A Tour of Steve Guttenberg's System

In this video, Steve Guttenberg, "The Audiophiliac" and a regular contributor to Stereophile's "As We See It" column, gives us a tour of his system in Brooklyn, NY.

jporter's picture

I think to call it "your" system you actually have to purchase it with "your" money. So how much of this system was comp'd and how much is yours. Obviously not the TAD Speakers. I am also always amazed with the size (or lack there of) of listening rooms in New York...Cheers!

analogizk's picture

Do you have evidence he did not pay for the equipment, or are you assuming reviewers do not pay for equipment? Most reviewers I know, and I know a couple, get accommodation pricing (after reviewing, on equipment they have loved) because they deal directly with manufacturers and/or importers and they are industry insiders that provide a valuable service to them by informing the consumer about products. Unless you have evidence to the contrary I would not go about blurting assumptions.

Secondly I have not seen a shot of the whole listening room in any part of the video, so how would you know the size of the room? But with NYC real-estate prices being what they are, why would you be amazed at the lack of size of listening rooms? Did you expect the rooms were somehow magically going to be larger than their containing walls? You do know Dr. Who was science fiction, don't you? Nevertheless, many audiophiles here, myself included, have managed to treat the rooms and tweak the systems to perform top tier, though we may not have a sweet spot that seats 10.

jporter's picture

I am sure your sweet spot seats one...So perfect.Cheers!

teched58's picture

It's a fair and salient question. On an objectivist basis, do the math: Estimate what you think an audiophile reviewer makes, then estimate what their systems cost. Anyway, so OF COURSE some audiophile reviewers don'tt pay for their systems if by pay you mean give over the rent and food money. (I'm NOT saying they don't pay for any of it or even the majority of it. But not all of it.) Let's say for argument's sake that some of the equipment is on "loan." A loan that never speaks its name. And one can justify this behavior to oneself by telling yourself you need a good system in which to insert future components you're going to test and write about. I'm not even going to get into the "will those reviews be favorable" question. I go under the assumption that stuff which is really bad simply doesn't make it to publication. But don't insult our intelligence. Many readers can't do engineering math (shoot, I promised I wouldn't mention cables), but the economics here are obvious.

dalethorn's picture

If they got a 10 thousand dollar component free and did a really thorough review of it, they might break even. I know the math, and most individual reviewers like this don't get wealthy. Not even close. Then you back up and start subtracting the items they have to return, and it amounts to a loss that only gets made up by monetization of the review. Any dedicated audiophile could jump in and do this job with time and practice, but the reason they don't is the long hours, the workload, the deadlines, and six other things I forgot.

mrkaic's picture

So, how do you only break even after a gift of $10k? It is true that $10k will not make you wealthy, but it is still $10k for free. I am very curious to see your math.

dalethorn's picture

When I was doing software consulting, I charged $200/hour - much cheaper than your doctor or lawyer. If I were doing a top-quality expert review of an amp (for example) that's going to require 40 hours of evaluation and testing, that's $8000 in labor right there. Not counting other expenses. For reasons too many and complicated to list here, Steve's costs would be greater. But you don't need me for all of that detail - you can look it up in professional fees and expenses yourself.

mrkaic's picture

...I administer my own machines -- consulting services are way overpriced. But that is neither here nor there.

What matters is that I completely disagree with your assumptions for two reasons.

-- First, you don't need 40 hours to review an amplifier and write the report. Four to six hours is plenty.

-- Second, the hourly fee for a subjective amplifier reviewer should be around the minimum wage, since no qualifications are required to do such reviews. Anybody can do it and the results are typically worthless -- just opinions of a random person. Labor supply of opinionated reviewers is plentiful -- numerous individuals offer their views for free on internet fora. As to the demand side--how much would people be willing to pay for reviews if they bought such reviews one piece at a time? I guess very little. I would pay about $1 for a decent subjective review of the ergonomics of a piece of audio machinery -- it would save me the trip to the local audio dealer. I would pay zero for subjective reviews of the way equipment sounds. (Of course, this is entirely different for reviews that measure equipment, but we are not talking about that here.)

