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From his website:
".....a perceived increase in the influence of advertisers on content. Editors will protest that they are well aware of the dangers, that they can resist the pressure, that their advertising department is entirely separated from the editor's office, but the content of many journals would suggest otherwise. Major advertisers appear to extract undue editorial attention, more news copy, a greater number of reviews and these at more depth. After a third of a century in the business
I personally know of a number of occasions where the power of a major advertiser has been brought to bear on freedom of editorial expression. This can take many forms from threats to withdraw advertising revenue, to injunctions to halt the printing, and even lawsuits for claimed damages. Business is business and magazine editorial departments have to tread a fine line. This is where great editors can show their worth. It seems that many editors and contributors are under a tacit agreement not to rock the boat, either that of the audio business in general, and in specific not to imperil their journal. Other more subtle influences may occur.
Contributors, this author included, may enjoy foreign 'fact finding' trips, others may find their attendance at shows, including Japan and the States are paid for by advertisers and show organisers, in return for some report of their sponsor's activities. Audio journals are by no means alone in this respect.
A very few magazines have made it public policy to try and avoid such influences, though the tendency to play safe in review generally holds while that strong financial dependence on audio manufacturer advertising remains in place.
We do not have to look very far to see the effects on much published review opinion. There is frequently a depressing sameness to the review writing and descriptions, a uniformity of approval for nearly everything, a clear lack of committed discrimination for variations in product character, build quality and objective performance.
Unfortunately reviews with weakly expressed opinions may then be dressed up with pseudo scientific bar and pie charts, largely based on guesstimates of aspects of technology, sound quality and technical performance, and taking all into account, both the test lab and the critic are all too often seen to be playing safe.
.....it is because they must respect the relationships which they have so carefully built with the industry. Thus for the example given, when translated into audio terms, you would be lucky if such a magazine dared to differentiate performance by as much as 7%. Defending their position, editors will say that their readers will of course get used to it; that they can and should read between the lines.
Why should they have to? Why can't the contributors tell the truth as they find it?
So, with the various blobs and charts and bars there is a narrow range which the contributors are allowed in practice. Statistically analysed for many magazines and products nearly every product gets 4 out of 5, or 80%, plus or minus a few percent. As there are almost no duds, we must suppose that in many cases these are censored. No less than three editors have explained to me that if a product does really badly they would voluntarily pull the review rather than get into a dispute with the manufacturer.
Some editors have even explained in print that they value a pleasant relationship with the manufacturers, see the advertising as a necessary part of the deal, value their ministrations, trips and extended product loans, and very likely would not dream of severely criticising their products. Indeed one web journal explains that they actively censor in advance copy constituting a poor review, and will only print positive reviews. They explain that they are doing the readers a favour.
I consider that this play safe attitude shown by much of the audio press constitutes a betrayal of the reader, who ultimately is the reason the editorial content appears at all, regardless of who pays for it. The paying reader must be the critic's friend, not a manufacturer or supplier.
Any film, book or theatre or music critic who behaved like many hi fi reviewers would be laughed out of the business. What price A. A. Gill's reputation if he were to sink so low. I value his opinions because he tells it how it is. I expect no less from a good audio critic. "
Audio Critic may have been the first to try the ad - free model, before IAR.
The first 10 years of Stereophile were ad-free. But in the 1972 essay linked
to below, Gordon wrote: "After much searching of soul and of bank account,
we have reached an earth-shattering decision. The Stereophile is going to
start taking ads."
Probably not, eh?
...unless you bought a Fourier speaker at a $20 discount.
Tuff Crowd ..... :)
He owes me unfulfilled subscription money too.
I'm not holding my breath, if I tried I'd have died back in the 1970's ;-)
I think Martin is a great critic. He does say what he thinks and he seems to be able to hear/listen very well indeed.
As much as Martin is a respected audio writer and reviewer in the community, he still has had a long
term"friendship" with the UK's leading Hi End Importer --to both their mutual advantages I'd muster.
Mores the Kudos to him for the fair assertions in his publications.
You also get a good does of pomposity, self righteousness, and utter wind-baggery.
A precious golden eared blow hard. Who by the way, while spouting on about ethics, is a consultant to high end audio manufacturers.
When the whole lot is put out to pasture, things can progress.
Moving on from the preposterous notions of "golden ears", snuffing out the arrogance and pomposity, freeing us from the notion that audio components are anything but electronic conduits, they have no personalities, they are not musical instruments..and assigning mythical characteristics to them is provides power to these reviewers who crown them selves.
Moving on from the notion that EVERYTHING makes a difference...
Oh, and the end of normalizing an excuse making for absurd pricing.
