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

bonzo75

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Hi Al,

To be fair to Peter, I think quite a few of us believe that our subjective opinion has some objective truth to it. The difference is that we mainly keep it to ourselves. :)

which is why people should just post videos of their truths, and let people hear the lies if any.
 

Al M.

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bonzo75

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We are looking forward to your system video one day. Seriously and sincerely. Not being sarcastic.
Why do you want mine, I have posted tons which I consider the truth, and some of which I don’t consider the truth. I am putting my opinion out there.

I have zero interest in being that guy who comes online everyday to simply say what I own is the truth.
 

Lagonda

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is this true in a broad sense or only one or two schools? This is shocking. People from India would have an existential crisis if there were no rankings and spots to compete for.
Yes, and why are you not a doctor Ked ? ;)
 

bonzo75

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PeterA

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I don't think it's helpful to map to WBF your frustrations in the larger world which you think have some analogous relevance here. You did this also with your misplaced accusations of "censorship" on WBF.

I am describing my imaginary world for Al and others. Context was cover photos of six or seven super speakers on TAS. They are all great.

Are you telling me that I can not post my opinions Ron? Am I violating some rule?
 

tima

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As Ron astutely pointed out, you always want to establish your subjective preferences as "objective fact". You have done so, to the anger of many on WBF, by usurping the term "Natural Sound" for systems of your personal preference, clearly implying, for everyone easy to read between the lines, that any other system configuration cannot yield as much "natural sound" as your preferred ones.

I and others are not offended by your opinions, but by your superior minded attitude regarding your "Natural Sound".

... anger ...

... attitude ...

So much pearl clutching. Do you feel better now? :p
 

caesar

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

If I read something like that on a board like this one, I am okay. The naive realism psychological fallacy is part and parcel of the hobby - guys believe what they perceive is real, is the absolute truth and applies to everyone, and everyone must have the same emotional reaction to the music played through their favorite concoction. "If you don't share my taste of stereo reproduction of Wilson/ Magico/ dcs Brand XYX, you are an idiot!"

But this "worthless to the audio fans" Harley is supposed to be an expert. So he is either an idiot for not being aware of the naive realism fallacy or he is purposely misleading people. No wonder his reputation and reputation of his brand is in the gutter. And will never recover.
 
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Mike Lavigne

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If I read something like that on a board like this one, I am okay. The naive realism psychological fallacy is part and parcel of the hobby - guys believe what they perceive is real, is the absolute truth and applies to everyone, and everyone must have the same emotional reaction to the music played through their favorite concoction. "If you don't share my taste of stereo reproduction of Wilson/ Magico/ dcs Brand XYX, you are an idiot!"

But this "worthless to the audio fans" Harley is supposed to be an expert. So he is either an idiot for not being aware of the naive realism fallacy or he is purposely misleading people. No wonder his reputation and reputation of his brand is in the gutter. And will never recover.
completely disagree.

cover quotes and audio press declarative statements are filed under 'data points' by the most even reasonably experienced audiophiles, as much as manufacturers might have us believe differently. they do however give you fodder for your cynical perspectives. you give the audio press way too much credit.

most of us don't even connect the quotes to the actual persons even. more to their positions. there are a few exceptions certainly.

so many shades/degrees of what we actually perceive as real.

the truth is mostly buried deep. and that requires some work to find. you don't need to protect us.
 
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divertiti

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Long term loans are de facto marketing agreements between the brand and the reviewer. The brand is foregoing real economic value in exchange for promotional utility the reviewer provides to the brand. The prolonged usage of expensive equipment is given in exchange to be top of mind for the reviewer and garner future mentions in future reviews and discourse by that reviewer. The "loan" is essentially a gifted lease.
 

Another Johnson

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I’ve been told that the printed spec, which is absurdly low, is a misprint. I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this on forums. Even some discussion pointing out the misprint. I have not personally measured it.

In any event … The gain is all there. The bass is all there. The distortion isn’t there. My ears tell me it is a good match. If the misprinted spec were correct, it would be clearly a bad match.

