crowd going. We can always count on John visiting the Forums section more often when that happens. lol

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One question for Mr. Atkinson

I had a comment on the review of the Analog DAC by MSB (posted Mar 28, 2014), author Mark Iverson. I quote:

I would have preferred a comparison between the balanced/unbalanced outputs, and also one between the MSB set to output a fixed level (and using a pre) and the same using a variable level.

I think the main questions the potential buyer faces are if the DAC volume control is good enough to get rid of a good preamp ("good", as in a pre usually included in systems that can take benefit of a $7,000+ DAC) and which trade-off is better if the rest of the system is fully balanced: using the "native" SE outputs or the "artificial" XLR outputs.

Also, since I have never listened to the DACs used for comparison (and even do not know how their price compares to that of the MSB), the only valid information I could gather is from the Measurements page!

Sorry for being candid but I really expected more than a nice rant about Bee Gees and tiny buttons with a green/red glow.

Please tell me if you are satisfied by the usable info in that review, as there is more about the build & fit of the DAC (things that I can easily see at my local dealer) and the author's music preferences than about the sound - please check the review to confirm this.

Regards,
Costin

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No answer from JA (I kind of expected this)

But then, what can be said about a botched review with limited use for readers? That the poor author needs to make a living? That he wrote it more to further his ego (and musical preferences) than to provide useful information?
Well, I'll better leave that to the readers...

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They post measurements so the

They post measurements so the reviewers can insert an addendum saying something about how the sound changed and wasn't quite as good as previously thought. It cracks me up when I read crap about a component sounding good/great "but I haven't seen the measurements yet so I hope I'm not left with my pants around my ankles" (paraphrased). Who cares what the measurements are? If it sounds good, isn't that what supposed to be the important part? Just silly.

Catch22
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For those that don't appreciate the measurements

You're probably reading the wrong magazine. There are plenty others that don't care about the measurments to choose from.

When I read these sorts of comments, I'm reading the post as, "I don't understand the measurements and and don't have the curiosity to learn what they mean."

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But

You have to make room for Road, because when you break it down, it's about the listening. The measuring may be a side issue with the "hobby" of audiophile want to prove it's, but it really doesn't have that much to do with the sound. Sorry but that's the way it is and I'd be happy to do a demo with and for the spec folks as I have done in the past, no problem. Are you guys saying J Gordon and Harry Pearson are all about measuring? Really? Are you saying that when I tuned with Guy Lemcoe, Tom Miiller, Les Linton and tons of others they sat there with their mic in hand? man oh man guys!! You've turned this hobby into one that is not about listening, and if you want to that's cool, just let us who want to listen do so without put downs, cause you do look a little silly with your ho-hum test gear to a lot of us. Including some of us who are formally trained engineers.

Catch, why would you be telling someone to go somewhere else? Do you really think someone needs to be into measuring to be a part of listening to music, Catch come on. I appreciate that some like to be techies, but folks lets get real here. There's no flippen way a measurement is going to say what your ears are hearing. The measurements are giving you frequencies, but you are listening to notes and harmonic structures, and listening to them in your room with your ears. Come on people. I mean have fun with measurements, but don't replace music with some screen. As excited as some of you might get over this, the majority of music lovers find these things boring as "H".

