Which reviewers and review sites are the ost reliable?
Everybody has an opinion and some "professional" reviewers/websites tend to praise or criticize everything, while some appear beholden to advertisers or underwriters. Who can be counted on for expert, conflict-free evaluations?
I used to subscribe to Stereophile and now often read it on line. Their reviews are pretty good and include measurements. The problem is that everything is always positive. You can find how they classify them (A,B,C,D) in Recommended Components issue but in reviews you have to read between lines. For example "It is not perfect, but what is" statement means "It is pretty bad". They do this to keep money from advertising coming and for the same reason they don't review some brands. I've never seen a review of Jeff Rowland amplifier in Stereophile. I took risk buying all my gear without audition (no local dealers) but I've read tons of reviews. One review is just not enough.
Recently I bought Sony 4K TV. It had great reviews and according to my research it was better choice than Samsung, at this price level. I went to local store and it was disappointing. My wife said "the picture is horrible" and I explained to her that reviews are great. We brought it home and it was really bad. I found recommended settings in one of the reviews (10 step Gamma etc.) and entered it. Suddenly, picture is incredible. So much for the audition.
The most reliable reviewer is one whose interests and tastes match yours. It can take a long time to figure out who those are.
My music interests are mainly in classical music and other acoustic music, and my equipment interests are great sound and great engineering -- not a particular chip, configuration, efficiency rating, or so on (though I avoid tubes for heat reasons). My tastes run to even frequency response, natural timbre, and low irritation. The most reliable reviewers for me are Robert E Greene, Kal Rubinson, and Anthony H Cordesman. I also read with interest what Neil Gader and Steven Stone have to say. (I have noticed that Kal prefers a little hotter treble than I do.)
In the end, the most reliable reviewer is your own set of ears. Use the other guys to suggest items to listen to yourself.
As to conflicts, all reviewers have an inherent conflict in that they can buy the equipment for much less than you or I can, so their risk is much lower. I think the vast majority of reviewers are honest, though they are not always thorough or listening for the same things I might.
My conclusion is that every component reviewed is in a system and it’s unlikely you have that exact system of components and cables. Your room acoustics are different from theirs. And each reviewer has particular preferences in sound. And measurements can’t tell you anything about the sound, only electrical compatibility or weird behavior which may or may not be significant. I read some online and then go on to something more meaningful. No one magazine or reviewer is better than another in my opinion. I don’t think they are dishonest or devious, just irrelevant.
I agree with bdp24; Olsher is the guy who reviewed the Watkins Gen4 speaker which I was involved with. The Absolute Sound and Stereophile are the two most respected reviewers; otherwise just google what you intend on buying and see what others of lesser fame have to say.
Reviews are there to eliminate some choices, not to buy one...Only treatment of room, cleaning the electrical house line, and the vibrations resonance controls methods + some very important tweaks can give to you Musical sound...Knowledge is more valuable than money in audio...
I’ve gotten to really enjoy the reviews of Christian Punter at HifiAdvice.com I just like his writing style and the thoroughness of his reviews. However I read reviews strictly for entertainment these days.
Personal preferences rule, always, but that doesn't render professional reviewers irrelevant. Trained ears and broad experience is a boon in the sorting process in complex field of play. My ears can't audition every component choice out there, even though they may be the ultimate decider.
“The problem is that everything is always positive. You can find how they classify them (A,B,C,D) in Recommended Components issue but in reviews you have to read between lines. For example "It is not perfect, but what is" statement means "It is pretty bad". They do this to keep money from advertising coming and for the same reason they don’t review some brands.”
Just about sums up every review and every reviewer that I’ve ever read.
You definitely should read between the lines. The better ones will always give you more clues regarding performance limitations if you are prepared to read carefully.