In sum, the current minimum wage in NYC for small employers is $10.50. Let's be generous and allow 6 hours for the review. This gives $63 for the cost of the report -- a much more realistic number than the one you came up with.

dalethorn's picture

I'll sum up your arguments thusly: 1) You don't need to come here, all the reviews you need are on youtube or are in magazines at the 7-11. 2) By all means get the cheapest consultants you can find. Who knows? You could get lucky. 3) As to reviewing an amplifier in 4-6 hours, why bother at all? It's a straight wire with gain, and you can hear the proof at your local Best Buy.)

mrkaic's picture

Your summary is quite bad. I can measure an amplifier in 1-2 hours. Six hours for people who don't measure anything, just publish their "enlightened views" is generous in the extreme.

Also, many amplifiers and receivers you can get at Best Buy are as good as (or better) than a lot of the snobbish "artisanal" and/or "audiophile" stuff that is peddled in trade magazines.

dalethorn's picture

Do you stand around in hi-fi stores, botique stores, or even the Apple store, and rant loudly that "All this stuff is a ripoff" because you feel that there's an injustice in not making and selling a homogenous line of goods that embody the true spirit of socialism?

I see things that I think are overpriced, but unless I'm knowledgeable about the details and am willing to take the time to investigate, I let it go. In your case you're belittling some good people with absolutely nothing to back you up. Your entire argument here is purely dishonest.

Anton's picture

You go!

Get busy!

I have a hunch you can cut your review time by 90% - just ask the manufacturer for their measurements and be done with it!

My review: "Best Buy" amplifier - got the brochure, it sounds like every other amp of its type. You won't hear any differences."

Ta da!

The 3 cent audio review!

mrkaic's picture

Specs published by manufacturers are often incomplete, even useless -- just like subjective reviews. There is room for publishing measurements and nothing else.

MiesDavis's picture

You would break even because the Federal taxes alone would be $3000. Your time writing the review and listening to the equipment would easily eat up the remainder. I find better deals on second-hand equipment sites than the theoretical "free" review equipment.

As for suggestions that reviewing audio equipment only requires a minimum wage equivalent level of education, I find audiophiles are very particular about the meaning and usage of words. You are actually reading the writing of people who have strong engineering, sales, and/or writing knowledge.

As someone who occasionally reviews equipment as a hobbyist, I get offers to borrow merchandise and I usually say no thanks. I accepted a discount on a product based on my employment (not something I reviewed) and every penny of the savings was tacked onto my household AGI.

mrkaic's picture

I conjecture that most audio reviewers have little to no engineering education. For this reason, they are not better qualified to review electronic equipment than any other individual. But I might be wrong--the best way to clarify this is for reviewers to start publishing their educational achievements and professional experience next to their reviews. It would provide for an illuminating experience.

dalethorn's picture

No. To be a good reviewer you need to be able to hear what the average guy on the street doesn't hear. Even the average audiophile is limited in what they can hear. Not because of their ears, but because of the expertise they develop through lots of hard work. And that expertise isn't arbitrary - your customers will decide in the long run. I made a lot of money as a software engineer even though I barely got through high school. They paid me a lot because I could do things that other engineers couldn't do, particularly in algorithms. The best reviewers here are able to hear things and do things that most other reviewers can't - and you can't - and that's why they do what they do and you don't.

mrkaic's picture

I am surprised that people still fall for this "golden ears" claim. Audio reviewers claim to hear things that we, ordinary people, cannot. A very comfortable position indeed, but I don't think they have ever proved it.

You proved your ability by being good at algorithms and delivering measurable results. When have audio reviewers proved anything comparable?

Honestly, I think that audio industry is ripe for government intervention to sort through all these claims and establish some objective standards.

Glotz's picture

Measurements, because they tell us 'everything' one needs to know about equipment sounds.

Government intervention.. right.. Everyone's lying to you to make a buck. No one has integrity or honesty these days.

Golden Ears don't exist. It takes practice over time, something anyone with working ears can do.

mrkaic's picture

OK, then let's called them "practiced ears". But we still need the proof that such practiced ears hear things that others cannot. Which leads us to blind testing. Believing without proof is religion. Is that what we want audio to be/remain?

Glotz's picture

No, that's not the premise these reviewers are stating by way of their work. Anyone can hear this stuff, it just takes attention and time. AND access to the equipment, which is a full time job to receive product, write about it, go to shows and report, etc.

Again, it's about working for a magazine. A lot of has to do with writing well and conveying concepts that communicate music and sound, something quite hard to do.

My guess is many trolls and haters would still say 'your' blind-testing was flawed or 'we don't believe you anyways'.