You audiophiles think you know how to read measurements? Get real, your Radio Shack Warriors at best. I don't mean to be rude but don't do this nonsense spec superiority thing. It's nothing more than a inferiority complex and a large part of the time used by people who don't trust their ability to listen or setup their systems. People who have to buy setup CD's that only gives them one choice when they could be turning their rooms into concert halls. For cryin out loud sometimes you guys are so intellectually naked it blows my mind. You do stupid things like try to kill sound to make it, through dampening. That makes no sense to any astute physicist or scientist or common sense smart listener, but you do it cause you don't know how to make a room work or make equipment that puts function over looks, dollar signs and marketing to the male ego. You make these way over built parts and then can't answer us listeners when we ask why? It doesn't sound better but worse, so why? You draw pictures of sound waves as straight lines and use mirrors to make theories about first reflection points without even knowing how sound waves (sound pressure) works. You don't even know what the audio signal is or even close to knowing how sensitive it is, or how the mechanics of conduits and surroundings influence the sound. Oh you can read specs but you don't know what distortion is, or able to realize and understand a simple concept like "true space" sound. You have plenty of put downs and have mastered the art of sarcasm, but when some one comes to you asking what they should buy, you start naming off equipment completely by-passing what they are listening to "the stage", and you have no idea of how to make the room, equipment, electrical and mechanics work. You start firing off name brands as if they make up for all the other "real" parts of what makes the sound. Your so blind you can't even see what your doing, your programed to buy equipment without even thinking about the sound signal and the sound wave. You would think that the word audiophile would be more about "audio" and "phile", same with "stereo" "phile". It's not Specphile magazine. Your not going to throw equipment and speakers in a room and get the real sound. Who are you kidding, and why are you trying to kid the listeners? You never have and you never will. This industry is about capturing the sound and bringing it back to life in your home and you don't have a clue about recording size. The audiophile has been creating a smaller and smaller soundstage and calling it revealing, a reference. Nonsense, it's just a miniture calapsed picture and getting worse. The spec audiophile has made a line of excuses that could circle the planet, the listener on the other hand achieves music excellence or at least is open minded enough to "do" the hobby.

So as I said I appreciate some wanting to have fun with certain parts of this hobby. Debate, measuring or any other types of fish story promoting. I understand some need that kind of thing so their brain can see what they think is going on (I've had techies around me all my life), but don't down the people who are here that do real tests of listening. Don't try to put someone who has their new testing toy over the guy who has figured out how stereo and stereo recordings really work. You might just find that these listeners know how to run circles around the guy who is still scratching their audiophile peach fuzz.

I'm glad that John is a listener, musician, writer and techy. I'm even more happy that Stereophile is based on the whole and has through the years swung this way or that, but keeps it's main goal about the different parts as equals as different writers come in with different skills.

All of you are seeing less and less hobbyist are coming to the shows. Why do you think this is? I'll tell you why. Because at one time the hobby was about setting up sound and the more it became engineer driven and debate based the crowds lost their interest. You see the rest of the world listens to the music and could care less what a meter reads. They also could care less about an audio designer who is giving them a good story of how it should be and at the same time their system sounds like dog meat, and they can't do anything about it. Listeners are after the music being something that moves them, and if they walk into a room of people with their noses in the air, bad sound and see people not even taking the time to listen, after a while they're going to stop coming and have. They don't want to hear stories of how it should sound, they want to hear it. Look at these setups. They look like displays not listening rooms.

So you take the guy who loves music, he's not able to go to a show and get blown away, there aren't any more stereo stores. He's going to get his info from you and the magazine, and your saying if you don't learn specs get out. If you keep that attitude and if Stereophile buys into it and doesn't find that mainstream again it's over. The show crowds are maybe 1/10 of years past, lets not kid ourselves.

I saw in Bill's pictures a shot of an old buddy of mine Klaus. He was speaking to a few guys in a room. When we use to do the shows we would have jammed packed conference rooms and the halls were shoulder to shoulder people. Something made the people stop coming, and I can tell you what. The shows turned into talk and the sound went down the tubes. We're on the Stereophile forum and people are afraid to reference the music and dive into their systems on here. This is Stereophile, not some flame forum. The TAS forum is a graveyard. You guys really think talking specs and theory debates and naming a few favorite brands is going to keep this hobby a float? Are you nuts? You guys keep telling the listeners not to come, and I can promise you they won't. They won't come up here and they won't come to the shows. They won't want anything to do with this end of the hobby. It will continue to be ten of you guys blowing smoke up each others butts.

Stereophile can do specs but when it looses it's ability to setup systems it's as good as gone. Who in their right mind wants to keep buying these systems that won't play the music and no one knows how to set them up? All the talk in the world will not save this part of the hobby. It's the listeners who will make this hobby grow again. Personally I think this forum could use a few guys coming up and kicking your butts a little. Telling you to turn on that system and together take it further. Let me tell you something. If you guys had arrived you wouldn't be posting here like this is about you having the answer. Everyone of you is being a salesman. You throw around talk of white papers, specs and proof and that is nothing more than a sign that your not "doing". That whole random dynamic range thing for example. That's the level of your testing, your proof? Sorry, I'm going to side with the active practicing listener on this one. Someone who explores stereo as a whole, not someone who has thrown a system in a living room and is making it conform to something called the WAF, another excuse.

