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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As per John Gannon's request I am opening another thread to discuss HT magazine reviews - what you like, don't like, what goes on behind the scenes, etc. Lets keep it constructive please.


John, can you tell us how far ahead reviews are planned? Is there a method to the madness or is a lot of it just trying to guess what will be hot by the time the issue hits the street?


Also, are there certain standards used to review certain technologies? For instance, do you use the same metrics and/or benchmarks to review each and every CRT projector you review?


Finally, can you give us an idea of how many request for reviews are typically in the queue? Is there really a struggle getting hot gear due to fear of a bad review?


Thanks,


Tom


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Tom Strade

Immersive, Inc.
www.immersiveinc.com
 

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I wanted to cover Charlies comment in the closed thread.

Quote:
Gannons response that he can't cover business pjs is ridiculous. If the LT is marketed as a business pj but works well as a HT pj then it should be reviewed.
Magazines want to review everything they can, the problem is obtaining the product. Mag's don't have the funds to go out and purchase products to review. The way they get products are to request them from manufacturers. NEC may not have any interest in SGHT or others reviewing the LT150 as it is not their intended market. Just something to keep in mind.


JG, it was nice to see the chroma error mentioned in the current issue. However, http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif , I do have a comment. MF mentioned that it was much less visible in the Camelot. That is because the Camelot does not have the problem at all! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif Now the Camelot may be a bit chunky in parts, but that is because of post-flitering and sin(x)/x compensation.


Myself, I subscribe to all of the HT magazines. I like to see things that I may have missed or can't aquire on my own.


While magazines compete against each other in print, they all socialize with each other at trade shows. (For the most part.)
 

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Stacey,


Hey man, you beat me to the punch here. You said pretty much what I wanted to...and probably more succinctly as well.


As for MF's comments on the Camelot, I'm pretty sure he hasn't had one in his studio for months...and he was probably digging into his brain for some memory of it.


As you know, it takes some training to see this issue clearly...many folks don't see it at all, even after you show them many times. But as soon as they do, it cannot be ignored. Hence your fervor and subsequent actions that hopefully will correct this major MPEG oversight, and perhaps even change the industry.


We need to 'socialize' more...and talk hifi less...at these rare instances of actually crossing paths. My head still hurts from that talk we had in the hallway in Indy!! I can't fit it all in...


Sincerely,

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
In addition to the difficulties in getting products to review at times I wonder if the writing in general has to be such that it appeals to a broader audience than AVS-type forum members?


I think many of us here have higher expectations of the magazines but perhaps we should be thinking of them more as evangelist for the HT cause that are writing to educate and attract new HT enthusiast. I just spoke with John and he told me that the folks on AVS forum keep him on his toes given the talent that congregates here on a daily basis.



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Tom Strade

Immersive, Inc.
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Stacey,


My correction, in re-reading his review, he states that he did have it on hand. Remember this is a learning curve, he might have been seeing something else on his Philips rear projector that was similar. Since I wasn't there...I cannot know.


But I have to correct him on his assessment of the chroma bug on the Ayre player when I pen the Take 2 on it. Which is something I'm supposed to be doing now. And no, everyone, I cannot talk with you or even the manufacturer until my review is finished--company policy.


Sincerely,

John
 

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Quote:
In addition to the difficulties in getting products to review at times I wonder if the writing in general has to be such that it appeals to a broader audience than AVS-type forum members?
Yes! I know S&V has a larger and somewhat less technical audience than SGHT. At least that is what they are going for. You need to tareget your audience and make them happy. You will never please everyone.


John, the next time I head to So. Cal, I will take you to El Taco Nazo for the worlds greatest fish taco's! Then it will be off to Molca Salsa (use to be Alberto's) for some great Rolled Taco's. Then we can go to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for some Ice Blended Vanilla's.


