HiFi+,For well balanced reviews.
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Overall, I would have to say that I like Hi Fi+ best. The reviews run pretty long at times, but I think that the reviewers, like Roy Gregory for example, really try to give you a feel for the way the component sounds. I usually feel like I have a good context when I am finished reading. As a plus,the photography is great. I remember the days when the Absolute Sound didn't miss an opportunity to snipe at Stereophile, now it seems that they have become an inferior version of them.
HiFI+ is my favorite too.
Stereophile is the new Stereo Review.
It does have good measurements though, which is its one redeeming feature. (And I don't like Art, nor do I like Mikey.)
The Absolute Sound is on par with Stereo Review, (sorry, I mean Stereophile), but with better pictures and format, but no measurements.
My two cents worth.
I'm not sure about the best. I read as many publication as I can about our hobby. One publication can not cover all the great equipment that is out there in todays world.
After seeing the above response I will start to get HiFi+ ASAP. Thanks for the info.
The Absolute Sound
The Perfect Vision
The Audiophile Voice
And many electronic & science based publication.
I vote for HIFI+ with a grain of salt.
I haven't seen a negative review from Roy Gregory and he wrote too many reviews for that magazine in a single issue. I have to admit most of his reviews are well written and entertained but I like to see more truth behind it. Anthony Cordesman (from earlier Stereophile and now with TAS) also belongs to Roy's camp in my opinion. HIFI+ needs someone like Martin Colloms or the like on board in order for it to top other high end mags.
HiFi+ IMHO gives you the best reading value. Their reviews are long and very descriptive. They try to paint a sonic picture of the music better than most magazines.
Positive Feedback and 6moons are also provide great online reading.
UHF and the Inner Ear are Canadian magazines that provide some interesting viewpoints.
TAS and Stereophile still provide entertaining reviews.
I don't know about the best, but the Absolute Sound ("TAS"), with the exception of Anthony Cordesman, is a joke in its latest incarnation. Most of the reviews state that the component being reviewed is the very best the reviewer has heard - they write the same review over and over, changing only the name of the component. There are no measurements (Stereophile's measurements are very helpful), only subjective comment that sounds like ad copy (NO - more enthusiastic than ad copy). Lastly, Ali Baba Harry Pearson is an intolerable windbag with zero credibility -- every component he writes up is the "very best" ever heard at "Seacliff". In any event, it is mostly the readers' fault, as what TAS is doing is not subtle and anyone who would read more than three or four editions is an idiot.
I want info/opinion ... sub to SPhile and TAS, check out web sites, but mostly love reading about stuff ... don't need "ultimate" or "final" authority thoughts from reviewers, but do want to read their thoughts ... and MOST CERTAINLY hate the vitriolic meanderings of "loyal" readers who wish to cancel subscriptions ... etc ... barf, we're sliding toward a flat-lined existence. I FIND SOMETHING IN THE SEVERAL MAGS/SITES I READ ... IN ALL OF THEM. Terry Cain once told me not to waste a lot of dollars on cabling for his speakers and tube amp ... he was right, yet several cable sites worked hard to sell me what he KNEW ... I'd never need .... he was right, as it turned out.
I'm about to give up on audio ... though most of us who care would be very happy in Asia, both E and W Europe ...
A few thoughts on the subject of measurements in magazines. I wholeheartedly agree with Raquel measurements are more than just nice-to-have, sometimes even essential for judging whether the intended pairing of different gear looks promising or forbidden from the start. Yet we have probably all heard brilliant gear or combinations that looked impossible on paper. So, in the end we need to keep in mind measurements, no matter how extensive, don't tell the whole truth.
Take the example of two of the three most popular German magazines: Stereoplay and Audio. They are actually from the same publisher although they appear to have independent test facilities. Both run comparative tests and publish extensive measurement results. Sadly, the range of brands tested is very predictable and so are the winners. Whereas I find Stereoplay very good, nevertheless (I have actually been reading this mag for over 25 years), I've grown very sceptical of Audio recently, who, based also on their oh so objective measurements have become the new forum for the Nay-sayers. Not an issue without readers' letters congratulating them for "having the courage to uncover the voodoo nonsense about..." (you fill it in: cables, clean current, etc.)
