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jazzfan
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Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

I have a quick question:

Why as Red Rose's Burwen Bobcat been getting a "free pass" from Stereophile?

The claims that are being made by the Burwen Bobcat fly in the face of logic and yet they go completely unchallenged within the pages of one of the world's leading audio publications.

"Make MP3s that sound better than original CDS" - an actual quote from the Bobcat web site.

Stereophile what gives? This product is for sale and it is not cheap. The time has come for an in depth review. Is it for real or just another 24 bit crystalizer ala Sound Blaster?

Jeff Wong
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

There was coverage last year in the eNewsletter:

http://www.stereophile.com/images/newsletter/705Astph.html

There's some between the line reading to be done -- I don't think a free pass was handed out.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

The excessive hand-waving by ML and the restrictions on demo protocol were off-putting. Besides, I have no interest in MP3 applications.

Kal

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

I do understand. I have been looking at the Apogee Mini-Me 2 channel mic-pre ADC for some time and now that the price has dropped to a near rediculous $749 I am finding it hard to resist. But, I must as it is USB and only support up to 48 KHZ. Through the AES/EBU or coaxial output it will output 96K. My laptop does does not support either.

I am sure there is a firewire version coming to cause thie big of price drop. It probably still sounds good at the USB...and, at Apogee they do have a great pro audio reputation.

I want to move forward and not take a step back. I get the sense that is the same with the Burwen piece, regardless of the marketing. Most outlandish claims usually come to light.

That does not mean people should not buy it if that level of resolution suits their needs. I love my IPod with WAV files, but to many that is still not considered audiophile quality. It is still great sounding portable fun for me.

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
The claims that are being made by the Burwen Bobcat fly in the face of logic and yet they go completely unchallenged within the pages of one of the world's leading audio publications.

When you cut through the marketing speak, the Bobcat is a tone control. A reviewer may like or dislike what it does, but that will have no bearing on whether you will like it or not. I believe in the Second Law of Thermodynamics as applied to audio: Whatever you do to a signal will make it worse in absolute terms, even if it makes it better in a specific area.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Isn't that called conservation of empathy?

Kal

jazzfan
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Thanks for the responses JA and Kal,

From what I read on the Bobcat web site I quite agree with your statement "When you cut through the marketing speak, the Bobcat is a tone control" but that doesn't answer my question about a formal review.

Here's why I'm so worked up about this item. Stereophile has been on the forefront of the convergence of home audio with the world of computer audio. First the high for iPod then with coverage of sound cards and continuing on with reviews of streaming devices and media servers. Now along comes the Burwen Bobcat and bam it's right back to the good old world of high end audio snake oil, with claims that are just plain silly.

But this time things are just a bit different. Unlike the magic clock, the mystery pebbles or cooked wires I believe that the results can be fairly easily measured and tested, by equipment and by experienced reviewers. That coupled with the fact that Red Rose has been advertising within the pages of Stereophile and on the Stereophile web site would go a long way in showing the lack of bias in Stereophile's editorial policy.

To put it a little clear: You talk the talk, now walk the walk. Or better still: Actions speak louder than words.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
But this time things are just a bit different. Unlike the magic clock, the mystery pebbles or cooked wires I believe that the results can be fairly easily measured and tested, by equipment and by experienced reviewers. That coupled with the fact that Red Rose has been advertising within the pages of Stereophile and on the Stereophile web site would go a long way in showing the lack of bias in Stereophile's editorial policy.

To put it a little clear: You talk the talk, now walk the walk. Or better still: Actions speak louder than words.

It seems to me that what you suggest shows a bias -- Based on your wanting to couple that you know the measured results should be bad and that the company advertises in the magazine means that the only intent would be to knowingly go out of the way to publish what will be a bad review of a product made by a company that advertises in the magazine to give the impression of being unbiased. This is premeditated skewing. This kind of manipulation isn't much different than what Levinson pulled on Wes (emphasis mine):


Quote:
He began by having me remove my quartz watch and made sure I had no cell phones or other electronic devices in my pockets. He had me stand erect and lift my arm straight out to my side as he played a 128kbps MP3 recording without Burwen Bobcat enhancement. The AK testing procedure involves the subject resisting, as strongly as possible, the practitioner's downward push on the subject's arm. No matter how hard I resisted, Mark was able to push my arm down easily while the MP3 recording played. He repeated the experiment with the Burwen Bobcat engaged and could not push my arm down.