At some point in time, it's about trust. You either have it or don't. It's built by listening critically and verifying others' listening notes or reviews.

mrkaic's picture

I agree with you, it is about trust. I trust machines, not subjective reviewers. Your approach is different and we are both happy where we are.

dalethorn's picture

Google "disinformation techniques" sometime. I'll sumnarize it for you: "Admit nothing. Deny everything. Demand proof, then refuse to accept it."

You can't prove anything. But if you're honest and competent, you could attract followers and sell your skills.

ChrisS's picture

Nobody in the entire audio industry does blind testing.

dalethorn's picture

Here's a good reference on that: https://www.stereophile.com/content/listening-143#LSVE1iTpzKwhMaq2.97

mrkaic's picture

Hi Chris, nice to hear from you.



ChrisS's picture

There are a great many respectable people in the audio industry and like anywhere else, there are some who are not.

Respectability has nothing to do with blind testing and whole lot to do with integrity, good products and good business practices.

As mentioned many times before, who does blind testing?

mrkaic's picture

...following scientific procedures and allowing your claims to be objectively verified and your findings replicated.

ChrisS's picture

(But did the tobacco industry practice "good science"? How about the makers of Oxycodone?)

Good science helps to create good audio products, but ultimately it's a good ear that tells us so.

ChrisS's picture

...for doing good work.

Doesn't everybody?

tonykaz's picture

Nobody except Harmon Labs and that Olive guy, probably the most authoritative people in Audio ( consumer & Pro ).

They even publish a good bit of their findings and can be hired to Test

Tony in Michigan

ChrisS's picture

What exactly do they test and how, Tony?

tonykaz's picture

They test at their research lab, I think that they test all their loudspeaker lines.

It's a rather Automated system, they seem to have a large group of listeners trained.

Have a look by Goggle searching Dr.Sean Olive, Harmon's head of research. He also is known to make contributions to Stereophile and other Web sites.

Their Blind test facility is well known and recognized.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Tyll did a story from the Harmon Lab. location which featured the JBL M-2 System.

ChrisS's picture

...Not what mrkaic is asking the Stereophile staff to do.

tonykaz's picture

I just went back to read mrkaic's postings, he seems rather well informed and reasonable, I think he has a few valid points.

Stereophile's writers tell some fascinating Audiophile Stories. Perhaps we should label them "Audiophile Adventures", something like Carl Hass's "Adventures in good music" Radio Program from Interlochen, Mi.

I've been dabbling in Home Audio stuff since the mid 1950s, these Stereophile lads seem just like me in all that they explore.
I've been a member of each of the Cults that HR describes in his "First Watt Amp Review".

Now, today, I'm in the Future Looking "Cult" of Digital and interesting Engineering stuff like those Kii Active Loudspeakers that KR reviewed in this exact same Issue of Stereophile.

Futuristically thinking, the Phonak people are doing some intense engineering in the personal audio spectrum.

I seem to have the feeling that there is room for all the niche Cults that Mr.HR belongs to ( including his own ) buuuuuut I kinda feel the Vinyl Cult promoters are doing our Industry more harm than good: China, France and Italy have just outlawed single use plastic Bags. How far in the Future will Fossil Fuel Storage Systems be banned?

On my own Blind Testing: I kinda remember doing plenty of testing whist being blind drunk, does it count? We got our best test results drinking Wild Turkey and/or Rich&Rare, hmm.

Tony in Michigan ( sober since last Century, fingers crossed )

ps. I think that we have ample proof that Mr. Steve Gutenberg is not well paid, he can't seem to afford a decent $50 Hair Cut, for gods sake

dalethorn's picture

Ironically, you will never know until you hear it. I am frequently amazed at the nearly 120-db dynamic range of my ears (that's a loudness ratio of one trillion to one), and just as amazed that I can often hear a 1/2 db difference in some tracks with a tiny equalizer adjustment. Late at night in my very quiet place, I can hear details I'd never hear elsewhere. And it's much, much more than that. A lot of the things reviewers report on, you hear but you're not consciously aware of. That takes learning. It's not golden ears and it's not magic - it's learning and work. Some people have acute tonal awareness and can tell you 50 things that are off in a recording. I don't have such acute awareness, but I can tell the difference between a Steinway and a Bosendorfer, and I learned to listen for that from reading reviews.

