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Do you trust magazine reviews

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And on occasion you have manufacturers supplying 'souped up' review samples....wasn't Musical Fidelity caught out big time once IIRC?

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2 hours ago, SergeAuckland said:

Amstrad did have one decent amplifier, the IC2000, which used Toshiba thick-film module power amps, similar to what Technics and Sony were using. The  preamp section of the IC2000 was no better or worse than other budget amps. Similar in price to the Rogers Ravensbourne with rather more modern circuitry. 

However, their 4000 and 8000 amps were very poor, but no worse than several other very cheap amps that claimed things like 20 watts output when they actually measured around 3. 

Amstrad were just more heavily promoted.

S

I had an Amstrad IC2000 Mk II and it was absolute shite!

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I once wrote an article for the diy supplement of a HiFi mag years ago on a rebuild of a Hadcock pickup arm I carried out. The editor got one of the reviewers to sub-edit the article and he cut half of it out. He was worried about getting mail from people about it. Ok, the arm was unusual in design (it was hung by a thread and used distributed mass at the headshell tuned with the compliance of the cartridge to achieve stability) but what's wrong with that? There is more than one way of skinning a cat. I was gutted but the article was published.

A couple of months later, said reviewer published an article on pickup arm geometry. On first sight it looked impressive. The guy clearly new his maths and angles. The result was though that he recommended the zero tracking error points different from cartridge manufacturers. I did some research and discovered that it's not about getting lowest tracking error that's important but lowest distortion due to tracking error and that is proportional to groove velocity. I contacted the editor and told him the magazine loses credibility publishing stuff that is fundamentally wrong. The guy stopped reviewing after that.

It's ok not being an expert on everything, we can't know it all. But it takes a real idiot to make themselves look like an expert when they're not, and unfortunately, there are too many of them about.

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Definition of an ExSpert 

Ex - a has been

Spert - a drip under pressure

Edited by MF 1000

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I trust the measurements in most reviews to be reasonably honest. This helps a bit in forming a short list but there aren't many measurements around and those that are tend to provide much less than a full picture of the parts technical performance.

Apart from the first few in the 70s I seem quite unable to read subjective reviews which is all that seems to exist these days. The gross misuse of the meaning of words makes them incomprehensible, irritating and extremely difficult to read. I suspect many although probably not all are dishonest in the sense that whatever loose and wonky meaning the particular reviewer currently attaches to a word it is not aligned with what they think they are hearing. It is simply what works best for the review they are churning out. The majority also not only lack any expertise in the subject but consider expertise to be unimportant. In order to not trust a review one would first have to extract valid information from it to distrust. I cannot do this with most reviews and I am a bit suspicious of people that think they can. Most reviews simply lack any meaningful information to distrust.

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2 hours ago, SergeAuckland said:

Yes, but Quad published power and distortion curves which made it clear what the limitations were, one just needed to understand what the specs meant.

In any event, whether Quad or Amstrad, this thread is about trusting reviews, not manufacturer's specs, and a decent review will measure what the amplifier does and report accordingly. Only airy-fairy subjective reviews, which became fashionable in the 1970s was there a lot of arm-waving about musicality and the like. Those really were meaningless, but at least from the magazine's viewpoint they didn't have to maintain a test lab or pay for a proper engineering review. 

S.

Indeed. the Quad specifications tell you exactly what will happen into a whole range of impedances if you care to read them. The problem, if there was one with the Quad, and I'm perfectly happy with my 405-1, is that speaker manufacturers of the time were not equally honest about the impedances they presented!

Like measurements or loathe them, it's not as if a purely subjective review will tell you anything useful about how it'll drive your speakers (or anything else, for that matter).

If the Amstrad review had told me, for example, that it had 50mV of hiss on the output, I could have decided if that would be a problem given the sensitivity of my speakers. Maybe it was not a subjective issue for the reviewer because his were insensitive.

.. or perhaps a glowing review was purchased with advertising revenue. Either way, they aren't much use to me so I've given up reading them.

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There are very few reviewers that could write a component review without first knowing:

  1.  The brand and model series.
  2.  The price point.
  3.  The technology.
  4.  The visual image (this is especially true for turntables and loudspeakers.
  5.  and the most important one. The thoughts of other reviewers and golden ears on the manufacture or model or technology.
Edited by Speedskater
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4 hours ago, dudywoxer said:

I don't trust magazine reviews in general, (Hi Fi or anything else) with Hi Fi I have found a couple of reviewers who seem to hear things in a similar way to me, and that helps create a shortlist sometimes. Measurements seem to be somewhat selective, and  subjectivist reviews are in the main useless, you will not t have the room or the other kit used available to you, and there is far too much purple prose and waffle, not to mention if it's more expensive its doubtless better.