Not everything makes a difference but there are perhaps several reasons why a person hears several items as sounding the same. Many products are for example designed very similarly and many also buy off the shelf parts. So when people were screaming that CD players sounded the same - well it may be true. Both makers buy the same DAC chip from Burr brown and they buy the same Sony transport mechanism and it would not be too terribly surprising that the two units sound very much the same especially if they are both building to a price point limiting all the other parts used in the given CD players.
Plus, if we assume that most items have a sound of some sort - that component is placed in various systems. It may yield a minor shift to almost no shift in sound against a given component but put in my system it may yield a substantial difference (good or bad) simply from a synergy perspective.
For instance in one system going from a Bryston to a Rotel may be negligible but in a different set-up it could be rather noticeable indeed. I remember comparing two $500 ish integrated SS amps on one set of speakers - meh - choose the one with the most features and the longest warranty who cares - they virtually sounded the same. But those two amps on a different more full range speaker and one of the two amps sounded virtually broken in comparison. Two budget amps both get great reviews and eesh. One really stood out above the other. On the other pair of speakers they practically sounded the same - perhaps because the speaker was the weak link.
I don't really believe in the notion of golden ears either because if this were truly the case a lot more ears would agree on what is the best of the best. And they don't. It is hubris to believe that everyone who doesn't agree with you on what the best is is tone deaf. Two people can listen to a Tupac song or Wagner and listen to it on the best system and walk away with totally different reactions. They heard the exact same piece of music and one person loves it and the other doesn't.
Part of it is based on your upbringing, your language, etc. Why a person can listen to 6 straight hours of pounding heavy metal while another has to shut it off within 30 seconds or have a week long headache.
It's the same with speakers - does one prefer a tonality rich speaker or a speaker with less of that but has better spatial cues. Cohesiveness versus dynamics - and when listening to the same music across these speakers you can get a sense of which speaker/system is treating the music - what does your ear take as the reference points.
A CD player may have a very tiny difference over another but that tiny difference in the long run may be all the difference in nuance between making a Sade just a hair too much sibilant. And that is the difference on wanting to play an album all the way or turning the stereo off after 15 minutes. In a stress test blind test even a golden ear may and likely will fail - but after 3 months there is just "something" not "quite right" about it and you wind up unsatisfied.
Ok , so no golden ears for you , no problem. Arrogance and pomposity obtained , next ..? Just raise your prices...
So, someone who hears/listens better than you is automatically pompous and arrogant? Of course they might not hear/listen better than you...but probably they do and that is why they became critics.
"audio components are anything but electronic conduits, they have no personalities, they are not musical instruments..and assigning mythical characteristics "
Complete straw-man argument. I seriously doubt most see hifi as having personalities, being musical instruments or having mythical characteristics. Since that is probably 99% untrue we can safely say you are attacking someone who basically doesn't exist.
What is absurd is that you think because you don't hear things that others must be as limited as you.
Oh, and to a person with the right sensitivity, nearly everything does make a difference sonically.
...the flat-earthers said when they put Galileo in prison.
Where do you think all of the descriptive language used by audiophiles comes from?
Insightful reviewers like HP, JGH and even Colloms.
Every component has a sonic signature, or personality, since there is no such thing as a straight wire with gain.
Every component changes the audio signal.
And everything does make a difference - some people just don't have the learned critical listening skills to identify it.
It doesn't take Golden Ears.
You're 100% correct mkuller, it doesn't take " golden-ears " to hear what Isaak apparently cannot hear. All it takes is:
-- an open mind.
-- a person willing to explain what to listen to & for.
-- the time to practice listening.
-- (possibly) a better audio system.
If you're not tone deaf. I personally believe anyone can learn to listen for the differences you believe only the " golden-eared " can hear Isaak!
I'm listening to: Magic Fingers by Chuck Loeb & Andy LaVerne
Thetubeguy1954 (Tom Scata)
Central Florida Audio Society -- SETriodes Group -- Space Coast Audio Society
Full-range/Wide-range Drivers --- Front & Back-Loaded Horns --- High Sensitivity Speakers
if he doesn't perceive any audible "personalities" with various audio components, there's really nothing more he will understand. :)
Sorry you feel that way!
My apologies for polluting your thread--
Thanks! for sharing- Isaak.
...without a name like Martin Colloms to headline your publication - and I would say with HP gone there are none that could - you have to have advertising to support it.
This is a hobby after all.
The best ones will keep the advertising and editorial separate.
A reviewer accepting anything more than a free dinner from a manufacturer seems unethical to me.
Where do you think book reviewers get their books and film/theater critics get their tickets?
Richard Hardesty tried it--he didn't have enough "pull" --it folded
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