The dealer is Paragon Sight and Sound and they have several customers that they’ve set up with ARC preamps and Burmester amps. They’re one of the most knowledgeable dealers in the US and their service department is an authorized service center for ARC and for McIntosh. I discussed the match with a staff technician.

For me, the proof is in the listening.
I was at an event with Norman Steinke this evening. Norman is the Burmester sales manager for the US.

I asked him about the apparent impedance mismatch between ARC Ref 6 SE and 911 mk3. He agreed that this match is known to sound very good but he said that the spec is probably not a misprint. He said that the very high damping factor of the 911 mk3 is probably why this combination works so well.

I also auditioned the new 216, a pair of 218s, and a pair of 159s. All in all, it was an enjoyable meeting.
 
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caesar

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completely disagree.

cover quotes and audio press declarative statements are filed under 'data points' by the most even reasonably experienced audiophiles, as much as manufacturers might have us believe differently. they do however give you fodder for your cynical perspectives. you give the audio press way too much credit.

most of us don't even connect the quotes to the actual persons even. more to their positions. there are a few exceptions certainly.

so many shades/degrees of what we actually perceive as real.

the truth is mostly buried deep. and that requires some work to find. you don't need to protect us.

Hey Mike,

Didn't see this earlier. But please re-read my post where I define the Naïve Realism psychological fallacy: "The naïve realism psychological fallacy is part and parcel of the hobby - guys believe what they perceive is real, is the absolute truth and applies to everyone..."

So why do you assume my statement applies to you or to "reasonably experienced audiophiles"?

The reality is that people getting into this hobby, who don't know the nature of disgusting guys like "Worthless to the Audio Fans" Robert Harley "default to truth" and place more weight on their statements than they should. Personally, I wasted a lot of time and money on travel when I was starting out. It takes some time to make sense of things and determine whom they can trust in this hobby. Many people get there eventually , but many others are more impenetrable.

And why is this cynical, as disgusting guys like "Worthless to the Audio Fans" are willing to mislead people about a $40 record? If this guy had any ethics, why not .instead, write an editorial how it is wrong for audio companies to mislead people?

When I started talking about this misalignment of incentives between reviewers and fans many years ago regarding the over-promotion of magico, it was considered "impolite" to question reviewers. Now more and more people are aware of the perverse incentives from many disgusting industry insiders and reviewers.

And why do you also assume all experienced guys are immune to disinformation that guys like Worthless to the Audio Fans Robert Harley promote? When I was at Axpona, I attended a seminar on mastering. Audiophile darling Michael Fremer was a participant, and the whole time Fremer was whining about how he was misled by Mobile Fidelity and how the lies from Mobile Fidelity and supported by disgusting misinformation artist Harley from the Analytical Sound, in effect, smeared sh!t on his personal brand. Huge reputational stain on Fremer ....

Nothing personal, Mike. And no need to respond if you don't want to. Yet this hobby would definitely be a lot better if guys didn't assume everyone was just like them.
 
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Another Johnson

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Yet this hobby would definitely be a lot better if guys didn't assume everyone was just like them.
I feel like I’m opening Fibber McGee’s closet by responding … but this line struck me as ironic. My sense from most of your posts has been that you subscribe to the view that everyone should be just like you and that it is an irritant to you that they don’t “get this.”
 

Richard Austen

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As a reviewer, I would like to bring up a few points. One problem that TAS and other magazines have is that they may have found audiophiles who like to write reviews but that doesn't mean any of them are "wealthy" people.

So if TAS is targeting the wealthy class of readership then their reviewers can't all own NAD, Arcam and Cambridge Audio. It was explained to me by a wealthier reviewer who owns a $million plus system that if I wanted to review a $10k or $20k amplifier I needed to own a system with similarly priced components. Manufacturers want their stuff to be compared to "like" priced equipment.

If I say the $20k preamp sounds much better than my $1,500 preamp what value is there for the manufacturer? It SHOULD be better and worse if it's not or if the reviewer writes a wishy-washy read between the lines kind of review then it can do damage.

