First let's make a distinction between a Professional Reviewer (ie: Stereophile)
and a reviewer who makes money from reviewing equipment (ie: YouTube).
We assume a Professional Reviewer is someone who has spent a lifetime in audio and has heard a very wide range of Source Players, Amps, and Speakers. He has a broad enough range of experience that allows him to have some perspective on equipment. Conversely any punk can set up a YouTube Channel, though some YouTube Channels are very good (Tharbamar)
Next whether seasoned professional, amateur reviewer, or someone commenting in a Audio Forum, nothing they say is anything other than one man's opinion
. Even the most seasoned veteran reviewer can do no more than give his opinion, but we hope it is the opinion of someone who has been exposed to a very wide range of equipment over the years and therefore based on experience alone has some credibility. I think I have owned about 7 amps over the years (decades really)
; professional reviewers are exposed to that many amps in a single year.
Then we have to consider the class of equipment typically reviewed. I think you will find few reviews in any audio magazines of a Walmart $99 all-in-one Stereo system. Magazines especially have the opportunity to review well above common consumer grade equipment, and very frequently review very high end equipment. Given the engineering that goes into high end equipment, it is unlikely that any of it is going to truly sound bad. The point is, all the equipment being reviewed is GOOD EQUIPMENT, so differences and distinctions are going to be subtle. When you are trying to make a distinction between this
$10,000 Speaker and that
$10,000 speakers, the differences really are small and refer more to what the reviewer prefers rather than one speaker being good or bad.
- We assume a truly Professional Reviewer has a very wide range of exposure to equipment
far beyond what the typical consumer could ever be exposed to.
- All reviews are nothing more than opinion
, who hope opinion with wide and deep experience, but opinion none the less. This applies to Audio Magazine, YouTube reviews, and Forum comments or reviews ... just an opinion.
- The Quality of Equipment
being reviewed is generally very high, so there really is no bad equipment or speakers being reviewed, which accounts for so many generally positive reviews.
- Then the matter of Context
. We review a $500/pr
speaker in context relative to other similarly size and prices speakers, and equally we measure $5000/pr
speakers against a $5000 standard. Both could get good reviews in context, and yet the $5000 speaker could sound substantially better than the $500 speaker. Context matters. For example, Stereophile reviewed the Dayton Audio B652-Air bookshelf speaker
which costs about $50/pair. The cheapest speaker they every reviewed in their history, and they gave it a very positive review .... for a $50/pr set of speakers
. But that positive review doesn't not remotely mean they sound like $500 speakers or $5000 speakers.
When you compare the Marantz CD6006 ($499)
to the Marantz SA-KI Ruby ($3999)
do you really expect either of those to be trash? Do you expect either to get a bad review? I don't think so, but the SA-KI Ruby
is very likely to sound subtly better. I've seen DVD Players that are CD capable with high resolution DACs that cost in the range of $25 to $35 with Analog Outputs, I suspect these would not fair as well as either of the CD Players from Marantz. And there is a component and build quality difference between low end and high end that can't necessarily be heard, but does add to the stability and durability of the products.
The only reason I give any credibility to a Professional Review is on the assumption that the reviewer has been expose to a very wide range of equipment, which is easy enough when you get the equipment for free, and he is using that wide and diverse range of experience to make an educated call on the specific equipment under review ... but it is still just his opinion.