Yeah. I've noticed, too, that stereophile has absolutely no reviews of any Von Schweikert product. Seems a mite suspicious for a mag that presents itself as a reviewer of high end equipment to totally avoid an entire line of a respected manufacturer's products that have been around for years. "Lucy! You have some 'splaning to do..."
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Stereophile only reviews the products that are offered to them by the manufacturer or authorized agent for that purpose. Their website explains their review guidelines for gear, and it's about the same as that of the other audio magazines.
I do know that there are some manufacturers that will not send review samples to a particular magazine or magazines, and I have a friend that builds highly regarded tube amps and preamps who will not sent samples for review to anyone period. He's not the only one in the industry with that attitude in regard to reviews.
Let's face it: any review that you see is subjective and based on the tastes of the reviewer, no matter whose product it is. The reviews are a good way to find out about something new that is available and where to find it. But I have never been silly enough to make a purchase based on what anyone else had to say about it. I try to satisfy my own ears and pocketbook.
The only part of Stereophile I read is the measurement section.This is the best part of their reviews. This tells me more about a speaker than the magical wizardry spun by a reviewer. I'm sure there are some manufactures who do not wish to be reviewed by Stereophile simply because the measurements will tell on them. 6moons is one of favorites for written reviews as they go outside of mainstream and find the real hidden gems out there.If they only had a way to measure the speakers under review . This would complete the web site, then it could be called 7moons ;-).HiFi out of Britian is another one I like as they don't bite their tongues.The same goes for Positive feedback.
I still subscribe and read UHF. The entire principle of having a dedicated listening room as reference is an idea I like. The panel of three listers giving a review on the same product makes sense as well. They provide measurements as well.
My ONLY knock on them is because they're so small, and only 3 reviewers, they don't move through alot of manufactures. They tend to review one company's peice, and the same brand shows up for months. I remember one year it seemed like all they ever reviewed was Copland. Lately they've reviewed a ton of stuff from China. Not my cup of tea, but they still teach principles to users.
The latest issue has a great article on Digital Interconnects and why they can sound different. Very few magazines actually teach anymore, they have to devote most of their pages and time to advertising (Factory tours, panel discussions from CEO's or marketing heads) UHF is still small enough they don't have to do this. Heck they still print in black and white!
I'd like to tag on to Gmood1's ideas about measurements and add that IMO all reviewers should post their hearing curves as measured by an audiologist. A reviewer's ability/inability to hear certain frequencies of sound (we all have them) are as unique as our fingerprint. Having this information then the reader could contrast the speaker measurements with the reviewers hearing curve and see why one reviewer would like a given speaker while the other may find it too "bright, flat, rounded off etc."
Art Dudley's column is one of the only redeaming features that keeps me subscribing to Stereophile. I also like the music reviews and interviews. I prefer TAS though for the monthly centerfold and full-on wet IEC outlet shot.
PS Rumor in the industry is that Von Schweikert's speakers don't "put out" so the Stereophile editors blackballed'em.
Did you ever notice that there aren't negative reviews any more.
