Why aren't these on the "recommended list?"

I see a lot of people singing the praises of Jeff Rowland and Avalon products but don't see them on "the list" Any speculations?
streetdaddy: if you're speaking of stereophile's list, it includes only "recently reviewed products." jrdg gear hasn't been reviewed in a while. don't know why. avalon hasn't been reviewed because they don't care to be. good for mr. patel, et al. the "recommended list" has virtually nothing to do with the universe of highend audio. only with what john atkinson and his little troupe have decided in a purely subjective way should be reviewed and then how that small number of samples they have chosen among all available in the marketplace ought to be graded. this is a lot like choosing the “best restaurant in san francisco” by sampling the food offered by every 8th eatery listed in the yellow pages.
Amen, Cornfed (if you'll allow the expression)!
Streetdaddy -

If you want to do something really fun in January, ask your local dealer to get you a pass to the CES in Las Vegas, January 8-11. Then go hear for yourself all this cool high-end stuff. Last year was my first year, and my first love is loudspeakers (for 20 years I built them as a hobby), so I made a point of listening to all the highly regarded systems. What I found was that, to my amazement, brands I'd hardly ever heard of, or in some cases never heard of, sounded better than the big names. The same thing with amplifiers. Sadly most people are stuck with "the list" as a starting point, because many of the very finest pieces of audio gear - many of the truly world-class values - will never show up on "the list".
Nicely said cornfed and so truuue.
When the issue of the magazine in question showed up in my mailbox recently I conducted the following numbers analysis:

1. I counted the number of all items that are "ranked". This should be such items as amps, processors, etc. All of the items that use the A+, A, B,......ranking. It does not include cables, stands,...... because they are not ranked.

2. The number that I came up with is 355 items.

3. That particular issue has six equipment reviews in it. This does not include follow-ups or items included in in columns written by "The Audio Cheapskate" or "Analog Corner".

4. If 355 is divided by 6 we find the total number of issues the recommended components list covers. That number is 59 issues. With 12 issues per year; 59/12=4.9 years.

What does this mean?

It means that every piece of equipment that has been reviewed for the past 5 years appears as a recommended component.

In item 4, I indicate that 6 pieces of equipment are reviewed in this issue. That number is probably a little low for the 12 issue average. The bulk of this issue is taken up by "Recommended Components". So let's say 8 is the average number of equipment reviews per issue. The math: 355/8/12=3.7 years. Every piece of equipment reviewed for the last 3.7 years is a "Recommended Component".

I admit that this is a rather crude analysis and someone else can take it to much greater detail to either prove or disprove my thoughts. Consider this though, it seems to me that this is less a list of "Recommended Components" and more an attempt to rank all of the components that have been reviewed. Perhaps the name should be changed to "Ranked Components".

WOW ( to say the least ). While that was a pretty ambitious effort on your part Doug, there are more than a few pieces that come to mind right off the top of my head that were reviewed favorably and did not make "the list". As such, there are a few holes in your theory. None the less, with people out there like you that are willing to "do the math", Stereophile better keep on its' toes. Sean
Whose list and why do they HEAR better than you?, esp in your house?
Unlike Doug28450 I've never taken the time for such an in depth analysis, but, as a long time Stereophile subscriber, began to develop a sense several years ago (prior to the sale) that the magazine was full of inconsistencies and outright hypocrisy and dropped my subscrption. Occasionally I look at it on the newstand and have never had a reason to regret my decision, because the problems have if anything intensified. There is an inherent problem in the "Recommended Components" list: Regardless of Atkinson's suggestions to the contrary, he knows full well that too many audiophiles simply don't trust their own ears, especially for purchases of this magnitude, and will pay far too much attention to these recommendations from "critics" who all too often are in it only because they get to play with the expensive toys-and get "comped" with far better prices than any of us would ever find when they make a purchase. (So much for "objectivity"!) Furthermore I've found many of the recommended items I've actually auditioned to be balanced so far to the side of "detailed" that I can't live with the piece for any period of time before my ears bleed. In other words it's the kind of stuff that tends to make a great initial impression, but that you wouldn't want to live with, not unlike a lot of the things you find in the big chain stores. I really don't know why Jeff Rowland and/or Avalon (or for that matter others like Spectral and Joule Electra) don't appear in the magazine anymore, but I suspect that there may be certain manufacturers which have decided that the fickleness of too many reviewers is more than they want to deal with.
I must admit that the few reviews in Stereophile have bothered me for a while. However, I want to play devil's advocate.

