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?

Aaron Ye's picture

In combination with professional reviewers, simply because some of the stuff just cannot be heard in person.

Jim Lawrence's picture

Obviously, the average "Stereophile" reader has friends and stores with whom he/she discusses such things. But when I get ready to drop five grand on an amp, I go straight to the pros to narrow it down to 2 or 3 choices. Then I go to the stores and let the ears do the final work. Don't most of us do the same thing???

John Freiman's picture

PROFESSIONAL reviewers are rare and not infalible. I wait until I see multiple reviews on an item or topic. There is nothing worse than a "professional" reviewer that has been "bought".

Thomas Walker's picture

If a product has been reviewed a number of times and displays good showings I tend to think the product may be worth considering. The other assessment is done by talking with service technicians and my own ears.

Mannie Smith's picture

I upgraded my preamp to the Audio Research LS3 two years ago and I have just ordered a Pass Aleph 3 amplifier, but I wouldn't have bought either of them without your reviews, since they aren't available locally. Of course, my ears were the final judge. You're auditioning all of these monitor speakers . . . you should do the Avalons---they're great!

T.M.  Gibson's picture

I'd like to say that I trust my ears in these matters, but I can't. This is because dealers won't allow me to borrow equipment long enough to make an informed opinion---a process that takes weeks.

CHAZRO's picture


greg fennell's picture

experienced dealer with whom you have a long term association.

Carl Eberhart's picture

Although I'm not as musically versed as some, my ears tell me more of the story all the time. To 19kHz at age 29!

Chris Sandvick's picture

This question would be more interesting if you asked who do you trust besides yourself. Please run it again!

Jim McGuire's picture

I trust my own ears not because they are especially golden or even slightly goolden but because I don't trust any of the other sources you listed. In fact in think the best thing to do with most of them is to totally ignore them except for facts such as model numbers, prices and features. Your reviewers generally fall in this catagory.

Jeeff Toney's picture

First I read, then look, then listen.

David L.  Wyatt, Jr.'s picture

Reviews are a nice place to start, but nothing replaces legwork and serious listening. I bought my Kevek ES-8 speakers though I had never heard of the brand before, and still delight in their sound (as does anyone who hears them). Nothing beats a good set of ears.

David Cavazos's picture

When it comes to forking over MY money, the only ears I trust are my wife's and mine.

David Gulliver's picture

Obviously, the REAL first choice is "ears" but I figured I'd answer with the number one choice OTHER than the blatantly obvious.

Kimball Corson's picture

Is this a silly question or what?

R.A.S.'s picture

Who would be stupid/honest enough to choose anything but "my ears"? The problems with most reviews are: 1) not compared against enough competing, well-regarded, similarly priced components; 2) not used with sufficient companion equipment; 3) room and tastes of reviewer may differ from yours. The problem in trusting MOST sales people is that they are sales people, and whatever they sell is always the BEST. (Think Miracle on 34th St. here: How many are going to tell you to go to their competitor because the new *** is better than what they carry . . . in your system?) The problem in trusting your own ears is that, unless you don't work and your whole life is spent in audio pursuits, you're dependent on listening to equipment in unfamiliar rooms (dealers) with unfamiliar equipment. Long-term borrowing options are very limited (except for reviewers) for obvious reasons. One option is to listen to opinions of friends and reviewers and buy used, and if you don't like it, sell it. (This is a hassle---especially with speakers---but it allows you to stay reasonably current and try lots of stuff with minimal loss.)

Milton Salazar's picture

Reviewers always say that you have to trust your ears buy certanly you can

Peter Veth's picture

even a 100.000,- dollar system can sound awfull, too much is depending on taste and acoustics !

Marc Phillips's picture

I find it's equal parts of listening to your brain and relying upon a good dealer. I've spent quite a bit of time listening with my dealer, Gene Rubin of gene rubin Audio, and it's gotten to the point where he knows what I like, and he knows when to call me when the latest improvement to my system can be made.

N.  Khalidi's picture

I find that sales people, even when in a high-quality stereo shop, are rude, pushing, and foolish. Friends, on the other hand, have experience with the equipment and have nothing to gain if you purchase the item or not. Reviewers, it seems, are biased by the advertisers in the magazine.

dan howard's picture

ultimately, my ears are the final test, but reviewers provide comparisons unavailable otherwise.

Nelson's picture

The Sudio Critic

Peter S.  Jasion's picture

If you had put "Audio Dealer's" instead of "Sales people, I would have checked that box...I consider dealers "Consultative Salepeople" - IF they are doing there job correctl...

Kurt Christie's picture

Canada's UHF Magazine is a wonderful companion to Sterophile. The editor is an engineer/audiophile who can explain electical theory and relate it to our hi-fi world.

Ofer Refaeli's picture

I listen to the first 9 , but do what my ears tell me.

Eric W.  Sarjeant's picture

Ultimately, it is my listening experience that establishes my impression of the component. Although reviews and word-of-mouth are helpful in determining which components to audition, these hersay recommendations are merely a temperature gauge for the component in question.

Will Baker's picture

Not all of course, but over the years I've found certain ones who I follow.

Neil Micklewright's picture

The above options are a little limiting, inasmuch that I frequently narrow the search criteria using reviews, but make decisions with my ears. In addition, I believe that it is often forgotten that purchasing decisions are frequently colored by the particular brands carried by one's local dealers. Therefore a dealer who spends the time to find rewarding equipment is essential.

Todd Quigley's picture

I am a jazz musician and personally I often see little resembelence to what live music sounds like and what dealers and reviewers think music should sound like. ie: giant headphones. for example, any product by Wilson Audio, Theil, Dunlavy (I know SS loves his) etc.. Most salespersons and reviewers are not musicians and do not attend enough live music, they are technophiles, tweakers, etc. They don't really love music (they can't even listen to a whole track) what they love is the game of trying to match the master tape (which they have never heard) . I trust my ears and sometimes I listen to WP & JA as they have musical backgrounds. I mean really, a major portion of the high end is just so much technical, overpriced bullshit that has no bearing on what real live music sounds like.