Btw, to answer Audioangel's question, did I write to Audio with a dissenting opinion? Yes, I did. Did they bother to publish that? C'mon...
There is a matter of striking a balance such as can be found in the German magazines LP, Hifi & Records (another very good one I should have mentioned in my first post in respect of digital sources, since LP will not publish anything on those), and also Stereo. Then again, should I have to choose between measurements or the particular style of HiFi+, the only magazine I know that can convey a lively sense of what it is you will actually be hearing - the very reason why I put them in first place - I'll take the latter.
HiFi+ is a good read. I enjoy it because it is literate, an enjoyable read. I have some quibbles, it seems to favour some products, good ones that don't get a look in elsewhere, but it seems unbalanced in that respect. In particular, Karan, ARC, Conrad Johnson, Nordost, Tom Evans and Vertex. Now these are good companies with excellent, good value kit(perhaps excepting Nordost), but the imbalance, effects my view of it's impartiality. There is also a hint of papal infallability about the editors opinions, no criticism allowed. I also agree he does too much of the reviewing himself and most of the really high end kit.
For the American magazines, I still think TAS is the best, and am surprised to see it getting bashed so hard here. I think they are far better than Stereophile, though I do like Art Dudley. My approach to the magazines was to read as much as I could, trying to determine the individual reviewers sonic tastes, as Robert Harley suggests in his book. I did this for over a year before I actually bought anything, and found all of the reviews helpful. It was easier for me to determine the TAS reviewer's individual tastes more quickly than the Stereophile ones - Stereophile tends to be a little more into the technical than the musical side of things, and I preferred the TAS approach of being more descriptive of the sound. It is very helpful to read reviews written by people who have opposite tastes to yours, as well, as you may like something they don't. I also have emailed the TAS staff before with questions and got very quick, informative responses. Ultimately, I let my own ears be my guide, but I will say that I ended up, with one major exception, with a system that consists almost entirely of products that TAS gave their highest ratings to. I do enjoy HiFi+, however they mostly review stuff not available over here, so they are not of as much practical value for someone assembling a new system.
For you 'newcomers' that've ONLY been doing this for 10-20 yrs, you'd be AMAZED if you were to read an issue of TAS from the old days. As I type I'm looking at a few issues from 1976-77. 30 yrs old and they are SO much more fun to read than the current bland, colorless, flavorless mush they currently produce. Really, HP used to have cast titanium balls, totally unrecognizable compared to the Howard Hughes-ish wizard behind the curtain that writes a few pages every few months. Truthfully, do yourself a favor, search ebay and see if you can dig up issues from the 70's thru the mid-eighties, not only are they STILL informative but they are an absolute PISSA!
I love reading HIFI+. HIFI+ has a way of making me feel good. Its the best. Lately while reading TAS and Stereophile I find myself getting irritated with myself because theyre using words I can't even guess at what they mean. Ive even resorted to asking my wife what the heck that word means and even she doesnt know what they mean and she knows everything... about everything.
UHF has the best overall concept IMHO. They use the same reference system and only replace one component (the one they're reviewing). Every review is done by the same trio of reviewers and they use both measurements and honest feedback.
The knock I have against UHF and a big reason why I dropped my subscription was their inability to review mainstream products that weren't SimAudio, Linn and Totem. I remember one year they must have reviewed 5 products from Copland while everybody else in the industry was reviewing 'hot' pieces from Anthony Gallo and Naim. I quickly grew tired of the same manufactures getting the reviews...SimAudio, Linn, Copland, SimAudio, Copland, Linn... it was a vicious cycle. I do believe however they use the best approach to reviewing a product.
HiFi+...I guess. While we're on the subject: I understand that we should read audio mags for the reviews of the SOUND of components, but has anyone noticed that the pictures in Stereophile are lowsy? At least HiFi+ has great pictures so you can see the beauty of components. Stereophile (and TAS IMO), like to show extreme close ups.
I am not sure you can get one on the newstand ... you have to subscribe. It is expensive, but well worth it.
Where can you read a really bad review of the latest Naim HDX for example, written by Naim CDS3 owner no less ?
To me, and I have beed subscribing to tons of mags for the past 15+ years (Stereophile, TAS, FI, HiFi News UK, HiFi+ UK) this is the only unbiased mag on the market today, written by one of the most regarded reviewers.