Beware “The Review”

Hi Folks, yes,  here we are entering the season of fall – you know that time of the year when we prepare for indoor listening.  Time to check our music system, evaluate what we have and what we may like to add or change.

Typically, the time for “research” into what’s new will take us into various magazines, selected e-mags, confering with pals as well as treks to your local hi-fi shop. Yep, we’re getting ready too! Always new gadgets and doo-dads and of course, it’s “way-fun” to listen to all the new products that can be heard at your favourite shop.  In light of this, there are a few pitfalls that you may try to avoid.

  1. A product that you are considering has been reviewed in a magazine . The reviewed item is hyped as great sound, easy to use.  You find a “great deal” on line and purchase the product, only to find out it’s misgivings such as…… You don’t like the way it sounds on your system, you find that after so many hours of use it heats up or maybe doesn’t even work right out of the box or it needs more/less power than is available to you.  The Reality is, these are not uncommon complaints. I know of a chap who purchased “all the right stuff ” according to a hi-fi mag, but guess what? After spending over $60,000, his system sounds like “crap”. Why? he purchased each piece individually without actually hearing it as a system. Great products must be able to “meld together” sometimes each device has “personality issues” or characteristics that don’t work well with others . You truly have to hear it as one system.
  2. Reliability is a huge issue, the product may sound great but you are not told that they needed 3 samples to get one to work properly.  In addition, when a product is reviewed, rarely will the device be run as “burned in” unless it is a long term review.
  3. Products do indeed change, often quite dramatically as they start to “burn in” so see if your local dealer will let you hear one with at least 40-50 hours of play on it. Most products need hundreds of hours – 250-400 before they are truly burned in.

The biggest one to me is why would I let someone else determine what will sound best to me. It is interesting to note that quite frequently the other equipment that was used is either de-emphasized or not mentioned. I can still recall attending a hi-fi show and being “blown away” by a rather small and inexpensive pair of speakers. When the demo people went on a break, I got an eyeful of the product they were using to run these gems. Amp and pre-amp were about $10k each, so $20K in power and $350.00 in speakers, not really a fair demo and I was not about to upgrade my gear, just get some speakers for my den. An addition to this is, you know when you hear something that you like, your buddies may not agree with your choice, but you are the one who will listen to this system, not them.

‘Tis indeed the season to start considering new toys, do yourself a favour and consider something that you will like to hear. It may even be that piece that piece that you have read about, but by listening and checking it out, you are more sure of making a solid purchase.

Thanks for listening

Gord