When a Reviewer "likes" something

... what does that mean in your opinion. I read in one of the last Stereophile mags a comment from Mr. Atkinson where he wrote about the differences in "opinions" in forums or in printed mags. After all he ended with the argument, a component is good when a reviewer likes it.
Isn't is more helpful, when a reviewer knows something about a real tone reproduction? Or is it ok, when he used every month another CD or LP he got for free, a kind of music nearly no one wants to listen to?
Harry Pearson used in the 90's always the same records for his reviews but that was an exception I think.
What is it worth for you when - for example - Mr. Dudley/Fremer/Valin/HP .... "likes" something? Do you have the same "taste" they have?
I know it is possible to like a Turntable even when that unit can't hold the proper speed, or is extremely sensitive to any influences, there are endless recommendations written about such units...what is it worth for you?
Atkinson for example measures units, some have top datas but they can sound very boring, far away from the real thing, some have no top datas, some "tests" are shortened because a unit can reach a area which can be pretty dangerous (see one of the latest Agostino units, just as an example) but they are rated Class A in recommendations anyway....
When someone "knows" what is right or not, then his "liking" is only a personal opinion which is more or less uninteresting or?
Most customers (not all of course) would prefer to know what a unit is really able to do sonically, or not? Would knowledge destroy the joy of Hardware rolling? Or is there a reason why reviewers use low efficiency speakers when they have a tube amp for review (for example Lamm ML2.1/ML2.2 with Magico Speakers)? Is the matching "expensive + expensive" the proper way to show competence?
I think it would be most helpful if a reviewer used the same battery of test recordings for each review. This would at least give us a constant baseline from which we could evaluate the reviewer's impressions...

Usually that means it was given to them free, or at a big discount.
It means nothing to me when a reviewer likes something because they like their advertisers, manufacturers that give away equipment and their friends, nothing more. Stereophile continues to offer me a 2 year subscription for $14 and TAS continues to send magazines to expired subscribers so advertisers will not know their circulation is diminishing. Reviewers have written "I like these speakers so much I'm buying the review sample." and 2 weeks later they are for sale for 50% of retail, right Art? Magazines have been deceiving the public for decades and in my opinion they have caused irreparable damage to an industry we love. Use your own ears to decide if you like the way stereo equipment sounds. You don't need someone else to tell you if you should like it or not.
I'm now at the age of having read reviews longer than many of the writers today have been writing them. To me it's kind of off-putting that reviewers as a group just simply don't take a meaningful or the proper amount of time to fully come to grips with the particular product they are reviewing. Very often they take no more than a month to listen and evaluate and then only jot down a few of the sonic highlights (while leaving the negatives to be either glossed over or completely ignored...or confined to practical matters as opposed to sonics). I usually find them to be not worth much more than the grain of salt I end up having to take them with...and a preponderance of them on the same product is of little help. To me it's too often as if NO pro writer will tell you flat out what's truly wrong with a component's sonics, even if it's apparent and especially, it seems to me, when it can amount to a flaw. And, I think, that if they see that they can rationalize that there's no point in doing so for us, then any hope of putting things into perspective for us seems to go right out the window and...voila, we exist in what I consider to be a culture of all positive reviews - EVERY reviewer likes EVERY product they've reviewed and somehow there are no bad products (that is, there is at least SOMEthing to like about every product, right?). I suppose I suspect part of the problem is that the fix may at least require a certain degree of comparing equipment to other equipment - something that I myself find perfectly valid in this hobby, despite there being the so-called "acid test" of comparing to live music. Knowing how a piece of gear performs compared to other pieces can be of considerable value, I think, especially to intermediate-and-up hobbyists. For my own money, it's a person's *experience* in this hobby that counts the most - not simply their judgment 'yea' or 'nea', but their *evaluation* of the gear. More evidence from pro writers on their willingness to spend that much time and patience overall and less 'being of help' in the most generic of terms possible is what I'd rather see. Not getting bogged down in minutiae either - just a comparatively informed view of the particular and overall relevance of the equipment involved would do nicely...one based on both its strengths AND its flaws. From a writing standpoint, it may be trickier to write about the negatives without looking like you're condemning the component, but I feel like that can and should be done. Isn't that the sort of thing they bothered to learn how to write for in the first place? I still DO read reviews on occasion, but I no longer put all that much stock in the tributes involved, but when it comes to the performance flaws I reread between the lines a dozen times or more to try (sometimes in vain, for reading's sake) to arrive at the truth of the degree of negative sonic performance that I have to believe the writer may well be only hinting at. Good OP. I realize you may only be talking about the irritatingly pointless trend of pro writers blithely "liking" any and every random piece of gear, but to me it goes deeper than that, I suppose. Regards. John
Do they ever NOT like anything?

