First, if you have a problem with show reporting, email us, don’t call.
Neli provides our customers and people interested in our store what is no doubt the most friendly, sales-pressure-free, and helpful advice people can find anywhere for their high-end audio systems. She is not a show report complaint department. That is my job 🙂 If you are really mad, email me directly at mike at audiofederation.com.
Not that anyone is really mad. Actually, 99.99% of the people really love the report this show – seems like we successfully walked that knife edge between saying nothing, glibly providing marketing copy, and blasting people for every sour note and incorrectly dampened and cabled doohickey. Whew! That blade is sharp…
But people are still finding us for the first time. And people see our report and then see all these others popping up that seem to have, uh, motivations that are different than ours.
Look, providing advertising copy “This system was to die for” in exchange for advertising revenues or semi-permanent equipment loans ain’t going to go away. At least not anytime we would call ‘soon’. People have to earn a living. Fine. [Of course, the reports that diss equipment as a threat or punishment because no equipment has been or is likely to be loaned to them is just a wee bit slimy]
[And the major magazines (like Stereophile, TAS, HiFi+) and the top webzines make enough money and do not HAVE to do this, and most of these don’t, AFAICT.]
But people see our report and they go wha? Where’s the ads? Where’s the ‘Pending Reviews’?
Oh, they are a dealer, so they must just diss all the rooms that do not have equipment that they sell.
A lot of people just deactivate their brains at this point. But if they accidentally leave them in the ON position, they will see that
1) we are an equal opportunity trash talker, and
2) if it sounded good we are likely to want to carry it so we can sell it and make money and that is a lot harder if there is a online report that says we think it sucked [hello? and even if a local dealer currently carries it, how long does it usually take before they decide to drop a product line? 1 year? 2? 5? If its good, we will wait and snarf it up if becomes available and we have the bandwidth to fully support another line.], and
3) we sell outrageously great (and sometimes expensive :-)) stuff that one might expect to actually end up in some good sounding rooms once in a while. And they do. Once in a while.
Shows are unpredictable, and don’t we all know it [we have an advantage at RMAF, we don’t have to SHIP stuff. Shipped stuff gets broken. Especially for shows. It is some kind of ‘shippers revenge part II’ or something to do with shows and expensive electronics and frustrated Terminators. Or not.].
So, leave those brains on, eyes open and ears wide people!
And when we do say something that does not absolutely thrill an exhibitor’s marketing department – look, they can either
* explain why it sounded like that,
One report, and it was awhile ago, I talked about a certain hardness in an otherwise very open and dynamic Cain & Cain setup. They respond, “yes, that is true, when [now it was a long time ago so don’t quote me] it is turned up really loud in a room that small, that is what happens.”. This gave me, and readers, so much more confidence in their honesty, their ability to hear what was going on, and in their depth of knowledge about their speaker’s performance envelope.
Another was about Almarro and how the sound went from pretty good one day to not so good the next. They later emailed about how they didn’t think it was perfect along the long wall and so they tried the short wall, and oh boy was that a mistake [I’m adding the American colloquialisms here, they are from Japan], but they were stuck with it during one of the days at the show. Fine, I put it into the report. People learn that even exhibitors have to fish around for good speaker positions [let’s here it for small speakers! hip hip hurray!].
* they can deny it sounded like that, could ever sound like that, and only perfect sound erupts from any of their rooms. If they can’t hear the problems, or they lie about them, if they can’t provide a logical reason why I heard what I heard, then that is an additional interesting factoid about the designers or dealers that people may find useful.
Look, they can always admit that they go for sound X, with compromises Y because their customer base is willing to sacrifice Y to get X at the price their product is going for. Great! Just don’t get upset when I talk about X and compromises Y so that our readers can decide if they want to buy it without having to negotiate the rapids between the shills and charlatans and honest fans who don’t know they are sacrificing Y and wouldn’t care even if they did know and all the other internet hazards along the way to finding out something about anything out there.
Some exhibitors can’t afford decent equipment so they should just be upfront about it and say that they think people can still hear the quality of their gear on the compromised system and that X, Y and Z are going to review it. etc.
People, honesty is the best policy. Yeah, dishonest people do make sales, and maybe more sales than honest people in the short term, but over time they could make more sales and sell for higher prices if they were honest and the products they are selling are of a decent quality.
At least, this is what we tell ourselves. Every show report I have to cruise the forums, answering questions, posting links. Checking out other reports. The shills, the duplicity, the dishonesty, the politics, it gets us down. I probably shouldn’t even talk to Neli about this stuff – you know women, they think we men have messed up the world BAD – and this just adds lots of proof to the pudding.
But you know, the naivety out there, people liking things that we all think are severely compromised, naivety that a lot of people complain about, doesn’t bother me. Compared to audiophiles in a hundred years down the road, we are all idiots and know nothing [nothing!]. Let people enjoy the discovery process – it is one of the most fun parts of this professional hobby.
Another long winded post. Hopefully we can reuse this periodically, during show report seasons, to remind our new visitors who we are.