I don't know what your motivation would be for all the negativity, or why you would want to assign a $10/hour dishwasher to a job that he has no idea about. I suspect that if you pay your employees $10/hour, you either produce a lousy product, produce it in China, or you're constantly hiding from INS/ICE.

mrkaic's picture

I mean, how do you know that it is 1/2 dB difference that you hear? Do you run a SPL microfone in parallel?

I am not negative. I just hate to see people spending needlessly on overpriced equipment, services etc. That is my beef. Call me Mr. Penny Saver :))

dalethorn's picture

It's good that you're a do-gooder and want to save people money. I do that myself. But we don't buy audiophile gear because we want to save money. Saving money is good, but it is not our objective. The way you've spoken here about 2-hour to 6-hour reviews at $10/hour is prima facie evidence that your objective is not high fidelity - your objective is to tell other audiophiles that they're morons and their valuable gear is crap that they can buy at Walmart for less. I'd suggest you apply for work at Consumer Reports, but even though they're not audiophiles per se, and they don't have the perspective to properly review most botique or esoteric goods, they are pretty honest.

mrkaic's picture

That is why I don't trust self proclaimed audio gurus. Hearing can be very deceptive, while measurements are objective. Most audiophiles behave as if they were actually working AGAINST high fidelity these days.

If they were for high fidelity, they would not buy grotesque tube amps or some other highly distorting "artisanal" gear. If they wanted high fidelity, they would, for example, buy Bechmark AHB2 amplifier (or some similar highly performing piece of equipment) and be done with it.

I strive for objective high fidelity, supported by measurements, while many "audiophiles" buy overpriced trinkets to parade their "uniquely brilliant" tastes.

dalethorn's picture

Nobody cares about your faith in measurements. Measurements are mere confirmation that the product is not defective, i.e. is operating within spec. Nobody cares who you trust either. I don't trust anyone, but I know how to read, and I even know how to read between the lines. That's the real world - a world of things that are irregular and colorful, like tube amps. A good tube amp can be breathtaking, or for the more neurotic of our breed, a source of anxiety and fear. Your choice.

ChrisS's picture

...your "evaluation" of audiophiles is highly subjective.

Let's even say "emotional".

Glotz's picture

I applaud that. It is important in these times to pursue the objective truth. While I do think much of it IS overpriced, it is justified.

My rationale is 'Who else is going to employ their skills and provide a custom product for the niche buying public?' If we DIY, it's cheaper, but we never factor in our time. Finish and precision are the reason I pay others.

I am a staunch DIY guy, vs. paying high prices for products that can be made at home (with better value and sometimes better quality). Cable risers, footers, damping material... the performance can all be quantified and created cheaply at home.

I wouldn't waste a penny or a second of my time if it didn't sound better to my ears. One cannot bullshit oneself! AB comparisons sure, but blind.. whatever, I ain't got the time and I ain't going to lie to myself. It's MY money... the most honest I am, the better my pocketbook feels!! I hate losing money on crap.

Thankfully, I have the GREAT STEREOPHILE STAFF to guide me and create a set of rules to base my own judgment on, whether its sound quality or value.

doak's picture

that is totally useless and meaningless, even if you don't know enough to know it.


Anton's picture

Only aerospace engineers should be allowed to fly planes.

Only optical engineers should be photographers.

Only music majors with a diploma should be musicians.

Only dermato-pathologists should be allowed to sell make up.

Only arborists should be allowed to hit baseballs.

Only physicists should be allowed to throw baseballs, what with all those complicated maneuvers.

Only people who are trained metalurgists should be allowed to own guns.

Only theologians should be allowed to discuss faith.


So, please post your audiology evaluation reports.

mrkaic's picture

You have provided a number of bad analogies.

The argument is: person X cannot tell the difference between the sound made by object A and the sound made by object B without seeing the brand names of those two objects. => Person X's claims about the sonic differences between A and B are BS. :))))

Anton's picture

You said, "I conjecture that most audio reviewers have little to no engineering education. For this reason, they are not better qualified to review electronic equipment than any other individual."

I am simply using your own conjecture.

mrkaic's picture

...the problem Is that those audio reviewers who know no engineering have no legitimate claim to be able to review audio gear better than "ordinary" listeners of audio gear. There is no there there, no demonstrable special skill.

Does this apply to your other examples?

dalethorn's picture

Your fallacious logic is laughable. "No matter how valuable a person is to who's paying them, they're actually not valuable because you say so." Wow.

mrkaic's picture

...your example is interesting for the following reason.

