"Long-Term Equipment Loans: A Win-Win for Everyone" by Robert Harley, The Absolute Sound

caesar

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It would be arrogant and intellectually dishonest for any reviewer to declare as a matter of fact that one top-of-the-line speaker is "better" than another top-of-the-line speaker.

Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers. This he does not do, probably out of respect for his advertisers.

That guy called the Berkeley reference dac the "best dac extant". Disgusting indeed
 
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PeterA

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It would be arrogant and intellectually dishonest for any reviewer to declare as a matter of fact that one top-of-the-line speaker is "better" than another top-of-the-line speaker.

Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers. This he does not do, probably out of respect for his advertisers.

The point is not arrogance or intellectual dishonesty or whether something is “as a matter of fact”. I was suggesting a scenario in which a dealer might not be happy with his product in a review that concludes “Add it on the list to audition with all these others.” Declaring something a little more positive is not an act of arrogance or intellectual dishonesty.

We live in a world now where no one is to be offended and everyone gets a trophy. Everything is just great. Lots of shiny expensive things are “top-of-the-line“, as you put it. The problem is no one believes it and it is not the way things really are. If we are to be intellectually honest, we admit that some things are better than other things.

I agree with Elliot, such reviews don’t tell us much. And it does not seem like many people are reading them.
 
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Lee

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Are you saying these are speakers that reviewers own? For the type of speaker they are, they are supposed to be good. I have heard Wilsons, Magico, Rockport, Stenheim and Estelon in a home environment. I thought they all performed very well. They have a sound. Very full, complete and aplomb with bass. You don't need subs.

I personally gravitate to a different sound, but I fully get how these speakers sell. I like a horn, open baffle, Magnepan type speaker. I have never heard any of the ones I like charge a room with bass energy like the others above. I have heard the ones I like present mid bass, mids and high with amazing resolution. In ways I have not heard the others do. But I have never heard any that I gravitate too present bass with the same type of force and authority. Yes Bonzo, I have not heard them all.

I don't know if its marketing or personal taste, but I rarely run across speakers I gravitate to at customers homes. That sort of says to me, the magazines are focusing on speakers the broader market seems to like and purchase. Maybe your saying they own them because they don't know better. Maybe some truth to it.

I would love to see more coverage of horns and low power amps. Maybe even an offshoot evey other month supplemental subscription. I would like to see more on tuning a system, not just gear. Support information for the hobby. But money talks. If 2 out of 10 audiophile see it as I do, the revenue outlay does not support the generated revenue. My hunch is these tabloids operate on a very thin margin. I have heard what reviewers earn per submission. Non could ever write for audio as a priary occupation. Ergo, we get the meat and potato equipment reviews.

Let me throw this out to digest. Robert does a video on his room and some of the gallery had a melt down. Its almost as if any out of the ordinary journalism is met with spit and fire. This whole industry and the consumers that surround audio are a hostile bunch. Everyone is an expert and everyone else is an idiot. In an environment like ours, if I had a business to run, I would stick to a tested formula that works.
The point is not arrogance or intellectual dishonesty or whether something is “as a matter of fact”. I was suggesting a scenario in which a dealer might not be happy with his product in a review that concludes “Add it on the list to audition with all these others.” Declaring something a little more positive is not an act of arrogance or intellectual dishonesty.

We live in a world now where no one is to be offended and everyone gets a trophy. Everything is just great. Lots of shiny expensive things are “top-of-the-line“, as you put it. The problem is no one believes it and it is not the way things really are. If we are to be intellectually honest, we admit that some things are better than other things.

I agree with Elliot, such reviews don’t tell us much. And it does not seem like many people are reading them.

Rex: Well said.
Peter: Print and digital subscribers increased 3X the past three years.
 
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Ron Resnick

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That guy called the Berkeley reference dac the "best dac extant".

In that case, I give Robert credit for taking a declarative stand!
 
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Ron Resnick

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Perhaps now that Fremer is working at TAS, we may get more comparative reviews. He certainly did this for Stereophile.

