Am I asking for too much??

I figured posting this question in the speaker section would be appropriate, but it also applies to all other areas of our hobby.
Having just read the review by Jim Hannon in the September issue of Absolute Sound of the Zellaton Stage, I am left with a hyperbole laden advert for the speaker in question. Hyperbole like this...quote" The Stage not only transports you to the recording venue, it helps you "be at one" with the artists and delve deeply into the performance and the music."


So to my question, am I asking for too much with this question....instead of layering hyperbole upon hyperbole in these reviews, how about adding a paragraph or two about what the speaker ( in this instance, but could be any other gear reviewed like this) does NOT do well. Now, IF the reviewer cannot fathom what the gear does NOT do well, and therefore doesn’t have the discriminatory ability necessary to determine that ( and this is a whole other question), then at least some comment to state that he cannot hear where the gear falls down. ( believe me, they all do compared to the ’real’ thing, just how is the question). Or, is that simply too much to ask for???

Lastly, how does this type of review assist me in determining what the speaker really sounds like in reference to my reference...or the ’Absolute Sound’ as defined by HP. 
(therefore, what value does it really have for me, or the consumer?)

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Besides measurements, when it comes to reviews I only read the British magazines.

TAS is among the worst in the US, and Stereophile has had the agenda of being a speaker king maker I had no intention of going along with.
Reviewers are simply "marketers" for the products they review.

They play games.
Daveyf, they always choose a fanboy to do the review. Need I say more.
I will anyway. Speakers are the most crucial part of your system. If they are not to your liking nothing you can do will make them palatable. You have to listen before you leap. Speakers are getting very expensive. It is worth a trip to see and hear them. It also helps to listen to different types of speakers to get a feel for what you really like. I only like dipole line sources. I don't even bother listening to anything else. For me there are very few instances where a review makes or breaks a buying decision. 
I read the rags mostly to know what is out there and get updated on anything new. I think the hyperbole you get in many of these reviews is pretty silly as you seem to have noted. You are absolutely right. 

I believe what you said regarding TAS, they are the worst.  Stereophile?  The former editor John Atkinson has more integrity than most all of the other magazines combined.  What reason do you have for saying that?
Hey @stereo5 I go through this regularly. Kal is the only writer at Stereophile I take seriously.

You are free to like whomever you like.


I am just wondering, is there something specific?  I have been a reader of that magazine since the mid 80's , so I am curious.  I know that a former reviewer tried to make a profit off of his "demo equipment".  While I am sure that they aren't completely innocent, I do think the editor tried to run a tight ship.   I'm sorry, I seldom read Kals "Music In the Round" as I have no interest in multi channel so I don't really know much of his reviews.  I wasn't trying to start an argument or controversy, I was just curious as to why you had felt that way.  Anyways, peace.
stereo5 :

JA's speaker reviews created the current High End Sound in the US. It's a very specific signature which he'd approve or not, and it is not neutral.

In addition, he really didn't know very much about speaker design, which is odd since he measured so many of them. When he saw/heard something odd he'd be unable to attribute the cause/effect appropriately.

Thank you.  
Hey @stereo5

I just read my own typing.

To be clear, these are just my own personal opinions.

Most important is to find reviewers who listen like you do, and for you to buy what you like, regardless of what anyone else does. It's a hobby, but we are here to enjoy music, not to make others happy with our choices.

May your journey always be enriching.


Without measurements a subjective review is incomplete. I applaud John Atkinson for his thorough measurements! Without the same, the TAS speaker reviews are just pornography - or advertising hype (take your pick!).
Uh, but measurements aren’t subjective. Hel-loo!
I find the impedance, phase angle, and sensitivity measurements provided by JA to be very useful. Other than that the reviews provided by any of the 'rags' serve only to stir interest. I only get a chance to audition speakers when traveling. Look for those I have read about (including via this forum) and took interest in.
One nice change since JA left I hope we can all agree on is that the photography is no longer wall to wall.

Apparently he used to insist that all the room pictures be speaker to speaker, which left a lot of dead space. If you think about it, most of the pictures were curtains and carpets.

Better angles, and closeups as well as being willing to cut 1 of the two speakers out of the picture have really made their show coverage more interesting.
   The relationship between the manufacturers and periodicals is easy fodder to question since the two rely so heavily on each others commerce, its just business. 
   In my opinion It behooves the reader to familiarize themselves with the individual reviewers reference system, the level or brands they've reviewed in the past and more importantly their descriptive vocabulary. The business almost requires that vocabulary be generally positive but to what degree? Get to know the reviewer. 
   Electrical synergy. If anybody has the ability to assemble components relying solely on the manufactures provided information your good. I'm not. Measurements must be such a pain in the ass to do and I appreciate those who publish their findings. I'm thrilled that one of those people is Bass player!

   If you've canceled your monthly subscription because of suspected industry collusion or whatever, a monthly subscription can now be cheaper than a local newspaper.             

Consider the symbiotic relationship between manufacturers and reviewers.

The manufacturer sends the product to the magazine/reviewer on extended loan for months if not years.  Sometimes they never get it back.  Sometimes they lend more stuff.  And the reviewer can always finally buy it at the "accommodation" price.

Consider what happens if the reviewer gives a bad review.  The manufacturer will no longer loan him any more product, and may even look twice at that whole magazine.  Other manufacturers see that that reviewer gave a bad review, and also steer clear of him.

Magazines claim that there are no bad reviews in them any more because there's no much product, that they just avoid reviewing inferior items.  But obviously there's another reason.

For years, there was a certain manufacturer who wouldn’t loan any equipment for Stereophile to review because they got a negative review from them on another piece of equipment. I miss the early days of high end when HP from TAS reviewed a Pioneer high powered receiver which the mainstream magazines gushed over. He said and I quote “plainly a piece of crap”. You won’t see anything like that anymore.
I think that Stereophile is much worse than TAS because I dont ever remember TAS saying that they are objective and without an agenda. The more manufacturers you talk with the more you discover how tainted this entire process really is. I cant stand reading between the lines of both magazine's reviews to try to figure out if they really like a product or not. 
JGH was a credible curmudgeon in early Stereophile.  I used to envy his ability to get top notch stuff to put in his listening room. What a racket, eh?

Nowadays reviews are expanded ads. I read them for basic product description and sometimes industry context.

Opinions are rarely useful.  Corey Greenberg was entertaining, but he didn’t last long.
Unless you completely separate the two processes, i.e. manufacture and sale from reviewing and reporting, the whole exercise is tainted.

At least Consumer Reports buys the products they test, rather getting them on loan from companies looking for some free publicity.
As with anything human there are a myriad number of conflicting motives that are impossible to countenance. Whether you like it or not you are on your own. There is no magic in loudspeakers. Most important are the basic type then the build quality. If is it is the basic type you like and the build quality is up there then it comes down to what it sounds like and only you can determine that. My own rule is never buy a loudspeaker without putting a hand on them and listening to them. Not doing so is asking for it.    
Well according the JA the 1st, all of the reviewers at Stereophile pay dealer cost for their equipment. If this is true then Mike Fremer has a system that set him back about $ 500K. Further, he denied the existence of long term loaners which has been proven false by both his own writings as well as those of other reviewers. As twoleftears points out, the entire process is tainted.  
It still isn't as bad as 6moons where the manufacturer not only lends the equipment, they pay 6moons a fee as well.  How objective do you expect the reviewer to be if the company whose product they are reviewing is paying money for the review?