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vladoslav
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if I were JA,

I would ask WP how it is to give a passable praising to BellCanto amp which measures like shit!?

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,

We've been down this path before. The Stereophile policy is that it's all good. They don't review anything that's not good. There are no negative reviews within the magazine. So, the best we can do is read between the lines. Since there are no negative reviews, and something doesn't measure up to the listening tests, there are a number of possible conclusions that can be drawn.

1. JA doesn't know how to measure

2. JA is measuring the wrong things

3. Wes Phillips is deaf

4. The Bel Canto amp is crap, but since there cannot be negative reviews, the negativity is flushed out through the measurements section, while still providing a marketing quote from the review to the manufacturer

5. Wes Phillips is in bed with Bel Canto, JA is not

My personal take on it is that it's #4. Then again, what do I know?

vladoslav
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

1. JA doesn't know how to measure

2. JA is measuring the wrong things

3. Wes Phillips is deaf

4. The Bel Canto amp is crap, but since there cannot be negative reviews, the negativity is flushed out through the measurements section, while still providing a marketing quote from the review to the manufacturer

5. Wes Phillips is in bed with Bel Canto, JA is not

I exlude # 1&2!

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,

I tend to agree. Whereas I'm not an electronics engineer, his measurements are consistent as are his methodologies. Furthermore, no one ever said that his measurements are out of whack with what others measure or what the manufacturers measure themselves.

KBK
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Re: if I were JA,

how about the Zanden?

http://www.stereophile.com/cdplayers/1106zanden/

Mikey says it sound great, likely the best.

So much for uncorrelated measurements.

Science likes to do measurements. Good science revolves around finding the right test for the question at hand. Many times it is a failure to fully understand the question at hand.

Defining the parameters of the question, framing it, so to speak, generally frames the answer. The two are inseparable, to a large degree.

Failure to explain the measurements vs the perceived sonics presented in the Zanden review...is not a real failure of measurements or a failure of the reviewer to hear things correctly..it is a failure to define the proper measurement and area of looking for the measurement, nothing more.

If JA knew that..he'd know a part of the kind of holy grail that many an audio designer is looking for. Perhaps the Zanden gentleman knows this exact 'searched for' point.

Perhaps Bob of Meridian finally has it, in his recently done work on digital considerations, in both the encoding and decoding emphasis and phasing issues.

Eventually, it will no longer be a mystery, and the unwashed audiophile masses will go on to rail about some other thing that they do not understand, instead of trying to figure it out.

vladoslav
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Re: if I were JA,

I agree with you KBK, but NOT on amplifier measurements.
Go to the SimAudio amplifier measurements and you'll see
the truth. SimAudio is just an example, of course other
can as well.

ethanwiner
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
Eventually, it will no longer be a mystery, and the unwashed audiophile masses will go on to rail about some other thing that they do not understand, instead of trying to figure it out.


That pretty well sums up my assessment of the current situation.

--Ethan

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Re: if I were JA,

What about the review of the 47 laboratories turntable in the same issue by Mr. Fremmer? I'd consider that a negative review. There were a bunch of design points that he questions and well as a number of ergonomic issues. He pretty much trashes it as a silly design.

From my understanding the major reason that there aren't many negative reviews is the way that many products for review are chose. Reviewers go to shows, and ask manufacturers for samples of products that sound promising. Surely a reviewer wants to review things that sound great. There is so much great sounding gear why waste space reviewing stuff that's less than great?

If when you were a kid you were given a school assignment that allowed you to go to a candy store, sample all of the candies you wanted, then take a package home to eat and write a paper about would you have chosen the sample of candy that you didn't like? No, probably not. Nor would I.

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Re: if I were JA,

"We've been down this path before. The Stereophile policy is that it's all good."

Not (always) true- you may not have read Michael Fremer's two TT reviews this last issue but he pretty much trashed one and didn't like the other much either. There are others too, but isn't some of the point to let people know of all the many products out there the one's you might want to try. I'd guess a mag full of negative reviews would be met with readers saying "OK, great so now I know what sucks, but which ones are good?"

That being said, when measurements are not up to the subjective reviewers assessment, what SHOULD be the policy? Review again with someone else? Dig deeper to find out why they don't come out the same? I don't know, but I'd certainly like to see them aligned.

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

There is so much great sounding gear why waste space reviewing stuff that's less than great?

For a number of reasons:

1. It speaks to the reviewer's credibility. If there are no negative reviews, then one gets the impression, as Art Dudley has discovered on Audio Asylum forums, that the magazine is all about "happy face". It is also difficult to discern the criteria on which a review is based. One has to know darkness to understand the light. In other words, everything reviewed sounds great compared to what?

2. When something doesn't get reviewed, the readers are left wondering whether that something didn't reviewed because:

a. The magazine editors didn't get to it
b. The component sucks
c. Not enough dealers
d. The manufacturer had a falling out with the editors or
didn't buy enough advertising.