Then again maybe I have the word "phile" all wrong. I guess the guy who spends thousands upon thousands on their system is not really interested in listening to music after all. They spend enough on an amp that could easily pay for a room addition to their house or convert a room, but no, lets spend all this money and not use the room for sound. Lets make it a music room but not get carried away by making it sound right. Lets do the same with the components, after all their trophies to be looked at right? Now lets throw all this in a room, and without making the pieces work together lets run a test. Oh that's what it sounds like, see. But what happens when I play music? Hmmm... how about another recording? Hmmm.... hmmm. Well it must be the way the recording sounds cause I tested the system with something completely different than that particular piece of music.

No Thanks, I'm going with listening.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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Measurements Matter......

...but anyone who purchases equipment based solely on measured performance is uninformed, myopic & simply fooling themselves.

Just as I use DR Database (I like to think of DR Database as the Carfax for music) as only ONE of Many ways for evaluating music, so to measurements will tell only one small part of the overall picture.

It seems like throwing out the baby with the bath water to not take advantage of all the resources available when evaluating equipment. Of course, your ears must always make the final judgment.

Stereophile does not live or die by the measurements they publish.
They provide them for those who wish to learn to understand them, and use them as one of many tools for understanding how different products compare to each other.
Stereophile is a written format.
It can not hear for you.
It can only describe in words what things sound like.
Offering measurements (very accurate & insightful measurements, I might add) is just one more tool it provides its readers to fully understand the whole picture of the equipment it reviews and describes using the written word.

Concerning shows & how they have evolved…

There is no doubt they have mutated into grandiose displays of propaganda perpetuated by the equipment industry’s sole mission of maximizing profit.
Combine this with the fact that the majority of music today is experienced in a bubble.
The bubble created by portable, low resolution, devises using some of the most archaic & dreadful transducers, known as earbuds, ever created.

The real problem is not in the ‘listening’.
The problem is how people listen today.
The benchmark us baby boomers had were local shops that were run by intelligent, informed, honest music lovers who were devoted to sharing their passion for music with anyone who would walk through their doors, regardless of whether they had paperboy or executive budgets.

Today, the benchmark is iTune snippets, distorted, electronically manipulated & massively compressed facsimiles of something barely recognizable as real music.
The higher-end equipment industry is competing for a share of a market that is shrinking at an exponential rate.
The only way for them to make a profit is to maximize margin by focusing their efforts on the niche market segment with the largest available budget.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

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Those who can't see the value in measurements

Yet, they find the need to carp about including them in the magazine as if someone is holding a gun to their head and making them read the graphs and data. Don't like them...don't read them.

I'm fine with someone dumbing themselves down, but for those of us who do see the value in measuring, we'll continue to appreciate the almost unique value that Stereophile continues to provide in their approach to High End audio.

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Taking the High Road...
Catch22 wrote:

Yet, they find the need to carp about including them in the magazine as if someone is holding a gun to their head and making them read the graphs and data. Don't like them...don't read them.

I'm fine with someone dumbing themselves down, but for those of us who do see the value in measuring, we'll continue to appreciate the almost unique value that Stereophile continues to provide in their approach to High End audio.

I admire a man who chooses to take the high road.

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Measurements

Well said Catch.

I don't understand as much about measurements as I should and to be honest I'm not all that interested. What I am interested in is music and the conduit to our souls that we call are audio systems, but I don't knock the folks that are interested in such things or SP for expending the time and effort. I do like to look at Johns conclusions at the end of the measurement section, if he likes what he sees thats all I really need to know.

tim

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nothing dumb about it

"I'm fine with someone dumbing themselves down, but for those of us who do see the value in measuring, we'll continue to appreciate the almost unique value that Stereophile continues to provide in their approach to High End audio."

Catch you need to realize that many out there look at these measurements as a crutch for those who don't have the ability to listen and explore for themselves. To and for them seeing someone say "the horns sounded like" means more than any piece of paper.