If people pay (a lot or a little, the amount does not matter) to someone for services, does that make that person's services valuable?

As an economist I would have to say yes, UNLESS there are negative externalities associated with the production or provision of said services. Sufficiently large negative externalities can wipe out the value of the production.

So, the key question is: are there negative externalities associated with subjective audio reviews?

dalethorn's picture

Your argument is classic Leftist (bad, as compared to classic Liberal which is good). You want "authorities" to decide what the customers *should* like and choose.

Kal Rubinson's picture

I go under the assumption that stuff which is really bad simply doesn't make it to publication.

Nope. The really bad stuff doesn't even get reviewed. Everything that does get reviewed is published.

analogizk's picture

It was an affirmation. I know Mr. Fremer pays for his equipment. And it usually goes the other way around. He reviews something he has an interest in. Perhaps he has previewed it in an audio show. That does not give you a real impression of its sound, just it's potential. He gets a review sample, reviews it and if he loves it and would like to own it he then reaches a deal with the manufacturer. This is usually accommodation pricing, or what it would cost a dealer to buy same component. If the item being sold is the actual review sample and it was used before, it may be less as it is technically used. What accommodation pricing is depends on the manufacturer. Could be anywhere between 25-60% off list price depending on many factors.

There are some reviewers out there that demand free equipment in exchange for positive reviews. That is a clear conflict of interest and a violation of journalistic ethics in any industry. Such an exchange is simply advertisement, not journalism, and it compromises honest information getting to the public. The opposite, reaching a deal on a product you have reviewed favorably is not.

I am curious, how can you objectively estimate a salary and do the math? Any logic downstream from the initial assumption is just that, an assumption. You have no idea how much he makes as salary, let alone speaking and jury engagements, investments, real estate, inheritance, gambling, etc.

I know of a big high-end audio dealer in NYC that took out a personal loan on a pair of Wilson Alexandria loudspeakers--the accommodation pricing he got PROBABLY exceeds his yearly compensation--I did not ask what that is. And yes, he is married and has children. Music reproduction is that important to him--he is also a musician.

teched58's picture

analogizk, let me preface my reply by noting that I am not talking about Mr. Fremer or Mr. Guttenberg, but rather am speaking in general.

So the deal is that getting equipment for an "accomodation price" is no more or less ethical than getting that equipment for free. Let's take as an example a $10,000 turntable. I review it, and the manufacturer offers it to me to buy for $5,000. When I purchase it, I have received an "in-kind" gift of $5,000. Now, I'm not judging here. Getting access to equipment is the main perk of being an audiophile reviewer, and I can't say that I wouldn't partake myself. However, a common sense assessment here is that accomodations are only given for favorable reviews, hence the ethics issue. You be the judge.

As to how much money these guys have, I was referring in general to how much magazine/web editors make. The answer is, less and less each year as the Internet kills off ever more pubs/sites. Freelancers in particular have been hit hard.

dalethorn's picture

"A common sense assessment here is that accomodations are only given for favorable reviews...."

Most of the smart manufacturers are after reviews that get them a lot of attention from potential customers, as opposed to a purely favorable review. Which is why the smart manufacturers try to get their reviews done by the few reviewers who can write such attention-getting reviews.

Think of it this way: A manufacturer of a quality component wants reviewer x, y, or z to review his product. He knows what he wants and who can get it done for him, and the better reviewers know almost instinctively which products from which manufacturers are going to be sure bets for a tasty review.

So here we have a kind of supply and demand that you'd like to pretend doesn't or shouldn't exist, in terms of any quid pro quo. Well, whatever it takes, the gear moves along the path of least resistance to the reviewer, and the job gets done. Regardless of any disclaimers on the part of the manufacturer or reviewer, the only thing you're really going to know is the review itself, and whether it's credible or not.

In the end, rather than split hairs about whether there were any "considerations" and whether it could taint a review, maybe the best thing is to look at the big picture and decide for yourself whether the publication is honest or not.

And BTW, this forum is probably the worst place to voice doubts or skepticism about the host's honesty, because most of us are biased, and not blindly so.

teched58's picture

>Most of the smart manufacturers are after reviews that get
>them a lot of attention from potential customers,
>as opposed to a purely favorable review.

