Right you are Mak. I am 52, and I never listen to anything I have to say.
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Misleading to those inclined to be mislead perhaps.
I have several CD's/LP's which I use because they have borderline problems which can be revealed in components or system set-up which will exacerbate the problems or, alternatively eliminate them, neither being the correct resolution. These are CDs/LPs that I've lived with over the years and am totally familar with them and how they should sound (to my ears!).
What better guage could I have for setting up a system? Some audiophile recording which sounds wonderful on most any system? Not! With the exception of 'Depth of Image' on Opus 3, and a set up disc which has some good out of phase point source sound for dialing in imaging, I can't think of a better test than problematic recordings.
Re discounting stuff from folks over 50, I agree. Memory, and perhaps hearing as well,is obviously a fragile thing.
Reviewers are unfortunately all biased. Some depend on advertizing revenues for the audio magazine they are affiliated with or freelancing for. Or they already own the equipment and are predisposed to like what they have shelled out $$$ for (proud owner). Or just the very act of going to the extensive trouble of making a bunch of listening tests and writing up a review will tend to make the reviewer biased towards giving praise (what people prefer to hear) versus being highly critical (what nobody wants to hear, especially the manufacturer or owners of that equipment).
IMHO, the best reviews are simply technical and give the functionality/features of the product rather than glowing recommendations about the sound quality. I cringe at the typical hyperbole with claims ranging from the "earth moved", "the veil was lifted" or "my expectations were shattered".
The best endorsement for the quality of an audio product, in my view, is a user list (without comments). This is especially useful if you know that the users have expertise (musicians/artists/recording engineers) and if they have the resources to freely choose whatever they like best (i.e. they are not endorsing the product because they have connections to the manufacturer and they have lots of money).
"My favorite is any reviewer who will say "Based upon my recollection..." of a system he heard years before (in a different room!) and one which has NOTHING in common with the system being reviewed. Yeah, I trust that guy..."
I'd be more concerned with those who do not preface their comparisons with a disclaimer. One can remember ones reactions (especially if one takes notes) even when recollection of the original sound is long gone.
Is this a serious post?
You do not use things to dial in things that you know exist. Your job is to find out what is best for what you are dealing with. Ignore all the other stuff. You'll be glad that you heard this from me. Go on to other parameters, but do not try to dial in one thing from one tweak. That is not how it is done. You listen until you hear what one thing does and put that right.It's barely coherent.
Nothing a reviewer says about a particular product has any meaning because his frame of reference is undefined. Even when they compare products the comparison used is often unknown, unavailable or unusual in some way (deliberately I think).
I know its politically incorrect, but I have always found that specifications tell 80% of the story, and all that is required is a good listen to a selection of contenders to discern the subtle differences (and the specification liars).
To me 1.0% distortion in a power amplifier is unlistenable, while 0.01% is usually pretty good. (You need to watch the qualifications too.) No matter how much people talk about some kinds of distortion being less audible than others I have not found this to be the case. In fact I am completely allergic to anything labelled as warm, tubey, valve like, golden, dark (if dark means lacking in high frequencies) and so on.
Tvad, good response! Also, Newbee, I'll have to study what you said. I do think many people have been led astray due to somewhat of what you saying. Another thing I want to mention is only change things one at a time-which I have violated with my Nuforce 8.05's. In my defense, I want to say the things that I did were things I've been thinking about for awhile. In addition, the volume on the preamp changed, inadvertively.
Actually this wasn't my thinking, this has been my experience of innumerable amplifiers over a period of 30 years. The specs of for example the NuForce IA-7 are good but not stellar. I might be tempted to audition it if I were in the market for an amplifier of that power rating at that price level. If it really provides a better result than its peers, then that would show up from the audition.
No recommendation, review or brochure is going to change anything. Previous generations of this type of amplifier certainly have not lived up to their hype.
Age isn't that relevant to ability to hear (maybe 70, not 50), nor is a bit of upper frequency loss. I know people who have some high frequency rolloff, and I do as well, and they hear quite well. I know that I can better evaluate and hear nuances now, at 40+, than I could at 21.
Much of this has to do with the hours of 'training' my ears received. As older, wiser, I can quickly pick out characteristics of a component that didn't gel in my 25 year old brain.
Reviewers are / write good and bad, and everything in between. And some of them hear a lot better than others, just like people do on this site. Your truth may not be my truth, because our minds and personas decode our experiences differently. I suggest reading many different reviewers' opinions, and then listening to the products yourself. In the end, it is your opinion that matters the most, as whatever sound makes you happy is what you should buy.
"I'd be more concerned with those who do not preface their comparisons with a disclaimer"And I'd be inclined to agree with you -- except that, in many instances, how could a reader (or an editor for that matter) even tell when a disclaimer wasn't used which ought to have been?
[I mean, that'd be like somebody spelling a word which they can't spell or something...]
Audio reviewing is done for entertainment purposes -- NOT for providing guidelines to interested parties.
It also seems to help the hi-end industry by keeping its products in the limelight (weak as this light may be).
Otherwise, why would most reviewers deal with components, most of the time -- "IMPROVE your system= buy a NEW component".
"Reviewers" could just as well write about improving a system with what is already there.
But it wouldn;t be as much fun, would it?
"I'd be more concerned with those who do not preface their comparisons with a disclaimer"
And I'd be inclined to agree with you -- except that, in many instances, how could a reader (or an editor for that matter) even tell when a disclaimer wasn't used which ought to have been?"
Sure. OTOH, if the writer does give the provenance of his comparison, you are better informed than not. Where the info is not given, you can only guess.
Kal: No argument here, just that the idea of missing what you don't know isn't there struck me funny.
Personally, I'd have thought that by now, especially given the existence of Audiogon, there might have started up an advertising-free, subscription-only review 'zine (e- or otherwise) where late-model review components were purchased new or used, instead of loaned by manufacturers, and then quickly sold again for negligible loss upon review completion, in order to divorce the objective review process from the need to sell ads or procure loans -- more like Consumer Reports than the car mags, for instance. In theory, audioreview.com and the Audiogon review forum could serve this purpose, but in practice audiophiles who write reviews are generally dealing with components they have a personal investment in -- psychically as well as monetarily -- and little that's critically detached seems to get written (not to mention written well).