3. Negative reviews keeps manufacturers in check. At this point, the manufacturers take little if any risk by submitting a review sample. They know that since there cannot be negative reviews, they can only benefit from submitting a sample and take no care to ensure that the product is up to speed (as evidenced by the afore mentioned Zanden review.) If manufacturers fear a possibility of a negative review, they will go out of their way to ensure that not only is the review sample, but the entire product line is up to snuff.

I should also point out that full disclosure of the review process and occurrences does not constitute a negative review. Hence, it's not enough to say "we publish all results and incidents we encounter during a review process". That's great, but it's not enough. It is clear that it's not enough as evidenced by Art Dudley at the Audio Asylum forums. You can't go about cherry picking your reviews, putting on a happy face on every review and then be shocked that your readers don't take you seriously, or even worse, view you as a farce. It is also a cop out to write an article about isolation devices saying how wonderful they all are, but they just don't fit your lifestyle.

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
Science likes to do measurements. Good science revolves around finding the right test for the question at hand. Many times it is a failure to fully understand the question at hand.

Defining the parameters of the question, framing it, so to speak, generally frames the answer. The two are inseparable, to a large degree.

I might add that the first thing is "observation". From that we can notice that something is questionable. If you hear a difference between a "portable record-player" vs. a "reference system", an observation has been made. Trying to find out what makes the difference leads to measurements, guided by the observation. If the treble is down in the 'portable' and extended in the 'reference', that is measurable and correlatable to what is heard. Doing this doesn't frame the answer, but I understand what you are getting at. It's possible to lead or mislead oneself if we're not careful.


Quote:
Failure to explain the measurements vs the perceived sonics presented in the Zanden review...is not a real failure of measurements or a failure of the reviewer to hear things correctly..it is a failure to define the proper measurement and area of looking for the measurement, nothing more.

Also true for reviews or measurements in general, IMHO.

For example, I have "tweaked" my gear. Before the tweaks I heard what I thought was really good sound. After the tweaks, I hear each instrument more independent of each other, and what sounds like much reduced interference among instruments. One instrument playing an attack does not diminish or affect others, post-tweak.

What measurement would one do to confirm this observation? Is it reduced IM distortion, although it was already very low? Is it improved signal synchronicity between the two channels? Is it tighter tolerance parts matching between channels? Is it better channel balance or separation?

One has to hypothesize what the cause could be, based upon experience with the theory and practice of audio, and go do existing measurements or develop new measurements to isolate this phenomenon. Good experimental design is very difficult to correctly.

I don't know the cause of what I heard, yet. I still think that if you can hear it, then it can be measured. But how?

mrlowry
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Re: if I were JA,

So they should mandate X number of bad reviews for Y number of good reviews, some kind of magic ratio to maintains their credibility? That doesn't make any sense to me. Stereophile's job is to bring to light great sounding gear. They are not obligated to protect us from bad gear. This isn't Consumer Reports. We can protect ourselves from underperforming products. Anyone with ears should be able to hear a lemon if they are comparing it to something else that's good. I would consider intentionally reviewing gear that they know will sound bad just to improve their "credibility" with a handful of people a complete and utter waste of space.

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
So they should mandate X number of bad reviews for Y number of good reviews, some kind of magic ratio to maintains their credibility?

No. They should simply pick a component for review, rather than cherry pick. In other words, go to shows, pick different components to review, not just the ones that you think will pass the muster.


Quote:
Stereophile's job is to bring to light great sounding gear.

Really? I thought it was to review audio components?


Quote:
They are not obligated to protect us from bad gear. This isn't Consumer Reports. We can protect ourselves from underperforming products. Anyone with ears should be able to hear a lemon if they are comparing it to something else that's good.

Anyone with a set of ears can hear whatever they hear. However, if we're going to rely EXCLUSIVELY on OUR OWN ears, what do we need Stereophile for?


Quote:
I would consider intentionally reviewing gear that they know will sound bad just to improve their "credibility" with a handful of people a complete and utter waste of space.

How about reviewing gear with no biases to begin with? How about reviewing for the sake of reviewing? Pick something out of a hat to review. This way, there is no expectation of one sort or another.

Another thing is that you assume that people who feel the way I do are only a handful of people. I beg to differ. I think that are quite a number of people who crave a more even handed approach toward gear reviewing.

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Re: if I were JA,

Mickey couldn't hear teh miswired $27K Zanden or whatever it was, and Mickey liiiked it! JA measrued it, and found it was a defective unit, miswired, QC on somehting not mass produced I'm sure shows that the company is pretty lame, sending in a unit for test and it's miswired....but MF liked it!!! It had obsolete chips, high distortion, etc etc. There are much better for much less. I'd really like to see ear tests charts on teh reviewers ear function, cus' maybe they ain't hearing what they imagine they are, maybe they see the price sticker, and ASSume it must be good? Checkout them $6,000 Pioneer speakers, you gots to be kidding....

mrlowry
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

Anyone with a set of ears can hear whatever they hear. However, if we're going to rely EXCLUSIVELY on OUR OWN ears, what do we need Stereophile for?