I used to think/say the same thing. But in reading the reviews, at least in the past year or two, I'd say there are certainly those that are luke warm and it's not very difficult to read between the lines. Just read a few of the reviews in the current Stereophile and there are some examples of this. I've been in this hobby since 85' and, though I've heard things I have not liked as much as others, I cannot recall hearing anything that would really push me to say to someone that some particular component is an outright piece of garbage...at least in the ranks of components that are mostly being reviewed in these rags. Most of the stuff being built today sounds pretty darn good, and it is more a matter of synergy with other components and then comparisons with competition. I don't think a component in the ranks of the high-end that actually really sounded horrible would have any chance of lasting very long in such a competitive market. I do recall reading a few reviews where the reviewer just didn't like what they were hearing, but indeed they are few and far between and often remedied somehow by further instructions from the manufacturer. But really, can you actually think of many high-end components that are so bad under most conditions that they'd actually warrant a really bad review? Nothing comes immediately to mind for me. Maybe I've been very lucky, or am just not discriminating enough. I certainly have my own personal preferences, some of them quite strong, but that still doesn't stop me from appreciating the merits of what other contenders have to offer where a specific component is concerned. I do wish there were a greater diversity in the reviews - some of this may indeed be the smaller manufacturers lack of initiative or perhaps desire to have get their stuff reviewed by the glossy rags. I dunno, but I would definitely not be loosing any sleep if I never saw another B&W speaker review, or Musical Fidelity article. There's so much great stuff out there that simply doesn't get any press. I think Dudley did an article within the past couple of years that thoughtfully addressed some of these very complaints and questions. Yet I'd still like to see more diversity, whatever the obstacles to be overcome. I think it should be the magazine's obligation to go and seek out some the more obscure manufacturers, especially those who've created a buzz on public forums like this one, the speakers in question being perhaps a good example, and not just respond only to those who approach them with products to review. I wonder how often this happens. I'm sure all these reviewers are barraged on a daily basis with manufacturers asking for their products to be reviewed. But there also must be a substantial number of manufacturers out there who don't have the savvy, initiative, time, confidence, don't show up at the big shows...whatever...that it takes to pursue that. I'm only guessing here. Do the reviewers actually go out after ANY of these components they're writing about, or do they all come to the reviewer, or show up at some show the reviewer attended? There are reviewers reading both here and on AudioAsylum...do they ever get a clue from those places that some specific component may be worthy of their attention and go and seek out that manufacturer for a review sample?
Doesnt Stereophile have a policy not to review anything that doesnt have at least 5 dealers,,,,,i think that policy was written years ago,when the internet was much younger ,there are companys that only sell thru the internet,that have stood the test of time,,,,for quality products and service.I think they deserve a little bit of respect and recognition from the mainsteam mags,,even if they dont advertise in these mags!I think thats an outdated policy that should be "reviewed" by Stereophile.
The only way a magazine could ever be completely unbiased would be to go the "Consumer Reports" route and not accept any ads. It's probably not going to happen. In the meantime we have to read between the lines of the reviews where the author's true thoughts are often hidden in the guise of "damning /a product/ with faint praise".
In response to Jax2, I agree that you can "read between the lines" - but I shouldn't have to! I appreciate the ability of a magazine like Hi-Fi Choice to give many of it's reviews only a 3 out of 5 star rating, and not be shy about voicing complaints. That is what I pay a subscription for.
And for every single piece of gear that Stereophile reviews, they should stop telling me:
"unheard of at the price"
"offers extraordinary value for money"
"a much lower price than you'd expect to pay for a similar design"
"hard to fault within its price range"
"is a bargain at $XXXX"
"better than anything I've heard that's cheaper, and cheaper than anything I've heard that's better"
"I've never heard anything near this price and size"
I mean C'mon already! If EVERYTHING is a bargain, then nothing is. It is all then simply fairly priced. If Stereophile ever finds an issue with an aspect of a product, then they always sugar-coat it with "but great for the price". They are insulting our intelligence already. ( But I guess the subscription and advertising dollars show that insulting the reader's intelligence pays)
"Do the reviewers actually go out after ANY of these components they're writing about, or do they all come to the reviewer, or show up at some show the reviewer attended?"
Yes, we do go after some and sometimes succeed.
"There are reviewers reading both here and on AudioAsylum...do they ever get a clue from those places that some specific component may be worthy of their attention and go and seek out that manufacturer for a review sample?"
Sure. It still has to interest me, personally.
"Stereophile" will review direct sales products (with less than five dealers, obviously) if they have a money back return policy.
Hyperion has certainly been mentioned in various "Stereophile" show reports. I can't remember if there was a full review, but it would be easy to find out at the website.
"Stereophile" has exposed a lot of problem equipment in the last couple of years: The Klipsch boxes, some borderline malfunctioning electronics, inexplicably "damaged" Audio Physik speakers. The idea expressed above that there's no poor engineering or poor values in the kind of equipment they'll look at is just wrong. Even so, I agree most reviews end up in generic over-praising.