So what can outfits like TAS do? The writers aren't making enough money to live on their income as a reviewer (if any) and so they have to have a day job which may not be able to allow them to buy $50,000 amplifiers to be a "reference." So enter the long-term loans.

But as you note - if you are solely relying on these loans then they are free - and so if the free turntable is $5k and another brand offers a reviewer discount of 40% it is still $3k. $0 is better than $3k. So which table will wind up winning the shootout? If the loaner loses maybe they want their table back and the second manufacturer isn't giving out loaners - so in such a system of who is beholden to what is pretty clear.

Another problem is that some manufacturers outright offer free gear, seriously higher discounts than others and or loaners - a smaller company can't. I wanted to review a speaker but I had not auditioned it first and I told the owner of the company that I am not a guaranteed good review machine - I review so little because I like so little. And when he factored in the huge expense of shipping large speakers to Canada without a guarantee of a positive review it was just too costly for him to do it. Big companies tend to only send stuff reviewers in their good books - back in the day UHF Magazine in Canada gave scathing reviews to Cambridge Audio, Arcam, B&W and Paradigm and never got another product. So this sort of shoots you in the foot because without product your magazine doesn't do as well or even survive.

I have had discussions with some reviewers and makers and there are some reviewers who love certain products but then when they don't get the discount they want they ignore the product and instead tout the products of a competing maker who does "playball." And there are some heavyweights doing this. Also, Manufacturers who when they are sending a product for review are providing a "special" version of it with better parts - dialed in etc. Then people say - gee that reviewer said it sounded like X but my unit sounds poor - well yes because you got the off-the-shelf mediocre version while the Reviewer got the ones with the best caps and cables and you got the junk from China.

I would not put any more stock in the review industry than I would a movie critic - you find a reviewer or three who hear(s) it like you and if they hear something they love then chances are you will too. I would not read "the magazines" I would read a hand-picked set of reviewers wherever they may be from forums/magazines (print/online) even some of those YouTubers.
My ear/ taste profile tended to be similar to Wes Philips/Art Dudley/Herb Reichert/Peter Van Wellinswaard/Ken Micallef at Stereophile over JVS/Kal Rubinson/Michael Fremer/John Atkins/John Marks. If the latter group liked it I probably wouldn't.

I don't think reviewers or magazines lie - I think they just cover their bases by hiring enough reviewers with enough broad taste that everything will be liked - give the 1000-watt amp to Michael Fremer and the 8-watt SET to Art/Herb. Then both will get a rave while Art/Herb wouldn't likely touch the 1kw amp with a bargepole and MF would probably roll his eyes at an amp under 100 watts let alone under 10.
 

andromedaaudio

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So if TAS is targeting the wealthy class of readership then their reviewers can't all own NAD, Arcam and Cambridge Audio

Why not , it only becomes a problem for you if you say the 1500 one sounds at least as good as the 20 K one .
Because then they wil never give you a long term high $$$ loan (again)
I don't think reviewers or magazines lie

Why not all sales people do it .
Dusting over the truth / being diplomatic aint the same as lying :)

I would not put any more stock in the review industry than I would a movie critic - you find a reviewer or three who hear(s) it like you and if they hear something they love then chances are you will too

Thats it :cool:
 

Elliot G.

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As a reviewer, I would like to bring up a few points. One problem that TAS and other magazines have is that they may have found audiophiles who like to write reviews but that doesn't mean any of them are "wealthy" people.

So if TAS is targeting the wealthy class of readership then their reviewers can't all own NAD, Arcam and Cambridge Audio. It was explained to me by a wealthier reviewer who owns a $million plus system that if I wanted to review a $10k or $20k amplifier I needed to own a system with similarly priced components. Manufacturers want their stuff to be compared to "like" priced equipment.

If I say the $20k preamp sounds much better than my $1,500 preamp what value is there for the manufacturer? It SHOULD be better and worse if it's not or if the reviewer writes a wishy-washy read between the lines kind of review then it can do damage.