You mean like this?

dalethorn's picture

Bad publicity is better than no publicity. Smart users will assume they can get a proper working product, and the reviewer is just being argumentative. Problem solved!

analogizk's picture

Accommodation price is the same price a manufacturer sells his products to a dealer. It is extended as a courtesy to industry insiders and thus called "accommodation". The manufacturer is not offering a special deal, it is what they normally charge for their product. To and end consumer they could not, because they would be competing with their own dealers. This is not just for reviewers, any other manufacturer in the industry would get same treatment, even dealers of other products, not their own. It is not a gratuity. For instance as a high end audio dealer, I could, say, if participating in an audio show and found myself in need of a product I do not normally carry, like a power conditioner, to tame the notoriously bad hotel power supplies, I could call, say, PS Audio and identify myself as an audio dealer, explain the situation, and get a unit sold to me at dealer "accommodation" price.

And on the compensation comment you are still wrong. Because you were using the compensation amount to infer whether the writer could afford the equipment and thus estimate whether they were getting it for free or not. However, like I explained, you do not actually know what their compensation is. You guess that it is "less and less each year", but you do not that. In fact, senior writers with a large resume may be making more and more for all you know. And again, you have zippo idea what they make in other ways than writing. So you can't infer their capacity for affording gear.

Lastly, approaching a manufacturer whose equipment you have reviewed favorably and asking for accommodation pricing on the component is not unethical in any way. Asking for free equipment in exchange for a positive review is.

johnnythunder's picture

help themselves in trolling these posts. You're obviously just a nasty jerk who wants to rain on everyone's parade. I'm just totally sick of all the audiophile trolls who can't help themselves to criticize cables, pricy components, quibble over .0001 of a percentage of THD, the age of the reviewers/columnists, or whatever else they can't afford, enjoy or feel others shouldn't have because they can't either.

donlin's picture

Very well said.

Glotz's picture

One has to communicate without judgment... all audiophiles are a really sensitive bunch, myself included.

Corsentino's picture

Sheesh, sounds like a bad case of sour grapes. Take a pill.

kash's picture

So, If someone gives you something, it 's not yours? just saying!

tonykaz's picture

If I had a "Customer Base" like Mr.Steve G, back in the 1980s, I wouldn't have left the Consumer Audio Business, Phew.

I appreciate Steve's consistency, he's liked Schiit stuff, Pass stuff, Magnapans for the longest time, so, I get the idea he chooses well and stays for the long haul.

He's also evaluated nearly everything that's ever been made, so he's probably more experienced than anyone I would know. Certainly he presents "Useful Opinion" and is well worth listening to. I originally purchased Schiit & Sennheiser stuff based on his recommendation ( RMAF 2011 ) thank you!

I've been consuming Audio Journalism since the 1950s. This Group, that John Atkinson pulled together, seems the best group of excellence that's ever been in Print. Thank you Mr. JA ( with only one Acid-spitter, maybe )

A nice peek of Mr.G's stuff. I'll bet it's only a small portion. A look-see at those Closets, under beds, kitchen shelves, etc. would've probably revealed a long history. Any guess as to how many old Phono Cartridges & Interconnects are lurking?

No mention of a Mrs. Steve G. or 20 something Steve G Jr. in Medical School ( draining the cash reserve ), one of my sons lived in Mid-Town Manhattan where it's far too expensive to have any sort of family to support, I think.

Thank you for this interesting visit.

Hmm, no tubes

Tony in Michigan

Kal Rubinson's picture

A nice peek of Mr.G's stuff. I'll bet it's only a small portion. A look-see at those Closets, under beds, kitchen shelves, etc. would've probably revealed a long history.

Did you notice the impressive headphone collection?

donlin's picture

Yes I did. He's been a big headphone supporter for a long time. One of many reasons I have so much respect for Mr G.

Robin Landseadel's picture

And I was wondering why it wasn't mentioned in the video. I suppose that corner of Mr. Guttenberg's world would take at least as long to talk about as the rest of his gear.

mpb020479's picture

I stopped listening to him immediately when I saw the wall of headphones behind him.

I would go full Gollum and never leave the house.

Listen Up's picture

Steve, Thank you for inviting us in and sharing some of your "stuff". I apologize for those of us that tramp through and leave some mud on the carpet, but for me it is a pleasure to see what works best for you. I wish you had a little more time to elaborate some more, but I guess then Jana would be there for a week!
Thanks, both of you.

audiof001's picture

At the risk of talking myself out of future reviewing after writing this, I want to give you my take as a reviewer for a high end site. I make no salary as a reviewer and, just recently, began drawing from Social Security and my measly pension for a bit of income. Last week, my wife approached me, gently asking “So you don’t make any money reviewing, right? I’m not judging, but people at work think it’s weird…” Yes, it's weird, honey.