One good thing (although it could be bad) about Stereophile is that their review crew is relatively stable. So you really get to know the reviewer's tastes and biases. Personally, I like more comparison tests, and for the reviewers to go through their memory bank more often to remember what they liked better.
I have no problems with those "good value" comments. Most of these products have happy owners, meaning that they aren't horrible products. Btw. Don't manufacturers get an advanced copy of the review (from some print or online review mags) and when it's a bash, they can decide whether to pull the review or not?
"Btw. Don't manufacturers get an advanced copy of the review (from some print or online review mags) and when it's a bash, they can decide whether to pull the review or not?"
At Stereophile, they get an advanced copy to which they may respond with in "Manufacturers' Comments." They cannot pull the review.
Why waste review space on rubbish?!?
I'm not sure what you're saying here Nate. I don't see a great abundance of rubbish out there in the high-end (other than perhaps in the wires and tweaks market).
Studioray - I hear what you're saying and I can't argue with you much about the vocabulary they use. I agree, it gets a bit too effusive at times and does blur what otherwise may be a more clear distinction. But then again, this hobby is so subjective, I wonder how fare such distinctions actually are. As far as the stars, well I gues Stereophiles version is the Class A, Class B bit. I suppose you could just assign your star ratings as appropriate. Other than that I have not read HiFi Choice enough to comment further. I do agree with you...with the American glossy high-end rags it is more a matter of reading between the lines in many cases, and I also get a bit tired of the effusive and the wishy-washy. Then again, as I said, it is difficult to really say that a given component is a piece of crap, as I've personally heard nothing in the high-end that would cause me to yield that opinion. Have you? Perhaps I've been lucky, or just don't have enough experience with a wider variety of gear. Or perhaps I'm just not discriminating enough. I need to eat more Grey Poupon...do you happen to have any?
Kal - Thanks for responding and glad to hear you are actively seeking out manufacturers worthy of review who don't come to you. Still, I sure would like to read more evidence of that in the magazine. It may not be a fare sampling of your choices, but I grabbed a couple of issues, on recent, and one older. In it you were reviewing Denon multimedia gear, and, in the older issue, a comparison between PS Audio, Brickwall and Panamax and Empower. Both were interesting articles, but not exactly the kinds of components/companies that I find missing in the pages of Stereophile.
I got 751 hits searching B&W on the Stereophile website including many major reviews. Yet Silverline Audio nor Tyler Acoustics do not yield a single review. Both would occur to me as having worthy offerings that would give the likes of B&W a run for their money. No sight of Terry Cain's offerings either (in a more esoteric realm).
Plenty of spreads on Musical Fidelity's fine digital players and DACs. No mention of smaller, more affordable gems like Scott Nixon, Audio Mirror, AckDAC.
There are pieces on Unobtanium items for the money-no-object crowd, but how many articles can you write about Halcro stuff...what about a company like Electronluv that takes audio to an art form in more ways than one.
It was great to see the very worthy offerings of Mike Sanders company, Quicksilver Audio, get some attention last year, and I do hope to read more on his offerings. What about George Wright of Wright Sound, whose little 3.5 amps have a near cult following...or the new preamp by Dan Wright of Modwright (no relation to George) which is getting stellar notice from folks here in the forums.
None of this stuff is "rubbish" by any means, nor would it be a waste of time. These companies are offering a very valuable alternative to the Big Brother audio corporations that otherwise litter the pages of Stereophile both in advertising and in editorial. Often they are offering a product of equal or greater value/performance at a much more affordable price, and for that reason alone would seem to be worthy of bringing to the attention of your public.
Now I'm not saying companies like this are completely ignored in the pages of Stereophile and TAS - they aren't. These are just a few I have not seen any mentions of and that I happen to believe are worthy of mention. I'm sure there are others, and I'm sure the magazines don't have enough pages/time/staff to give coverage to all of them. What I'm saying is that what I do read there occurs to me to be out of balance to what the average Audiophile may be after, if I was to judge such things from what we read both here and on AudioAsylum, and from the handful of Audiophiles I've known. Sure there are the fans of B&W, Musical Fidelity and Mark Levinson, but there are also a huge contingent of others who are actively seeking out something different/better/with greater value-performance, and there's plenty of manufacturers out there who offer just that.
