Why are audio reviews so consistently positive? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Why are audio reviews so consistently positive?

I've tried to search for stuff about this to no avail.

Someone else put it better than I could. He/she wrote somewhere that most audio reviews for receivers, speakers, etc. tend to be written almost as though they were reviewing fine wine.

I find that there's barely any negative criticism, and if there is, it's very minuscule or about something superficial (like a finish material) that wouldn't drive away a lot of people.

Is it that reviewers don't want to criticize because then manufacturers won't loan them equipment to review?

Is it that reviewers are on the take? I've read posts from some people that insinuate this but haven't found any investigations into this.

It's frustrating to look into a product only to find very similar reviews everywhere that seem eager to point out all positives, and never negatives. But search a forum and there's a lot of neg's to be found in user reviews.

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 03:27 PM
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would you ship a free demo to someone who bad mouthed you?

some sites it is just advertising and they supply links to the products and get commisions

but for some better reviewers
an unbiased measurement and brief comparison to other reviews they have done is about the limit

everyone has different tastes and you don't want to offend owners who love thier audio too much by slamming thier choices or they won't come back to the site

Audyssey is a great start, but not always a great finish.
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post #3 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 04:13 PM
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And sometimes you have to read between the lines as to what they really mean when they have negative comments.

And sometimes they don't have the equipment for a lengthy amount of time to find adverse operating glitches.

In reality it's a snapshot in time.

Owners usually have the equipment for a longer time and in confined spaces. Think racks with little ventilation.

Or rooms, but no room treatments.

Car reviews tend to be the same. Even CR gets it wrong sometimes.
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post #4 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 05:00 PM
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Why are audio reviews so consistently positive?

It's simply due to same companies paying for Advertising or provide demo products;

it's why Consumer Reports became so popular & valuable with consumer product reviews; no advertising allowed so no influence on reviews. And yes I know they don't review high end Audio, but you get the idea
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post #5 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 07:40 PM
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You don't bite the hand that feeds you.

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post #6 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 08:23 PM
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One guy who writes professional reviews told me whn he reviews a speaker he doesn't like, he just doesn't publish the review...

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post #7 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
You don't bite the hand that feeds you.

A Big +1 on that one

Quote:
Originally Posted by samcro1100 View Post
I've tried to search for stuff about this to no avail.

Someone else put it better than I could. He/she wrote somewhere that most audio reviews for receivers, speakers, etc. tend to be written almost as though they were reviewing fine wine.

I find that there's barely any negative criticism, and if there is, it's very minuscule or about something superficial (like a finish material) that wouldn't drive away a lot of people.

Is it that reviewers don't want to criticize because then manufacturers won't loan them equipment to review?

Is it that reviewers are on the take? I've read posts from some people that insinuate this but haven't found any investigations into this.

It's frustrating to look into a product only to find very similar reviews everywhere that seem eager to point out all positives, and never negatives. But search a forum and there's a lot of neg's to be found in user reviews.

Thoughts?

A very good place to start is forums like this one.


That said, you need to learn to read between the lines.
Some members will offer you, some perspective between many speakers, that they have tried, others happy with what they got. And try to push-it


Lot's of reading, from many forums, is the only thing that I can suggest at this point, other than your overall budget.


Ray
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post #8 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 10:07 PM
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For a less cynical response......

Imagine you are a reviewer picking gear that most interests you and your readers, and there is a LOT of gear to choose from. Do you think you would actively seek out bad sounding gear to review? There is so much competition that most respected brands put out pretty good sounding gear at their price point and reviews reflect that.

I like that Stereophile backs their reviews up with measurements AFTER their reviewer has given his own review. Analyze both the subjective and objective data and decide for yourself.
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post #9 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 10:10 PM
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post #10 of 104 Old 02-05-2017, 10:18 PM
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Julian Hirsch was called "The man that never met a product he didn't like"

Look at car rags, they get a car, drive it around for a bit and rave about something or other and get advertising. Never mind they don't drive them for very long, they don't pay to get them maintained (and generally never talk about cost of ownership) they just drive them around for fun and that is their view. The more the car costs, the more they like it.

