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No bad reviews

Discussion in 'audio' started by Patcam, Sep 9, 2015.

  1. Patcam

    Patcam pfm Member

    I am interested in buying a turntable and a new pair of speakers. As I live in Hong Kong it is not that easy to get proper demos of a reasonably wide selection of mid-range products....so I do read a lot of reviews to try and get an idea of what's out there. In order to draw up a shortlist of sorts to audition on my next trip to the UK.

    What I've found is that all reviews seem to be good reviews. Are all products good these days? Surely there must be mediocre products out there, or at least some that are noticeably worse than others. Are there any sources of truly objective reviews / comparisons?
  2. smegger68

    smegger68 Mango Enthusiast

    The problem as I see it is twofold. Firstly, most people upgrade to something they perceive to be better than what they had, so they expect hear an improvement. It takes a very honest person to admit (even to themselves) that they spent a fortune for something that made their sound worse. Secondly, professional reviewers rarely review real world items. Usually it's some esoteric bit of kit that you and I can only dream about owning. Naturally, the reviews for such kit tend to be good! Seasoned reviewers (both professional and amateur) can be found out there but it's a bit of a needle in a haystack kind of situation. Don't bother with Amazon reviews either, these tend to be first time buyers who think everything is great or mark down an item because the courier company delivered it on the wrong day :)
  3. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    I would start out by eliminating all the products where the reviewer mentions fiddly arm setup and a tendency to fall apart. I have seen some horrors in Sterophile recently.
    There are some real Heath Robinson arm designs out there - fine if your hobby is actually playing with equipment
  4. zippy

    zippy pfm Member

    Not only are they all good but in a certain hifi mag, almost everything seems to score 85% so there's no logical way to decide what's best.
    You've really got to be sceptical - some of the items I've bought based on review have turned out to be pretty awful (these are items for which I couldn't get demos, e.g. TV soundbars)

    Having said all that, I don't think there's anything like the difference between items as there was say 20 years ago.
  5. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    With such a multiplicity of turntables, arms and cart's, let alone phono stages if you need one, I'd suggest drawing up a short-list based upon your budget and current amplification etc.

    With speakers, it's a different situation, as you're (presumably from your text) replacing your existing. I find it hard to believe hat you can't dem. in your home if buying new, as room interface and suitability to amplification and presentational tastes make it a stab in the dark if you don't. Unless, of course, you know your speakers or do a heck of a lot of research.

    A dealer's dem is unlikely to guarantee compatibility at home, and even if it's with identical amplification, it'll only be a guide.
  6. Patcam

    Patcam pfm Member

    Thanks - I can get home dems with some items and showroom dems with others - speakers tend to be more accessible than turntables/arms,cartridges here - tbh I'll probably be ok dem-oing speakers with my current amp (which has a phono stage), but turntables etc. are another matter. So proper no punches pulled reviews would be a great help!
  7. lost audiophile

    lost audiophile pfm Member

    I'd suggest looking at The Hifi Critic. Also check HFN/Paul Miller's measurements of turntables, in particular speed, wow and flutter, and rumble.
  8. Rosewind

    Rosewind Lost in Translation

    You may also get some help from German Hifi magazines Audio and Stereoplay. Some manufacturers list their reviews in English.

    There is an interesting webpage in Czeck that try to list test scores from three German hifi magazines (Audio, Stereoplay and Stereo): http://www.excelia-hifi.cz/top-1000.html

    The scores, however, alone only say as much. Combine those with article content, you may get a better idea of what to expect. But system synergy, personal sound preferences, your room are also factors that will no doubt influence what you like. Tread carefully and deliberately.
  9. robot123

    robot123 Member

    Which shops in HK have you tried? There are some that have nice demo rooms, but home demos aren't possible with any of the stores I tried. Check out Radar Audio, they have a nice selection of mid range ProAC and Neat and a lot of Naim gear. One thing HK has going for it is the ability to see a lot in a day since the place is so small. Let me know if you need any help, I live here too :)
  10. Patcam

    Patcam pfm Member

    Cheers, may well take you up on that! Funny you should mention Radar Audio - they are dealers for GoldenEar, which I'd love to hear. Not sure if they've got any on dem though - showroom in Causeway Bay?
  11. Patcam

    Patcam pfm Member

    Yes, thanks, I suspect the continental reviews may be a bit more down to earth...except 6 Moons which although enjoyable, never says anything critical about anything.
  12. Mike P

    Mike P pfm Member

    I suspect there's actually a more fundamental problem....

    Before I get on my soapbox let me say that whilst I'm not in the Hi Fi industry. I actually work for a sporting goods manufacturer but I suspect the whole system is basically the same. I have regular dealings with publishing houses which also produce HiFi magazines so I've got a pretty good insight into this.

    In the majority of cases magazines and websites make a lot of their profits from selling advertising space. The days of making money from selling hard copies of magazines are over. Some of this advertising space gets sold to retailers but an awful lot of it gets sold to manufacturers/distributors.

    Naturally these manufacturers/distributors want their products to receive good reviews and the website/magazine needs to sell the advertising space to stay afloat.

    Also the magazines/websites in the vast majority of cases do not purchase the products to be reviewed themselves (they can't afford to), instead they rely on the suppliers to submit products which they are trying to promote and these are provided at the suppliers expense.

    The end result of all this is that the reviewers tend to write rather non-committal generally positive sounding reviews to keep their advertisers happy, in the hope that they'll continue to submit products for testing and keep buying advertising space from them.
  13. zippy

    zippy pfm Member

    Many years ago I did some reviewing of accessories for a hifi mag (can't remember which). Cables, plugs, sorbothane supports and TT mats (sorbothane was the in thing at that time) that sort of thing.

    I have no idea whether the magazine bought the items, or was given them, but at that time there was no pressure at all to rate them more highly than they deserved. All my reviews were published with no edits made.

    It's a shame (if) that independence has disappeared.
  14. abbydog

    abbydog pfm Member

    Treat all reviews as you would advertising brochures/copy. In the case of some magazines, reprints of reviews are circulated as such by manufacturers.

    Its a long time since volume of sales and retaining readers was important enough for industry-based publications to be consumer champions.

    I think Mike accurately describes the situation.
  15. robot123

    robot123 Member

    Yes, they're in CWB. World Trade Center on a high floor. They have 2 or 3 listening rooms with different levels of gear. If you want to demo something specific you should make an appointment first. I bought my amp and speakers (Naim/Neat) from them after two demos.

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