Everyone uses Stereophile differently I use it as a guide, one resource among many. My point was that the subtle differences between two great pieces of gear were much harder to hear and that this is where most people need the help instead needing help hearing the difference between mediocre and great.

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,

If you need help hearing a difference between one component and another, then buy the cheaper one.

I see Stereophile as guide to help us weed through the endless array of products that claim to be the end all. As I see it, they're job is to tell us what's good out there and what's bad and make a case as to what makes something good and what makes something bad. Compare components, discuss different aspects of design and philosophies, introduce new thoughts and ideas in all things audio and introduce new ways of listening to music as new technologies get introduced and as paradigms shift. Stereophile's mission (IMO) is to be primarily an audiophile's advocate, to take a stand on issues that are important to us such as recording compression, component quality, DRM, etc.

mrlowry
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
If you need help hearing a difference between one component and another, then buy the cheaper one.

I see Stereophile as guide to help us weed through the endless array of products that claim to be the end all. As I see it, they're job is to tell us what's good out there and what's bad and make a case as to what makes something good and what makes something bad. Compare components, discuss different aspects of design and philosophies, introduce new thoughts and ideas in all things audio and introduce new ways of listening to music as new technologies get introduced and as paradigms shift. Stereophile's mission (IMO) is to be primarily an audiophile's advocate, to take a stand on issues that are important to us such as recording compression, component quality, DRM, etc.

I have no shortage of opinions. ESPECIALLY when it comes to Hi-Fi, believe me.

I completely agree with your second paragraph. For me, however I don't see a need for negative reviews to accomplish them.

JA's editorial policies are transparent and well thought out. I surprised he hasn't dropped by to state them and enter the discussion. Hopefully he will in the near future.

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

JA's editorial policies are transparent and well thought out. I surprised he hasn't dropped by to state them and enter the discussion. Hopefully he will in the near future.

This topic has been discussed before ad naseum. JA's take on this topic is that the majority of the readership doesn't want to read negative reviews and that he runs the magazine the way he sees fit. So, I doubt that he would chime on this topic yet again. Unless he's willing to reconsider his policy, there's really nothing to say on this subject that hasn't been said before.

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

Quote:

JA's editorial policies are transparent and well thought out. I surprised he hasn't dropped by to state them and enter the discussion. Hopefully he will in the near future.

This topic has been discussed before ad naseum. JA's take on this topic is that the majority of the readership doesn't want to read negative reviews and that he runs the magazine the way he sees fit. So, I doubt that he would chime on this topic yet again.

That's exactly the case. See, for example, my March 1996 "As We See It" essay at www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/366 .

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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Re: if I were JA,

I agree that very short negative reviews would be useful so people know. Case in point, Musical Fidelity usually gets praise, so why no review of the A5 amp? Is it less good, or do they just need a break from reviewing an MF piece.
It would be a huge service to readers if Audiophile devoted a page or two to capsules of components deemed not worthy of a full review. Of course the mfr's would be in quite a tizzy over this.

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
I agree that very short negative reviews would be useful so people know.

Problem is: it takes just as much time and effort to produce a review that is ultimately negative as one that is positive. More, in fact, as the reviewer needs to try to track down the cause of the disappointing sound. So, while your suggestion has merit, it would greatly increase the reviewing team's workload without a proportionate increase in remuneration for them.


Quote:
It would be a huge service to readers if Audiophile...

The name of our magazine is Stereophile.


Quote:
... devoted a page or two to capsules of components deemed not worthy of a full review.

Problem is that we would not know they were not worthy of a full review until we had done a full review's worth of work or more, as I point out above.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

cyclebrain
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
I would ask WP how it is to give a passable praising to BellCanto amp which measures like shit!?

You mean like MFs gushing review of the analog/electrical to analog/fiber optic interconnects that J.A. tested and claimed that based on his measurements, he thought that they must have been defective. Stereophile provides both subjective and scientific reporting and it is up to the reader to make their own conclusion.

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
I agree that very short negative reviews would be useful so people know. Case in point, Musical Fidelity usually gets praise, so why no review of the A5 amp? Is it less good, or do they just need a break from reviewing an MF piece.
It would be a huge service to readers if Audiophile devoted a page or two to capsules of components deemed not worthy of a full review. Of course the mfr's would be in quite a tizzy over this.

There's am MF product that hasn't been reviewed by Stereophile?

Now, that's news!

gkc
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Re: if I were JA,

For the success of the magazine we all love, it is a good thing nobody else is JA.

