$4500 amp beat out the Tenor OTL in the latest TAS

You read that right! In the Feb/March edition of TAS, HP declares that the ASL (antique sound lab)Hurricanes at $4500 are the best amps he has EVER heard at any price. In another section of the same issue, the hurricane won tube amp of the year while the Tenor 75 watter was the runner-up.
I've heard some other people giving very good reports of the Hurricane amp. It seems this is a good one from the folks at ASL.

I can't comment on the comparison with the Tenors. But, nobody rides on the top of the heap forever. It was bound to happen.
Man, I wouldn't want to be the guy who just paid $18000 for the Tenors. Let's see what happens with this baby....
How many times do I need to say it...you have to be insane to spend that much on any one piece of gear and expect to buy value of any kind be it perceived value, shmeeved value, or any other value you want to delude yourself into.As I have stated before the greatness of this hobby is in cleverly cobbling together a great system on the financial sly shall we say or using many years of careful listening to snag the best gear that gets you 99% of the way there without dumping six figures on a system.Bottom line baby is that the intelligence of the consumer is on display vis a vis his expenditure vs. sound.Anyone can with a couple of years experience align his radar toward the best stuff if he has 100,000 dollars to drop but if he has 10,000 then it takes great knowledge and a healthy dose of cynicism to create a great sounding system rivalling the expensive one.The illusion of an elite class of stereos is pure bullshit just a scam to lift your wallet.Do not be suckered.By the by a great amp shouldnt cost 4500 either but at least its moving in the right direction.Here come the jive time justificationists I smell them a-comin.
Dear Brucegel:

I have lathered on the jive time anti-persperant as well as the jive time mouth spray so don't you worry.

I agree with you on every point. $4500 IS a lot to spend on a power amp(s).

I apoligize for not arguing.
I thought the Halcro was the best sounding amp of all time, no maybe it was the Kronzilla, no perhaps it was ??????????. The opinion of TAS is just that.
The best amps are the sleepers. You have to know what is out there and take the time to talk to many people and listen to even more pieces of equipment. In the end, it depends on your ears, your ego and your wallet and how it all clicks in your brain. What satifies you may never satisfy anyone else. But a handful of manufactures do and can satisfy many. ATL is one. One of the sleepers is Portal Audio. What I find interesting and to this point is that I was at CES. I heard lots. There were over 15 reviews of CES on the web. Not one listed the three rooms that I thought had great sound, or better stated, that sound that pleased me the most. Is it adverting dollars? Is it fear of hear today, gone tomorrow? Or is there a direct correclation between cost and good reviews? Who knows. Who really cares. It's a hobby and its fun. We simply need to keep ourselves in check and accept that reality is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us set our spending limits. Others do not or do not have to. This is one reality of audio. And, to answer this thread, I don't doubt that a 4500 amp could perform as reported. There is a definite point where improvements are measured in microns, not inches or feet. And, yes, expensive amps should sound better, but this does not always happen. So,we are back to the issue of our ears. Part of the entertainment value is watching others and the market. Then we sit back in our chairs and listen to our systems knowing that we made a good choice....until we read another review and go out and listen to something new. The cycle starts over.
Um, doesn't anybody recall HP's little fling with the Widom Audio speakers at about $75K? They don't even make his list these days, and it's been what, a year, a year and a half? (Although to be fair it was JV, not HP, who placed the Tenors at the summit, something he does with new gear on a regular basis.) The Tenors are probably great, as probably are the Wisdoms, although the prices asked might certainly cast doubt on their value.

But the main point is, HP is an idiot. No, wait, that wasn't the main point - the main point is that *you* are an idiot if you listen to these 'critics' yammering on constantly about the brand new latest and greatest. And that surely includes these new ASL amps as well. People, there is no 'best' (say it again). There is only better sound by audiophile standards, which is to say, it still ain't gonna fool anybody into thinking it's live, so enjoy what you like and can afford, and read the mags for entertainment value. Just wait 'til next issue.
I think it is pathetic and irresponsible for reviewers to proclaim an amp 'the best' or even 'absolutely better' than another amp.

Why? Unless you are comparing amps in the SAME reference system, saying one is better than the other is very difficult to say the least. And even if you do compare different amps in the same reference system, one amp may not be as well matched in that system as the other.