+1
 

tima

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It would be arrogant and intellectually dishonest for any reviewer to declare as a matter of fact that one top-of-the-line speaker is "better" than another top-of-the-line speaker.

Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers. This he does not do, probably out of respect for his advertisers.

You would hate for me to be your editor.
Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers.

Keep in mind the discussion is about the dealer/distributor complaining about reviews. People speculate about why.

Do you endorse the death of the mult-product shootout? I remember reading an Anthony Cordesman review of 8(?) different interconnects. Those articles were a popular feature of early HP TAS. The shootout is done in by ranking characteristics and features, not in terms of 'personal subjective preference.'

Remanants remain with 'Class A+', 'Class A', 'Class B' etc. annual ratings -- I think Stereophie still does that. TAS has 'Editor's Choice.'. I got an e-mail from TAS inviting me to read about "Editor's Choice: Best Equipment Racks. "The 2023 edition of TAS’ Editors’ Choice Awards is here. Our top equipment recommendations from loudspeakers, DAC's, amplifiers, and more. These are components that we ourselves would buy—or recommend to friends and family." The downside is we find little explicit information about why specific products are in the categories they get assigned. Or put differently, why specific products are not in higher categories.

Aside from the contemporary pablum-like results coming out of some comparisons from certain (mostly on-line) publications, the absence of genuine comparison is relevant to the thread topic. People want to find comparison in the review of the Esoteric T1 turntable. For example compare the T1 to the AF 1 and to the CF1 Port. On the other hand those same people rail against long-term equipment loans. Ideally, comparable products are used in comparisons -- where do those products come from?

I asked Eliot, as a distributor:
would you loan a reviewer a component for use as the compared-to product in a review?
 

facten

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Print and digital subscribers increased 3X the past three years

Dropped my TAS & Stereophile subscriptions after the Mofi interviews
 

dcathro

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You would hate for me to be your editor.
Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers.

Keep in mind the discussion is about the dealer/distributor complaining about reviews. People speculate about why.

Do you endorse the death of the mult-product shootout? I remember reading an Anthony Cordesman review of 8(?) different interconnects. Those articles were a popular feature of early HP TAS. The shootout is done in by ranking characteristics and features, not in terms of 'personal subjective preference.'

Remanants remain with 'Class A+', 'Class A', 'Class B' etc. annual ratings -- I think Stereophie still does that. TAS has 'Editor's Choice.'. I got an e-mail from TAS inviting me to read about "Editor's Choice: Best Equipment Racks. "The 2023 edition of TAS’ Editors’ Choice Awards is here. Our top equipment recommendations from loudspeakers, DAC's, amplifiers, and more. These are components that we ourselves would buy—or recommend to friends and family." The downside is we find little explicit information about why specific products are in the categories they get assigned. Or put differently, why specific products are not in higher categories.

Aside from the contemporary pablum-like results coming out of some comparisons from certain (mostly on-line) publications, the absence of genuine comparison is relevant to the thread topic. People want to find comparison in the review of the Esoteric T1 turntable. For example compare the T1 to the AF 1 and to the CF1 Port. On the other hand those same people rail against long-term equipment loans. Ideally, comparable products are used in comparisons -- where do those products come from?

I asked Eliot, as a distributor:

Hi Tim,

I believe that this trend of reviewers not comparing gear or possibly offending advertisers has become editorial policy in most of the magazines.

I remember that Martin Colloms left Hi-Fi News and formed the advertising free (now sadly defunct) HiFi Critic because he was being forced to sanitise his reviews. That was nearly 20 years ago.

As many people comment, the mags are now just a form of entertainment or gear porn.
 

Ron Resnick

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You would hate for me to be your editor.
Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers.

This is not editing. This is changing the meaning of what I wrote to gloss over -- as Peter did as well -- the critical distinction between declaring something objectively better (intellectually invalid) and stating a personal, subjective preference (valid and desirable in a review).
 

Ron Resnick

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Do you endorse the death of the mult-product shootout?