We repeated the experiment several times with similar results. Levinson then proposed an interesting variation on the procedure. With no music playing, he had me repeat phrases while testing my muscle response.

"I hate music." My arm went down.

"I love music." My arm was rigid.

"I hate my work." My arm went down.

"I love my work." Arm rigid.

This, Levinson claimed, showed that the cognitive dissonance caused by false statements was essentially similar to the kind of emotional and physical stress caused by PCM digital recording. It also showed, he said, that I was one of the most sensitive test subjects he had ever seen

Monty
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

This reminded me of an experiment my High School coach had us do one afternoon after practice. He had a 200lb guy sit in a chair and asked 4 of us to try and lift the chair with only 1 finger at each corner. We couldn't do it. He then had us stack our hands one after another on top of the guy's head in alternating order and remove them in alternating order and once again, attempt to lift the guy up with 1 finger at the corners of the chair. We lifted him up easily.

Go figure.

jazzfan
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Hi Jeff,

You keep going back to Wes Philips' year and a half old newsletter write up of what was at the time a controlled "by invitation only" demo of a not yet available product pronto-type, I don't understand what that has to do with a full blown review of a the actual retail product. Or am I to understand that I and the other forum members should be basing our buying decisions upon the results of these often overly orchestrated affairs?

As for the bias part, well you almost got that right. Here's my take on the whole thing. Mark Levinson is one of the most respected members of the high end audio community with a very long and quite distinguished career and not to mention many friends within the industry. I seriously doubt that any amount of ranting and raving on this forum by myself or any other member will ever being about the publication of the review of the Burwen Bobcat within the pages of Stereophile magazine precisely because that review would have to expose the Bobcat and all it's claims of the nonsense that they are. It's never going to happen. Period. Amen. I'm a realist. JA talks the talks but he doesn't walk the walk. What he's going to do is just tactfully ignore the Burwen Bobcat from here on in. Mark my words, he has no other choice. He can't embarrass Mr. Levinson in print but he can't review the Bobcat and maintain any kind of editorial standards, so just ignore it.

Now all JA has to do make me stop ranting is admit that this is true.

Merry Christmas!!!

ohfourohnine
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

"He can't embarrass Mr. Levinson in print but he can't review the Bobcat and maintain any kind of editorial standards, so just ignore it."

If my recollection of some exchanges in Stephen's blog is correct, Mr. Levinson did a pretty good job of embarassing himself with his early attempts to get support from Stereophile for the Bobcat. Given that there seems to have been no effort on Stereophile's part thus far to seek out and review sub par equipment - a lot of which is available for purchase - why is it so important to you to make an exception in this case. Aren't we looking at a similar game to the one I played with you when I raised the question why everyone holds Miles in such high regard? There is an important difference though, I think. My game was, "Let's you and me fight", yours appears to be, "Let's you and him fight." How about, since it's Christmas, we drop the Bobcat business and get some work from you on your list of best jazz recordings of the year?

jazzfan
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Hi Clay,

Again point missed. I'm a private individual who's opinions have little or no bearing outside of a small circle of friends. On the other hand, Stereophile is a widely read and respected publication who's opinions can and do influence not only the many people but have an impact on how they spent their money.

If I am going to have to keep on repeating this stuff I'm just going to put it all into a little macro so that I can just hit one key and the whole freaking paragraph pops up.

Stereophile has always claimed total and complete separation of it's advertising and editorial divisions, as in one as nothing to do with the other or any influence on the other.

Mark Levinson and Red Rose's Burwen Bobcat are advertisers in Stereophile magazine. The Burwen Bobcat is making claims within their advertising about their product which are fairly outrageous and, at least to this writer, appear to be within an area of interest near and dear John Atkinson's heart, i.e. computer audio.

After a rather long development and pre-launch period, the Burwen Bobcat is now available for sale to consumers. I think great, time to ask where's the Stereophile review. What do I get instead.