Reviewers have a tendancy to think they can isolate the sound of an a amp and report on it. I would argue that without a lot of experientation (and I mean A LOT), I think this is quite difficult.

For starters there is the power cord issue. Power cords can make a huge impact on how a component sounds. This is such a huge impact, I think it is pointless to review a componenet mated with only one power cord (especially if it is stock). Reviewers need to review amps with a few power cords mated to the amp.

The next problem is speakers. Not all amps are really suited to drive the same speakers of a reference system. The same goes with mating an amp to any preamp.

With so many variables, isolating the amp's sound is a monumental task. I think most reviewers FAIL MISERABLY at it. Especially when they proclaim an amp as the 'best ever'.

When was the last time you read a negative review from an audio publication? Two channel audio is struggling for its survival (and loosing).

OTL amps, the Tenor in this case, just will not do much in the way of current and I imagine the Hurricane will.....Sounds like a mismatch of speakers to me and this was reported on by Sue Kraft in TAS in her further thoughts on the Tenors....The Tenors seem to be a match made in heaven for the Kharmas, but after listening to some high current amps driving the Rockports at the CES would say the Tenors are not a good match for the Rockports, which seem to require more current than the Tenors can provide.....I have not received my TAS with this article, but it sounds like a mismatch, such as Sue talked about with her big Dunlavy's, that HP is talking about.....Amps need to be matched to the speakers and I would rather have an OTL with proper speakers rather than have a piece of iron in the signal path myself......Tenor is addressing current hungry speakers with their new amplifier, a 300wpc hybrid design.....
BTW Rcrump, speaking of reviews, congrats on your Stereophile rave by Fremer (and Atkinson!) with the Parasound Halo JC 1's. I once went to audition an HCA-3500 that I ultimately didn't buy, but it was impressive. How much better do these sound to you? (And why no handles? :-)
Zaikesman- No handles- because quite simply, you can't handle it :) sorry couldn't resist.

As to the tenor vs. what ever other amp, I think Bob hit the nail on the head its very system dependent. I do think the tenors are the best amps I have ever heard- though they sound horrible in my system!

Brucegel- The world you live in must be a nice place.
If HP and his ilk were to posit that this amp, that preamp, this CDP were the best without qualification, there would be little need for them to maintain a monthly publishing schedule. I've learned to take their ratings with a robust dose of skepticism. Ditto with Stereo Review and its recommended components. Think about it: would there be any need to keep reading these rags if some mythical manufacturer had made the perfect component and such had been duly reported in these rags???
Stereo Review?
I love it when the big mags give outright rave reviews. To me it means the reviewer (and the editor) are actually excited about a product. The fact that there has been a steady stream of rave reviews may indicate that we are in a "golden age" of audio products. That sounds like something we should all be happy about and try to enjoy.
I think the only reason HP picked the Hurricane as the best amp he ever heard, is because he's never heard my amp. :^)
It will be interesting to see how many pairs of Tenors
go up for sale and how low the price goes.

Likewise, in three months we'll probably see Hurricanes for
sale at bargin prices and a lot of people looking for a quiet fan for all those tightly packed KT88s.

The same will happen with Mr.Crump's JC-1s. Fremer and Atkinson are just like HP, they love everything new. They're
just trying to get Parasound's advertising dollars. Watch for more rave reviews of the Halo line.

That's beauty of Audiogon & the Interent we can watch it all unfold for free.

Stay Warm.

Fremer did a nice job on the JC-1 review....The amps are the best we can do in a machine made very powerful amplifier. Having these made by machine in Taiwan makes for an amplifier that is about 1/3 the cost of what it would be to build these here by hand. I voiced the JC-1s just a touch sweet at full break-in/warm-up and glad Michael picked up on this as I figured they would work better in most systems that way...I used the Vampire CCC input wiring to sweeten the sound over deadly accurate 99.9999 silver I use in other CTC/DDR products....We at CTC could do a better amplifier, but the cost would escalate and few would be able to afford it...In the real world the JC-1 is a nice accomplishment.....It isn't perfect as nothing is, but it is a honey of an amplifier that will drive virtually anything within reason.....Back to the Tenor, I haven't seen the article yet, but don't agree with the bottom line at all as used within parameters spelled out by Tenor (speakers requiring low current), it should eat anything using an output transformer.....
Oops! Meant to write "Stereophile." That was my blond moment for today.
Kana813, I am often skeptical about reviewers' abilities to hear and describe in worthwhile ways, and am as critical as anyone of Stereophile's overall failure to live up to its potential as an enthusiast publication - a distinguishing trait matched only by its wildly disproportionate influence in the market. And neither to I share Onhwy61's optimism about the preponderance of 'rave' reviews.