I just want to know who the peanut-head is who listened to the Von Schweikert speakers line, and pronounced them all "rubbish".
Blame this dude! Stereophile's new reviewer. From the looks of this photo he may have a propensity towards horns. I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't trust his opinions on audio: Dude's got no ears whatsoever!
....You can't really see it in the low-rez version, but if you blow-up the "handshake" in the photo I linked to you should be able to make out the handoff of a fistfull of dead presidents and some front-row concert tickets. Little dudes are actually paying off the Peanut-head for some favorable ink on their new line of horns. The head of marketing, seen to the left, is demonstrating one of their $10K BozoHorn models. At the left edge of the photo the CEO of the company can be seen looking on from his secretary's arms. Who says small manufacturers can't get reviewed in Stereophile?! Judging by the size of the wad of greenbacks I'd say the BozoHorns are sure to make it into Class A this year!
I think this thread really shows the problem, people that are passionate about audio have a great deal of familiarity and are passionate (love and hate) about VSA. Any magazine committed to informing readers about hi fi equipment should have something to say about such a well known line of speakers that run from $1K to $150K and generate so much interest. If the reviewers had any real interest in providing value to readers (their real clients are the advertisers), then VSA would have coverage. B&W has it figured out a great self sustaining process, how to market and grease the right skids to get the reviews and covers they need to support a large dealer network. Come out with a new twist once in while to keep customers upgrading and you've got a recipe for success.
Albert has sunk a few companies that he has been involved with.I,personally,can't forget the VR-5s he demoed at CES 98.When I bought my pair only the drivers were the same.Cabinet bracing,special damping material and custom wiring/capacitors were not part of the speaker.I guess that you can't include these components and sell them for $12.5K.As I understand it ,the vr-6s loaned to us (Lloyd Walker/AHT) would have run 24K to produce.
I think it fraudulant to produce a "special" speaker for the SHOWS to make people want your product.Then tell them that it's the same,when it really isn't.I can't say how many pairs were bought after that show,but of the people that I know who did take the plunge,many sold them trying to figure out why they couldn't get that sound.I even went so far as to assemble the same components-quite an outlay in cash.If what I heard had not been so-movibg,I wouldn't have spent the cash.
Consider me a little gun-shy concerning VSA products.
Stereophile IS a joke. Don't get me wrong it's enjoyable to read. But clearly they review the same equipment that gets them the most money. They don't compare the best speakers or equipment out there if it's outside of their "box". And they will blacklist or give bad review to brands that don't contribute: Von Schweikert is one.
They have no credibility to me. But it's entertainment, maybe the audio version of the Enquirer. And you can clean up spilled coffee when your done with it. But don't let them spend your money because VS are some of the best speakers out there.
It's interesting that neither Stereophile nor TAS has reviewed some of the most discussed pieces here; for instance: the EMM DCC2/CDSD, Reimyo CDP777, HP Caravelles, or anything from Green Mountain audio or Tyler Acoustics. Why don't they read the forums & write for us? Don't they want to sell magazines?
They don't write for us because we are the lunatic fringe. We actually know as much, or more, about this stuff than they do.
Additionally, I have always felt that the glossy rags are seeking the well-heeled, uninitiated buyer for their advertisers.
I can remember while reading Stereophile and Audio back in the 70s, wondering how it could be that everything on every page was grounbreaking or incomparable. Just how many bests were there? I'm still wondering, aren't you?
I do fondly remember when S'phile in the 90's had reviews that were right on the money. Like when Wes Phillips noted that a pair of Watt Puppy 5's would have you wandering from dealer to dealer to find matching equipment to make them sound good. Or in 1990 when they noted that Apogee Stages reproduced vocals more naturally than any speaker, regardless of cost. Or that Aerial 10t's had and upfront sound but little depth in the soundstage.
Those were the days.