The integrity of the reviewing process demands objective listening, in time and quality. You don't waste time on gear that hasn't given you a "heads up" in some other context, outside the reviewing process. A show? Okay -- I suppose that is the most oft-mentioned source for the curiosity necessary for generating a review. An accidental listen, while killing time at a local shop? Sure. That is valid, too. Rumor? Why not, but only if a listen is logistically possible.

I doubt if anyone who subscribes to the magazine or this forum has thought of anything new that could be of any practical value for JA to adopt as a criterion for bringing a further reach into the Stereophile fold. In a world of infinite possibilites, JA, as the editor who makes the final calls and takes the final heat, does an outstanding job of filtering out the useless in order to comment on the useful.

Things get left out. It is an imperfect world. Get used to it. A reader's tweak to the reviewing process is an editor's nightmare, in terms of time and money spent.

JA, just keep doin' what you do so well...

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
For the success of the magazine we all love, it is a good thing nobody else is JA...JA, just keep doin' what you do so well...

Thanks Clifton. Much appreciated.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,

It's really easy to pat yourself on the back and resist any sort of change. That's not to say that you aren't doing a good job doing what you're doing, but there is always room for improvement.

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
It's really easy to pat yourself on the back and resist any sort of change. That's not to say that you aren't doing a good job doing what you're doing, but there is always room for improvement.

Of course, AlexO. If you look at how Stereophile has changed over the years, within the same basic framework, you should appreciate that I am not resistant to change per se. But as with the original poster's suggestion, not every suggested change is feasible, even if it may be desirable.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Jim Tavegia
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Re: if I were JA,

I thought this $2K amp was exposed as to what it is...not worth the $2K asking price, but the buyer does get to decide. The question is would the far cheaper Harman Kardon 3485 with a Benchmark DAC be better with change left over? It would seem so to me.

I eagerly await Bel Canto's response to such poor DAC performance...certainly not worthy of anything at the $2K price point. I eagerly await their response. This is not like Bel Canto. The McIntosh Music Server performance was a revalation as well.

I was glad to see a test of the latest Triangle Comete and find out about the tipped up low and high end. JA's testing is invaluable. Most of us see what needs to be seen in the reviews.

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

Quote:
It's really easy to pat yourself on the back and resist any sort of change. That's not to say that you aren't doing a good job doing what you're doing, but there is always room for improvement.

Of course, AlexO. If you look at how Stereophile has changed over the years, within the same basic framework, you should appreciate that I am not resistant to change per se. But as with the original poster's suggestion, not every suggested change is feasible, even if it may be desirable.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Fair enough. There are always economic and logistic realities that come into play. However, as long as suggestions and changes are considered, there may be opportunities to implement them even if only a few at a time.

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Re: if I were JA,

So, just what does "bleached" sound like? I looked it up in the Sphile audio glossary but it wasn't there. Figured it must be one of those new fandangle terms that strangely seems to be used to describe class D amps.

RG

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Re: if I were JA,

Clifton,
Absolutely!!!

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

Quote:
I agree that very short negative reviews would be useful so people know.

Problem is: it takes just as much time and effort to produce a review that is ultimately negative as one that is positive. More, in fact, as the reviewer needs to try to track down the cause of the disappointing sound. So, while your suggestion has merit, it would greatly increase the reviewing team's workload without a proportionate increase in remuneration for them.

This is the best explanation I've heard so far, actually.

I recently, in a fit of energy, did a bunch of reading of 70s issues of Stereophile that my local library has in their archive. (Evidently, JGH's living in the Philadelphia suburbs back in the day has guaranteed that the Philadelphia Free Library has an almost complete set) JGH was more willing to give negative reviews, seeing as at the time, he was pretty much the only reviewer, and probably because good audio equipment was fewer and further between in the 1970s. The problem was that inevitably, when he did, he ended up in a back-and-forth with the manufacturer that led to further followups and ate up large amounts of space and time.

For example, the component I was researching happened to put out moderately large (15V) DC bursts when it was powered up-- potentially fatal to speakers and amps if they weren't properly protected, which a lot of the equipment of the era wasn't. (It was also a fairly common problem with solid state gear in the 70s, since many opamps in those days had substantial DC offset unless you put coupling capacitors on them, which could affect the sound negatively) Other than that, he was really enthusiastic. The back and forth went on for literally six issues, until the manufacturer released a relay board that could be put in series with the component. JGH happily reported this, and then spent 2 more issues trying to track down why different samples of this component (it was a preamp) sounded different, because he'd noticed the inconsistency while testing multiple samples to see if the DC problem was universal.... JGH was technically fairly knowledgable, but didn't have 10% of the gear that JA has now to test equipment-- I think he just had a multimeter and an oscilloscope. So he'd come up with theory after theory, and the manufacturer would refute it in their comments, and it'd go on and on. The whole time, the component was back-and-forth between B and C in the recommended components list for four years, depending on how happy JGH was with their most recent comment. I ended up spending $7 xeroxing these articles, which gives you an idea of how extensive this back-and-forth was. It was really a substantial waste of JGH's time (and a good example of how Stereophile evolved from what was essentially an amateur publication). If he'd noted the DC problem and manufacturing inconsistency in the original review and in the recommended components blurb, and then announced the relay when it became available, he would have saved a hell of a lot of energy and paper. As it was, the only person who was probably entertained by the whole series was me, thirty years later....