But I am sick and tired of hearing the conspiracy theory that reviews are written for advertising dollars. Do I think the reviewers and the industry are too close? Without a doubt, and it negatively influences the quality of criticism. I even believe that there begins to be something like a quid pro quo as it regards reviewer access to gear over time. But it has never been shown that there is a quid pro quo when it comes to advertising expenditure, and it makes no sense that there would be. Why would any manufacturer who can afford it not advertise in Stereophile, no matter what the review said? These allegations are always - as in your case - offered up without a shred of proof. The suggestion that postive reviews are prearranged in exchange for ad purchases has never been substantiated in the slightest, yet many readers apparently take it for gospel. There are real reasons having to do with the mag's editorial direction that have a great deal to do with this situation, and their refusal to reform their reviewing practices and ratings system is a concern for impartial readers, but I don't believe they are financially corrupt in the manner you imply.

Besides which, regarding the Parasound JC 1 review, whatever credence you choose to give or not give to his conclusions, I think anyone who's read Fremer's writing for any length of time could never seriously accuse him of being in anyone's pocket or biting his tongue. He has zigged and zagged a bit over the years in the big picture, but in a natural way that just suggests a guy gaining experience and changing his preconceptions and priorities to some extent as he goes. I think he's basically honest, and a decently communicative writer (and even more entertaining). As far as Atkinson goes, yes, he's too swayed by his measurements, but at least his measurements are undoubtedly real, for whatever that's worth. He simply can't be in the lab faking it for ad dollars. Baseless accusations like yours are easy to make if you don't have to give any evidence. It might be fun to lob bombs from a safe distance, but it doesn't make a person wise or iconoclastic, just irresponsible and cowardly. Show me some proof, and I'll be more than willing to jump on the bandwagon, but 'til then I'll use my own good judgement and common sense.
Why such negativity? The market for statement audiophile products is overflowing. The last 2-3 years have seen an abundance of truly great products come to the market. Some of them are extremely expensive and may represent a poor dollar investment, but others are somewhat reasonably prices, at least by audiophile standards. There's a certain level of hyperbole to call a product "the best", but the mags would be disingenuous if they didn't give these products raves. For instance, if we just limit the discussion to speakers, could someone please point out from the following list which product didn't deserve its rave review:

Avalon Eidolon
Avantgarde Trio
B&W Signature 800
Coincident Total Eclipse
Dynaudio Evidence
Dynaudio Temptation
Harbeth 40
Kharma Reference 3.2
Magenpan 20.1
M-L Prodigy
Quad 988
Revel Studio
Wilson Sophia
Wilson Watt/Puppy 7
Wilson MAXX
Vandersteen 5

If my memory serves me correctly, each of the above products recently got a rave from one of the major mags. Over a three year period it works out to a rave every two/three issues. I believe the situation is similar with electronics.

As Carly S. once sang, "These are the good old days."
Zaikesman- Glad you believe in Stereophile and it's reviewers. I'm not a subscriber anymore, I haven't read the JC-1 review. I hope Halo & Mr.Crump make lots of money.

October 2002 was my last issue...you know the one where they proclaimed the $25K Halcro DM58 is "The best ampilfier ever!"

In that issue, both it and the $1.7K PS Audio HCA-2 are rated Class A. If the Halcro DM58 is "The best ampilfier ever," shouldn't it be A+? And how does it compare to the JC-1s, is it worth the $19K difference in price, will it turn my listening room into the Village Vanguard?

They're the cowards Zaikesman, because they don't want to offend advertisers. It's not a question of postive reviews being exchanged for ad purchases, everything new sounds great. And please remember Fremer's reviewing career started under HP, that how he learned to play the game.

