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Do you trust magazine reviews

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37 minutes ago, JTW said:

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.

At the time, several people asked me to assemble simple HiFi systems for them, and in a few cases, for budgetary reasons, I used the IC2000. It wasn't great, but it worked, it was perfectly adequate for the job it was being asked to do, and for the user's expectations. People with more budget bought the Leak Stereo 30+, Roger Ravensbourne, Armstrong, or Quad 33/303 depending on how far upscale they were. Ditto with turntables, MP60s or SP25s for budget buyers, moving up to GL75s, moving up to 401/SME3009. 

All a matter of finding something suitable for the budget and the user's expectations.

It shouldn't be any different now, except that now, everyone expects to listen and to hear (non-existant) differences, and choose that way.  It used to be a lot simpler.

S.

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2 hours ago, George 47 said:

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

I bought my first 5 series entirely on specs, wasn't disappointed, so bought the following 4 similarly.  

Getting back to magazine reviews, when I had the shop, A&R Cambridge brought out the very good indeed C200, SA200 combination. These were superb products, but they got an iffy entirely subjective review in one of the magazines, and it killed the product stone dead. I don't think we sold more than our demo set. On the other hand, the Musical Fidelity A1, which was technically rather suspect, (putting DC through a volume control pot is never a good idea) got superb reviews, and sold as many as we could get. 

My least welcome customer was the 20 something year old coming into the shop with a copy of What HiFi under their arm. You KNEW that whatever you showed them, however good it sounded subjectively, whatever technical explanation one offered, it would never compensate for the product not getting 5 stars that month. 

S

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14 minutes ago, SergeAuckland said:

At the time, several people asked me to assemble simple HiFi systems for them, and in a few cases, for budgetary reasons, I used the IC2000. It wasn't great, but it worked, it was perfectly adequate for the job it was being asked to do, and for the user's expectations. People with more budget bought the Leak Stereo 30+, Roger Ravensbourne, Armstrong, or Quad 33/303 depending on how far upscale they were. Ditto with turntables, MP60s or SP25s for budget buyers, moving up to GL75s, moving up to 401/SME3009. 

All a matter of finding something suitable for the budget and the user's expectations.

It shouldn't be any different now, except that now, everyone expects to listen and to hear (non-existant) differences, and choose that way.  It used to be a lot simpler.

S.

It was the price that did it for me, and it was OK until it blew up, I have to say that it put me off AMSTRAD for a while . I had friends with Rogers and Amstrong amps and I admit to a bit of amp envy, that was probably the start of the slippery slope. My faith in the reviewers persisted for some time.

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A good magazine review is useful for giving yourself a warm glow that you have purchased or are about to purchase something that you either already like or are considering. A bad review is for thank god I didn't buy that or I thought it was crap anyway.

If you take too much notice of a bad review on something that you already own and like then more fool you.

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22 minutes ago, SergeAuckland said:

I bought my first 5 series entirely on specs, wasn't disappointed, so bought the following 4 similarly.  

Getting back to magazine reviews, when I had the shop, A&R Cambridge brought out the very good indeed C200, SA200 combination. These were superb products, but they got an iffy entirely subjective review in one of the magazines, and it killed the product stone dead. I don't think we sold more than our demo set. On the other hand, the Musical Fidelity A1, which was technically rather suspect, (putting DC through a volume control pot is never a good idea) got superb reviews, and sold as many as we could get. 

My least welcome customer was the 20 something year old coming into the shop with a copy of What HiFi under their arm. You KNEW that whatever you showed them, however good it sounded subjectively, whatever technical explanation one offered, it would never compensate for the product not getting 5 stars that month. 

S

Words I never thought I would see typed by Serge's fair hand.

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54 minutes ago, SergeAuckland said:

I bought my first 5 series entirely on specs, wasn't disappointed, so bought the following 4 similarly.  

Getting back to magazine reviews, when I had the shop, A&R Cambridge brought out the very good indeed C200, SA200 combination. These were superb products, but they got an iffy entirely subjective review in one of the magazines, and it killed the product stone dead. I don't think we sold more than our demo set. On the other hand, the Musical Fidelity A1, which was technically rather suspect, (putting DC through a volume control pot is never a good idea) got superb reviews, and sold as many as we could get. 

Ahh but you are an unusual guy Serge most people like to at least have a test drive. In some cases to make sure they can drive the car. The Nissan 300ZX does not have a height adjustable driver's seat, which meant my wife could not drive it. May not have been a bad thing though...:D

I agree on the A&R Cambridge, it was an excellent combination. My in laws asked for advice on buying audio and I recommended that A&R A60, which is still singing its little heart out. Some 20 odd years later. Just had a noisy pot a few years back. Sounds good as well. John Dawson knew what he was doing.

