Over emphasis on reviews....

I understand that most individuals dont have the time, patience,energy, or resources to a/b and demo every audiophile choice under the sun...but the vastly different views of some componets is almost laughable...examples...the rotel 1072 cdp player was lauded in TAS but highly degraded in the Brit press(3 of 5 stars)...2 denon componets...cdp 1650 and pma-2000 were Stereophile componets while receiving lukewarm receptions over seas...the Quad L series was heavily applauded in the UK while virtually ignored in the states...I also understand that system matching is key in any review...but how many times have you read a review that labels something as "warm" only to find another review that labels it "nuetral"...there are probably better examples of my rambling...what gives?
System matching is gigantic IMO. It is very difficult to discern the sound of a component, and to predict how it will sound in another set up, you can almost forget it. Even the reviewers have to stick their neck out to some degree, not to mention deadlines or blatent dishonesty. What I am saying is: it is a difficult task with too many real world issues for the reviewing system to be flawless.

I have read many reviews that I felt were spot on. The Manley Stingray and Maggie 1.6 and JM Reynaud Trente to name a few.

I do not mean to defend anyone, just my opinion...
No surprises...reviewers are often influenced by advertising $$$  or £££ and the constant need to define something new and fashionable.
I think reviews are pretty useless, I see so many diffrent opinions and safe words used in all opinions, and any so called golden ear can simply claim synergy and they are never held accountable for anything said in a review.
What Hi Fi and Hi Fi Choice tend to focus on the middle of the pack manufacturers and component shoot-outs. There is a tendency to judge the components based on initial impressions. To simulate real world situations, they will pair up a component with similarly priced associated equipment (budget speakers to budget amps). They certainly do not live with the components for any appreciable amount of time. They often pick the component that impresses the most as the shoot-out "winner," which is why they tend to have so many flavors of the month. For example, five star budget speaker winners have changed hands from Monitor Audio to Wharfedale to Tannoy in the space of a year over at What Hi-Fi.

If you look at the middle of the pack brands that are touted by the US magazines like Stereophile and TAS ... Creek; EPOS; NHT; Rotel... they are rarely shoot-out winners in the UK. I have chalked this up to the British magazines preferring a different type of sound (more forward especially in the treble) and using different types of music in their reviews (lots of dance). Also saving 50 to a 100 quid is considered a big deal in the British magazines, whereas we tend to be indifferent by a $100 or so price difference.

Now, Stereophile and TAS do sometimes forget that most people do not pair $600 speakers with $1500+ amps and $500 in cables, but that is what they do. On the plus side, they do spend more time learning the personality of the component.

As you go higher priced/higher end, you will see more of a meeting of the minds with the magazines that focus on these components (Hi Fi Plus; Stereophile; TAS).

Regards, Rich
Reviews used judiciously have been very helpful to finding good euqipment. I received Stereophile for about two years, and in that time, I believe it did absolutely nothing for finding an affordable outperforming component, whether speaker or cdp, etc.
I got sick and tired of the format and politics of the magazine, so I dumped it. I never felt that they were honest enough in their assessment of the equipment. No matter what the problems with the component being reviewed, their reviews had to end with an "it's good" commendation. That sells components, but it doesn't help the audiophile one bit in making selections. It just keeps the people flowing to the showrooms.
Conversely, I recently saw a review in HiFi+ which panned the NuForce 9 amps. How refreshing to see an honest review that says the component doesn't live up to the hype! If I ever get the chance (there is a Nuforce dealer living nearby, who offered to let me demo them vs. my PS Audio HCA-2) to hear them in my system, I would, just to see if my judgement agrees with HiFi+'s.
My experience with the times I've glanced at HiFi+ Mag has been very positive. That they focus primarily on shootouts to mid priced components is advantageous to me, considering that like most people, that is where my budget for audio is.
I have found users' reviews, like on audioreview.com to be far more useful in finding real-world high quality to price components. I weigh the comments regarding the component over against the associated equipment owned by the reviewer.
I also check to see what equipment the reviewers owned previously, if that information is offered.

Strangely, after many years of purchases away from a dealer, I went back and bought new for cdp, putting emphasis on the opinion of the store owner who educated me as to the merits of the player.
The Audiogon community has been very helpful, as I once did an upgrade based on the majority opinion of the responses to my inquiry here. It was a delightfully good upgrade.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that he reviewers need to agree with you! They are only as good as they confirm your suspicions of which components are worthy in your opinon! ;) Again, HiFi+ has done this on two occasions; once in a favorable review of the Eminent Technology LFT-8A speakers, which I found to be far superior to the Magnepan 1.6's which are so adored by the masses. And again, recently, when they did the shootout between the Rega Apollo cdp and two others. They discreetly said the Apollo was superior sonically.
I had previously owned both components prior to finding the reviews, but I found the reviews to be "spot on", as they might say. Whatever their methods, they seem to get to the same conclusions I do regarding good sound, and they do it without being loquacious.

Having said all this, I now do not receive any audio magazines. I visit Barnes and Noble once a month to spend about an hour perusing them. I found that when I received regular doses of advertsing that remained to entice me I was less happy with my equipment/sound and spent more time considering upgrades.
The word "review" is a misnomer. What we are actually dealing with are impressions. At least, if properly carried out, an evaluation based on a proper series of measurements can be compared. I am still wondering why a two-pronged approach is rejected out of hand on the basis of how measurements don't correlate to sound quality. Do people think that casual observations even by gurus are a better bet?
Pretty much the same thing you find here and all other forums...best used as only a general guide of components you may or may not want to give a listen.

To be honest, I cringe at some of the advice given here sometimes...all over the map. If you find someone with the same goals and tastes as yourself at a HiFi Mag or an audio forum, then the opinions can be usefull at cutting through the huge maze that is audio reproduction.

I have stacks of old mags stuck away in boxes going back to the 60's and 70's...really a lot of fun to dig into some times for a read. (they smell kinda bad though HeHe).


I think the mags serve a purpose. For the new guys it is a good place to start. Now a days you can read plenty of online reviews. Reviews are a guideline/ opinion. You may have to do some of the work yourself.Seeking this reading helps educate us. I guess once we know it all we bash the mags??Every listner, every reviewer; has their preferences--in their equip. and in their "sound"--we have to find our own preferences. Knowing a reviewers preferences,helps.

Come to think of it, why do we have audio forums??

I can honestly say that I've never purchased a component based on a review in a magazine. I find that most of the reviews here and on a few related sites are the best for my needs even though the opinions sometimes differ widely. Those who write reviews about the gear I want have usually been through a similar upgrade path as me. They have usually worked within the same set of constraints. I'm not an early adopter. Most of the magazine reviews are about the latest piece of gear with the early adopter price tag. For components that have had some time in the field, I prefer the opinion of someone who has lived with a piece for a while and with different associated components.

What would really be useful is if the magazines published reviews from users who have lived with gear for a while. The PCA magazine does this for models that have been on the road for a few years and the feedback is much more helpful and interesting because it is real world experience instead of the impressions of a reviewer who spent an afternoon at the track.

I think that the main reason that the magazines still hold value is because most people won't take their laptop into the bathroom.
My Stereophile subscription costs me about 10 bucks a year. Thats about 83 cents an issue. Truthfully I don't put any stock in their reviews,but its certainly good reading for a session in the bathroom. Every once in a while I'll get some quality information,but I mainly read it to look at the pics of different gear. Oh and their music recommendations are good for a monthly laugh too............I can find more accurate info online in 5 minutes-than 20 years of any hifi mag(rag)........