How to Read Between the Lines In High-End Audio Advertising

The Rocky Mountain Audio Festival recently posted to YouTube this video of a panel discussion in which analogPlanet editor Michael Fremer participated. Check it out. (I swear YouTube not I chose that close up of me!)

Anton D's picture

That was fun.

Glotz's picture

That there must be a quantifiable path to understanding a component's net worth (or parts therein), by way of scientific process.

I would really like to see more comparisons to other gear in a review's dissection of salient points. I think one can call other gear by a placeholder like X or Y or Z, and still produce meaningful comparisons, within a given point of audio discussion- like soundstage depth, tonal accuracy, etc.

theboogeydown's picture

A) I thought the joke was great.
B) Fun tie.
C) I was surprised that the discussion never addressed the line between the ridiculous levels of subjectiveness when reviewing audio gear as well as the impossibility of recreating whatever the reviewer has before them.
D) I thought it odd that in the beginning of the discussion no one mentioned how all of those "specs" that are being thrown about (often inaccurately) was an effort to quell the anxiety of the buyer who can never address the issue I noted in "C". How else can you get someone to buy a product without some "line" or "consistency" offered by 'science' in order to compare so someone can get a little bit confidence to spend ones hard earned money? i.e. 30Hz- 30kHZ Freq. response.
E) It's akin to describing the weather in the same town but one person is standing on the shore and the other, behind a shed, in the shade in the woods. Same temperature but...
That being said, I own a pair of speakers due to some "out of mind" (bullshit?) type praising by one of your colleagues at Stereophile (both of which, I like).
Happy New Year Michael, and thank you.

CG's picture

A) I agree! (Bet that makes your day.)

B) See A

C) Most reviews of anything - restaurants, movies, cars, concerts, you name it - are largely subjective. After all, they are all based on somebody's observations and how they react to them. By nature, that's pretty hard to effectively transfer to somebody else's own psyche and situation.

Waddya do?

D) I personally agree that most measurements are so simplistic and isolated from actual system use that they really don't apply to the potential customer. For manufacturers, they are a useful tool to make sure that the 601st unit off the production line works the same as the 11th unit. For actual users, maybe not so much, but they do let people get worked up either for or against some product. Kinda like a spectator sport.

Waddya do?

E) See A, except for the loudspeaker part.'s picture

Nice job posting this. A crucial piece of Information almost always left off ad's for lps or on the lps themselves are its source info. I'm not sure if this was addressed in the forum. Also Mikey very cool tie. I'm reading "Beatles 66", a comprehensive look at the year Revolver was recorded, now and it's fascinating.

Rudy's picture

Many labels are tight-lipped about sources. Some of them have to be, for contractual reasons. (The artist, management, etc. might request the silence, in other words.) Others get full permission. And there are cheap labels who will use any source possible just to cash in on the vinyl fad (some of those grey-market imports on no-name labels are suspect). So even if a reviewer or advertiser knows the source used, they could get in a lot of hot water for mentioning it publicly!

audiotom's picture

I have the same Revolver tie and a Sgt Peppers tie too
They are beyond cool - great to see

I love reviews where the reviewer mentions a piece of music then particular nuances that the component they were reviewing brought out. Talk about the engaging aspect of music.

People are going more and more to key magazine reviewers and audiophile website forums because in many cases there is no dealer nearby. One must use some caution with open forums.

Some great small boutiquet companies get all their buzz via customers, audio conventions, and audio web discussion boards. Some vendors go out of their way to line up potential customers with a visit to their location or to seek out a nearby person in the owner network. As a host this can be a rewarding experience for both.

People who are engaged in music to our extent are interesting to share an evening with

bongo-hifi's picture

I dont believe that there is no influence between advertisers, publications & reviewers. publications rely on advertising revenue, it would be commercial suicide to piss off your source of revenue by publishing negative reviews. I am suspicious of reviewers who review "review samples" of products supplied by the manufacturer. "Things go on"

I don't find terms like "transparent" and "musical" meaningless adjectives when describing audio. "transparent" to me means a clear and coherent sound where all the nuances,instrumentation, natural ambience etc of a recording are captured and presented.
"musical" should be self explanatory, to me meaning a convincing sound presentation of erm MUSIC conveying all the essence of musicality such as emotional connection, pitch,rhythm,timing, tunefulness as opposed to vague "HiFi" terms like "sweet" "extended" "congested" "punchy" "woolly" "thick" "deep" "boom" bang" oomph"...
The problem IMO is that reviewers down the years have sought to find adjectives to describe subjective perception of sound quality and have introduced a purely subjective and meaningless use of words. The reviewer might know what he or she is on about but to others its just verbal masturbation.

It shouldn't follow that if a reviewer writes a negative review lays him open to accusations of being in the manufacturers pocket when he/she writes a positive one. I would personally view that as someone who is honest, balanced and free to express his/her opinion.