Dave, please fix your reply-to so that it replies to the ARSCList and not to you personally.
About your post ...
I agree that ears need to be the final judge. However, Something that measures far afield of
accepted "good" is either a "sound crayon," comparable to a guitar effects pedal, or it's a piece of
junk. Lots of harmonic distortion in a tube mic preamp? Might be a good thing, in fact some mic
preamps have a "drive" control that ups the level into the tube in order to produce saturation
harmonics. Some do this with transformers. This is a common sound effect, used in many forms of
music. Guitar amps are designed to do the same things. Should an allegedly "high-end" preamp do
this? I would say, no.
My larger point was, subjective "listening test" reviews are not useful to anyone except the
listener. Indeed, I will now doubt the conclusions of these two subjective reviewers because how can
I trust the ears of someone who favors such a clearly inaccruate/colored preamplifier? All I can now
learn is, they favor this kind of coloration so everything stands in context to that, and I may or
may not favor that kind of coloration but since I don't have access to their listening setups, I can
never tell one way or the other.
What is useful in a "review" of a piece of equipment -- something that translates well to a printed
page absent of me having the piece of equipment in front of me to preview with my own ears -- is a
detailed run-down of features and user-interface experiences, a discussion of the design philosophy
(and please spare the gushy words about metal-film resistors and elite capacitors made by virgins
under moonlight, every high-price piece of gear should use good parts since that's what you're
paying for; words should be used to describe inferior build/parts issues), and objective and
detailed measurements. One thing John Atkinson has done in recent years, for instance, is look
closely at jitter pass-through and jitter rejection with USB interfaces on DAWs. This has been
helpful, because many people can hear a difference with a high-jitter digital source and a
low-jitter source. Another thing Atkinson does, with amplifiers, is run them in a maximum-stress
situation to look at current capacity and cross-over distortion. This, too is useful.
What is not useful, at least not to me, is many words from one guy in one room listening to specific
music with which I may or may not be familiar. The whole genre of this kind of "reviewing" won the
day against features-and-specs descriptions, and it's too bad.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Cawley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2013 5:15 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] a prime case of why subjective reviews of audio gear are USELESS
> From: Dave Cawley
> Dartmouth United Kingdom
> This thread seems to be about a HiFi amplifier, its subjective performance and its measurements ?
> I think I have got that right ?
> To be honest I believe Stereophile have the right balance, except for one thing, and that is the
> long term listening experience. Use it for two weeks and then substitute say a Mcintosh, I think
> the difference might then be obvious. That is assuming that listener fatigue had not set in very
> soon anyway !
> My philosophy is :
> "if it measures well and sounds good, then it is good" : "if it measures badly and sounds bad
> then it is bad" : "if it measures badly and sounds good, then it could be improved" : "if it
> measures well but sounds bad then it is bad" © Dave Cawley
> In this case I think the manufacturer would have been wise to specify the amplifier correctly, and
> maybe put a spin on how the triode drove the MOSFETs ?