Never got this one published, too corney

Letter to Stereophile: Reviewers A reviewers job must be tough. I could never do it. I would loose my mind's eye on what is "correct" sound if I had to do in depth reports with so many variables. I have enough trouble with just one or two. Yet a lot of people seem buy expensive components and have no idea what a good system sounds like. As an audio hobbyist, I get together with other hobbyists to listen and learn. While I will never claim to have better than just "good" ears, I find that:

Most people have cannot hear details, a learned trait.

Most people get used to the sound of their systems and like whatever that sound is

Tuning systems by ear without a reference is almost impossible

Given a choice, a group of listeners will pick the most moderate sounding gear

Power listening is hard, I have a real respect for reviewers

Most people judge systems with "music" which does not have a "correct" sound, that is, synths, digital, amped, etc.

Most people feel better with lousy results from a self designed speaker than good sound from a speaker kit

Most people throw money at the wrong or low ROI problems

Most people will judge a good speaker as too bright Some people really do have golden ears. (wish it were me)

These are the reasons Stereophile is so important. You take the leap and tell us what is good. Without your guidance, most of us would be lost or never hear of great components. It is so much easier to challenge a review than to write one. We are embarassed that we need you so we bully you.

Then there is audition music. Ever notice how people tout how great their system is and then play "music" with no reference to a live performance? A group of us DIYers must have wasted weeks of Internet bandwidth finding audition music for the DIY speaker events this year (held every fall around the country). People came out of the woodwork criticizing all choices but rarely offering any of their own. I finally threw some songs together and suddenly everyone wants a copy. This is another flag that most people really don't have a reference point and another area Stereophile makes the leap for us. I am guilty too as I often scan articles just for the audition music.

One of the widely requested CDs at DIY2003 was Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The number one rule in chosing audition pieces is to stick with familiar music, so DOSM almost made the list. But the number two rule in choosing audtion pieces is to use music that can be referenced to live music. DSOM sounds cool and everybody is familiar with it, but it has no reference point. It has never been played live without massive amplification. It is always played too loud. It is full of odd sounds that cannot be referenced in real life. So how is DSOM supposed to sound? I have no idea and neither do you. Yet this was the number one choice for system testing this year, even by Stereophile. Yikes!

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Copyright Peter Jay Smith 2005 Return to