John posts the measurements because that's his style, but that doesn't make his reviewing any better or worse than the other reviewers who have their own style. Does it??

Bill, I have a little different take. I see the audiophile side droping off and making no great moves to improve their "sound". If they could make better sound you can bet big bucks they'd be showing it off instead of talking. If you think the products (the high end ones) today sound better than the ones 20 years ago, when the shows were packed, I would question that, and say there is a huge number who don't see/hear the improvements. These listeners no longer want to visit bad sounding demos, why would they? There are plenty of listeners out there that would flood the high end audio market if the market produced the sound they felt was superior to what is now being produce at the mid or even lower price scales. Why does someone want to go to a show when they can purchase something for fractions and with applying a little know how smash the sound of the big boys that they hear at the shows?

Bill lets take a look at your on show report thread on here, which BTW thanks for. 20 years ago if you would have posted this report it would have had 2000-7000 hits by now. Look at it. Nothing, flatline. People have lost their interest because there is no one walking out of these shows going "holy smokes batman" did you hear that. You take the hobby of "listening" and reduce it to a few guys who need white papers and charts to prove what they are hearing and this hobby dies a slow death. Your seeing it before your eyes.

I ask myself daily "why in the world aren't there 80 or more hungry audiophiles posting on this forum every day?". I have listeners outside of this forum asking me the same thing. Why aren't the shows packed, and why are the forums either flame forums or dead forums? The answer is most people who listen to music want to be upbeat about it, not beatup for it, and not pulled into debates that lead nowhere. They want to talk to people about the fun of the music and not come to places that feel like the living dead.

Audiophile 2000's recent thread sums it up for me. It was a call for people to posts their systems and how they got there and no one came. Even you the regular posters up here just walked right by. If no one sees you guys rolling up your listening sleeves, why do they want to come? I'm sure all you guys love your systems, so why aren't you talking about them? Ok, for you spec guys, where's "your" published work? You talk about how important these measurements are, lets see yours. Lets see something!

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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Audio Evolution?

Michael,

You bring up an interesting point.

The system I heard at CAF this year that I personally liked the best…
The one that always gave me goose bumps……
The one that elicited a raw emotional response every time I heard it……
...It utilized Quad 57 electrostatic loudspeakers.

Albeit, these were totally refurbished & modified using ultra-thin Mylar among other significant tactics……but we are talking about a technology that was patented 80 years ago & went into commercial production in 1957.

I think some recent (as in the past 20 years) developments in material science have contributed to some worthy improvements in today’s offerings.
For example, look at the different materials used in speaker driver cone materials.
Aluminum, titanium, Kevlar carbon fiber, to list just a few, have been implemented to reduce distortion caused due to flexing of the cone material.
Keep in mind that these new cone materials bring with them other characteristics which can be detrimental to better performance.
Ultra-stiff cones are subject to resonance issues which must be dealt with.
There are always trad-offs.
Many advances in individual component materials such as Neodymium & Alnico for speaker magnets along with improvements in capacitors, resistors etc. have also provided incremental improvements in sound reproduction.

Yet, I am hard pressed to name a single innovation in the last 40 years that has turned the audio industry on its end.

Class ‘D’ amps?
Concentric drivers?
Boron cartridge cantilevers?
Unnobtainium cabinet materials?
Hi-Rez files?
Zero tracking tone arms?
DSP? (digital signal processing)

All these and any others are things that are evolutionary…
Not revolutionary.

Even Brian Zolner’s Bricasti M28 amps (as impressive as they are, & trust me, they are) use technology that has existed for a long time.
They are simply executed to a finite extreme.

The industry can not profit from maximizing the equipment we already own.
They do it by marketing with new-age buzzwords, blue LEDs and now even crowd funding.
The future of audio for the average music lovers, like us, is direct marketers like Schiit, Odsesy and their growing number of compatriots who offer value, quality & honesty driven by a passion for music.

The generations behind us have little to look forward to other than neural implants.
Glad I will not be around for that.