Quote:
When you cut through the marketing speak, the Bobcat is a tone control. A reviewer may like or dislike what it does, but that will have no bearing on whether you will like it or not. I believe in the Second Law of Thermodynamics as applied to audio: Whatever you do to a signal will make it worse in absolute terms, even if it makes it better in a specific area.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

This from the magazine that jumps every time Mr. Wilson or Mr. Thiel has a bowel movement. I believe I asked I very reasonable question even if my tone was not too reasonable. The product is out there, it's being backed by a big gun in the high end industry and it's priced like a high end product. Show some back bone and call a spade a spade and give it the kind of review a serious high end product deserves and let the chips fall where they may.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

R - Just because it's hyped as a high-end product doesn't mean it is one, or worthy of coverage. Whenever JA has written about computer related stuff, hasn't it been only regarding lossless formats? This thing futzes with MP3s, dude. Who's missing whose point?

Is Mark Levinson as respected as he once was? Up until and including his days at Cello, I'd have thought so. But, his Red Rose period seems wilted or tarnished -- the Korsun rebadge* didn't appear to help.

*See also this.

jazzfan
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Oh I see, I did get it wrong.

Mark Levinson = Red Rose = FREE PASS

I guess once you've picked a couple of dinner tabs you get to rip off the readers of Stereophile as much as you want. Someone should tell the guys in the white vans to stop by the Stereophile offices and buy a few lunches before they hit the malls.

You know what Jeff, hypocrisy takes many different shapes and forms, sometimes it can even be your friend.

My rancor as little to do with MP3s or Mark Levinson's reputation but rather with the fact that the editors of Stereophile seem rather selective as to just whose curtain they chose to pull back and expose to the world that the wizard is just a mere moral.

Sure JA has no problem telling us forum members that he believes that $3000 plus buys one little more than a fancy tone control but does he use the power of his position as editor of one of the world's most respected audio publications to test that product and tell the readers of that magazine, through a well written review, complete with documented test results, that they are being had????

No, I'm not missing any points. Free pass it is and free pass it remains. Now if you want, I got this great deal on this really nice bridge and if you act fast I can even throw in all the cars and trucks at no extra charge.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

If you want to get into equations:

Burwen Bobcat = MP3 = Not Hi-Fi = NOT WORTHY OF MAGAZINE COVERAGE

Editorial pages are at a premium. How many readers want it wasted on MP3 coverage? Wes' piece did pull the curtain away from the man, just not on paper.

I'm gonna make some popcorn and watch by the sidelines in regard to the unjustified dinner comment...

ohfourohnine
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

"Sure JA has no problem telling us forum members that he believes that $3000 plus buys one little more than a fancy tone control but does he use the power of his position as editor of one of the world's most respected audio publications to test that product and tell the readers of that magazine, through a well written review, complete with documented test results, that they are being had????"

So, my friend, the only thing that will satisfy you in this instance, is that JA and perhaps another Stereophile reviewer give a thorough public thrashing to this high priced tone control? I read the magazine pretty carefully, and I can't recall such treatment given to another product. Point me, if you will, to an example of the sort of drubbing you're insisting on in an earlier edition of the mag.

You've not been reluctant to suggest to others in this exchange that we were missing the point. Maybe a point for you to consider, as Jeff and I have both suggested, is that the position taken - not worthy of review - is sufficient, in fact quite powerful, criticism. And maybe JA deserves to wield the power you suggests he has in whatever manner he chooses.

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
If you want to get into equations:

Burwen Bobcat = MP3 = Not Hi-Fi = NOT WORTHY OF MAGAZINE COVERAGE

Editorial pages are at a premium. How many readers want it wasted on MP3 coverage? Wes' piece did pull the curtain away from the man, just not on paper.

You nailed it, Jeff. This is an inconsequential product from a tiny company that makes impossible claims about what it can do with a terminally sonically compromised medium.

What would be the point of a review? Life's too short.

Right now I am working on reviews of 2 superb small speakers, one very cheap, one not so cheap. That's what _I_ am excited about.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Puh, it's clear that Mr Levinson has a commercial interest in this product. No problem with that, but it's not an objective test. And besides that, I will use MP3 only to discover music. When appreciated, I'll buy the original CD. It would be better if the music studio's/producers actually produce the recording to the ultimate standard that's possible: some CD's sound as bad as an MP3 (take X&Y from Coldplay for example...) Why fix things if they are broken already?

jazzfan
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

I will honor what appears to be a consensus and throw in the towel not pursue the issue any further.