Yes find someone you trust (measurements or subjective views).

The problem with measurements is that they are now well and truly out of fashion. Both because they are not that useful in telling you how a products sounds and because people find them boring. They also come with a requirement that dictates you learn all about measurements and get a good understanding of them to interpret the results. Most measurements show that everything sounds the same, but they don't. Listening to the products allows you to hear first hand that they sound different and that the measurements are not that helpful (as they all meet the measurement criteria developed in the 50s). So listen, even if you are driven by measurements as that is what the audio system is designed to do: sound good.

However, it is getting more and more difficult to actually hear the various components. Surprise, surprise, I would recommend that you use reviews to help narrow down your choice to products that you want to follow up. If you can, get to a few bake-offs or organise one yourself. Then maybe contact a few dealers (nearby or on-line) and try the products out at home with your kit. Yes there are a few dealers who will let you try before you buy and that helps no end.

For me, I do all of these things where possible. Measurements will tell you if the amp generates enough power, works into bad loads etc. Reviews from people I either know or trust gives me broad pointers whether I am going to to like the sound and should follow them up. Listening at dealers or in bake-offs or a show confirms views and normally narrows things down to one or two items ready for trying out at home with my system. If you do this, try to listen for a day or two and do not do A/B tests that only shows up frequency response differences or major differences. It won't show whether you actually enjoy the music and are moved by it. There are systems where you can end up admiring what it does but not enjoying the music. Remember you are not getting something to boast to your pals, or admire their response on charts but to listen to music.  You would not buy a car without a test drive.....would you?? 

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Super Dealer
Just now, George 47 said:

........  You would not buy a car without a test drive.....would you?? 

I think that Serge claims to . . . . . . .

QED?

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my last speakers i had for a while , i read the reviews again and agreed with pretty much all that was said . 

i do read them a lot to give guidance but only ones ears can decide in the end 

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Just now, George 47 said:

The problem with measurements is that they are now well and truly out of fashion. .......

I can hear Serge sharpening a terminal driver now and moving in for the kill :$

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I believe that it is possible to have an unbiased review, which can be understood, if you regularly read articles by that reviewer. It allows you to read into the inferences of the phrases used as you become accustomed to that reviewers language. In other words you understand where they are coming from. It's like having a reference point to start with.

Lately I have read reviews by people that I have no idea where they are starting from and what kit they have used in the past to base their reviews upon, after all they may have used two way mains flex as speaker cable (sorry Serge).

A few years back there was a review of the Rogue Audio 88 power amp by a person I would trust which said to not bother with triode mode, use it in ultra-linear. So I changed mine and he was right. Later a Modwright pre amp was not quite up to expectations and his review said it inverted phase and until he had compensated for this it did not sound quite right. Changed mine and again he was right.

So it helps to understand where a reviewer is coming from.

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That is a bit weird I was thinking of putting that post my self, in fact, I drafted a heading and was going to put it up later, you beat me to it. I was just going to word it slightly different.

Anyone been at the mercy of magazine reviews? and do we trust hi-fi reviewers?

My answer, in short, is yes and no, as at least it gets some information on the product out there and lets be honest sometimes something is a lot better than nothing.

I'd be interested to know though if there is anyone who will only look at 5 star (or whatever 'up there') reviewed products and often disregard equipment that had bad reviews? Has anyone ever read a review in a well-published magazine and totally disagreed with it even? I've found sometimes the hype can be way better than the product itself.

Some have even hinted of magazines being paid or at least supported by hi-fi companies also, surely this cant be true? :)

I have to admit I still often use reviews for reference, prior to listening myself. Anyone else care to admit it also? :)

Edited by eddie-baby

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7 hours ago, George 47 said:

Amstrad amps's  lifetime was not its main selling point and getting them repaired was not easy....:/

My first amp, as a student, was an Amstrad IC2000 which had also had good reviews. Sadly, it emited a bang and smoke one day, fortunately it was the end of term so I wasn't without music for long. Also fortunately the engineer in charge of the local TV transmitter was a friend of my parents and he fixed it for me, it lasted another 18 months before it was stolen in a break in. I don't suppose I can blame the second calamity on A.M.S. though.

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