As far as Camelot, yes you will see different effects from the MPEG decoder and how smooth the corners are on the Toy Story lid. This is all post filtering stuff. Once they properly convert 4:2:0 back to 4:2:2, they must perform additional smoothing to try and get it back to the original state. The Camelot is a bit blocky, but it does the proper upsample. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


I remember when DVD was first launched. There was not supposed to be any big difference among DVD players because of they way MPEG was designed. All of the improvments should be on the front end with encoding. That has turned out not to be the case. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif
 

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Tom,


That is exactly another of my points. Damn. Or should I say darn, so the nasty language police don't hunt me down?


The vocal people on this forum are at the very edge of the bell curve as far as information delivery is concerned. The body of this curve are the silent lurkers, folks I know we influence by our rants and raves.


All of my stuff is first read by an assistant editor, then an English language editor. Both of them are precious to me, because they ask me the questions that newbies would ask. Many times they cannot find the words to ask, because I've gone so far over their heads. Occasionally, changes are made that alter the meaning of my phrases and comments...and when I don't catch them before final print, it can be very frustrating.


It is hard enough writing technical things in an interesting way, so I dont' put the bulk of our readership into instant slumber or worse...but re-reading your own work 29 times before submittal makes one slightly glazed when presented it for the 30th time after someone has altered things that are usually minor.


For instance, in my Audio Pro speaker review lead, I mentioned two subwoofers that I remembered sitting in the rear of the room at a hifi store I used to work at north of Detroit in the early eighties. Someone in the edit chain changed that to 'a pair'. That isn't what I said, and somehow it slipped by my final edit.


I have a friend in Boston who used to tell me that he threw every home theater magazine he ever read against the wall at some point during his monthly read of them. At CEDIA, I asked him if we were getting any better. His reply? He said he didn't read my mag anymore.


That really hurt. Especially after I've spent nearly a year learning the publishing business...meeting our writers and visiting many of their 'studios'...and growing into the position. Will I ever get him back as a reader? I don't know. Is he still my friend, absolutely and without question.


Sincerely,

John

getting back to work.
 

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Stacey,


I saw my first Camelot critically while doing a calibration of a Pioneer 510 down in Newport Beach recently. It was pretty darned good, if only they could work on those ergonomics.


You keep talking about those fish tacos. They'd better be good!! Give me about a three to four week notice.


Until next time,

John
 

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John, good to see you over here again!!!!


Its been a long time since you were my Special Guest at the AVS Special Guests forum - during that week, you were offered and you accepted your current Technical Editor position with SGHT. Again, don't blame me for that one. HA!


Anyway, if you or Tom Norton as Editor ever want to be our Special Guest on behalf of SGHT, please, please let me know.

Thanks.


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Steve Bruzonsky
 

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There's not much that I'll add to John's insightful and succinct replies--his words are true and heart-felt. But I do want to comment on three topics, that were brought up in questions by Tom, Charlies, and another poster.


First, a reply to Charlies. Your point about low-priced projectors is well-taken. But before you attack the magazine for never reviewing this genre of device, you might want to contact us first and ask if we're considering it. It's my role at SGHT to be the one that's always looking at the "bleeding edge" of technology. In covering the HTPC world, there's really not any other way to do it! Nothing's ever stable or set in stone for a long time. So when I learn of new technology, new trends, and the like, I run these ideas past our Editorial staff who act as a terrific Reality Filter-they see if my geeky excitement over a new product would have interest to a broader readership, not just early adopters. After all, sometimes I have ideas that do have interest to a broad audience, while another topic might just interest me, or a very narrow range of our readership.


One of the trends that I've followed recently is a new paradigm that's exactly what you described: The use of inexpensive and portable "boardroom" DLP projectors for home-theater purposes. Of course, followers of the forum know that a popular and great 'bang for the buck' combination is a low-priced DLP like the 150, driven by an HTPC. This interests me tremendously, because I'm like most of you guys-I love getting the most performance for my money. If I can attain $50k performance out of a $15k system, I feel like I've really accomplished something. And I think this 'new paradigm'-being able to do darn good FP home theater for a price unheard of a few years ago-is an important trend that is occurring in the industry and may indeed change it (for the better). More people than ever will be able to do what I call "home theater the right way"-front projection-if the trend extends to a market outside early adopters. The light engines in these projectors are the same, and if video processing is done by the HTPC or another good external scaler, it would seem likely that you can attain very good performance for a very modest price. That's why, over two months ago, I penned a note to our Editor bringing up this specific topic.