I review because I genuinely love this hobby. I put in as much effort reviewing a $800 product as I do a $250K product. I’m currently reviewing a couple of super affordable analog to digital converters, one of which was self-purchased prior to coming up with the idea to do the review. I’ve spent 3 days making rips from them, from self-purchased vinyl, and have so far written 1200 words after hours of research. I’ll spend another 2 days listening to rips and writing and maybe, I’ll get the other converter for maybe $100-150 after the review. That is, if I like it.

My reviews generally run between 2200-3200 words. I never put this much effort to any writing in high school or college, preferring the visual arts to wordsmithing. The reviewing process takes weeks of break-in, listening and note taking. Regardless of the equipment I’ve reviewed or have on hand to review, I’m always glad to see it go on its way after review… I like the sound of my own systems.

My rigs are comprised of mostly high quality vintage gear circa 1978, 1985, 1994 and 2002, along with a pair of currently available speakers, and most of it was self-purchased prior to my reviewing efforts, along with a handful of currently available products. The turntables I own have been bought used from stores or off eBay and repaired and upgraded primarily by me alone, and some have self-built tonearms. I’ve built as many of my accessories as possible, from a rack to record weights, tonearms and roller ball suspension devices. Always on a budget, I’ve put in the time to understand how audio works in a very hands-on manner.

I’ve bought just 3 affordable items in over 3 years of writing at accommodation prices – each sell for $800 in stores – and all of which aid me in reviewing equipment and music. I always run hobby purchases by my wife, who trusts me not to overspend – and spending is always in hundreds, not thousands of dollars. I’ve turned down truly amazing sounding accommodation-priced gear that was still way out of my price range, often at the amazement of audio friends with deeper pockets.

I’ve received 3 affordable gifted products from a manufacturer whom I befriended and consider a dear friend – one of which I already owned one of and another that I've just mentioned in passing and not called out in a fun review. Last year, I was given a nice piece of gear and a great vintage piece (in need of repair) by the person I write for as a thank you for my efforts. With the help of a generous friend, I self-repaired that unit for the cost of friendship and a few nice records.

I can't speak for Steve, but I can speak for myself. I review because I genuinely love this hobby. I'm in it for the friendships I've made and the knowledge I gain, not the gear I can get for myself.

Anton's picture

Interestingly, to me, he said not one word about which interconnects and speaker cables he was using.

Just sayin'.


analogizk's picture

But it got edited out to avoid the long chain of tone-deaf troll posts that would follow.

cgh's picture

Thanks Steve and Jana.

Great job everyone else.

Robin Landseadel's picture

It boils down to this—"I want it but can't afford it, so I'll diss those who can." Full stop.

You can always read something else, you know.

Anton's picture

One thing I love, in all my hobbies, is meeting people who share my enthusiasm and getting to learn about what they value and construct.

The way one assembles a wine collection, record collection, stamp collection, whatever...communicates to others your construct of the world you are immersed in and presents your point of view.

(I am always sad to see estate sales breaking up what one person assembled...it's entropy taking hold over the decedent's small bit of order that he/she had set aside from the rest of the universe.)

So, when I catch a glimpse of what someone who I like's (in this case, Mr. Guttenberg) long term 'keepers,' it interests me greatly. The video represents the distillation of what SG has come across and then felt to be of high enough interest to him to keep around for the longer hall for pleasure, as a reference, etc.

SG assembled his assortment of gear, and it portrays his 'value set.'

It's like comparing Hi Fi gear amongst a group of friends, and it was nice of him to do.

I don't really care what or how he paid, it's more about what he chose and hears.

I am familiar with alot of the gear, so it's neat to compare ears. I have never heard those TAD speakers, but have spent alot of time with the others...so I had fun.

Thanks to SG for being open about his references and likes.

Glotz's picture

I like that. We are all different and our attentions are different as well.

We allow ourselves to see the other side of the argument by comparing ears.

I am also touched by the fact you are saddened when an estate is broken up. Life is so fleeting, and to have permanence like that dissolved is disheartening.

Allen Fant's picture

Good work- Jana.
Next time capture the entire listening space and gear!