You can see where a similar situation could eat up lots of JA's time, since he's the only one who does the measurements and the technical end of things, putting him in JGH's shoes in the above example. For the most part, he'll do a followup if there's a glitch in an otherwise good product (eg, the phono preamp of the Outlaw receiver), but if something is a total piece of crap, assuming it isn't an actual danger (like the legendary Polk speaker cables which blew up amps and speakers) or an out-and-out fraud (like the Tice Clock), why should he spend time analyzing the same few components over and over while the manufacturers try to make them fit Stereophile's standards?

I'll stop babbling here.

gkc
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Re: if I were JA,

Alex, I don't know how old you are, but I have been listening to live and recorded music for more than 40 years -- passionately. I love all music, and trying to get the spirit and emotions of the live event into my listening room has been an obsession over my entire life's span. You state that Stereophile reviews only the equipment that can generate positive reviews.

Well, duh. Over the past 40 years, equipment HAS gotten better. By logarithmic progressions. That is not hyperbole. Logarithmic. I have said this before, but I suppose I have to repeat it. When I was 20-30 years old, the "hits" were one in ten (that is, the satisfying listening experiences in audio showrooms). Now, they are nine in ten. Really.

Times change. Maybe you have to be an old fart like me to understand. Still, I am an old fart, and I do understand. 30 years ago, you had to separate the wheat from the chaff. You had to do negative reviews to further the state of the art. If you think there are pretenders in the business now, and you fret about it, you are too young. Sigh. Today's youth. You should be trapped in a room and have to listen to the shit masquerading as "high fidelity" 20-30 years ago.

Now? NOW? So much great sounding equipment, so little time.

Why waste editorial time and slick paper reviewing bullshit, when a world of truly HIGH fidelity is overcrowded with contenders for the absolute laurels? There IS no time to waste on the pretenders. Nothing gets reviewed that isn't worthy of a listen. Why waste time? Your rhetorical, "we need an occasional spot check to assure us that you are not deaf" is irrelevant. Those of us who love music and listen live and at home know better. JA should continue to use his outstanding staff to further refine what is possible AND desirable, not waste time on the obviously insufficient. That is no longer necessary. Welcome to the 21st Century. Nits are picked at a MUCH higher level than they used to be, and I can remember the difference.

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,

Hi Clifton,

I disagree with you on two counts.

1. There is apparently still crap out there (at least according to Stereophile) not to be worthy of a review. Case and point: Zu speakers. I happen to single out Zu's because that's really the only case I'm aware of a product Stereophile refuses to review because they feel the speakers are substandard. So, obviously, the playing field isn't so pristine as you would lead us to believe.

2. When something doesn't get reviewed, the readers are left to wonder if it's because the piece of gear is crap, or if it's because Stereophile just didn't get to it or because they don't have enough dealers to fall under the Stereophile reviewing policy.

If space and time is an issue, I would even be ok (albeit not completely happy) with the "Refused to review" component list. Just list the components Stereophile feels don't deserve a review for reasons OTHER than distribution. Preface it by saying, we weren't impressed enough to warrant a full fledged review with all the time and expense that such a review would entail.

This way, you don't have to go back and forth with the manufacturer, you don't have to get into pissing matches, spend the time isolating the problem, while still providing a service to the readers in identifying the products that in Stereophile's opinion weren't worthy of a review.

Otherwise, what a reader gets is an impression that EVERYTHING is good. If it is, then there shouldn't be any difference which components you get. Just get the cheapest ones and you'll have the same experience as with any other set of components.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
If space and time is an issue, I would even be ok (albeit not completely happy) with the "Refused to review" component list. Just list the components Stereophile feels don't deserve a review for reasons OTHER than distribution. Preface it by saying, we weren't impressed enough to warrant a full fledged review with all the time and expense that such a review would entail.

The problem is that such comments constitute a review, albeit one based on brief and less formal exposure and with less exposition of reasoning. I think it basically unfair for those reasons. There are products I have chosen not to review for such non-audio-based reasons as size, appearance and/or a fundamental disagreement with the engineering philosophy. None of those preclude the products from pleasing others.

Kal

ethanwiner
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
it takes just as much time and effort to produce a review that is ultimately negative as one that is positive.


Good point John. Years ago I used to review software, and the editor of one of the magazines told me they don't review bad products because there are too many good products that deserve exposure. And I agree with that. Now, this is not to say that exposing bad products - think Consumer Reports - isn't valuable too.