The same is true in audio--the more it costs, the wilder it looks in design and the more hyped the brand--the more they like it. Look at the mags and notice who advertises in them, you honestly think they would put out a bad review from their largest advertisers?

Consumer Reports did a review on a Bose 901 in the late 70's, they didn't like it much. Bose sued them, kept losing the case and finally lost the case at the Supreme Court. Sure, CR won but the rest of the audio rag industry would never say anything bad about Bose or even measure their speakers because they were afraid of getting sued. Bose also advertised more than any other company so if you said anything bad, they would pull all their advertising and sue you--so the rags had a hands off thing with them.

Most people that purchase things will tend to give glowing reviews, part of human nature. It is not very common to see an owner stating "I can't believe I was suckered into buying such a POS, I feel like a fool" Not going to happen, denial is the first phase and some people will claim to be happy even when they are not. This would explain why special speaker wires, power cords, cable elevators, audiophile spray for your CDs, brilliant pebbles etc. exist--because some people refuse to change their mind or evaluate it VS other stuff they own. The first one is always the best one.

If the reviews are on Amazon, I look at the negative reviews first. That way I understand what the negatives are or at least evaluate if the negative reviewer is clueless. If the speaker or product has some negatives that I don't care about or the positives far out weigh the negatives then it goes into the mix.

There are sites on the net that take the product apart, look at the parts inside, measure what they do and post pictures of the internal construction. THAT is what you look at, if they do that then things should be quite clear. Anyone can listen to something and write about it, taking it apart and running measurements is much harder to do so I default to those reviews. Some of those sites will even evaluate and tell you what kind of parts are inside amplifers, what the power supply puts out and give you an overview of capacitor quality, transister brands, board traces and all that jazz. Yes, they tell you where the amplifers, speakers, receivers etc. are manuafactured so it resembles an autopsy by the time they are done.

The good news is the information you seek is out there, the bad news is sometimes its a pain to dig around the internet to find it. A trick I use is search for something like Brand X receiver problems and if it has some, it will show up quickly.

Enjoy the hunt!
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post #11 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 06:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TuteTibiImperes View Post
Note the lack of any advertising on that site. That certainly lends it an air of credibility normally reserved for Consumer Reports.

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post #12 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 06:15 AM
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Do you think that products for the most part are pretty good now? With all the engineering that's done, reverse engineering, cheap price and availability of quality materials, it's not difficult to make a solid product.

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post #13 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 07:19 AM
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That noaudiophile site is a hoot...!

http://noaudiophile.com/Logitech_z623/
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post #14 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 07:23 AM
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Those reviews are basically paid for. You're better off reading user reviews.
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post #15 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 09:51 AM
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18hurts makes a good point about user reviews...they tend to be overwhelmingly positive as well, as we tend to rationalize our purchases and we want to like they, so often we do. I remember my first purchased back into audio after about a 20 yr abscence...got Pioneer AJ books and the Polk m40. Loved the Polks at first, didn't like the Pioneers. One year later, I was done with those Polks, bright!
Now, I didn't write reviews, but if I had, the Polk would have gotten a very good one right away and a poor one one year later...

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post #16 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
Note the lack of any advertising on that site. That certainly lends it an air of credibility normally reserved for Consumer Reports.
OT: Consumer Reports is on an anti-biotech, and pro "organic food" kick after new editors took over. It's a shame really.



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post #17 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 11:42 AM
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OT: Consumer Reports is on an anti-biotech, and pro "organic food" kick after new editors took over.
I haven't subscribed for at least ten years, with the internet it's easy enough to do your own research, so long as your BS detector is well in tune.