+1 to what Rrog said, it means nothing to me. I take anything any salesman says with a grain of salt. Sales, that is their job to convince you to buy their product. Don't be fooled into thinking that the glossy rags have your best interest in mind, they are purely sales literature, nothing more.

Do your homework and listen with your own ears. Don't buy the hype. Speaking of hype though, one thing great reviews do is keep resale values high. This may be a good or bad thing, depending on whether you are a buyer or seller. I have no problem buying something I like at a steep discount because some reviewer didn't care for it. :)
There ARE negative reviews out there, even accidental ones like the embarrassing D'Agostine meltdown debacle...two of my fave Brit mags, Hifi Choice and Hifi News have a seemingly more balanced approach, including a "likes and dislikes" blurb, along with stuff put through a "listening panel" of somewhat sophisticated panelists. I still read Absolute and S'Phile out of habit, and other than feeling some of these dudes have very questionable musical tastes, I take it well salted.
IMO, this OP touches on some very complicated questions. That is, how can one obtain reliable information about a product, be the source of informatin be from reviewers or B&M sales people??

I'll digress just briefly on the early days. At one time, mags like Stereophile did NOT accept advertising, e.g., J. Gordon Holt's Stereophile "booklet" back in the 70s. Nonreliance on advertisers certainly "biased" the reviewer to be "non-biased" (pun intended).

Not so today. Yes, on a very infrequent occassion, I have read a review that pointed out "some" unfavorable aspects or deficiencies about a piece of equipment. But very infrequently. So, as the other folks said above, I'll read the reviews, but take them with a grain of salt.

But the salt doesn't stop there. I've said this before, B&M outlets sell what they have. And there aren't too many retail dealers around who carry, or can afford to carry, a wide range of brands for comparison. And even if you listen to something of interest, how meaninful is it when one considers system synergy and how the piece will sound in YOUR house on your rig??

I've also mentioned this before, I haven't been in a B&M store for as long as I can rememeber. However, I have swung some telephone deals on equipment that I wanted because I couldn't find the gear on the "Gon."

Bottom line for me: it has taken me a long time to assemble my rig -- from cartridge, TT, phono pre, CDP, linestage, amp and speakers. Many a purchase has been made off the Gon, tried, then resold if it doesn't ring my bell. So far, I've been fortunate that churing gear hasn't cost me too much.

Have I made the best possible choices? Would my picks make it on "The Best of [____]" OPs? Haven't a clue.

Having said all that, I do read A'gon everyday out of pure interest. I take member comments quite seriously, especially when I read other members echo similar comments. Right now, I've kick started someone else's OP on the ARC Ref 150. It's a piece that's on my long range acqusition list. Btw, based on member comments, I upgraded my ARC Ref 5 linestage to the SE version. So far, I'm not disappointed.

That's about all I can say -- which I guess is a lot. Just a few final comments. At least with ARC gear, I DO believe there's a natural synergy and benefit staying all ARC. Also, at the expense of starting another speaker war, I think one of the best speaker values on the market is the Paradigm Sig 8 (v2 or v3 with beryllium dome tweeters). But be careful -- they are not very tube friendly. They like high current SS amps. However, I think my ARC VS-115 is pushing through ok.