--Ethan

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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

Quote:
If space and time is an issue, I would even be ok (albeit not completely happy) with the "Refused to review" component list. Just list the components Stereophile feels don't deserve a review for reasons OTHER than distribution. Preface it by saying, we weren't impressed enough to warrant a full fledged review with all the time and expense that such a review would entail.

The problem is that such comments constitute a review, albeit one based on brief and less formal exposure and with less exposition of reasoning. I think it basically unfair for those reasons. There are products I have chosen not to review for such non-audio-based reasons as size, appearance and/or a fundamental disagreement with the engineering philosophy. None of those preclude the products from pleasing others.

Kal

Bleh! That's a cop out, Kal. It's absolutely ridiculous not to review a product for aesthetic reasons or because you just happen to disagree with the design philosophy.

A. Stereophile is not Better homes and gardens. Its primary purpose is to review audio products based on the product's ability to reproduce a musical experience. There are more than enough products being reviewed by Stereophile that wouldn't fit in an average size living room, much less not blend with the decor.

B. As a Stereophile reviewer, you are charged with reviewing the end result - the product's ability to be true to the recording. That means that there are multiple engineering and philosophical paths to achieving this goal. In the end, either the product achieves that or it doesn't. If it does, its design philosophy is irrelevant, if it doesn't its design philosophy is irrelevant. Your only job is to point out whether the product achieves the goal of sound fidelity or it doesn't. If the product does not achieve the goal of sound fidelity, it may still please others, but it's up to you to point out its shortcomings. That's what a reviewer does. That's what I and other readers expect of you and your fellow reviewers. Say it like it is: good, bad or indifferent. Say what you hear and don't gloss over things or side step the products you don't like.

C. If you feel that a short list of products Stereophile refuses to review is unfair, then do the full reviews with all the pains and costs associated with them.

I told this to JA before and this pertains to all reviewers: you got to pick whose side you're on. You're either on the side of the manufacturers and dealers or you're on the side of the readers. You guys have been trying to walk a fine line, trying to provide hints of products' shortcomings while trying not to piss off the manufacturers. That's a tough line to walk. Pick a side. Gordon Holt did. As nutty as me may have been (or still is), he had a clear, well defined goal and a criteria by which he called the shots. For all his shortcomings and myopia, you got to give him credit for THAT. He wasn't afraid to call it the way he saw it.

If you choose not to follow JGH's example, then don't get all surprised when you read on Audioasylum that Stereophile is being referred to as the "happy face" publication.

rvance
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Re: if I were JA,

I don't understand your issue.

You offered your opinion that Stereophile needs to operate your way or it is shilling for the industry, depriving its readership of valuable information on substandard products.

Your complaint has come up before and you get cogent responses from the staff, patiently explaining their criteria.

BTW, I read plenty of critical commentary in Stereophile reviews about elements of products that do not meet muster.

Do you really care about what's being said on Audioasylum or are you just trying to provoke with more criticism?

Your willingness to dictate terms to Stereophile seems more self-important than edifying. You could better exert your influence as an employee, rather than consumer. Maybe you should apply.

KBK
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Re: if I were JA,

Besides..we as humans don't need help being negative. We're good enough at it already.

Editor
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
Just list the components Stereophile feels don't deserve a review for reasons OTHER than distribution. Preface it by saying, we weren't impressed enough to warrant a full fledged review with all the time and expense that such a review would entail.

You really don't appear to read what I take the time to write, AlexO. The only way we would _know_ that something wasn't worth a full-fledged review would be to _perform_ a full-fledged review on it. Otherwise, as Kal gently pointed out, we would be dismissing products -- with the magazine's full authority behind that dismissal -- on the flimsiest amount of actual experience of the product. This, I respectfully suggest, is irresponsible journalism.

In addition, your suggestion would involve a large amount of work that would not result in anything published in the magazine. Given that we really do have finite resources -- the members of my review team are already working close to the maximum possible -- where would the finances come from for me to recruit and train additional reviewers to perform this extra work?

I do appreciate your concerns, but as editor I have to deal with what is possible within the magazine's resource budget.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
I don't understand your issue.

You offered your opinion that Stereophile needs to operate your way or it is shilling for the industry, depriving its readership of valuable information on substandard products.

So, what didn't you understand? My opinion is that Stereophile should review products that are not "great". The fact that they don't deprives the readership of valuable information on substandard products. The fact that they don't, makes one think that it's glossing over and side stepping poor performing products in order not to ruffle feathers within the industry.


Quote:
Your complaint has come up before and you get cogent responses from the staff, patiently explaining their criteria.

I understand their criteria perfectly. I do not agree that it's the right approach.


Quote:
BTW, I read plenty of critical commentary in Stereophile reviews about elements of products that do not meet muster.

Really? am hard pressed to think of a product other than the Cary 300SEI integrated amp, which JA called a glorified tone control. BTW, that was within the measurements section. The subjective reviewer hailed it as the greatest thing since sliced bread.


Quote:
Do you really care about what's being said on Audioasylum or are you just trying to provoke with more criticism?