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post #18 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 12:51 PM
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If I had to answer this I'd say it boils down to two things

1.) Don't bite the hand that feeds you. However, this doesn't stop them from throwing a competitor of the reviewed product under the bus in some tacit way.

2.) Audio technology is running out of out of tricks; a sad dark secret no one wants to discuss. Let's take speakers for instance, I'd venture to say that >95% of all the stuff out there that is more than $500 ea. (the stuff they review) all sounds really darn good to 95% of all people.
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"Most theories on audio and audio reproduction will be proven wrong only when the laws of physics change."
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post #19 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChromeJob View Post
That noaudiophile site is a hoot...!

http://noaudiophile.com/Logitech_z623/
Ha! The Budweiser can next to the speakers in the first picture and the bottle of ibuprofen in the second!

Guess I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon reading through these reviews...
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post #20 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
I haven't subscribed for at least ten years, with the internet it's easy enough to do your own research, so long as your BS detector is well in tune.
FWIW ... I subscribe, they have some interesting perspective on the tech topics. Their recent article on low, mid, and top tier TVs was interesting, cautioning consumers on what features are too early out of the gate to spend too much on. They seem to consistently adore Sonos speakers, not sure if that's real testing talkin' or some perspective based on cumulative testing results.


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post #21 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by albatros43 View Post
Those reviews are basically paid for. You're better off reading user reviews.
You have to watch out for group-think though, especially on a site like this one where like-minded people tend to gather.
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post #22 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
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FWIW ... I subscribe, they have some interesting perspective on the tech topics. Their recent article on low, mid, and top tier TVs was interesting, cautioning consumers on what features are too early out of the gate to spend too much on. They seem to consistently adore Sonos speakers, not sure if that's real testing talkin' or some perspective based on cumulative testing results.


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They have a tendency to recommend the most mainstream of products. Ease of use, reliability, and proven design outweigh power-user/tweaking capability, excitement, and innovation/cutting-edge features in their metric. Something that's good-enough all-around scores better than something that may be awesome for a particular use case but compromised in others.


They're enamored with the beige Toyota Camry ideal.
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post #23 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 05:30 PM
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I hesitate to speak about him, because he could be very polarizing, but this is what Peter Aczel, and The Audio Critic, did so well.

The speaker reviews were always thoughtful and honest. The equipment reviews were terrific, especially David Rich's reviews. I could not keep up technically, but he was quite direct about what design choices made sense, what didn't, and what the parts quality (electronic and cosmetic) was.

The Letters to the Editor provided some excellent laughs, as well as input from actual experts like Richard Greiner and Floyd Toole.

Of course, because the magazine didn't mince words, Aczel had a hell of a time attracting and keeping advertisers. (I think Bob Carver's advertising patronage helped keep them afloat at times.)

Many of the old issues can be viewed online. (Not allowed to link yet, apparently.) Hours of pleasure.
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post #24 of 104 Old 02-06-2017, 06:17 PM
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Because there is no benefit to being negative.

Think about any situation where you are in a position to review a product or service. How does it benefit you, the reviewer, to say anything negative? At best maybe it helps builds reputation as a straight shooter. But depending the impact, you run the risk of being marginalized by those that you're impacting. Then you're not a straight shooter.. you're just some nut job, or a guy with grudge, or a magazine that isn't qualified to listen to speakers.