My point was and is, the marketplace information on Audiogon is more valuable and it's free.
I would love to see a review that lists characteristics of an amp (or any piece of equipment), instead of judging it as good or bad.

Some amps do well in certain situations, and have certain strengths, but can't be strong in all areas. Some are "lean" and revealing, some are warm and lush. Some seem more extended, while others present a certain weight to the music. There are ways I think that reviewers can describe equipment without getting into a "better than, worse than" diatribe.

A review of the Tenors might talk about how great these match up with speakers that don't need high current, and how they can make speakers like this really shine.

Or, alternatively, talk about how the Tenors really don't do so well with low impedence speakers.

I always love finding threads here at Audiogon where equipment near in price was listed with an appropriate description. I remember a digital thread that went like this; the person wrote Naim/Linn -- on the beat; BAT/Audiomeca -- seductive/rich; Wadia -- transparent, extended; etc... this list (I can't remember where I saw it) was so useful, because personally there are some qualities that I value over others. And, it also helps when I'm thinking about my system, and what/how I may need to adjust the sound in a certain direction.

Anyway, not sure if I'm making sense, but I kind of wish there was less of a good/bad judgment call, and more relative comparisons, product matching and characteristic qualities described in these reviews....

I'd like to make up my own mind re: whether I think it's great or not!
Kana813, just to set the record straight Carl Thompson and I were paid a flat amount as consultants to Parasound for voicing and board design of the JC-1....We do not work for them, but I became a dealer for the JC-1 last Fall....
My Threshold T-100 is even better than the Antique Sound Labs.
Do you think Stereophile, The Absolute Sound or the like, are going to give any company's product, that advertises with them, promises to, or poses a good advertising possibility, a less than B+ review. Let's get very real, here. When advertising is the name of the game, it will dictate supposed objectivity. Who pays for these magazines? Not the subscription fee. Case closed. If we had an audiophile publication, like Consumers Report, then, we'd see some fireworks/objectivity. Do you think Sterophile is going to say anything negative about a Musical Fidelity product, when they buy the back cover every month. Do you have any idea how much $$$ that is. Look at all the full page spreads of cables. Now you know why they're marked up 1000%. Have you ever read a poor review or a C+ review? Not in a mag with advertising. NEVER!
There was already some info out there on this amp before HP made his revelation. Refer to http://www.high-endaudio.com/RC-Amplifiers.html - bottom of the page. There is also some negative info on Tenor amps on this same page. Israel Blume likes these amps with his speakers and does some mods to them. A friend of mine owns them and likes them a lot. Having said that, are they the best amps ever? Is there such a thing? HP does tend to rave over components of lower quality and price, most notably the Sound Dynamics speakers. I owned the RTS3s and 300Tis based on his recommendation for a very short period of time. That's the last time I will listen to HP. Ever read the TAS recommended components? Components they rave about in magazine reviews aren't on there, Golden Ear Award winners are down several levels from the top, and there is little or no explanation for why things are rated the way they are. Example - Gamut CD player. HP says it is better in some ways than the Burmester combo. He rates it at the same level as the Burmester stuff. Yet the review says it doesn't produce much bass below 40 hz. This is one of his best rated digital components?
Kana813 and Warrenh, far be it from me to defend Stereophile too much. I find everything from their cover blurbs to their Recommended Components list to the actual reviews to be sorely lacking in many ways. I could probably reel off a post, as long as all the ones in this thread combined, on just that one topic. I certainly don't believe they're as objective as they could be in their overall approach.

All I'm saying is that: A) I don't believe - and there is no evidence for believing - that there is a direct quid pro quo of rave reviews for ad dollars; and B) The same thing goes - *as far as ad dollars are concerned* - for the integrity of their individual reviewers (whatever their shortcomings as such). There is no doubt however, that all the gear loans, meals, and general schmoozing which goes on severely calls into question the reviewers' abilities to exercise true independent judgement.

