Who or what do you trust the most for useful information about audio products?

Who or what do you trust the most for useful information about audio products?
Professional reviewers
18% (46 votes)
Internet newsgroups
2% (6 votes)
Audio journals
6% (14 votes)
Sales people
0% (1 vote)
Service Technicians
0% (1 vote)
Manufacturers' Web sites
0% (0 votes)
3% (7 votes)
Mail-order operators
0% (1 vote)
0% (1 vote)
My ears
69% (172 votes)
Total votes: 249

Other people usually have experiences or insights that we lack, and their opinions can be extremely useful when we make our own decisions. This is especially true when it comes to forking over big bucks for new equipment. Below is a list of expert sources. When you are considering a purchase, which do you find most reliable?

Mark Stranczek's picture

In casting my vote I say I use my ears to tell me what sounds good. However, I do enjoy reading a good review. It would be helpful to me if I could have an idea of what the respective reviewer's thoughts were about what he/she thought represented good sound. I used to be in the high end audio business, so I've been privy to some extraordiary systems. One of the things I learned was what sounds good to one person, may or may not sound good to someone else. What we find pleasing to the ears is our own to behold. If one person, let's say a reviewer for argument's sake, loves listening to Judas Priest cranked up to ear bleeding levels, he may not find the intracacies of a certain speaker appealing, and therefore give it a poor review (as he hears it). The product may be wonderful for someone with different musical tastes, but if we (the reading public) don't know the likes and dislikes of the reviewer, we may form prejudices when considering to demo a certain product. As an example, one of the other salespeople I had the pleasure of working with was an authority on classical music, from who wrote it, to who played it, from where it was recorded, and by whom on what label. He is also a bass singer and does regular choral performances. I, on the other hand, like rock and roll, I do enjoy classical music, but I realize I do not have the knowledge, or the passion for it that he does. Needless to say, when a person wanted to demo a product using classical music, I would refer this person to the other salesman. Simply because his taste was more likely to be in line with the customer's listening tastes. I truly believe the customer was done a service because of this. I would just like to know a little bit about the reviewer. I realize there are certain tracks on certain cd's and lp's that can test a system, and that also reviewers give us a tiny insight to their personal listening tastes, but more often than not they leave out what they enjoy listening to. Beleive me, when I was in the hi-fi business, and you demo'd systems all day, sometimes the last thing you wanted to do when you got home is to listen to some music, (The whole thing about being a chef and never cooking at home). It would be nice to hear the reviewer say, "I really like to listen to 'Diana Krall' on such and such occasion . . ." That would let me know, at least a little bit, what this reviewer finds to his liking. That would possibly help me take the review in context to how does this reviewer identify with my listening preferences. I'm not implying that you, the reviewer, must bear your soul to the public, just let us know whether you like regular or decaf. Thank you very much for allowing me to express my opinion. You have a wonderful magazine, and a very nice web site. Mark Stranczek Oklahoma City, OK

Jeff Loney's picture

My ears are the last line of defense to my checkbook, with professional reviewers and trusted audiophile friends being the first and second lines.

James Terwey's picture

I use my own ears to decide what I want to purchase, but I do use professional reviewers to help me narrow down my search.

tyc's picture

the question should have been rephrased 'other than your ears' what source do you find most reliable... I would say the next best source would be people who own the equipment that I'm planning to buy as they would have lived with the component longer than any reviewer could have, and they aren't under any pressure from 'editorial policy'.

Gary Ang's picture

At the end of the day, it's my money that will be spent. I don't know about the rest of you folks, but I like to have the final say in where my money goes. Therefore, In My Ears I Trust. This way I got no else to blame.

John P.  Wirick, Jr.'s picture

If I can't hear: 1) a difference, 2) a better difference, and 3) a better difference that's worth the extra $$$ (all three both in the store and at home), whatever the proposed new gadget is stays in the store.

Alvester Garnett's picture

I like to do research and I'll take reccomendations. Ultimately it will have to come down to my ears but I have ordered and kept several pieces of equipment through mail order only under the condition of in home auditioning.

Matt Miller's picture

If I can't hear a product IN MY SYSTEM before purchasing, it's not eligible for my consideration. All the other sources you listed can help lead me to new products with promise, but my ears are the final arbiter.

J.  Hartmann's picture

when chossing new equipment first impressions are frequently exciting but inaccurate. Several sessions in a known dealers room allows me to chose long term satisfying units. Professional reviews are a source of things to search out. Some recent sessions have been interesting and some recent tweeks ie line conditioners have made greater than expected inprovements.