Tom's reply? "Go for it!" He thought it was a great idea to review a low-priced DLP and discuss its merits and drawbacks: Besides image quality, how is it to live with? What compromises are made, compared to projectors aimed at the HT market? Is it noisy? More difficult to operate? Can it be integrated into a control system, like Crestron, AMX, or a Pronto? So, Charlies, this is a topic that I have considered, and I'm already working on it (no more details than that for now…)


Which brings me to another point-I have to come to the magazine's defense and address an assertion that Charlies made earlier. I can unequivocally state that there is no tie between what gets reviewed and who buys the biggest ads (or any ads at all). Case in point: my column, and the HTPC topic in general. Our Editorial staff OK'd the idea of home-theater PC coverage because it's a developing area of the industry, and a topic that they felt our readership would be interested in. (I have to toot our own bell here: SGHT was the first magazine in the industry to begin regular monthly coverage of this subject.) This was done knowing that HTPC coverage may never bring in major ad revenue-or possibly any ad revenue-since it was an unknown if any PC-related companies would be interested in advertising in a home theater magazine.


In addition, SGHT ran the risk of upsetting existing advertisers by the inclusion of my topic: Regular readers will know that I have said on more than one occasion that a properly set-up HTPC will rival, and even exceed, the PQ of some of the "megabuck" video processors. An Editorial staff that operated at the mercy of advertiser interests would have never allowed such an anti-establishment viewpoint to be aired in their pages. Bottom line: SGHT follows the tradition started by Gordon Holt of telling it like it is, good or bad. We put the readers' interests first, even if that means upsetting some advertisers in the process (anyone remember the Velodyne speaker incident? Richard Gray's Power Conditioners?). I don't think many other publications can lay the same claim. That long-winded response brings me to point number two…


Tommyboy, one of your questions is particularly insightful. You, John, Stacey, myself, and most of us on the forum live in a rarified world of knowledge and technical ability. The knowledge base here is astounding-you guys (& gals) are the top 1% in the world when it comes to intellect and technical knowledge about this hobby/obsession. While this is a great thing, it's easy to forget that most of the rest of the world isn't like this; they don't know a chroma bug from a June bug (Michigan term, John will get it). Kei Clark from Digital Connection said this very well in a post earlier this year. The other thing most of us here have in common is pursuit of the best possible performance for the least possible outlay of cash-I put myself in this category, too.


But what I've found from being part of this industry for almost two years now, and more recently from working with a very high-end custom installation shop, is that the general public are not at all like us. Ultimate picture or sound quality at the best price is not at the top of their list of priorities when choosing A/V gear for their home; in fact, it might not even be in the top five. Considerations like ease of use (can anyone, not just an EE, pick up the remote and understand how to operate the system?), integration into a home's décor and aesthetics, reliability of operation, reputation of the installing company, and other concerns often come before ultimate audio/video performance or price.


The point is, yes, SGHT aims at a knowledgeable reader base and holds itself to high standards because of that. But if we limited ourselves to only reaching the hard-core enthusiast market like myself, John, and others here occupy, we'd probably go out of business in a hurry. There just aren't enough of us to support a major publication. Things have to be balanced between being too technical and jargon-laden and being not technical enough. Most people out there have other concerns when it comes to making an A/V purchase decision, and the magazine must be responsive to their needs while trying to still 'push the envelope' enough to continually inform and challenge the truly techo-savvy readers. (Notice I worded that nicely and did not say 'propeller-heads', myself included in that category.)