Trust me, I share your frustration with the mag's general lameness and lack of leadership, and how cozy and convenient everything is in that world. It's just that I have equally little patience for accusations - sans *any evidence* - of formal influence-buying corruption at the core. I think the situation would almost be more understandable were that the case. Unfortunately, there are serious ramifications for the way the industry operates directly caused by the audiophile press paradigm, and there is enough guilt to go around in that sense even without a dirty money trail to indict the players.
While I don't know this to be true, I suspect HP doesn't get out much. By which I mean that most of what he listens to are statement products from the upper echelons of the high-end. I don't fault him for this--a broad perspective on the market is not what we look to Harry Pearson for, we'll leave that to others--but I imagine many of us have a better sense of "context" for evaluating products.

It seems quite possible to me that Harry is sometimes caught offguard by the quality of more modestly-priced products because he doesn't hear them too often and imagines a bigger gap between the ne plus ultra and the merely high end. I've never heard the Sound Dynamics speakers, but if all I ever listened to were big Rolls Royce speaker systems, I might find a small bookshelf surprisingly refreshing. Hell, my car stereo has better PRAT than most big rigs I've heard. (So does my boom box, for that matter.)
While I don't know this to be true, I suspect HP doesn't get out much. By which I mean that most of what he listens to are statement products from the upper echelons of the high-end. I don't fault him for this--a broad perspective on the market is not what we look to Harry Pearson for, we'll leave that to others--but I imagine many of us have a better sense of "context" for evaluating products.

It seems quite possible to me that Harry is sometimes caught offguard by the quality of more modestly-priced products because he doesn't hear them too often and imagines a bigger gap between the ne plus ultra and the merely high end. I've never heard the Sound Dynamics speakers, but if all I ever listened to were big Rolls Royce speaker systems, I might find a small bookshelf surprisingly refreshing. Hell, my car stereo has better PRAT than most big rigs I've heard. (So does my boom box, for that matter.)
Asa, that was poetry to my ears. Well said. Cogent and dead on....warren
Huh? Where is Asa in this thread?
Warren, you must have read what I said before I deleted it. I thought it was too provacative for this early in the thread and I didn't want to take over the discussion with something so strong. Thanks anyway. Maybe later.

Hi Zaikes, yes, later.
Hey folks please let me ask this question about the ASL Hurrican and speaker matching like Rcrump metioned. I have been looking for a good deal on an ARC VT 200 or VTL 450 to drive my 4 ohm top end Infinity RS 1B's. Do you think this guy (Antique Sound Lab) will do it? I am now using the ARC VT 100mkll to do the job currently.
Then the question to follow is how will it sound and that, my ears and heart can only tell.
Ha! Like the song says, it's later than you think, my friend. :-)
I have listened to about 6 different in my system. ARC monos being one of the six. I truly think you should think twice before getting ARC or VTL. If you have the opportunity to demo a Atma-sphere amp ma1 even better ma2, I think you will be amazed at the low level detail you will hear and its ability to easily drive 4 ohm loads, these amps do sell on audiogon but if you watch they sell quickly, THEY ARE ONE OF THE BEST. I have the ma2 and the matching preamp mp1, with wilson speakers. You can listen to this system for hours. OTL's are really sweet!
I owned the hurricanes for a short time(purchased
in a package on audiogon). They were modified by
Mr.Blume. I have two other amps to rotate in my
system, the Bat 150se's, and an Audio Matiere with
an Aero Capitole running direct. My Speakers are
the Coincident total Victory's. The Hurricanes had
big bass(200watt). The Bat did most everything else
better in my system. The Audio Matiere is very good
with bass equal to the hurricanes and soundstaging
close to the Bat.My wife(degree in voice) preferred
the Bat to the Audio Matiere and the Matiere to the Hurricanes. With the right tubes, I believe the Hurricanes could excel in rock and classical,but small group sound staging isn't their forte. The gentleman that bought them
is actually going to use them for the bottom of a 3-way system.
Eralff, FWIW, the member I bought my VTL's from went to Atma-Spheres, and last I knew was not convinced about the benefit of his switch. Which is not to denigrate the Atma-Spheres (a product that actually interests me as well), but just to point out that OTL designs (as Rcrump wrote above) will not always work to their full advantage with many speaker designs, so generalizations can be dangerous.
Are the Atma-Spheres powerful enough to drive the 4 ohm Infinity RS 1B's? I was always under the impression that they needed the 100-200-300 wpc to really sing. I will have to check out the Atma's!!
I think that the big Atma-Sphere could drive them fine, but you'd have to have the impedance matching transformer in line with them. Once you do that, then it is no longer an OTL, because you had to put the transformer back into the line to handle the 4 ohm load. Then you have the complexity disadvantages of the OTL and the disadvantages of the output transformer too. Much of the OTL benefits are lost in this transition. I'd use a straight high power push-pull amp for this application.
......Like the Hurricane??? or ARC 200 or VTL 450???? Right?
Yes, those are all high-powered push-pull transformer-coupled amps. After I bought the VTLs in the story I related above, I believe the previous owner was ordering the outboard transformers for his Atma-Spheres (MA-1's, if I recall correctly, but I can't remember what his speakers were). I kind of wonder what his results were, and if the Atma-Sphere circuit retains any of its possible superiority even when used with an output transformer. Of course, being that he was still awaiting the trannys at the time the VTLs went to me, he wouldn't have been able to do any direct comparisions of his results with the old amps he said he missed somewhat. Even so, the amps I got cost about half what his new ones did (in retail terms), so I wouldn't be surprised if there was utlimately some improvement. Maybe I'll email him and ask him how everything came out in the end.
Zaikesman, the output transformer for the Atmas-pheres you are referring to in your last post is maybe the zeroformer(?) which acts as a passive transformer and increases the turns ratio of the amp so the load from the speaker to the amp is optimally realized at 16 ohms.

