What reviews do you trust if any?

With all the reviews and reviewers out there saying positive things about the latest 'gee whiz' audio item, do you find any of them to be reliable?
How many grains of salt do you need to take with the reviews?
How many grains of salt are there?
I ony trust reviewers who make reference to well accepted equipment that is already in the market. In that way, if I also have experience with the same equipment, I will often find out if they and I have been hearing the same things, have the same tastes, either good or bad.

Otherwise, IMO, the subjective part of the review is nearly useless.
I have purchased most of my gear from just the comments made by many reliable people here on this site. I never listened to the equipment before I purchased, and have never been disappointed with the results. Many folks have a lot of knowledge about what works best together. You just need to read the forums to figure out who to trust.
I never listened to the equipment before I purchased, and have never been disappointed with the results.
Abucktwoeighty, to never have been disappointed, your experience is not typical, and you have been a very fortunate and lucky audiophile.

Crwindy, I read plenty of reviews, but have learned that while the reviewer may or may not be capable and honest, the gear he used is so different from mine and the other variables so many, that I can't really trust his performance results.
Douglas shroeder of Dagogo.com. I bought a used pair of King sound speakers from him from his review online . Then months later i bought the Eastern Electric minimax plus dac he uses and reviewed on Dagogo . So far two for two . maybe some day i will try the Wells amp he just reviewed and bought .I did drive six hours from the reviews i read then got to hear before buying though .
With all the reviews and reviewers out there saying positive things about the latest 'gee whiz' audio item, do you find any of them to be reliable?


How many grains of salt do you need to take with the reviews?

A ton of grains of salt.

+1 to what Abucktwoeighty said. Between this forum and Audio Asylum, I get all the information I need to take a risk and try something out. Though I have been disappointed, I still have a much better batting average with these forums than with professional reviews. After a while, you do learn what members have similar tastes to your own.
I tend to trust people until I know them better. The same goes for reviewers. What's written doesn't necessarily translate to what's heard, but it's fun to read up and get to know someones tastes and finalize the reality of what's heard to what's written. Then I can get to trust.

I do my best to stay away from salt.

All the best,
Audio reviewers are entertainers, not reporters, and in many cases are loaded down with conflicts of interest that would even embarrass a politican (I once read a review where the reviewer started by raving about the magnificently expensive steak dinner the manufacturer's rep had bought him when dropping off the equipment). So I don't trust them at all, but I do read and enjoy them. And I do believe you can learn important things about objective issues (like price, specs and features) from reviews. But I have never made a purchase based on a reviewer's opinion of sound or performance, and never will.
None to the point where I would buy the gear just because the reviewer liked it, especially when I see how many reviewers are playing the test piece in a system with inappropriate to suboptimal partnering equipment. Things I like are;
1. reading about new gear,
2. the old HiFi+ especially for the pictures,
3. JA's measurements of new gear,
4. reviews that go into detail about the piece itself, such as how it is constructed, parts used, and design information, all without undue hype,
5. the many pictures included with 6-Moons reviews, especially those of the insides of the gear.

I also agree there are folks here on Audiogon that seem to have more experience and better instincts than many reviewers. At least Audiogon members mostly try and post about gear that is a good match for their listening preferences and that plays well with their other equipment.

3. JA's measurements of new gear,
4. reviews that go into detail about the piece itself, such as how it is constructed, parts used, and design information, all without undue hype,
5. the many pictures included with 6-Moons reviews, especially those of the insides of the gear.

Those are on my list also, especially love the pics on 6Moons. Another important piece of information is how the unit operated. For example, was the amp noisy, or did it have a finicky volume control.
I have made purchases based on reviews or get a high rating in Stereopile's recommended listing and been sorely disappointed. Have also been happy with gear purchased that way.
There will always be the 'one man's poison is another man's candy' element to subjective evaluation. The key is to hone in on the formal aspects of any review and decide if such features and benefits resonate with what you want to know about a given component. And, as I have said too many times in the past to remember the count, a component sounds the way it sounds in the context of a system, not in isolation. So the system must also and always be part of the 'poison' or 'candy' part of the perspective. I tend to focus on those aspects of a review that describe what it is like to actually listen to music in that context. Without that from an exampe point of view, it is almost impossible to understand what, 'sounds great' or 'superb slam' really mean.
I look for a consensus of opinions. If a component has several glowing reviews, I take it as a good sign
For me the reviewers I trust are:

The people over at Stereomojo
The Part-Time Audiophile Scot Hull
A'gon Member: Ferrari
certain writers/reviwers from 6Moons.