So what can outfits like TAS do? The writers aren't making enough money to live on their income as a reviewer (if any) and so they have to have a day job which may not be able to allow them to buy $50,000 amplifiers to be a "reference." So enter the long-term loans.

But as you note - if you are solely relying on these loans then they are free - and so if the free turntable is $5k and another brand offers a reviewer discount of 40% it is still $3k. $0 is better than $3k. So which table will wind up winning the shootout? If the loaner loses maybe they want their table back and the second manufacturer isn't giving out loaners - so in such a system of who is beholden to what is pretty clear.

Another problem is that some manufacturers outright offer free gear, seriously higher discounts than others and or loaners - a smaller company can't. I wanted to review a speaker but I had not auditioned it first and I told the owner of the company that I am not a guaranteed good review machine - I review so little because I like so little. And when he factored in the huge expense of shipping large speakers to Canada without a guarantee of a positive review it was just too costly for him to do it. Big companies tend to only send stuff reviewers in their good books - back in the day UHF Magazine in Canada gave scathing reviews to Cambridge Audio, Arcam, B&W and Paradigm and never got another product. So this sort of shoots you in the foot because without product your magazine doesn't do as well or even survive.

I have had discussions with some reviewers and makers and there are some reviewers who love certain products but then when they don't get the discount they want they ignore the product and instead tout the products of a competing maker who does "playball." And there are some heavyweights doing this. Also, Manufacturers who when they are sending a product for review are providing a "special" version of it with better parts - dialed in etc. Then people say - gee that reviewer said it sounded like X but my unit sounds poor - well yes because you got the off-the-shelf mediocre version while the Reviewer got the ones with the best caps and cables and you got the junk from China.

I would not put any more stock in the review industry than I would a movie critic - you find a reviewer or three who hear(s) it like you and if they hear something they love then chances are you will too. I would not read "the magazines" I would read a hand-picked set of reviewers wherever they may be from forums/magazines (print/online) even some of those YouTubers.
My ear/ taste profile tended to be similar to Wes Philips/Art Dudley/Herb Reichert/Peter Van Wellinswaard/Ken Micallef at Stereophile over JVS/Kal Rubinson/Michael Fremer/John Atkins/John Marks. If the latter group liked it I probably wouldn't.

I don't think reviewers or magazines lie - I think they just cover their bases by hiring enough reviewers with enough broad taste that everything will be liked - give the 1000-watt amp to Michael Fremer and the 8-watt SET to Art/Herb. Then both will get a rave while Art/Herb wouldn't likely touch the 1kw amp with a bargepole and MF would probably roll his eyes at an amp under 100 watts let alone under 10.
If this is correct than the entire review process has as they say "jumped the shark". If there are reviewers for everything then there are reviewers for nothing. If everything gets a good review or the reviewer is being influenced or controlled than please explain to me the purpose and the benefits to real consumers. What happened to the survival of the fitest, what about meritocracy?
I said this before but a reviewer having 7 figures of free gear in his home for years is being influenced PERIOD.
 

TrackingAngle

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If this is correct than the entire review process has as they say "jumped the shark". If there are reviewers for everything then there are reviewers for nothing. If everything gets a good review or the reviewer is being influenced or controlled than please explain to me the purpose and the benefits to real consumers. What happened to the survival of the fitest, what about meritocracy?
I said this before but a reviewer having 7 figures of free gear in his home for years is being influenced PERIOD.
I would say this is not really a correct assessment, at least in my case and I can only speak for me. I don't give only good reviews. I've given many negative reviews and many mixed ones where there are good and bad things to report. I've reviewed $399 phono preamps like the Schiit Skoll and $75,000 ones like the CH precision P10, which I bought and own, and everything in between.

My preferences are not based on wattage, that's kind of a ridiculous assertion. I own both darTZeel solid state and Music Reference RM200 tube amps. I do not own any 2 watt SET amps where the loudspeaker's impedance determines the amps frequency response. I think reviewers who use SET amps as references are hobbyists and not professional reviewers, whatever they call themselves. They can be magazine writers, talking to other hobbyists and provide great entertainment value, but I'd rather review products that measure and sound good and provide a service for readers looking to purchase something that's modern and reliable and that moves the hobby forward not backwards.