The zeroformer, designed by Paul Speltz (Atmas-phere also markets or did market one) has several wires connecting to the autoformer that act as a multiplier. The multipliers are 1.37X, 2X, 4X, and 8X. As an example, an 4 ohm speaker would be set at the 4X setting to realize an ideal 16 ohm load. The downside is that the sound does tend to get a bit drier and more solid stateish. It works but does tend to affect the sound of the amp especially at the higher multipliers.
"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep" - Saul Bellow

"Proof" is not always found in the pieces, but in the pattern of pieces. I just read an article about Kasparov taking on another Deep Blue chess program. He said that while a computer can add moves together quantitatively, and may even outlast the body inducing fatigue and error, the processing of the mind in chess also involves a "looking ahead at patterns".

This "looking ahead" involves not just a strict probability analysis involving the accumulation of data, but an intuiting of which pattern is the most effective. When I was a trial attorney, I used to tell jurors that the truth was not found only in the pieces of evidence, but in how they are put together, and further, how they feel about that pattern in their gut. If you are going to invoke evidentiary language, know that in this country the truth, at least theoretically (as in, what the law says, because I don't think our justice system is set up to find truth, but to maintain order) is found both in the isolated facts and in how the person responds to them (i.e. a lack of bias does not imply an exclusive focusing on "objective" criteria, only that subjective opinions be reasonable. People who are scientifically materialist in orientation tend to assume that all reason is exclusively objective and a product of accumulation of data, which, not coincidentally, is what science assumes).

Question: Do you really believe that $150,000/yr advertising contracts do not have an effect - a discernible effect - upon the "objective" opinions of those employers and their employed? I know that we want to believe that yellow ribbons and a hundred points of light are real, and that protecting an oil port for ourselves while maintaining a monarchy is really a fight for democracy, or for "freedom fighters", or for whatever is our next delusion, but sometimes it is not true and, in fact, the King has no clothes. The question, then, is whether the King is doing it TO you, or below that, he is just a symptom of your own willingness to believe in what he says - because you are orientated to look to others to tell you what to believe - and ignore what is in the patterns. It is an ignor-ing (the root of ignorance) that seeks to believe in the surface so one does not have to see the pain underneath, which would cause one to change.

There are many wonderful people in the hiend "industry" who love music and see stereos as instruments of the soul and don't want to just make money off you - and there is nothing wrong with receiving value for value done. But there is a large proportion of this microcosm - almost as if it has been concentrated like acid - who are borderline narcissistic, histrionic, catty, vindictive, dishonest and petty. This group of people are embedded and exert a determitive influence on the hiend.

When you look into the hiend from the outside it appears one way because it is dynamically set up to appear opaque; when you are on the inside, you see the way it is, and the severity of the affliction.