I do take all reviews with a grain of salt though especially if it is from a magazine. To Tbromgards point if I do see a bunch of glowing reviews in different areas for a specific item I'll take that as a good sign as well
I also like the 6 Moons review approach.Good pictures,clear detail concerning,design,built quality and the designer`s objectives. They consistently make comparisons to competitor components and are willing to criticize when needed.

I like Jack Roberts at Dagogo.He places priority on musical values and the emotional- natural presentation of components.
I always review the technical aspects of the review to see if the equipment is performing as the designer intended and is also performing as is should based on what it is. I'm not going to purchase any equipment that has rediculous distortion or if the specifications are well outside the norm for such equipment. I don't trust at all any equipment reviewer's thoughts on how they feel a piece of equipment sound. I have noticed that most reviewer's play around with other equipment in their system, their cables, power cords, etc. instead of either 1) connecting the equipment in their system as the manufacturer originally intended or 2) simply swapping the equipment like for like without playing with anything else. They also are very good at using terms and phrases in their reviews and never bother to define the terms or phrases and what they are talking about. They to me are making up elaborate terms or phrases simply to make themselves looks educated or smart. I have no problem with that, but please define the words and phrases your are using, so we know what the heck you are talking about. I trust my ears. I don't purchase an unknown piece of equipment without hearing if first in my system. And I only swap like for like and listen first to the differences. I also will do A/B comparisons often during my demo to make sure I hear and notice differences if any. I have read many reviews of equipment and listened to the equipment also and found my opinion was totally different than the reviewer's. Also, when manufacturers loan or give or sell equipment for less to the reviewers, that may slightly bias the reviewers opinion.
I prefer reviews from the users on A-gon. Luckily there are plenty of engineers, techs, and hi-fi old-timers that have wonderful knowledge to share..
In addition to equipment that is the subject of a review, I take notice of any equipment that is included in the "associated equipment" of several different reviewers. Also, if a particular review is more than 6 months old, I am interested if the reviewed piece is still part of the associated equipment listed in a current review from that reviewer.
Have you seen some of the pics of the reviewers listening areas? Some look like they live in a broom closet in their mom's basement.
Art Dudley , Bob Reina , John Atkinson , are the ones I trust . Why ? There not always shootin off at the lips .
There are magazines and online sites, and forums like Audiogon I like. As people have said before, I use them as starting off points, for items I would look for and pay more attention to at a show.

I have to say, I particularly like HiFi+, stereo mojo and Positive Feedback. 6 moons I just find too verbose, I lose interest half way down the 5th page.

Two recent examples of what I picked up, the first the Audio Research Ref 75 Power Amp, I listened to at a recent show. All the hype seemed amply justified. Secondly, the Gigawatt line of power conditioners, I have'nt had time to look out for yet.
I like 6Moons too. I also have liked (and still do) Tony Cordesman's articles for years in various publications.
you can trust a reviewer if his statements are truthful.

this requires some faith that he is accurately reporting his (aural) observations.

i don't think its fair to consider motivation. if the reviewer
does not misrepresent his perceptions he can be trusted.

the problem is verification of a reviewer's comments. it's almost impossible to verify what a reviewer says. many explanations have been furnished for mistrusting a reviewer. however, i would say some reviewers are not liars.

even if you listen to a component which has been reviewed and agree with what the reviewer says, you have not corroborated the review.

in view of the amorphous nature of reviews, if you trust the character of the reviewer, a review serves as a guide to consider the product reviewed.

i would suggest reading the review carefully and critically evaluating the form and style of the review. if the review reads like ornate prose, it may be a dubious review. if instead, the review sounds like ordinary usage, as if you were talking to the reviewer, you have a chance that the review should be taken seriously.
I take most reviews as product information, entertainment, but absolute ZERO, NIL, NADA, NIET credibility as to their conclusions and listening comments.

It is all so subjective anyways you look at it.

How many PAGES have appeared on Magico products in the Absolute Sound in the last 3 years? Ridiculous. Not too subtle in hiding their obvious bias, and I don’t mean a listening bias, but a commercial one.

And when the reviewer (happens a lot) ends a review with a strong endorsement and with the proverbial ''its THAT good'' statement, I find it so condescending and pompous. As if the reviewer’s ears were god’s gift to the world.

Even worse is the famous ‘’I liked it so much I bought the review sample’’ this is nothing to identify with the common audiophile.