There have also been cases of people getting sued or otherwise negatively impacted by negative reviews. That's why I went back and removed a negative review of a design service I used. There was a new law as of 2016 that was supposed to put an end to that. Google "yes-you-can-post-negative-online-review-says-congress". I don't know if that actually became law or not.
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post #25 of 104 Old 02-07-2017, 06:19 AM
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Two distinctions...there are glowingly positive review with facts and measurement...there is no misinterpeting those. And then, much like professional recommendations from old employers, there are "polite" reviews/recommend that you can easily read between the lines and say..."that was a polite negative review". Read some of Mark (imagic) reviews on this page and when he says "good speaker, but there are others in the price range I prefer"...that is a negative review!
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Answer to your question is $$. If there are great perks or money in it for reviewers to say nice, exaggerated or for some outright "Glowing opinions" you can bet there will be takers who jump right in for all they can get....nothing new, it's human nature and scruples will vary widely. Sales is sales and advertising comes in all forms. Knowledge, discernment and wisdom...or, in this case your ears will help you know the difference between a turd and what someone tells you is a tootsie-roll.
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post #27 of 104 Old 02-07-2017, 10:30 AM
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Everyone's already said the answer. Anyway, once you hit a certain price and quality threshold, most speakers sound great. It's merely a matter of taste in what sound signature you prefer.

Thus, I prefer to see the actual measurements in an anechoic room with respect to frequency response and decay times.
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post #28 of 104 Old 02-07-2017, 01:36 PM
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I strongly agree with one of the early posts to this thread that negative reviews are many times not published. In my opinion only, if you can't find reviews on an audio product after it has been released a reasonable amount of time, you probably should avoid it.

This thinking actually influenced a purchase for me in the past year. Seems like there were no reviews of Emotiva Gen 3 amps for a long time so I purchased Parasound. Unless I'm missing something, I've still only found one review of the products. If there are more reviews out there or another reason for no reviews, I stand corrected.
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post #29 of 104 Old 02-07-2017, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlantaAllen View Post
I strongly agree with one of the early posts to this thread that negative reviews are many times not published. In my opinion only, if you can't find reviews on an audio product after it has been released a reasonable amount of time, you probably should avoid it.

This thinking actually influenced a purchase for me in the past year. Seems like there were no reviews of Emotiva Gen 3 amps for a long time so I purchased Parasound. Unless I'm missing something, I've still only found one review of the products. If there are more reviews out there or another reason for no reviews, I stand corrected.
A couple of things: It is certainly true that manufacturers have "cut off" reviewers who panned one of their products. It happened to Peter Aczel, and likely others.

It is also true that many reviewers love everything, despite the truth. And I think they are predisposed to like certain components, as they are as much suckers for brand names as anyone else. Certainly, Stereophile has published rave reviews of products that their own measurements established were inexcusably bad. This is occasionally a problem when, after [name of true believer reviewer here] has published a typical rave, and then it becomes obvious that the item is horribly designed and users rise up. This almost never happens because of the way something sounds: It happens when the product develops a history of breaking down or is otherwise unreliable.

It is also true that everybody and his brother thinks they can design and manufacture a superior [insert name of dac, amp, whatever here]. It is impossible to review each of the thousands of amplifiers and DACs that vie for credibility and money. It seems every day I discover some new component maker I never heard of, and about whom I can find a website and nothing else.

As for the example of the Emotiva, I haven't heard any of their products, but they certainly have a following that respects them highly for delivering good products at reasonable prices. They have by now managed to keep their doors open long enough that they likely aren't a fluke. That being said, I see no reason why a Parasound amp (of which I've owned several) would be inherently any better than an Emotiva amp, unless the laws of physics have changed. One could be better than the other when it comes to quality of parts used, or sturdiness. But otherwise they should sound the same and deliver the same performance. A good friend of mine (a recording professional) uses a Sumo amplifier that is at least 25 years old, and it stills runs like a top. Oh, and it sounds no different than his Parasound.
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post #30 of 104 Old 02-07-2017, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlantaAllen View Post
This thinking actually influenced a purchase for me in the past year. Seems like there were no reviews of Emotiva Gen 3 amps for a long time so I purchased Parasound. Unless I'm missing something, I've still only found one review of the products. If there are more reviews out there or another reason for no reviews, I stand corrected.
I won't even open the big can of worms here, but the effusive reviews are most applicable to solid state amplifiers. Because we know what happens if you perform a blinded level matched test between or among multiple solid state amplifiers that are driven well within their designed power specs.
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