Syntax asks some good questions. The way I see it, Gordon Holt and later Harry Pearson were both very sincere observers of what Harry first called "the high end". I don't believe either of them had a commercial bias, and Gordon Holt got in trouble with a few manufacturers along the way for his outspoken reviews. With HP, one soon learned that he had real biases, but I never thought it had much to do with dollars, more to do with which guys in the industry he liked and with which bits of gear when cobbled together would give him the particular colorations he seemed to be fond of. (Jadis? Get real.) But his contribution was to construct a language that could be used (by him and only a few others since, unfortunately) to convey a sense of how something sounded. Having said that, I must also say that any time in my audio life that I heard something he liked, I found it to be very disappointing. In any case, the modern versions of audio magazines Stereophile and TAS have gone astray from the real intent of their respective founders. The concept of a common language at TAS has been totally lost, for example. I wouldn't argue with any of the critical comments made here by others. I never did make a purchasing decision (consciously) based on the content of a review, and I certainly would not do so now. I find that TAS and S'phile are very handy for reading in the bathroom. Let's also remember that the Brit magazines, fondly referred to above, or some of their more well known reviewers, were caught soliciting pay for praise, more than once.

Yet, I want them all to survive, because I favor print over internet. Internet reviews are far less reliable, far more ridiculous, IMO. Anyone can publish anything on the internet. I see truly idiotic misconceptions promulgated electronically much more often than in print.
so it surprises you that 99% of what they review is exceptional in some way? and the other 1% would have been a game changer if for 1 minor deficiency? A reviewers business model is to maximize profits through some combination of advertising and subscription algorithm. Reviews are content much like Jersey Shore is to MTV. The more contriversial the more value. Always subjective, a review can never be refuted because it doesn't rely on facts, just someones opinion.
In the spirit of spring, it's like going to www.yankees.com and reading how great things are going to be this year so come on out and buy tickets to "our game".
After reading this you are no closer to the truth of how the Yankees are going to perform. They will still tell you the Yankees are great this year, but no facts support these claims.
What a reviewer likes means nothing unless, over the years, you find that you have the same tastes as they do. For me the only reviews that are helpfull, (when refering to sound quality), have references to other equipment that I myself am familiar with. Even then they are only somewhat helpfull as I have noticed in the decades of reading reviews that reviewers, just like ourselves, have some areas of the music reproduction that are critcally important while other areas not so much. A good example for me is tube electronics. I will be the first to admit that they have many shortcomings but what they do exceptional well is more important to me than what they don't. There are others who say the same for solid state.
03-27-13: Lewm
Yet, I want them all to survive, because I favor print over internet. Internet reviews are far less reliable, far more ridiculous, IMO. Anyone can publish anything on the internet. I see truly idiotic misconceptions promulgated electronically much more often than in print.

I couldn't disagree with you more. I don't find internet reviews any less reliable than print reviews, and the internet presents fourms such as this. Personally, I have found much more help in forums such as these than any review written in print. Most here are just hobbyists, with no agenda, no profit margin to attain. The reviews in glossy rags are almost comical, the way they wax poetically over gear that I've heard sound like garbage. They are simply advertisements, nothing more. JA has zero credibility in my eyes, after listening to some of the brands he's been shilling over the years. Yech.
It can means the company comps. the reviewer to a fact finding trip to the factory.
At this point it really does not matter. With the large number of internet magazines, the stranglehold TAS and Stereophile had, are gone.
Reviews are NOOT to go run out and orderthe product. Reviews are to make a list of stuff which has some promise, which, hopefully you can go find a place to listen to it for yourself!

I happen to have only one item (of all my stuff) which is rated in the current Stereophile recommended components.
I think this is a good sign for my own choices.. that I picked them for what "I" found to be what I wanted. Instead of what somebody else wanted.
That is a big deal.
(and one item I tried which was raved about, was no beter than my ten year old DAC, so I returned it. again points to actually LISTENING..for oneself)
Magazine reviews to me is a starting point. It is extremely rare that a reviewer has most of my gears in his system to review a component. Let alone personal taste. However, magazine reviews help narrow down the components I am interested in. Regardless how good the reviewers say about a component, I still try to audition it (preferrably at home) before purchase. Or buy used and sell it if I don't like it.
Over time I have found reviewers I almost always agree with.
Like Dick Olsher & Tom Norton.
There are others I don't agree with or pay much attention to:
- Anybody who constantly reviews Musical Fidelity.
- Anybody who says any Krell amp sounds like tubes.