My advice is to love your music and your system and gleen what truth you see from magazines, but, in the end, follow what Brucegel says. It is evidence born of experience.

"We don't err because the truth is difficult to see, we err for comfortability." - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
I do not see most professional reviewing as subtle problem as Asa does.

The problem is pretty simple.

It is comperable to two lawyers practicing in a small town. These two lawyers are the only two in the town, and they both speak openly about how they have respect for the other (no matter what they really think of the other). They never speak badly of the other to any of their clients. Why is this the case? Because they are the only two lawyers in town. As long as they do not piss anyone off (and one can piss off people quite easilly by speaking poorly of another, esp in a small town), then they are almost assured a 50/50 split of the entire towns legal work.

How is this comperable to professional audio reviews? The audio industry is so small and struggling it does NO ONE any good for a reviewer to critize a product. Reviewers in one way or another depend on the hi-end industry selling products. Without the hi-end industry and audiophiles, they would be out of a job.

I will not go so far as to say that most reviewers deceive people in their reviews by being biased with a favorable position toward the industry. But what I will say is that I find reviewers tend to only review products that they initially like. This I think is Stereophile's big problem: they only seem to review products they like. Where does this get us? It gets us a lot of glowing reviews that many times have little to no reference with other products. Stereophile rarely compares products head to head. Take their Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II review they did a few issues ago. They do not compare the AZ cables to the Valhalla at all, eventhough the reviewer uses the Valhalla as his reference. This is not good reviewing.

This analysis does not even take into consideration the thousands of dollars that hi-end companies spend on advertisements in audio magazines.

Online reviews by private individuals also have problems. Who wants to review something negatively that they just spent good money on in their system? People tend to review stuff they buy positively. My goal when I buy something is to buy it for such a good price I can be totally neutral as to my oppinion of its impact on my system. If I like it better, I keep it. If I do not like the product, I sell it for the same price I got it for. Most of the time I get better sound from the new product. There have been a few times I have not gotten better sound.

Well I must run.

Looking at this thread,one thing seems to have been missed . That is the fact that many mags, particularly Abo Sound profess to compare reproduced sound to the live experience. Well let me tell you,listening to my Taylor guitar's sound and comparing it to any of the equipment listed as the'best'truly shows how completely far off the truth these audio pieces are. Now if one was truly reviewing these SOTA audio pieces against the Abo sound,and being completely honest about the results,the only response would be to trash them all.
Unfortunately,that is my opinion of audio equipment today,and the merit of same.
Having said that,I still enjoy the hobby and enjoy the occassional rave from HP et al.Pity they obviously do NOT have a real musical instrument at hand to 'AB' against.

Just to play "Devil's Advocate", are you referring to the sound of the Taylor guitar as you play it (next to your person), or the sound of your Taylor being played appx. 6 feet away from you(and within 2 feet of a wall) by someone who you consider an accomplished player?

Food for thought

Asa, I largely agree with the essence of what I take it to be that you are saying. My disagreement with Kana813 was intentionally very specific and limited in scope (mainly because so was his remark I wanted to respond to). It is much too facile and easy (not to mention predictable) for audiophiles to continually spout off about how this or that 'rave' review is merely yet another proof of the corrupt control of ad dollars. (BTW, it often seems to me that many of those same audiophiles who proclaim unhesitatingly about, "Of course it got a great review, look at all the ads that company runs!" are also frequently the ones who will scream the loudest about agendas and unfairness when the rare negative review of some pet component comes along - despite any advertising that manufacturer may have done.) Would that the situation were so simple. The point of interjecting my honed dissent was not merely to dispute a particular unsupported accusation, but to highlight the fact that such simplistic and undemonstrable cliches only have the ultimate effect of glossing over or diverting attention from what is in reality a much more complexly insidious systemic disease.