I am using the Audio Asylum in response to Art Dudley's column in June issue where he seems shocked that anyone on Audio Asylum would think such a thing.


Quote:
Your willingness to dictate terms to Stereophile seems more self-important than edifying. You could better exert your influence as an employee, rather than consumer. Maybe you should apply.

As I see it, Stereophile's exists to serve its readers, not its employees. As such, I feel I am best positioned to influence the editors as a reader. Whether I seem self-important or egotistic or whatever, that's a matter of perception. I am merely stating my preferences as a dedicated Stereophile reader.


Quote:

You really don't appear to read what I take the time to write, AlexO.

Actually, I do read what you write. I read it very carefully and I take my time in formulating a response. I don't respond to your posts on a whim. I state my position very carefully in my responses.


Quote:

The only way we would _know_ that something wasn't worth a full-fledged review would be to _perform_ a full-fledged review on it. Otherwise, as Kal gently pointed out, we would be dismissing products -- with the magazine's full authority behind that dismissal -- on the flimsiest amount of actual experience of the product. This, I respectfully suggest, is irresponsible journalism.

Fair enough. Let me be very clear that I concede this point. In that case, let's see reviews which are full fledged reviews, which have not been cherry picked as to be the most likely to pass the muster. That's really all I'm asking when it comes down to it. Is that really so bad? Is it really too much to ask?

Monty
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Re: if I were JA,

So, the Stereophile staff attends numerous trade shows where equipment
is setup and demonstrated in a manner where the most interested parties
in the success of the products being demonstrated have free reign to
make the stuff shine like diamonds. And you want them to say to themselves,
"Hey, that amp really sounds like shit, I think I'll review it for the
magazine." ?

Or, would you like them to say to themselves, "Wow, that speaker/amp combination
might be the nicest sounding system I've ever heard for under 3K. I think
I'll try to get them in for review before every other audio hack writes
about them first." ?

There are a few European review magazines that give very brief reviews of
lots of gear. They don't waste words and are quick to simply say, "We were
very disappointed with product X." Of course, you might find yourself saying,
"Those idiots tried to drive 2 ohm speakers with a 30 watt amplifier. No
wonder they were disappointed."

The fact is, there are a lot of good products out there today. Why seek out
bad stuff? It's not like they have pages to spare these days. Besides, the
people who are inclined to see a conspiracy under every rock and a bought
and paid for reviewer in every magazine aren't going to change their polluted
view of people anyway.

You have to put a little faith in the goodwill earned and exchanged between
readers and Editors and Reviewers...who have earned it over many years. Otherwise,
you don't have anything special, you simply have the American Idol of audio
magazines. Give us somebody to laugh at and boo? I won't pay for that.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: if I were JA,

I could quote you in full because I do not disagree, in principle, with anything you say except that it is unrealistic to think that, even as a group, we can review everything. Each product is "chosen" or "declined" for a myriad of reasons that reflect the interests of the reviewer and the editorial policy. I gave you a few non-audio reasons that supplement the traditional/expected ones, such as brief but disappointing auditions at a show or showroom. When the time comes that I have the time to devote attention to products that I am less interested in than those I (or other Stereophile reviewers) choose or have already reviewed, it might happen. You shouldn't hold your breath waiting.

Kal (not an employee of Stereophile)

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Re: if I were JA,

"...There are products I have chosen not to review for such non-audio-based reasons as size, appearance and/or a fundamental disagreement with the engineering philosophy."

Yes, we would not want you to review outside the paradigm.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
"...There are products I have chosen not to review for such non-audio-based reasons as size, appearance and/or a fundamental disagreement with the engineering philosophy."

Yes, we would not want you to listen outside the paradigm.

Cute. However, I do listen to everything I stumble on and would love to be surprised.

Kal

bifcake
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
So, the Stereophile staff attends numerous trade shows where equipment
is setup and demonstrated in a manner where the most interested parties
in the success of the products being demonstrated have free reign to
make the stuff shine like diamonds.

Kal, do you include Stereophile as one of the "interested parties in the success of a product"?


Quote:
And you want them to say to themselves,
"Hey, that amp really sounds like shit, I think I'll review it for the
magazine." ?

Yep, that's exactly what I want. Barring that, pick a component arbitrarily without a preview and then do a review.


Quote:
Or, would you like them to say to themselves, "Wow, that speaker/amp combination
might be the nicest sounding system I've ever heard for under 3K. I think
I'll try to get them in for review before every other audio hack writes
about them first." ?

Yep, I want that too. Give me the good and give me the bad.


Quote:
There are a few European review magazines that give very brief reviews of
lots of gear. They don't waste words and are quick to simply say, "We were
very disappointed with product X." Of course, you might find yourself saying,
"Those idiots tried to drive 2 ohm speakers with a 30 watt amplifier. No
wonder they were disappointed."