However before doing so I would like to offer the following comments.

First off it was Stereophile and not I who were the first ones to show a rather heated interest in the Burwen Bobcat with several mentions of the product in their magazine, on their web site and in their email newsletter before it was even available for sale. Second I did not call the Bobcat a "tone control", Mr. Atkinson did. Lastly Mr. Atkinson last response was not even addressed to me but rather to a different forum member and I found that to be in extremely poor taste, kind of like hiding behind a woman's skirt.

I rather disappointed that Stereophile has so clearly shown their true colors, at to this writer, and hides behind such weak arguments to make their case.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Hey! I'm not so keen on this analogy making me the woman's skirt! The only thing missing from your post is "cancel my subscription" -- I don't understand why you're so hung up on:

An MP3 product that once Stereophile checked out, deemed unworthy of coverage. Even when the magazine wrote about the iPod or Slim Devices gear, it was in the context of lossless files. High fidelity is paramount. JA has deemed the Bobcat a tone control publicly online. So what if it's not in the magazine?

Publicly pantsing Levinson -- the approach you mentioned goes out of the way to do so, and as Clay* pointed out, something that hasn't been done to any other manufacturer in the magazine. If you can point to an instance where this has been done, please share.

*The use of the word drubbing reminded me of Martin Amis' essay on Don Quixote, which goes on about the countless drubbings that take place in the book. With Clifton away, someone had to make a literary reference...

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

I don't need an official review, but where did we learn what the Bobcat does?

I have no clue how it works, and Mark Levinson has a well established high end reputation, so I would be interested in some data.

I must have missed the part that explained to us how it's just a tone control.

Doesn't it also include a DAC in the signal path?

This seems like perfect forum fodder!

Sorry to be dense. I feel like I missed an installment somewhere.

I do recall the blogs, but then it seemed there was an abrupt about face with regard to how the sound was regarded and how Mr. Levinson was portrayed.

Yup, something must have happened, but I don't know what.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

People at the Steve Hoffman forums are wondering about this as well:

http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=100328

Jeff Dorgay of Tone is looking into writing about it.

I think of the Stereophile site & forum as a supplement to the magazine, where things that don't fit into traditional format can get covered. This is perfect forum fodder. Space in the magazine is so limited, I can understand wanting to narrow its focus. The site is almost limitless. Are statements on the site worth less than ones printed in the magazine? If the info is out there for the public to read, that seems like legitimate coverage.

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
Hey! I'm not so keen on this analogy making me the woman's skirt! The only thing missing from your post is "cancel my subscription" -- I don't understand why you're so hung up on:

Hi Jeff,

The short answer to your question is while you and I and many of the other Stereophile forum members may be up to date with the latest in digital audio file formats and their associated sound quality the same may not be true for all Stereophile readers. The hype behind the Burwen Bobcat appears to be taking advantage of this general lack of knowledge. A thorough review of the product in a magazine like Stereophile would not only expose this hype for the nonsense that it is but would help to educate many of those readers about the various digital audio files formats so that this kind of b.s. goes away once and for all and does not become another version of the "magic clock".

I believe Levinson deserves a good public drubbing for using his "good" name to prey on the ignorance of people when it comes to digital audio files.

jopageri
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Why do you insist that the Burwen Bobcat is solely an MP3 product? Evidently, the Bobcat will work with any Windows Media Player file format, including lossless. My reading of the web site is that Burwen Bobcat will make lossless files sound as good as analog or SACD, and will make MP3s sound as good as a CD. Is this claim not worth reviewing?

Also, JA states that the Bobcat is nothing but a "tone control"...sure, there is equalization involved, but what about the ultra-high-frequency reverberation, and the effect that might have on digital harshness and shrillness? Is this claim not worth reviewing?

You are mistaken to equate the Burwen Bobcat as solely an MP3 product! And I believe that there is more to this product than just being a "tone control"!

Why not review it, test it, MEASURE IT and see what you come up with?

Jim

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
Space in the magazine is so limited, I can understand wanting to narrow its focus.

I'm not trying to be meanspirited, but how can you defend finding space in the magazine to review a $90,000 turntable that practically nobody could afford, yet not find the space to review a product at 1/30 the cost which claims to provide the analog experience to digital files?