Steven E.  Hendershott's picture

Although reviews and Qualified, trustworthy salespeople are helpful in guiding the general direction of the search, in the end it all comes down to whether or not I love and believe what I hear.

Dick C's picture

The most important component in any music system is the brain of the listener, as music is at least as much psychological as physical. Others can provide valuable information on what to audition, but in the end only what you hear matters.

Marcus's picture

If you cannot rely on your ears... what can you rely on?

Anonymous's picture

I would say my ears if I were always in a position to take the gear home for review. But with some equipment, e.g., large loudspeakers, this often proves impossible. So I appeal to good reviewers to get a sense of what they are hearing (in the case of loudspeakers) and then go listen at the dealer. But even this is not always helpful I never buy without assurances that the piece can go back.

Meng Keat Ng's picture

Nothing beats listening to a product myself.

Lyman G.L.  DeLiguori, Sr.'s picture

First, "Stereophile" as a point of reference and recommendation---hands down. Second, my ears. Albeit I've found that the former and the latter tend to go hand in hand and complement each other nicely.

Mark Brodie's picture

While the ultimate test for audio purchases are my ears, the first source for reliable info is "Stereophile."

Mike Powers's picture

I just replaced my entire system, right down to the cables. I let the salesmen narrow the focus, as they knew where I wanted to be price- and sound-quality-wise. I've worked with them for 15 years now and I trust their judgment. But when it came down to deciding between the last couple of brands/models of each of the components, I trusted my own ears to make the final decision. Of course, when all was said and done, both of them said, "See, we told you that you'd like X,Y, & Z the best!" They were right, and could have saved me a lot of time checking into all of the various brands---but what fun would that have been?!

Emmanuel Fonte's picture

There is something to be said about loyalty to a manufacturer that has a proven track record and that lines up with your tastes. If the equipment functions in your environment, well made, not a fad technology. I think you should look at that company which you are familiar with. It takes so long to really now what a piece of gear sounds like mixed with everything all the other components in that room. The experience gained over time will only benefit you in choosing something from the same manufacturer, you are familiar with.

D.  Morrison's picture

I usually use the opinions of professional reviewers to help narrow down the field. Once that list is down to a few, then the final call is made by my ears. (And my checkbook)

Wade Davis's picture

As one who enjoys conducting research concerning audio equipment, I do read reviews and take into consideration the critics' views . . . I also enjoy talking to my dealer, who is someone I trust, and am grateful for the chance of meeting him. I still consider myself a novice and realize that there are people who can be a benefit to me by taking advantage of their experience. On the other hand, I am the one who will have to live with my purchase. I have to be true to myself. Regardless of rave reviews . . . I go by what my ears tell me. I realize that it is all too easy to get involved in the hype that can go along with nice equipment, however; we need to ignore the glamorous aspect and choose systems that we truly like. After all, that is why we are---and some of us are striving to be---audiophiles.

Conrad's picture

I trust my own test equipment, crosschecked by my own ears. 99.99% of published info is useless or wrong!

Robert Cappuccio's picture

Pro reviewers, when remaining unbiased and who are also keen to divulge all the component's/equipment's shortfalls.

Eric's picture

I wish I could defer to my ears, but in my town, a lot of the product is unavailable.

Philip's picture

The three dealers in New Orleans suck. It is a terrible situation for those of us interested in high end equipment. Can you have them replaced with qualified, honest, sincere and customer oriented professionals?

Alex Voss's picture

While I use many of the sources listed to narrow the scope of my search for equipment, I never go against my ears when it comes to making the final call. My ears are always right . . . for me, that is.

Eric Harris, Chillicothe, OH's picture

My guess would be that most audiophiles will reply "My ears." I think that most, however, base their likes and dislikes on general popularity.

Scott D.  Keller, Sgt, USMC's picture

Not having too much money to spend, I want to make sure that I do it right the first time, and who nows better that the experts. I think we all know the added costs of upgrades!

Larry Mucklow's picture

My ears are my best guide.I have reached a point in building my system that components need to be evaluated at home to reach any definitive conclusion.As pointed out by many reviewers,their reviews should be treated as a guide not as some kind of ultimate truth.The synergy of your system in interacting with new components is the answer.

Al Marcy's picture

And I use all of the above to identify targets.

Torsten Wiegand's picture

Shouldn't that read: Whom do you trust?