Call these my biases or educated observations.
Everyone who is into audio develops them over time.
Ha Ha! Best thread in a long time. The reviewing "Emperors" have no clothes!

They are almost all "un-trusworthy shills" and "marketers ".

Most reviews are a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and furry, signifying nothing !
Zenblaster makes a very important point. Audio mags are a business model. Reviews are there to get you to see advertising and ultimately buy stuff. At lest it works that way for U.S. pubs.

Gave up TAS ten years ago after 16 or 17 years reading it and gave up S-phile before that.

Take reviews with a grain of salt for many reasons. Like the OP said, reviewers can have odd system matches depending on "Loaner" equipment. They can also go through so much equipment that I wonder if they have a basic sound identified all that well. Another gem is when an expensive unit is reviewed and they have nothing comparable on hand. And if you have decent level of room treatment, how much detail do you want to believe from a reviewer that has not addressed that basic issue. One could go on...

And that says nothing about if you have tubes but the reviewer has all/mostly soliid state or the other way around. If the readers speaker are vastly different that the reviewers, e.g. horn vs panel, its hard to interprate.

Jmcgrogan2 had a point as well, are some of these reviewers flat out dishonest?

Maybe I am being too harsh, I have picked up usefull info from reviews but you have to be aware of the caveats imo.
Go one-on-one with with a highly qualified independant tech (the one I use has 50 years in the game), and you will lose respect for nearly the entire industry.

$40,000+ amps, that due to their design, blow their transformers on a regular basis, and too many horror stories to even begin to tell. But with 50 years at it, you will soon get the idea, that many designers really don't know what they are doing, and worse, don't care.

It's very disconcerting, but that is the current state of affairs.

There are, of course, many very knowledgeable designers, but there are enough that only care about profits, to make the situation disgusting, especially with the exorbitant current prices of supposedly SOTA equipment.

This says a lot about the equipment reviews. They must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

Although many folks don't trust magazine reviews, I do want to give them credits as to keeping us informed of all the latest and high quality equipment in the market. Remember the old days when both TAS and Stereophile were in those smaller size format (underground???). I then just started this hobby and didn't know a thing abou it. They indeed did a great job introducing me into the world of stereo. Over time I found that review is a review and I still need to audition it myself and trust my ears.

As of today, some components I own do sound like the reviewers described in their reviews. Of course, there are some bad sounding equipment that sound totally different from the review.

Review magazine is not a charity that we all know. They need to bring in revenue to survive. It is totally up to you to trust it or not.
Audiolui - Oh the good old days. Came across TAS 1984-85 and it was amazing to find it. A big reason why I am still in the hobby. HP was still explaining on a regular basis why TAS has to go the advertising model!!!

Stereophile rose up from a distant second, from a serious audio mag point of view, to be interesting. I subscribed to both in the 90s.

TAS even going from a no ad mag to a full on advertising model was never able figure it out a business stand pointly which cought up with them later, TAS went down and was later rescued. TAS content suffered in the processa and was never the same again. (I welcome any old TAS experts to join and fill in blanks)

Stereophile came up strong only to be sold to a "roll up" company with a bunch of other mags in the late 90s. A "roll up" in the 90s was when scammers would buy a number of small companies and roll them up into a bigger entity that would later do an IPO on the stock market. I would have to take some time to look up details but it did not work out well. Stereophile the mag survived but it suffered too.

Point is, this has nothing to do with talking aout "charity". Both have been through tough times and they exist because there is a business model that works.

These are not your dads "underground" mags these days.
Are there any really good "no advertising, underground" type mags or web sites worth checking into. And btw, I reiterate that I have found many A'gon member comments and suggestion very helpful. I decline to mention names (handles) so as not to embarrass anyone, but A'gon is fortunate to have quite a few "EE" tech members whose posts I consider to be terrific.
The last decent underground print magazine was The Listener, and now its creator (Art Dudley) writes for S'phile. At least he hasn't changed in his predilections.
Before I look for something to purchase I go through the opinions stated in these forums for my answers. Lots of knowledge displayed for free. I have not been mislead yet when purchasing items I haven't even listened to. Then I'll check the reviews to compare.

Thanks to all of you that have helped.
I'm not as cynical as some of you. I think the reviewers are doing their best.

