How to read and understand ludicrous equipment reviews

It has been our experience that most people who claim to not be audiophiles do ‘have ears’, as they say. From all walks of life, all sexes, they all can hear warmth and digititus and detail and everything ‘we’ hear.

So why can’t we say as much about self-declared audiophiles? What’s up with statements like this that appear daily on the net (and, lest we forget, similar nonsense from print magazines)?

    “I found the less expensive Consumer Brand X at a fraction of the price to be indistinguishable from the Megabuck Deluxe”

If one steps back, one can see how ludicrous this is, given the realities of both this being a capitalist economy and the fact that audiophiledom is just not, unfortunately, a playground of the rich and famous. A $20K CD player is not a status symbol – it is bought by people expecting and demanding very high-performance, not a fancy emblem to show off to their friends.

Here is the top ten list of reasons the poster/reviewer might say something like this.

10. An axe to grind with someone associated with Megabuck Deluxe
9. They own Consumer Brand X and want to feel good about it
8. They can’t afford Megabuck Deluxe and do not want to feel bad about it
7. They listen with their mind and their mind tells them that Megabuck Deluxe shouldn’t sound better than Consumer Brand X, so it does not sound better.
6. They listen with their emotions and they like someone associated with Consumer Brand X and so they like the way it sounds.
5. They listen with their emotions and they do not like someone associated with Megabuck Deluxe and so they do not like the way it sounds.
4. They listen from the point of view of the existing marketplace and its internal politics to decide what sounds good or not
3. They desire the popularity that comes from attacking the product at the top
2. The room/system which they are doing the listening with is so unbalanced and/or has insufficient resolution that nothing can be determined about the relative qualities of these two products
1. They quickly compare products that take more than a few minutes to warm up and sound the way they are supposed to
0. They omit the ancillary tweaks that most people likely to own the products will likely be using.
-1. Their ears are not used to the subtle differences of products of this calibur that may take weeks in not longer to explore
-2. They are one of the few who really do not ‘have ears’.
-3. They gain commercial advantage from attacking Megabuck Deluxe and/or promoting Consumer Brand X

Geez, 10 wasn’t enough.

[Personally, I try and give people the benefit of the doubt and assume #2 is the reason they say things like this. And keep saying things like this.].

There are so many reasons for posters and reviewers to post erroreous information, how can anyone believe what they read about how something sounds?

It is certainly a question that has plagued us, both as audiophiles, shocked when we heard both how good and bad things REALLY sound, and later as a dealership and high-end audio show reviewers, as we try to communicate what we hear.

How do we not get drowned out by the sea, nay ocean, of missinterpretations out there about what things do, can and should sound?

Use the ears, Luke!
All we can say is: “Use the ears, Luke!”

Oh, and if you are an audioophile, don’t forget to make sure you calibrate those ears once in awhile using a worthy system, Luke.