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Don't sell yourself short.

"I simply don't write well enough--maybe decently enough for these forums, but no way for print or webzines."

Not a few reviews I've read (and continue to see) in audio print and particularly anyone-can-be-a-reviewer webzines are little more than discursive ramblings more appropriate for, say, a philosophical journal. Others just lose themselves in adjectival generalities that do nothing more than regurgitate audio lingo that in itself is all but meaningless. Just keep in mind what the typical reader wants--a meaningful description and evaluation of the component under review, not a lengthy exposition of what the writer thinks is his or her erudition.

The reviews I've found most valuable follow this general format: A brief paragraph or two describing the product's design philosophy, its function (if, for example, it's a digital player, what formats does it support, etc.), its pertinent features, the quality of its construction (which may or may not be a guide to its reliability), and any quirks that may present ergonomic problems (e.g., hard-to-read display or remote, operational noises, disc loading anomalies, etc.); a list of associated equipment and brief description of the listening environment utilized for listening tests; several paragraphs (and this is the meat of your review) indicating what the reviewer hears while auditioning the component, citing specific recording tracks of specific discs to illustrate the component's rendering of, for example, vocal texture (say, taking a cue from your follow-up listing of discs auditioned for your Esoteric review, on a Dire Straits recording), tonality and timbre, the recording space, frequency extension, and so on--if you present examples from a variety of musical genres, the reader will get a better idea of the component's overall musical performance (in, of course, the context of the system it's connected to); and, finally, an overall assessment of the component's value, including a summary of its perceived strengths and weaknesses.

This is, of course, only my view of what works in reviews. Others may have different ideas and priorities. But I think that if you follow that basic approach when moved to write an equipment evaluation, you'll do better than not a few of the "official" reviewerati.

Forget fancy language. What it really takes is a lot of time devoted to serious listening and more time thinking out and writing down your perceptions of what you've heard, remembering to spell out specifics that illustrate your points. And you've already got a head start on that with your Esoteric mod review and your responses to the feedback you've received in this thread.


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  • Don't sell yourself short. - Jim Treanor 19:59:09 03/08/07 (1)

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