Am I too cynical?


I recently purchased a new set of speakers.  I spent a considerable amount of time reading the high end magazines and listening to various options.  I could not help but to be struck by how the positive magazine reviews were almost always accompanied by an advertisement (usually a full page or more) by the manufacturer of the product that received the rave review by the magazine.  No to pick on one, but Golden Ear must spend a great deal of money on advertising and it seems to pay off as their Triton speakers get universally great reviews.  

Given that great press I auditioned a pair (don't recall which model) and found them to be good, but not exceptional.  I also listened to some other well reviewed/advertised models by Dynaudio, Spendor, etc.  in the end I purchased a pair of Linn Majik 140s.  I have never seen a review for these speakers, nor have I ever seen them advertised.  

I don't want to sound naive about how the business of running a magazine works, but I would expect a little more objectivity on their part.  Or am I just too cynical?
jcs01
Not really cynical, maybe naive. I see that you are new here, welcome.

I stopped leafing through the glossy rags many years ago, when I realized they were nothing more than expanded advertisements.
Pretty pictures, specs may be helpful, but the reading is obviously transparent.
I don't dislike them, I just take them for what they are, part of the marketing arm of high fidelity. They certainly shouldn't be taken any more seriously than comic books.
Yes, I know, some grown men take comic books very seriously too.

One thing they did teach me, decades ago "you pays your money, you makes your choices". 
Sam Tellig I believe, basically saying listen with your own ears.
Some years back, after a long hiatus, I returned to putting together an audio system.
I scoured the magazine's, made notes, ETC.
Then I purchased the highly rated equipment here on Agon.
It all arrived safe and sound and I proceeded to wire it up and fire it up.
WOW, I couldn't believe that high end audio had plunged to such depths.
I then reached out to some fellow audiophiles for some help.
I sold the class "A" rated gear and purchased some recommended equipment that occasionally gets a mention from the "show reports".
Much much better.
Sadly, in my quest to improve my system I got lulled back into the "A" rated equipment reviews and replaced my preamp.
I thought I was happy with it until a friend asked me if the noise from it bothered me? I wasn't sure what he meant until he brought over his (un-reviewed) preamp.
That was/is the end of taking stock in the magazine reviews.
There are many very good "underground" products out there and some very good advice available here.
I still like the magazines in order to keep up with what's new. 
But I wonder why my ability to hear things is so different from the reviewers.

It's a jungle out there......and you're smeared with meat product.  You are absolutely correct in your assessment.  So many of the "A" components are disappointing and relatively unknown small companies can throw out great pieces for very reasonable cost sans an advertising budget. 

It's the nature of the beast in nearly all products: heavy marketing, okay product........no marketing, better products competing on merit.

Gee, I can't decide what I regret more, reading reviews in Hifi mags or this thread.  ;)

Nevertheless, I do appreciate the opinions of those who take the time to post their experiences because I think it is important to have a counterbalance to the onslaught of advertising.  



Welcome! jcs01


yes those companies pay a small fortune for ads in the Audio rags.

It is a very rare event to read a negative review.

I was very lucky to have purchased a new in the box pair a few years ago for 1500.00 I sold them for around 1750.00 or so a year later. They are a very nice sounding speaker with SS or Tubes. You may need a sub with certain types of music, but either way I think you'll be very happy with them. I replaced them with Lipinski L 707's then replaced the Lipinski's with a mint set of Wilson Witt Series II. Happy listening.
I agree with Celtic66 about it being a "JUNGLE"

You can’t trust many of the reviews!!!
- they are all paid for.

You can’t trust the retailers!!!
- they change product lines and allegiances like changing socks!

You can’t trust manufacturers !!!
- they have been known to release the same product year after year
- some with just a different faceplate or in a different chassis/case

About the only trustworthy info is from posters on forums !

My BIG purchases (i.e. speakers and amp) have been products that leapt out and screamed "BUY ME" during an in-store audition - followed by an in-home audition.

I generally only trust my ears these days!

The one product where I "relaxed" that rule - Schiit Bifrost - but I researched the heck out of their other products and requested feedback here first - thank guys :-)

Regards...
OTOH there aren't really any other places for those companies to advertise. I often thought it was more that the mags wouldn't run the negative reviews...and for the OP, Linn has advertised in those mags for years, they just make way too many models to review everything...

I know we have said this many times before but, it really does pay to audition equipment in your own home first.  Many people can't do that, so the next best thing are friends or auditioning in stores.  Some still can't go that either. 

Buying with a return policy is another good idea.  Especially for expensive equipment.

I would say that speakers are probably the most difficult.  They will sound completely different in your home using your amplification. 

Short story.  I was in Colorado auditioning a music server from the manufacturer. In our discussions, he showed me a competitor's music server. It was in a very heavy case with very large and heavy heat sinks on both sides. It looked like a class A amp. 

We opened it up and guess what?  Absolutely nothing at all was connected to the heat sinks.  They were there for show only.  This was a $7,000 music server.  It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

Sorry, got side tracked.

I sometimes buy and read audio magazines just to see where the "industry" is at the moment.  The reviewer's comments sometimes make me laugh.  Most are in the industry's pocket. 

I have no problem with them reviewing stupidly expensive equipment, as long as they also review more reasonably priced equipment also. 

I still believe that in most cases, you do get what you pay for.  There is a low end, mid level and high end for just about everything. There are cheap car parts and much better quality car parts. Same for watches, clothes and audio equipment.

But, don't take the word of a reviewer solely.  Ask around.  Sites like this are a good start.  Demo as much as you can and definitely ask if you can take a piece home to demo for a week or so.

enjoy

Yes....'Buyer Beware' is still in force.  There's a lot of 'audio jewelry' on the market that can be equaled for a lot less expenditure.  The 'hype machine' has been running so loudly in the magazines that are still being published that it seems to drown out the voice in one's own head....
You know...that Logical one.
I don't believe in 'high end' cables.  I don't live in an test chamber designed to test acoustic performance.  I don't have to own anything that looks like it was primarily designed to 'look cool' or chromed or a product of a design ethic that's minimalist in the extreme.  And I haven't even touched on speakers yet.  That realm is so flooded with everything from Bluetoothed minis to colossal multi-cabinet arrays that really should live in a club environment.
However, if the above scratches your itch, have at it.  Ultimately, let your ears be your guide.  If it sounded great on paper, I'll hope for your sake it sounds good in your home, be it ever so humble or grand.  If not..move on.  Part of the 'hobby' (Yes, It Is, in it's roots) is the 'pursuit' of the 'goal', whatever you deem that to be.
Me?  I'm DIY'ing my speakers, because it amuses me, and I can do so.  The other equipment is fairly basic, hardly fancy.  A couple 'cute tricks' for switching and enhancement.
It pleases me.  That's the point, gentlemen. *S*