Opinions on hifi mags - rags aimed at the gullible?
As a lapsed audiophile returning to the fold - although I really only ever got interested in better quality gear for the music - I wonder about the reputations of the mags these days.
Back in the 1990s, one dealer I respected said he only ever paid attention to Stereophile and Gramophone (I think it was). All the others were crap.
I had already come to the conclusion myself in the 1990s that What HiFi was a junk 'informercial' advertising rag aimed at the gullible. Everything every issue was a "killer system", nothing was ever criticized, and the focus was on selling low to mid priced gear. Perhaps it has improved, I don't know.
What publications do people recommend?
EDIT: given this thread, maybe none! LoL.
EDIT2: I would add that I do not believe all reviews to be insincere, misleading or unhelpful. To the contrary, I have read reviews of gear that were right on the mark to what my own ears told me. And I think good audio writing is quite difficult - the experience of sound can be highly subjective and almost every adjective has become cliched.
Last edited by Phil100; 04-06-2011 at 12:25 PM.
Reason: reference relevant thread
Hello again, Phil.
I only look at The Absolute Sound, and that with a grain of salt. The good writers there are Wayne Garcia, Jonathan Valin and, my favorite, Paul Seydor. Paul has written a couple Harbeth reviews, and his words tend to line up with what I hear. Garcia looks at stuff from interesting angles, Valin reviews the mega-buck stuff-but does it well.
I rate Stereophile for the objective measurements and rate HIFI+ for the nice writing and layout. I also rate the online ToneAudio Magazine. German magazines are mostly o.k. too and thorough, although can be biased towards German brands.
For me > StereoTimes with the very nice "analogue" text-touch from Paul Szabady.
In his time he reviewed alot of Brit brands and loves Harbeth, Rega an Originlive.
Also see (with refs to other Harbeths) > http://www.stereotimes.com/speak103107.shtml
The end of serious magazine reviews - beware!
I believe any honest journalist would agree that this judgement back in the mid-nineties put an end to any serious magazine criticism of products, certainly in the U.K.
Originally Posted by Phil100
The 'expert' media - should be a better cross-section of listeners?
Like any other consumer website/magazine, we’re relying on opinions of other parties, and unless there is sufficient objective elements to outweigh what may largely be personal perceptions and opinions (especially “experts”), we just have to be umm… active readers. The business model of most magazines and consumer objectives, do not run parallel but the most successful rags imo appear to be the ones which have closed this distinction.
The ideal “hifi” magazine, imo, will be one where the opinion makers are made up of a cross section of stay at home 20 to 30-something moms (especially those who hold the purse strings), high school and mature aged (below 35 years) students, an electronics technician, musicians (below 35 years) and of course the odd Audiophile (age not a factor, chuckle) - all given a crash course in active listening and music history. I’d read what they have to say.
Hifi mags need advertising to stay afloat (fact)
This has been tried and probably still is with one UK magazine. They had/have no permanent staff except for the Ed and one other, so the majority of reviewing and writing was done by staff members from other mags in the group.
We then had the laughable situation where someone with no interest in Hi-Fi and not even a system, was writing about the quality of equipment loaned to them. With no knowledge, expertise or experience to base their findings on, the mag ends up with totally useless articles.
The major problem with the mags is that their circulations are so low, they can no longer write for the reader. All that keeps the mags afloat is the advertising and they can't bite the hand that feeds.
We in the forums - objective, scinetific thinking
In the end, we in the forums, can give opinions that might be helpful for others. But we still have to be critical reading a forum or a magazine. For me, it is more in the way that the thinking will be elaborated, with objectivity in mind. All in a kind of scientific way. That gives credibility to someone exposing an opinion.