Finally, someone brought up the topic of timeliness. Of course, it's impossible for print media to provide the instantaneous information fix that we've all grown accustomed to with the Internet. But John's point is good: in print, words last longer, and they must be chosen carefully before being committed to print. I'm guilty of this desire for instantaneous information too: When there's a new product out that I am truly excited about (HDTV tuner cards for example, and more recently, the Sharp 9000 projector), I'm like a little kid pulling on Tom Norton's pants leg: "C'mon, Dad, can we run it now? Can we run it right away?" But, as John pointed out, there are very valid reasons to live with a product for a period of time to really learn its quirks and foibles, so the reader can gain a full impression of what that device is like to live with. I want my information fix immediately, too. But I'd venture a guess that most readers keep SGHT permanently as a reference (I know I do this with SGHT, Stereophile, and several other quality magazines). And if you're considering a product purchase a year down the road and want to see how we reviewed it in the magazine, what will be truly important to you is that the review was fair and complete, not that it was the fastest one out of the box.


I enjoy spirited discussions like this tremendously. And while I haven't been able to participate as actively as I once did, I follow AVS regularly and am constantly awed by the collective knowledge base that's here.


Best Regards,


Pat Megenity

Convergence Editor

SGHT


[This message has been edited by hifipj (edited 09-22-2001).]
 

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Pat,


Hear, hear!!


or is it Hear here?!!


cuz here here doesn't quite make sense.


Oh well. 'nuf said.


Next?!!



John

trying to get my work done...
 

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Pat,


That was nearly 1500 words. Could you cut it down to 1000?


Actually Pat, I'd rather we (SGHT staff and contributors) correct ourselves here at AVS in an additional posting. If anyone comes along and sees the indication that "This message has been edited by hifipj", they won't know why we've gone back into our words. It may be a simple typo correction, but still, since it isn't indicated here on the forum what or why we've edited ourselves...let's just correct it with another post. I want our words to remain as constant as they are in print.


Wouldn't that be an interesting exercise for everyone?!!


John
 

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John,


Now, are you accusing me of being too wordy? That's absolutely the first time I've ever been told this... (The problem is balancing our topics of wordiness: I spend altogether too many words on this topic, and not enough on other important things in life, as my ex-wife will certainly back up!)


Correction was 1st sentence, 4th paragraph: adding "a" before "low priced DLP." But you're right!


Steve: In all these months since August 2000, I still have not experienced a bottom end as tight, defined, and controlled as yours. And yes, I mean your subwoofers.


Pat

 

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Firstly I would like to thank John Gannon in reopening this thread he is obviously a gentleman. I must apologize for the tone of my posts-they were designed to get a reaction. As a resident of NYC I am used to being abrasive http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


SGHT is obviously a superior mag to any of the others, most of which gush over almost every product. I do feel there is a strain of honesty that runs strongly through SGHT and as a novice I somewhat rely on these type of reviews.


It looks like products such as the LT150 are about to be reviewed. Now if you review the Monitor Audio Silver 8i - a speaker I am just about to buy- I promise I will really get off your case.The RP56 DVD player would be a good one too.


My belief is that if SGHT can remember the ordinary people would prefer to spend $2500 then $25000 for a 'similar' quality PJ then they would be even more useful. The answer to my question... Stereophile....useless? is NO it is the best magazine out there but it could be better with more coverage of these potential low priced giant killers.


Thanks John
 

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Hey look, a magazine editor/contributor love-in http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif


Here is a perspective from a reader:


The exclusion of a business projector that has been discovered suitable for home theater such as an LT150 is a real disservice to the reader community. For instance, before I found AVS in October 2000, I didn't know there was an FP solution under about 20k, however, I was an avid AV mag reader and I would also happen into a home theater boutique now and again. Hello Runco marketing.