But that's just me. If they like SETs have them for their hobby but have something that measures reliably well when writing reviews.

I'm more comfortable owning what's in my system rather than having long term loans, but I understand both sides of this. For those of you who do not, when I say I own my gear there are three responses, one is "good, then you are not 'bought' by manufacturers who make long term loans to you", but there's also: "well that's not good because it means you are invested in your gear and will never write that anything is better" (another ridiculous assertion), or "well you get a manufacturer's discount so you really don't own your gear" (another ridiculous assertion).

So yes I bought the Wilson XVX and got it for dealer cost, which I think I'm entitled to as a reviewer. Then the response from the hater/cynics is "where's the money from, your wife's trust fund?" or other such dung.

There are many wonderful people in this hobby on all sides of it: readers/consumers and manufacturers, and there are many jerks on both sides as well. There are honest people and questionable people.

Whether a reviewer gets long term loans or owns his or her own gear, there will be honest reviewers and some not so. The way of the world. Reviewing hasn't jumped the shark though some reviewers have, especially the ones afraid of delivering honest assessments of a product's sonic performance, build quality, tech etc.

My favorite emails are from readers who say "we have very different tastes so I usually don't like what you like but when I read one of your reviews I know what the product will sound like when I go listen to it. That's the job. Who cares what I or any other reviewer "likes"?

YouTube is filled with click baiters and self-proclaimed experts who five years ago were plucking chickens or whatever and it's up to readers and viewers to figure out who's who. When a YouTuber reviews five pieces a week, or you see a review go up the day after you know he's gotten the piece in for review, well that tells you something. Some boxes never get opened.

When you read or see "THIS IS A GAME CHANGER" and blah blah blah, I ask "what game? Soccer? Baseball". There's a guy on YouTube who headlined a video 'I've tested 1000 turntables, here's what I found". I commented, "why only 1000? I've reviewed a MILLION!"...

In collusion, I did more than a few times review low power tube amps and described the sound accurately. It doesn't matter if I like or hate the sound. What matters is that I described how they sounded. Of course I knew when John Atkinson measured them (back when I was at S-phile), the measurements would be miserable, like the giant WAVACs I reviewed. Fun though and of course they did somethings amazingly well amidst the gross colorations. Were they fun to listen to? Yes! But you always "heard" them...and it was impossible to reliably tell readers how they might sound in their systems since their speakers would determine the amp's frequency response.

Now back to work.
 

Elliot G.

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I would say this is not really a correct assessment, at least in my case and I can only speak for me
Well my comments Michael weren't just addressed to you, they were in response to the previous author and the world of audio at large. What may be applicable to you is not in fact applicable to the rest of the others that call themselves reviewers. If you had 7 figures of long term loaned gear in your home, with no return in site then I would question that you might be influenced by it. I think most people would be ! I don't think many bite the hand that feeds them. IMO I don't think this is how it should work. If one borrows something to listen to and review it should be returned in a specific time frame. If one keeps something they should pay for it at a predetermined price, not negotiated after the review and not at at a price that is influencing the outcome ( lol) . Magazines etc. are money making organizations. People that work there get paid. They should not be in position of being easily corrupted or compromised whether real or with the air of compromise.
Mike I believe you want to be taken seriously and respected so why would others put themselves in a position to have that questioned?

If people don't understand the process and the motives then they will always question the result. one man's opinion.
I also agree there are a lotof wonderful dedicated intelligent hard working people in audio and that is why I love it. I don't however love the characters that take advantage of the good guys.
 
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bonzo75

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My favorite emails are from readers who say "we have very different tastes so I usually don't like what you like but when I read one of your reviews I know what the product will sound like when I go listen to it. That's the job. Who cares what I or any other reviewer "likes"?
This is perfect in your case, irrespective of tastes, you are able to describe the sonic attributes really well. And please keep those video compares coming.
 
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