However, if you buy based on reviews you better buy used. The only way to build a satisfying system is to try lots of different gear. I just buy and sell on the used market and home demo everything.
Yea the audio mags are a great tool after you crap you can wipe your arse!!!! then flush shwwwooshhhhhh LOL

I blame not the writers but the people that read/buy these magazines and continue to do so without protest! WTF!!!!

guys the game is the same(play like live music) but seems most do not want or have and understanding of what live non amplified music sounds like.......so this is what we have today a bunch of expensive crap that does not play like music!

Mr Holt at least gave an honest evaluation and compared to the REAL thing...

lets get back to the way of the past ...

Fidelity Forward
We must never forget that the purpose of magazines is to sell copies....and the purpose of manufacturers is to sell product.
If manufacturers make NEW product.....the magazines can write NEW reviews of these NEW products and people will (hopefully) buy NEW product as well as the magazines?

There is no point in the magazines reviewing OLD products (which are no longer manufactured).....as there are no advertisers and a limited second hand market.
So we're caught on a treadmill with a self-perpetuating symbiotic relationship between magazine and manufacturer.
Because there is a constant requirement for NEW content in the magazines.....there is a reciprocating constant requirement for NEW product from the manufacturers and this gives the illusion of 'progress' in an industry....which in some areas (like analogue).....reached its zenith decades ago.
Do you really believe that the turntables produced today.....sometimes for seven figure sums.....are better than the top turntables produced by Micro Seiki, Denon, Technics, Victor/JVC, Garrard, Kenwood, or EMT in the '70s and '80s?
If you do.....you need to get out more.
And the same goes for tonearms and cartridges and many speaker systems as well.

But the only reviewer (to my knowledge) who has the chutzpah (and is allowed to survive)...is Art Dudley?
But there is no 'market' for manufacturers in Dudley's domain......apart perhaps from Shindo?

So for the rest of them.....there is this ever onward 'progression' in audio.
An unrelenting improvement which in reality is merely a mirage.

As others here have stated.......there is more reliable and genuine information here.....in these Forums and elsewhere on the Internet......than is generally available in the mainstream magazines.
But I would hate to see them disappear.........:-)
I don't get attacking reviewers...commercial magazines are entertainment, and if you're not entertained and don't agree with the reviewers, DON'T READ THEM.
Since the existence of Audiogon, I have been buying and selling used equipment for the most part to try out so many different gears. Magazines do provide me information for me to make a choice in the used market although I have to wait for the new equipment to become available.

In the good old days, TAS was my audio bible. Reading their ads free magazine was like a treat in a candy store. That was awesome. I still have a few old copies in storage to remind me of the good old days. Magazines today might have credibility issue, I still subscribe to them to get the latest information and hear what the reviewers have to say about stereo equipment.
+1 Wolf. Did most of us just graduate from Romper Room? Professional reviewing is not a regulatory commission. It's a business to perpetuate the growth of its advertisers and with what little revenue thats left over, try and nurture the growth of new design with articles and interviews.

This industry is hanging on by its fingernails fueled only by providing better audio (not great) to the portable digital masses and the analog based elderly (people with long lived LP collections who can afford the ever improving equipment to play it on).

The only aspect of this hobby that isn't subjective is a warped record. And even then somebody might have a player that can still play it.

Stop whining, share what you actually know, and consider subscribing to something even if its just for the laughs.
Everything in life is vanity and illusion!
audio magazines are part of the game we all have being part at some point in our lives, i support them even if i dont neccesary believe all they have to say.
It will be sad a high end audio without magazines and reviewers....
Lets make it clear we all know our hobby is very subjective as everything else....
Regards and keep enjoying what your ears tell you!
I think over a period of time you find reviewers who have taste similar to yours and pay more attention to their impressions for a starting point. Some reviewers have such different preferences there's no common ground and their recommendations have little value personally.
In my case JA of Stereophile admires certain components that were just awful IMO. Dick Olsher and Jack Roberts for an example tend to get my attention if they're enthusiastic about a product.
I use reviews mainly for information and an indication of something I might like to listen to. Nothing more. On this level, and pretty much only on this level, I find that reviews can be helpful.