Not at all! I have written many times that I think it is very unfortunate that so few reviews these days are comparative. I suspect that advertisers implicitly, if not explicitly, pressure the magazines to implicitly, if not explicitly, lean on reviewers not to conduct and not to write comparative reviews. I think this is extremely unfortunate.

I have posted probably half a dozen times that I give Michael Fremer credit and Don Saltzman credit for being among the few reviewers who still write comparative reviews.
 

Ron Resnick

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People want to find comparison in the review of the Esoteric T1 turntable. For example compare the T1 to the AF 1 and to the CF1 Port. On the other hand those same people rail against long-term equipment loans. Ideally, comparable products are used in comparisons -- where do those products come from?

Yes, this would include me. Responding only to your comment here, and not seeking to re-litigate broadly the issues in the long-term loan thread, my answer is to establish an industry standard of a maximum loan duration -- say, 12 months or 18 months. This is plenty of time for products to overlap other products for comparative reviews at a reviewer's home.
 
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tima

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I believe that this trend of reviewers not comparing gear or possibly offending advertisers has become editorial policy in most of the magazines.

Hi. Maybe there are publications that have such policy. I have never been told not to include comparisons or not to offend advertisers. I have zero dealings with advertisers or the publication's advertising policies. I've not seen editorial policy dictating what to write. I can only speak for myself.

It takes a lot of work to do comparisons relative to the amount of review space spent on them. Swapping electronics is straightforward but turntables, arms, cartridges and speakers require extra time. Having comparable products, at least in price, for comparison is, for me, the most difficult part. Disparate products don't always make for great comparisons -- say a $10k phonostage and a $30k phonostage, but sometimes it happens.

I'll offer that it is important to recognize the structure of the audio media. While editors may write reviews, reviewers are not editorial staff. Reviewers sell reviews to publishers who then own the content. Columnists are different. In 20 years only once have I had a conclusion modified by an editor (made it slightly more effusive) and shortly after I left that publication. Of my reviews for Positive Feedback, I've never had anything - not a single word or punctuation - changed from what I've submitted.
 

PYP

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As many people comment, the mags are now just a form of entertainment or gear porn.
and observing any trends as they develop, which can be fun. I don't expect to learn about how a component might sound in my own setup. That isn't possible. My objection with the reviews is the inadequate writing skills and the unwillingness to edit. Art Dudley is missed.
 
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tima

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This is not editing. This is changing the meaning of what I wrote to gloss over -- as Peter did as well -- the critical distinction between declaring something objectively better (intellectually invalid) and stating a personal, subjective preference (valid and desirable in a review).

So you're saying the sentence:

"Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers."

is substantially different in meaning from:

"Robert could reveal which loudspeaker he prefers."
 

Ron Resnick

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So you're saying the sentence:

"Robert certainly could reveal which loudspeaker he personally, subjectively, prefers."

is substantially different in meaning from:

"Robert could reveal which loudspeaker he prefers."

It depends on your definition of "substantially different."

I think it is substantially different in meaning, because it tells the reader that Robert would be stating his personal, subjective preference -- as opposed to some objective fact.

I would concede that in this context "personal" and "subjective" may be redundant.
 

tima

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I suspect that advertisers implicitly, if not explicitly, pressure the magazines to implicitly, if not explicitly, lean on reviewers not to conduct and not to write comparative reviews. I think this is extremely unfortunate.

Never happened to me. Never been "leaned on" not to include a comparison. I choose the products I review and a condition of that is telling the manufacturer/distributor that the review will include a comparison whenever possible.

I think you need to offer evidence from personal experience.
 

Ron Resnick

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Never happened to me. Never been "leaned on" not to include a comparison. I choose the products I review and a condition of that is telling the manufacturer/distributor that the review will include a comparison whenever possible.

I think you need to offer evidence from personal experience.

I believe you. I was not thinking of Positive Feedback or other on-line review publishers.

By "magazines" I meant only the print magazines Stereophile and The Absolute Sound.
 

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