Consumer Reports Online Gives Cybertour of its Testing Labs

Long the bane of finicky audiophiles, Consumer Reports magazine has been measuring just about anything sold in a store since 1936 in an effort to "test products, inform the public, and protect consumers." But when they get around to testing audio gear, the magazine's "lab" has become the target of many audio enthusiasts who don't share CR's views on how to tell good sound from bad. In fact, part of the problem is that CR often reports that sound quality is not always the final factor in rating a product, with concerns about reliablity, ease of use, and fit and finish often skewing results.

But for those still curious about how those results are reached, point your browser to Consumer Reports Online, where, for the the first time, CR offers a virtual behind-the-scenes look at how products are tested at the company's "state-of-the-art" product-testing laboratories. In addition to a peek at the sound room and anechoic chamber, visitors can see nine other labs, where CR employees put products through their paces at the world's largest independent consumer product-testing laboratory.

"We are delighted to open our labs to Web surfers," says Nancy Macagno, Director of New Media at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. "Cybertourists can see some of the 400 people who work there every day." Perhaps most interesting for audio folk is seeing what CR states is a "room tailored according to international standards to have the acoustic quality of a home living room."