What really irks me is when a reviewer does not make any comparisons to another product during a review and just states what they "think" of the sound of a product on its own. That is just about worthless to me, although I'm sure it makes their job a lot easier. And when they omit the equipment they're using in their reference system it makes it even more useless as I have no idea what they're using as a mental reference.

TAS does this all the time and it drives me nuts. They'll frequently make no direct comparisons to anything else in the review and then list all the equipment in their reference system EXCEPT the corresponding component to that which they're reviewing. That's just pure cowardice imo in an effort to not be held accountable for their completely unsubstantiated opinions (which I view more as guesses than actual opinion). ARGH. Does this bother anyone else?
Stereophile Feb. 2013
Records to Die For (!!!!!)

It is well known that the latest Beatles Reissue Vinyl Box Set sounds really bad. So bad, that even reviewers can't deny it (so it must be remarkable bad)
even describing how bad it is, who cares: It is simply lifted to "be beyond essential"....
The reviewer likes it, probably he got it for free and he has to do someone a favor, but that's not the discriminated listener. Beyond essential is the key....
Some call it a review, don't forget: It is in the listing of "Records to die for" (the best of the best)
First off, I only read S'phile consistently so have limited experience with other mags although I have read them.

I kinda of look at it like a catalogue; don't have B&M to visit here unless it is appointment only. (I miss audio stores)

I read reviews, mostly those whose writing I like, purely entertainment.

I have often wondered how a reviewer can form an opinion of a piece of gear when their "reference" system seems to be in a constant state of flux?

Seems changing pieces changes the baseline the piece of equipment is being evaluated from so naturally sound will change.

I can see where after an initial review is completed, using the reviewers static reference, a follow-up could be used to address swapping other pieces of gear but the original evaluation should be done without any system changes.
You're right, comparisons should be part of audio equipment reviews. 6 Moons does a very good job of openly making comparisons, often multiple competitors in the review.JV of TAS reviewed the CJ GAT preamp and made no mention of the Audio Research Anniversary preamp he had reviewed prior and praised. Why avoid such an obviously comparison? Just give an honest impression if you're going through the effort of reviewing both
Regards, .
Forgot to mention in my post, I concur with those who have said the knowledge on this site is the best. Mostly end users and some pretty darn smart ones too!

I cruise other sites but none seem to capture my attention like this one.
I am always amazed by the comments here alluding to some ulterior motive by the mainstream audio press to push the product of the day. I have yet to read of a true, factual example of this actually happening by one of the writers for TAS or Stereophile. You may not agree with their opinions or methodology, but this is entertainment, not a scientific journal. Those two magazines are no different than Car and Driver, or Cycle World or any other enthusiast magazine I subscribe to. I happen to like the style of writing of some of the writers, even if they were writing off topic. But to suggest fraud or collusion, as some here have, is simply off base unless you have specific factual support for such claims against a specific writer. Otherwise its just more internet crap to keep getting repeated on sites like this.
And for those who think a month with a piece of equipment is not enough, how long do you think a full time reviewer should spend. Is 40 hours a week for 4 weeks not enough. And if they get paid by the review, are they only allowed to review 12 pieces of equipment a year. If that's so, should they make $5000 per review so they can make a decent living. Get real. No one here listens 160 hours a month, yet many have very strongly held opinions on gear.
And while knowing what the reviewers equipment is might be helpful if he has something the same as yours, it is useless otherwise. There is simply too many different options for any of us to be familiar with how each sounds.
And as for glowing reviews, that issue has come up in my other enthusiast magazines, and the plain fact is that there is very little bad equipment being built these days, especially in the high end range these magazines concentrate on. Except for some garage builder putting out a prototype, most gear being reviewed is well built. Do you want the reviewer to look for crap just so he can say something stinks. Why waste his time reviewing crap when there is so much more interesting stuff to review that is much more enjoyable.
I will say that I gloss over anything to do with digital sound. I just dont care, and I find it boring to read about. that may be why subscriptions are down. In the old days, there were real differences between components, and new ideas being tried. Today, everything has improved to the point that for electronics especially, there is little difference beyond power ratings, at least as compared to cartridges or speakers.
So, unless you have specific actual knowledge of some improper behaviour by a specific reviewer or magazine, and are willing to put it in writing here, give it up and just enjoy the entertainment.
Hey Vic- "analog-based elderly"? Really? Dumbass.
Manitunc, One of the well known reviewers for HFNRR, the Brit magazine, was several years ago "caught" for taking payola (money or something of value as compensation for a favorable review). Aside from that instance, you are correct; there are no known instances of such behavior among the many writers for TAS and S'phile. The worst rumors I have ever heard were to the effect that certain reviewers take equipment for review on long term loan, and then keep it. This was a rumor, gossip really, around especially TAS. But it does not amount to misleading the public.