Sure, I would agree that getting a $ 6,000 amplifier would be good enough for me to purchase If I had access to dealer price – when it is not totally free of course.

My all-time favorite reviewer HAS to be good ‘Ol Sam ‘’wine & dine me in Europe’’ Tellig. At least he ADMITS to being received like a king visiting some manufacturer in the Italian countryside.

The guy’s probably half-deaf, but he’s funny and entertaining to boot.

Most other reviewers take themselves SO seriously, working hard to come up with complicated, wanna-be aristocratic and upper-crust words to describe the ‘’air’’ around the ‘’various and enlightening tapestry of emotionally evocative colors to be heard in the all-important midrange’’ What bull. I am exaggerating of course, but not that much I’m afraid.

That’s all reviews are to me. Entertainment, and it’s good enough for what it is.
Sonic, before reading your post, I was thinking of adding to this discussion. But after I read yours; I could not have said it better. Totally right on. Thanks for that.
+1 to what Judsauce said, Sonicbeauty, you nailed it!!!
Trust is way too strong a word, so I understand the consensus opinion stated herein that opinions stated in reviews are worthless. I would rather think that reviews should be factually accurate and the opinions expressed plausible. As a result I find reviews that provide a full description of the front/rear panels, tech measurements and plenty of detailed pictures to be very useful. To have a seasoned listener who has heard a vast number of components in various situations say that a product sounds very good or better does carry some weight. A well expressed and plausible opinion about the sound quality is interesting.
You can trust the reviewer if:

1.You already own the same gear he/she has.
2.Your room is the same size and configuration as theirs.
3.He/she changes only one component for the review.
4.You like the same music he/she used to audition the piece.
5.Your hearing acuity is the same as theirs.
6.You are listening for the same qualities in equipment such as "PRAT, organic, musicality, clarity, depth, frequency extension, or any descriptor you prefer.

Any variance from these most likely invalidates their opinion. Case in point is the review of amplifiers. It is clear to me that any review of amplifiers is totally dependent upon the speakers used. The amplifier will sound different in your system. Guaranteed.

Reviews are entertaining. Nothing more. If you buy gear based on reviews and don't like it, it's not their fault. Therefore, always buy used. People are trading out and up all the time.

And, the photos in 6moons are fantastic!
Me? I look at it like this, most reviews are for entertainment and there are very very few reviewers I completely trust but there have been a few. Concensus of opinion is a more reliable measure of a component's meddle. I was SHOCKED:) by a few that rely on the advice of specific reviewers to the point of giving names. Oh boy I thought, are you going in the wrong direction. But then again, if you're happy that's all that counts. I have come to the conclusion that often what is valued comes down to the fact that everything is relative to experience and expectations of the listener along with their biases and taste. To ALL newbies, there are no all knowing gurus out there, but there are folks with plenty of experience and good ears. The hard part is learning to separate the two. For this it takes time and experience IMHO. You have to learn to read between the lines, very important.
Hi Fi+ magazine.
TNT Audio - FWIW. Also agree with those citing Stereo Mojo & Dagogo.
I use most reviews as an introduction to the product. Then do my own research and decide on it's validity. I will say this, when products that I own are reviewed the reviewer usually gets it right. The good and the bad of it.
Dagogo is pretty cool too.
I call the Audiophile Hotline
There is no substitute for using your own ears in your own system.

I take everyone's opinion, no matter who they are with a grain of salt.

Synergy with one's system is paramount.
this is true...
hi sarcher30:

your statement is axiomatic.

what do you do if a component of interest is unavailable. that is, there is no source from which one can "borrow" it ?
Hi Mrtennis, If it's something you really want to try you just have to take your chances. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you get burned. Such is life.

Reviews are useful for finding out about new products to check out and hopefully give you a clue about their performance in the reviewers system. They could and probably will perform differently in your system depending on many variables.
All reviews follow their own "logic"

The product is compared to a similar one which is MUCH more expensive and that one is better but you have to pay much more for that tiny improvement
the product is compared to a cheaper one and it is much better than that (of course, that is the reason why you have to pay more to get that "level").
You will hardly find a review where a product is compared to a cheaper one and that cheaper unit is much better.
No one compares the new product to the model before (the newer one is always better because it is more advanced and the "old" is dead anyway)....

Any product will get the same level of "enthusiasm", no one is interested to kick someone out of business. At the end, for most, "Taste" is important and it is the way a well know "reviewer" once said "I've never met a product I didn't like..."
Steve Rochlin from enjoy the music. Well written reviews, and a nice guy as well.