I want to recall Brucegel's keenly observed comment from above, "The illusion of an elite class of stereos is pure BS, just a scam to lift your wallet," and juxtapose it with Kana813 saying, "The marketplace information on Audiogon is more valuable and it's free". Audiogon has its own 'elite classes' of gear, and Tenor amplifiers have been one of these. Members who have contributed to that perception have (with a few exceptions) not received any dollars, in advertising or otherwise, from this manufacturer. It is also likely true that fewer actual owners than posters have helped to foster this perception, so neither is the phenomenon purely a matter of having invested one's own dollars where one's mouth is. Worth noting as well is that this supposed elite class is normally prejudiced against the well known blue-chip, engineering-driven audio companies whose gear tends to populate the reference systems of mainstream reviewers, in favor of newer firms and products with a characteristically evanescent buzz factor to them (nothing against Tenor in particular here, which of course may be the fine product it's reputed to be). I'm not trying to say that all internet amateur commentary is ignorant or manipulative (or I'd be a prime offender), just that one always has to use their own judgement and circumspection. So maybe Asa can get out his quote book (or maybe he won't have to ;^) and attribute a paraphrase for me when I smile and say, "The computer-chair audiophile who doesn't listen for himself has got a fool for a client" - even if the price of admission to get fooled (not to mention the satisfaction in being a skeptic) is less than with reading the mags.
Zaike: Thank you for your response. Yes, I understood what you were saying vis-a-vis Brucegel; my opinion was general. Thank you for being a good sport. On what you said, the "elite" I am taliking about are not the purchasers, regardless of how much they spend or their socio-economic standing outside the hiend subculture. The elite is an insular group of reviewers and manufacturers who produce, in tacit dynamic, a system of operation that produces covet-ing in the mass consumer that is not commensurate with performance, even as they percieve it. Its a carnival show. Not that components have no merit, but that there exists a marked incongruency that can be 1) percieved from the outside through patterns over time, just like any observation of an experiment would do, and 2) percieved directly from the inside by direct experience. My point is that until you have been in the dragon's belly, you are very suseptible to the propoganda. I remember that I was and was shocked when I got there and saw what it was. I didn't enjoy seeing what it was, but I wouldn't want to not know either. For those on the inside, there exists a strong bond of mutual self-interest to maintain this system that, because of its concentrated size, and because it attracts those minds whose idea of themselves includes "art salon member", tends to produce "politics" that are similarly reflective of that concentration (which itself, is only a reflection of the cycling self-interest in society at large).

I enjoy reading the mags. Its fun, but I know what it is. This does not make me a skeptic or a cynic, although to one who is attached to the Guru's message - who nneds a King to feel safe from the post modern darkness of the assumed unknowable - it will be categorized as so.

Tok, yes, not so subtle, but again it depends on how closely you are watching, your orientation while watching and from where, inside or outside. I was trying to be courteous. I disagree with you, however, that because of the size of the hiend end - which I take you to imply, fragility - we should be willing to ignore these issues. I refer you to the quotes above. The need to be safe - to keep the warm home that I have, the set of ideas that I already have and know - is a lack of resolve to do anything about it. Talkng about it is the first step. That is why control-orientated systems, their apex actors, the so-called "elite", e.g. fascism, always seeks to gain control of the means of communication between non-elites by control of information in exchange for security, or the promise of security (look out you front door right now...). And, be clear, this is not a landed gentry per se, although the top actors do stay longer, but a systemic issue; in the period of nobility you could follow the aristocracy through kinship, now, the aristocracy is more transitory so they are harder to locate directly. You just may need to be more perceptive to see. Then again, making all of us more perceptive to, and less willing to enable, those who would predate upon another over things may be part of the evolutionary point. Didn't a guy named Jesus say something about that...Now there's a quote (!).

So, what do i want to do about it? Stay centered and see, but leave unto Caesar that which is what he covets.
Audioak, the sound of the guitar needs only to be one(1) string plucked to hear the difference.Playing the instrument myself or having someone else play it, the basic intrinsic differences are still painfully obvious.Just as my example in the first sentence also applies.
The truth is that the live experience is soooo far removed from the reproduced experience it is quite pitiful. My post suggesting that a much higher standard be applied to audio equipment reviewing than obviously currently applies. The Tenor's are a good example. Compared to most other amps they are considered to be near or at the SOTA. But when you compare them to the true Abo Sound then,and only then do you have a true idea of their failings.With this in mind IMHO any truly honest reviewer would simply state their strenghts and then leave it at that. Not suggest that they sound like the real thing,or any other immense hyperbole. Just IMHO.
Point well taken.