The problem for me is the poor quality of the reviews. Most of those guys below the top level at each magazine have no idea what they are talking about. They often repeat verbatim advertising jargon that is pure nonsense as if it were a valid explanation of something truly innovative.
I agree that there's no conspiracy or collusion taking place, they just report what they hear and we rither agree or disagree with their impressions. Where I'd disagree with you , the automotive enthusiast magazines make a living on presenting direct rival brand comparisons and duel or multiple car shoot outs(just look at a typical cover of Car and Driver, X vs Y this issue). They don't shy away as some audio reviewers tend to do.
There's just as much variations and flavors of amplifiers and digital sources as cartridges and speakers. I understand they may not interest you but that doesn't change the facts.
OK I am a Reviewer
(unpublished, but that is a minor quibble)
So I like everything I own, and think all the stuff anyone else owns is RUBBISH.
There. i said it. HAH.
Pease. audio corporations.. send me your stuff so I can review it and add it to my system (for free, naturally)
THEN it would stop being rubbish, and become stuff I like. PRESTO!!
Maybe I can even get my reviews published...
I don't hate reviewer's, everyone needs a job these days, be it government worker's, lawyers, salespersons or reviewer's. A person has to make a living, I don't hold that against any of them. That doesn't mean that I have to buy what they are selling, and make no mistake, reviewers are selling.

I think you'd make a perfect reviewer Elizabeth! ;)
I agree with Manitunc. I will also add that there are certainly bad reviews quite regularly, at least in Stereophile. A while ago Fremer reviewed a Boulder amp, and he trashed it sending the company's reps into a frenzy over the review. There was a bad Totem Forrest speaker review that nearly gave the designer a heart attack. There was a pretty bad class D amp review a few months ago. Fremer regularly criticizes high priced cartridges or analog equipment that he thinks should be less expensive based on performance. These are just a few off the top of my head.

Also, in the latest issue of Stereophile (April 2013), Art Dudley sheds some interesting light on the reviewing policies and interaction between reviewers and manufacturers. It's perhaps more of a rant, but it does describe what's going on behind the "closed doors" so to speak, and probably answers some of the questions and claims raised in this thread. I recommend it.

In the end, to me a review is what you make of it.
I agree with the comments of Tdaudio. The value of the reviews has gone downhill for the last 20 years.
TAS is now very suspect as being industry "shills". I am amazed by the stable of "long-term loans" listed as review equipment. I wonder what cables these guys would choose if they actually paid for them. (I do kind of like Adkinson, as his system remains pretty stable... and he does measure as well.) A lot of reviewers do seem to go out of their way to list the most esoteric music sources they can find.
I only use it as a starting point as to "what is out there". Its always easy to "like" what's new and in front of you.
So, a month is too short a time, and a long term loan is graft? Just say you dislike reviewers instead of making excuses. And should we really expect reviewers to spend tens of thousands of their own dollars to build a reference system, and then change it every few years to keep up to date? Can only wealthy folks be reviewers? Seriously?
IT depends on the reviewer.

A lot is based on trust.

If a reviewer has a good track record over time, it means something. The product being reviewed is likely viable or competitive at a minimum.

Whether it would work best for you or not or if you will like it is still TBD.

But a good and trusted reviewer will know what makes a product tick usually enough so as to point out strengths, weaknesses, good or bad potential applications.
Mt10425 Nice retort. So what's your point?
We, 'the elderly', don't have to have a point, since you've dismissed our value.
This means nothing its your ears and your money.These dudes are industry hacks!!