Those are amateurs. I see nothing wrong with the processes and methodologies Stereophile uses to review the products. My contention has to do with the selection process, and the presentation aspect not the review process itself.


Quote:
The fact is, there are a lot of good products out there today. Why seek out
bad stuff?

We want to hear about the bad just as much as about the good. How do you know what's good if you have nothing bad to compare it to?


Quote:

You have to put a little faith in the goodwill earned and exchanged between
readers and Editors and Reviewers...who have earned it over many years. Otherwise,
you don't have anything special, you simply have the American Idol of audio
magazines. Give us somebody to laugh at and boo? I won't pay for that.

I do have faith. I have faith that you're not crooked. I have faith that you're doing the best you can. I have faith that you have the best intentions. I have faith that what you say is what you feel.

This discussion is a matter of subtleties in a sense. I want to see certain tweaks to selection and the presentation. If you were a speaker, I wouldn't throw you out. I'm just talking about a better stand.

gkc
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Re: if I were JA,

Buddha, what is "the paradigm," and what is "outside" it? One of the reasons that I continue to subscribe to Stereophile is that I perceive no "paradigm." Art, Sam, Kal, Mike, John Marks, and, yes, JA himself are as diverse a crew as I have ever seen assembled on one staff. Disagreements occur often. I love that. Being Buddha , you have made this comment so cryptic that it is emptied of meaning before it gets off the ground. Kal and the good Doctor Greenhill routinely burn their cochlea at 100 db plus. Sam won't go near anything above 90. Art wants things to sound "right," and after a couple of decades I have a very good idea what he means by that. Flea watts and bazookas get equal exposure. Want horns? Sam and Art will give you the scoop. Want speakers scattered around the room in multi-channel confusion? Kal's your man. How loud is 110 db? Go see Dr. Larry. And JA just keeps measuring it all.

Alex's point that, somehow, we need to calibrate and re-calibrate our ears via the print media seems laughable, to me. If you ears need calibration, go to a live acoustic event. Stay sober long enough to store an impression (I admit I have trouble with that last, but, hey! I'm a concert junkie, and somehow the memory goes into storage).

I want a short list of what might interest me. Stereophile's diverse crew gives me a good idea. You like Audio Asylum? Go for it! Complete with the padded cells. You want to see what a party line looks like? Try the Absolute Bullshit, with their fussy, whiney crowd. B-O-R-I-N-G.

I you want to earn your stripes (not necessarily you, Buddha, but anyone within earshot) as a critic of the critics, stop setting up straw men. I know what bad sound sounds like. I have heard too damned much of it over the past 30-40 years. I want to know shades of the good. Then I'll check it out for myself.

I don't need no stinkin' bad reviews to prove no stinkin' sliding scale. I want to hear the best. And there is plenty of it out there, comin' at you from all angles, and JA has assembled a great diversity for maximum exposure to all that music has to offer.

If you critics out there are bored, and you need hypotheticals to stimulate your critical faculties, please give us your reviews. I'll dutifully read 'em, but I suspect it will be boring as all hell. But don't bitch about Stereophile's credibility, not with the tremendous range and diversity of their coverage.

I'll repeat. So much good stuff, so little time...

Buddha
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Re: if I were JA,

Hi, Clifton.

I was teasing Kal's comment. Nothing more.

There was no other meaning, but thanks for overthinking it for me!

Luckily, Kal was able to figure it out.

Is that the scotch talking tonight?

Hope you are well.

vladoslav
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Re: if I were JA,

Hmmmm, a lot of buzz on a simple question. I would never ask such question on the review of Epos M16i by RJR, because the reviewer thoughts correlate perfect with the JA measurements. It is a solution on hand how to be fair against the readers and manufacturers/ distributors. Every review should be made based on manufacturer or distributor order and this has to pay an specified fee based on a pricelist, REGARDLES of the review outcome. The taxes should be divided in categories. (CD players, stand mounted speakers, floorstanders, integrated amplifiers, separates etc.) The prices should be set ONLY on categories and not on the component prices. I know that now will follow a lot of buzz, but I think this is fair enough for the both sides, the readers and the manufacturers. Objections like, its not fair to charge the same fee for a $500 and a $10,000 CD player are marginal, because the cheap one is sold in thousands of units and the expensive one in hundreds.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:
Hi, Clifton.

I was teasing Kal's comment. Nothing more.

There was no other meaning, but thanks for overthinking it for me!

Luckily, Kal was able to figure it out.

I also appreciated the play on words.

Kal

Kal Rubinson
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Re: if I were JA,


Quote:

Quote:
Kal, do you include Stereophile as one of the "interested parties in the success of a product"?

Not in specific. I think I am interested in the success of high quality audio, for the consumer, the industry, the publication.


Quote:
Yep, that's exactly what I want. Barring that, pick a component arbitrarily without a preview and then do a review.

For that, JA would have to hire me full time with commensurate compensation. Not very likely.

Kal

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