End of rant.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

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the best years

Hi Bill

The best years are yet to come, but this is (like you said) going to take the learning of years past combined with the present. As an industry we have got to stop designing "a new" and instead spend our time revisiting the best of the old. This is hard for a lot of guys who have bought into the latest greatest program, but for those of us who have taken apart this industry, screw by screw, in real time over the last 30 or so years we have seen where the industry has jumped the gun a few times and made things "fact" when they were not really ready to become so. The marketing wheel made it's move way before the ears had a chance to evaluate the good and bad, and as a result we have moved a step forward but sometimes two back. This is why I play with an open field, open book, open mind approach. I've been fortunate enough in life to do this where I know most hobbyist don't have the means and space to do so, but it doesn't take all that much to do simple testing that leads to certain conclusions and that gets the brain thinking.

I do believe that the high end (over built) part of this may not make it the way things are, but a new chapter will emerge that will be not only more practical but also better organized. Sometimes it's good for the old to die giving new buds. The old goes kicking and screaming but that's life. This industry has a way of pushing all the way to one edge, but be sure that just as fast and with as much force it will begin going the other way when it reaches that edge, and it is about there. For example, those who know me and my background know that I wouldn't stand on a soupbox of "Low Mass" unless there some meat to it. I've had all the top end products and have seen how far they can go and what it takes to make them the very best they can be. The reviews are proof of this, along with me moving to Nashville and building my own test studios. I've gone to the extreme to find the answers I have, and did so with many experts to test and experience my findings. I'm sure with the next round of reviews or articles on and about me this will come out, but I needed to see and hear these things for myself first, without the bias of having my foot in the marketing camp. I stepoed away and learned what I needed to, and now I'm back to share. I'm sure my bold statements will get greeted with good and bad, but the testing by fire or not will still come out the same cause everyone who explores what I have learned will come out of this the same way. Some might be mad at the conclusions but that won't change the findings.

We have no choice but to move this hobby forward, and if we don't others will do it for us as the rest die off.

BTW we used stripped 57's in our Chicago tunable room along with our Music Ply 60's. The 60's eat them alive, but it was a lot of fun taking the Quad's to a place they hadn't been to before. It was a blast having the past sitting in the most modern listening room do date. Kinda exciting listening during those sessions. We played a lot of oldies as well as audiophile reference stuff, but it took me back in time and I spent many over night lession sessions with a smile.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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Measurements are just fine

The problem occurs when the reviewer does not hear anything related to those measurements... like when a "golden eared" reviewer hears lots of music and a analog-like sound and JA concludes that the same (expensive) device is unable to reproduce ANY bass without gross distortions. Now what's to change: JA's measuring gear or the reviewer's ears?
N.B. Talking about the infamous Zanden DAC, of course...

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That's a perfect example of why measurements DO matter

Defects or poor engineering show up and we aren't limited to one man's opinion. Stereophile is the only magazine that would have delved that deeply into the product and published that much information about it. The readers benefit tremendously from the review and subsequent follow-ups. Nobody else would have done that.

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Catch, I do agree

But then I wonder how I can put any trust in that reviewer's opinions, and why is he still kept on Stereophile's board of "golden ears"... Come on, the guy cannot hear gross (and I mean GROSS) distortions in the bass area, so he either tested the expensive product with violin solos only (not something acceptable for a reviewer) or his ears are, well, not so golden (anymore).
Or to put it bluntly: why would I care to read anything else BUT the measurements - and incidentally, I know how to "translate" those?

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golden ears

Just because someone is a writer that in no way makes them "golden eas". It's their job to "write" about the golden ears in the industry. The industry has built up false expectations of the writers who tell the story of High End Audio. They (reviewers), do not build product, they do not tear product apart, they get product "stock" and report on it from and with the tools they have to do it with.

Now that forums are (for those of us who wish to take advantage of them) here the playing field is much different. Everyone and anyone has the opportunity to flex their audio muscles, and for the designer and any authority, I recommend they do so.

I don't think anyone anymore can really blame a reviewer for a poor review. It might be that they were poorly setup for that review, or that the sample was not up to speed. We in the past were asking them (reviewers) to do plug and play and write based on that. Well lets be honest here, the industry at this level is far more involved than plug and play and if someone anyone is not able to guide a system to a higher level of performance there could be many reasons for it.