I do understand that you might have trouble getting product in for review due to product marketing and budget constraints. But unfortunately, that doesn't change my expectation of the type of information I should receive from a magazine I trust to be after my own interests. When you fail to meet such expectations, your value depreciates to the point where I suppose someone might post a blunt adjective such as "useless".


As a suggestion, maybe you could do a story on the viability of business projectors as low cost home theater solutions. If you can't bring product in-house, travel outside and see what those of us who have implemented such solutions have in our homes. I'd certainly accomodate you in my home if you so desired. You could then give an objective view of your likes and dislikes of such setups. This would, of course, be more of an informational piece than a formal review, but I would think of great interest to your readers nonetheless.


--Les

 

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When you title the magazine 'Home Theater" then show nothing but $50,000 and up systems, it doesn't do the reader any favors. In fact, most people then think "home theater" is only for rich snobs. I certainsly don't think that is what athe magazine is trying to do but it is the true cause and effect.


Now to the real world "home theater" means a $300 reciever a couple speakers and a big NTSC tv. Sometimes the publishers should recognize this and bring products in at all levels.


I like the eye candy as much as anyone. Thats why I like Audio Video Interiors magazine the best. Why? because it gives me lots of cool ideas on custom installations. But that's just me.


Finally, I have never purchased any item in any home theater Mag because:


1. Too expensive

2. Product is usually dated by the time it's in there.

3. They cater too much to specialty manufacturers. I think this is where the disservice lies.


Just think if this barrier about everything being out of reach of the common man got torn down. Well, I'd probably have 30 HD station I could watch cause 10 times as many high definition sets would have sold themselves.


something to think about.


Thanks for your time. Tryg

 

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Pat, if you thought my subwoofers sounded amazing a year ago - now, still the same five Vandy and three Aerial subs, but all Granite Audio cabling and power cords (including Aerial subs) and just put in Theta Xtreme DACs - I think you will be amazingly surprised that it even got more Xtreme! HA!


What can SGHT do better!!! Get more staff writers over to the AV Science forums to participate and chat like Gannon and Pat. HA!


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Arrow,


Point taken. Pat and I are going to try to find another way to acquire an LT-150...


We will do our best on this. Thanks for the offer of an in-home demo. We usually want to work these things for some time before we formulate an opinion, and having a controlled situation like my studio helps me make more scientific evaluations (as scientific as anything can be with mainly subjective observations, the measurement tools are outrageously priced--that's where budgetary restraints come to play in the magazine business).


I am going to press Tom on this. He did a small speaker review recently, and we have a few lower priced receivers in the queue...and Scott Wilkinson looked at a few entry DVD players. Not long after those stories broke, we got a few letters wondering why we were going downscale...


It is hard to please people, and impossible to please everyone.


Tryg,


As for your comments on specialty manufacturers, what exactly do you mean here? We try to review a spread of product from the entire marketplace, as best we can with 8-9 reviews per month for 10 months of the year. There are about 250 speaker companies, 10 mainstream electronics manufacturers, and 5 higher end video companies. It can be a daunting task trying to figure out what most people want to read.


Sincerely,

John

There IS a whole lotta love here, isn't there?!!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Gannon:
It is hard to please people, and impossible to please everyone.
Gannon,


Absolutely true. Frankly, I'm not really interested in "low-end" gear and I have no stake in any particular product. However, I am interested in lower cost equipment that meets and sometimes exceeds the performance of higher cost equipment.


Best of luck in your quest to please as many people as possible.


--Les


[This message has been edited by arrow (edited 09-22-2001).]
 

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Quote:
we got a few letters wondering why we were going downscale...
LOL! It is a no win situation.


Pat, how come you never called back? I had no one to go to M.V. with me. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif Did I tell you I drove from Tampa back to Seattle?


Steve, how are the new DACs? JJ received them a couple of weeks back. Mary is going to pay him a visit before he publishes the review of the CBII with Xtreme DACs.


Did I edit anything or am I just trying to throw you off with the edited by sspears?


[This message has been edited by sspears (edited 09-22-2001).]
 
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