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An acquaintance in the hifi business couldn't understand why his products never ever ever got reviewed. After all...he was making a quality product at a keen price. In the end the penny dropped & he took out a 1/4 page. Guess what....rave reviews followed.

Sheer coincidence obvs. 

Edited by Guest

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1 hour ago, Fourlegs said:

Words I never thought I would see typed by Serge's fair hand.

If something works well technically, then I have every expectation that it will sound good too. I can't think of any valid reason as to why it wouldn't. However, people influenced by magazine reviews of the subjective kind seem obsessed by what they think something sounds like, so when something was played to them that they clearly liked, had all the right technical parameters, but they still didn''t buy, because it didn't get a 5 Star review in What HiFi, I rather lost interest in those people as customers. 

Sadly, in the early 1980s, those people were in the majority, so I didn't do too well. Did far better with The Gramophone readers, better still with Studio Sound readers. Best of all, with the 50 year-old Chartered Accountant, Solicitor or Doctor who didn't read any HiFi mags at all. There just weren't enough of them.

S.

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If we all had paid heed of reviews this site wouldn't exist and we would all be listening to the infamous Linn LP12, Naim 'six pack', Linn Isobarik system 

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1 minute ago, SergeAuckland said:

but they still didn''t buy, because it didn't get a 5 Star review in What HiFi, I rather lost interest in those people as customers. 

Sadly, in the early 1980s, those people were in the majority, so I didn't do too well. Did far better with The Gramophone readers, better still with Studio Sound readers. Best of all, with the 50 year-old Chartered Accountant, Solicitor or Doctor who didn't read any HiFi mags at all. There just weren't enough of them.

Thats the trouble a lot of the time if you want to stay in business and even be competitive you may have to go against your morals or even be a little dishonest from time to time. If that meant selling only 5 star rated stuff, then at least you could have picked some of the 5 star rated products that you liked. After all some must have sounded fairly decent.

25 minutes ago, barneys dad said:

An acquaintance in the hifi business couldn't understand why his products never ever ever got reviewed. After all...he was making a quality product at a keen price. In the end the penny dropped & he took out a 1/4 page. Guess what....rave reviews followed.

Sheer coincidence obvs. 

I have heard this, I supposed they as a business needed to survive also. I'll be glad when the revolution happens then maybe people can get equipment and hi-fi without the influence of bias, market forces and the price system :) If that'll ever be possible.

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5 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

Thats the trouble a lot of the time if you want to stay in business and even be competitive you may have to go against your morals or even be a little dishonest from time to time. If that meant selling only 5 star rated stuff, then at least you could have picked some of the 5 star rated products that you liked. After all some must have sounded fairly decent.

I have heard this, I supposed they as a business needed to survive also. I'll be glad when the revolution happens then maybe people can get equipment and hi-fi without the influence of bias, market forces and the price system :) If that'll ever be possible.

There was a bloke some 2000 years ago in the Middle East who tried to do something similar(not HiFi, obviously), and he ended up crucified for his pains. Nobody seems to have wanted to have a go since.

Well possibly some German philosopher who wrote about Capital and stuff, but he didn't get anywhere either.

S

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20 minutes ago, SergeAuckland said:

There was a bloke some 2000 years ago in the Middle East who tried to do something similar(not HiFi, obviously), and he ended up crucified for his pains. Nobody seems to have wanted to have a go since.

Well possibly some German philosopher who wrote about Capital and stuff, but he didn't get anywhere either.

Plenty of people have ideas on it even now, and there are even people who have attempted to show genuine alternatives whilst using a scientific method, but people just continue in the culture they are accustomed to. Getting ripped off or heavily influenced by 'crap' is just a part of it.

Maybe its like the horses in the burning barn story (apparently true and has been proven on more than one occasion). Where even if horses are let free from a burning barn they return to it, as its assumed they feel safe there, which can obviously have devastating consequences.   

Anyway, I doubt we'll change the world moaning about it on Wam :)

Edited by eddie-baby
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Most magazines tread a fine line between pandering to their advertisers and pandering to their readers prejudices.  What Hi-Fi? relentlessly plug Cyrus - I naively bought a 5-star recommended system and it was pretty awful.

Similarly, What Car? relentlessly plug Audi, glossing over the fact that all of them are uncomfortable and most are miserable to drive - but readers want to believe the myth of German supremacy, and VAG spend a load on advertising.

Edited by meninblack

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Some years ago we were demonstrating a new FM processor to the BBC, and one of the Radio 1 presenters who was evaluating it came up with the line

"I sound like GOD!" 

It did make him LOUD!!

S  

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