Jim

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Hi Jim,

Where were you last week when I really needed the help?

By the way, Jim and I are not the same person! Also if you read some of the links that Jeff posted I think you'll find that some of those writers lean more towards my feelings on the matter. Apparently I'm not so alone in my opinion on this matter, maybe just ahead of the curve.

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
Hi Jim,

Where were you last week when I really needed the help?

I just found this forum this week, after checking out the Bobcat posts on Steve Hoffman's site...I really believe that the magazine would serve a good number of their readers if products such as the Bobcat would be considered for review (I'm not talking about this forum or the blogs, but the magazine itself).

I understand that Richard Burwen, who created the software for the Bobcat, has been wellknown in the music industry for many years. I would think that someone of his stature would not be dismissed so easily.

I don't have an opinion about Mark Levinson yet.

I'm happy to join you in urging JA and staff to reconsider which products are considered worthy of review in the pages of their magazine (limited as they may be...).

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
...I understand that Richard Burwen, who created the software for the Bobcat, has been well known in the music industry for many years. I would think that someone of his stature would not be dismissed so easily.

I don't have an opinion about Mark Levinson yet.

I'm happy to join you in urging JA and staff to reconsider which products are considered worthy of review in the pages of their magazine (limited as they may be...).

Thanks for the support.

Since you seem to know a little about Mr. Burwen and mention that he "has been well known in the music industry for many years" you should understand that Mr. Levinson has been well known for many years within the audio industry and his good name is very much at stake. Why he's being protected I don't know but something is very strange.

I should only repeat what I wrote in my earlier posts, mainly that there's more things at work here than what would appear on the surface because on the surface there's really no good reason for Stereophile to so flat out refuse to review this piece of equipment and to give such silly reasons for not doing so.

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

They need to stop ignoring VanAlstine www.avahifi.com They finally acknoledged Legacy.....which turned out to be fantastic (FOCUS), Whisper even more fantastic. Sometimes, the magazine misses it big time...and they are by ignoring VanAlstine...yet as mentioned a $90,000 TT, which is useless for 99.99999995 of us. as is a $1,800. plastic demagnetizer, or a $45K Zander DEFECTIVE overhyped highlt distored junk. $5K...come on....The EMM Labs CDSA-SE at $10K is about $2K more than mortal...and that has real functiuonality!!! done by a guy involved in teh formats...Zander, is a joke.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

Zander is not a joke. He is a very fine conductor.

Kal

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


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Zander is not a joke. He is a very fine conductor.

And a truly fascinating man as well.

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???

The $45K Zander Cd player. And it only plays CD. with a 90's chip. MF raved about it, luckily JA found it's true worth, through reality based measurements, not "Well it's $45K, so I know it must be good" If that same dude that did this CD player joke is also a conductor, he should stick to conducting.

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:
The $45K Zander Cd player...If that same dude that did this CD player joke is also a conductor, he should stick to conducting.

Zanden (with an N) makes audio components; Zander (with an R) is a fine conductor specializing in Mahler. Zanden's importer has let me know that 3 samples of the 5000S were incorrectly manufactured, including our original review sample, BTW.

Thinking about a Bobcat review, but I am not sure what measurements would prove meaningful. Suggestions are welcome.

Happy Hogmanay

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:

Quote:
The $45K Zander Cd player...If that same dude that did this CD player joke is also a conductor, he should stick to conducting.

Zanden (with an N) makes audio components; Zander (with an R) is a fine conductor specializing in Mahler. Zanden's importer has let me know that 3 samples of the 5000S were incorrectly manufactured, including our original review sample, BTW.

Thinking about a Bobcat review, but I am not sure what measurements would prove meaningful. Suggestions are welcome.

Happy Hogmanay

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

That's great news!!!

Now you've put the ball in my court. To use yet another idiomatic expression - I'll have to put my money where my (big) mouth is and come up with some suggestions for tests and measurements to use in a possible Bobcat review. Give a few days to think about it. And thanks for bending a bit.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

Happy Hogmanay!!!

Ralph aka Jazzfan

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Re: Burwen Bobcat - Free Pass???


Quote:

Thinking about a Bobcat review...

Thank you!!

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