A Defense of Stereophile

A line must be drawn by anyone doing the reviewing of almost anything. Magazines (that review products) make these decisions all of the time. No audio magazine reviews ALL audio products made. Some review more than Stereophile, some review less than Stereophile. Where should Stereophile draw the line on products it should review? It seems that there are people that post here that think Steereophile is baised about the products they choose to review. This may be true; however, all magazines show some bias. Always remember that audio magazines are there to sell audio. They are paid by advertisements put by audio manufacturers and retailers. Stereophile may only write mainly positive reviews now but of fewer total products (than they used to). This I beleive is to avoid giving out too much negative press. Stereophile has a lot of power in the hi end audio world. Their reviews can make or break a product and even some companies. It is not good for them or their industry for them to write too many negative reviews. thus, they only review stuff that they are initially very impressed with. Stereophile may not admit this, but it has to be true to a point.

Now Stereophile's Recommended Components is a list of products that they RECOMMEND. They only rank them LOOSELY into Class A+, A, B, C, D, & E. These rankings can be considered merely GUIDELINES. All Class A componennts are not equal in a system as are any of their recommended components. Frankly, it boggles me at how they come up with the classes. For example, they raved about the Polk bookshelf speaker 2 months ago. They said it was close to the Alon Petite (Class B). Where did they rate the Polk? Class D or E (I forget off the top of my head). Also, how did the Maggie 1.6 get in Class B full range? I would never consider the Maggie 1.6 a full range speaker. I could go on... but this is a defence and not an assault.

Because this is only a RECOMMENDED list, it is to be taken with a grain of salt. READ: Audition the component you want in your own system before making a decision. This is an important concept that Stereophile STRESSES. I have heard a system that was composed of ALL STEREOPHILE CLASS A COMPONENTS and it sounded BAD. Unfortunately, this was my own system at one time. Swapping out a single component (amplification) in my system made my system sound AMAZING again.

Stereophile is a decent magazine that recommends products the reviewers think are good. They might not review that many products, but at least they do a decent job of reviewing what they consider good. They also stress that careful component selection is critical in most high end audio systems.

Do not read any audio mag as gosphel. Take each review with a grain of salt. And do not be mad if a magazine does not review your gear. You should not need other's approval to know that you have good sound.

Trust your own ears.

See more live (unamplified if poeeible) music and educate your own ears.


The reality is..despite its many faults and shortcomings, the Stereophile list is helpful to audiophiles like me who have nil access to a decent high end shop where we may listen for ourselves, and get to hear good stuff that doesn make the list. I will admit that I use Stereophile and the Absolute Sound as starting points when I consider a new componet purchase. I must also admitt that, in general, I have not been disappointed (although my amps ain't on either list..but still sound gret in my system, and replaced a pair of Bryston 7BST's which ARE on the list!). For folks like me who cannot listen in a properly controlled environment (let a alone at home!), the infamous lists (and sites like Audiogon and Audioasylum) are a good starting point to guide our purchases. This does not mean I'm not pissed off when my ex Class A, pricey monitors drop off the list 'cause none of the reviewers bought them and therefore they "haven't been auditioned in a long time"..but what are you gonna do???!
Great job Kelly!!! Many REAL companies aren't "political" enough for a mention in a magazine, yet are worlds better than most Class A components. For example; Jadis, Avalon, Tube Research, Majico, FIM Cables, etc.

Most audiophiles that are really into the hobby don't use the Stereophile recommended list, do they? Everyone that I have known throughout the years has heard about exceptional products through valued audio grapevines; guys like you, Kelly and Albert Porter.

I believe that audiophiles severely limit themselves if they live by any recommended component list, regardless of the name on the magazine.
Stereophile is the "big dog" and as such it's a magnet for criticsm. Some of the negative comments are well deserved, but frankly I'm somewhat taken back by the emotionalism of some of the above posts. I come to praise the RC list for both its usefulness and entertainment value. I know of no better resource for a list of good sounding components. Stereophile is intended to be informative and entertaining and most issues easily accomplish both. The RC list is a clever marketing tool, just don't take it too seriously.