Fact is "you are the listener" and need to learn the skills and stop looking for someone else to give you legitimacy. If you have a plus or minus about a product that should be between you and the designer not you and the reviewer. The days of review followed by box moving are over. In days past, before the internet, we depended on the reviewers to make choices for us. This was always something out of balance but it's how it happened, and most of the time thank God it did cause the listener had no clue unless the reviewer made them aware. Now that the internet is here the listener has the chance to explore on their own. The magazines take on a slightly different role, and we all should be able to deal with this and integrate this and every audio forum to walk side by side with the mags.

Stereophile in many ways has been the most open of all the other magazine/forum combos, at least on a bigger scale, and from what I have seen (I haven't seen it all). Where else would you have JA directly respond to you in person in real time? You don't have to agree or disagree with his opinion, but we should be thankful that he has made a place of relative peace in a fairly unbias setting.

Do you guys not see what is happening here? This is a new world and you need to start living in it instead of attacking the world you think it is or the former world it belonged to.

Costin, I'm only bring you up because you have pointed to a product and review so no offense intented. What is stopping you from writing your own review of the product and bring up the points where you disagree with John? John or anyone at that point could respond to your thread. Don't you think that will do more for your point than saying this is the reason that Stereophile is behind the other mags?

I don't think some of you guys realize where you are right now and the opportunity Stereophile has giving the industry and hobby. You guys have the freedom to post day and night if you wish and make the changes in this industry you would like to. I'm going to.

I've already confronted people when they make their statements and have provided them places to expound on the topics with their knowledge. That's what I see Stereophile doing here on a bigger scale "Brilliant" I say! Bravo! Stereophile has in the last couple of months gone up at least a few numbers on my chart. Not by what they have said but by them letting the industry be what it is.

Those of you who have something to say, should come up and say it, instead of saying something isn't working you should show how it needs to be by examples. For example, it means very little to me if someone comes up and talks about specs and white papers if they are not going up on specs and white papers threads and sharing how much they know. It means very little to me if someone brags on their systems ability if they don't have a thread on their system. Same goes for products and all the views. This is a forum and that means you have the right to make your case on and by starting threads. If your the kind who just comes up and points fingers or waves your flag on someone elses thread this shows me that you are not a true believer in your point. I know when I see this I'm going to call you out, if I do have knowledge about the topic. I'm not the sit back type of guy. If the industry needs a change and I have the opportunity to help I'm there. To me this is not about talk, it's about doing and truly knowing and continual learning.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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Dear Michael, you hit most, you missed one

I mean your question

michael green wrote:

What is stopping you from writing your own review of the product and bring up the points where you disagree with John?

I would never get a sample for review and get to play with it for several months, so the only way to get hold of the product for review is buying it... and if I don't like it, just write a review and cry over my empty wallet. Actually, this is why I (sometimes) rely on Stereophile: they don't have to pay in order to review a $43,000 preamp but I do!

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?Q?

Hi Costin

I'm confused than. How do you know it was an unfair review if you didn't check the product out for yourself, or is this a product you would like reviewed but no one has yet?

There is another way however. Fly out and listen to the product at the designers place. If someone can afford a 43000.oo unit, they can certainly afford a trip to the designers listening room, or have the product designer bring it to him or her.

Personally I wouldn't trust a reviewer any review to make a 43000.oo choice for me.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

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Michael, the product reviewed...

...was the Zanden DAC, and it got a rave review but exceedingly poor (may I say horrible?) measurements.
The $43.000 preamp is the new Lamm "whathever is best" and is the subject of yet another review - just look at the homepage - and I used it as an example of why I can't post my own review of megabuck components.

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so let me understand

Hi Costin

So what the problem is, the "Zanden DAC" got a rave listening review but poor measurements. I don't see this as being anything new. Measurements and listening reviews are two completely different things, almost two completely different hobbies.

michael green
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Exactly...

The reviewer loved the sound of that DAC and JA wrote something along the lines of "cannot reproduce any bass without gross distortions" (sorry I don't quote, too late in the night to go review-hunting).
Yes I know good measurements do not guarantee a good sound, but then exceedingly poor measurements are not compatible with good sound either: I want my gear to reproduce whatever info is on the CD, not editorialize and give me a square wave instead of bass.

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