Example of a piece o’ crap, useless review

I posted this originally in the Analog section as the review is of a turntable, but the point extends more generally and thought more people would get to see it here.

I’ve harped on how crappy and useless many “professional” reviews are because they lack rigor and omit critical information.  This one is from TAS that is a main offender of pumping out shallow/unsupported reviews, but most of the Euro mags among others are guilty of this too IME.  One key giveaway that a review is crap is that after reading it you still have little/no real understanding of what the piece under review actually sounds like or if it’s something you’d like to consider further.  I mean, if a review can’t accomplish those basic elements what use is it?  This review is so shallow it reads like it could’ve been written by someone who never even listened to the review sample and just made it up outta thin air.  In addition to failing on this broad level, here are some other major problems with the review:

- There is no info regarding any shortcomings of this “budget” turntable — everything is positive.  Sounds like it was perfect, ehem.

- There are no comparisons to another product in the same general price category or anything else.

- The reviewer doesn’t even share what equipment is in his reference system so we can at least infer what he may have based his impressions on.

In short, in addition to this review being so bad/useless for all the reasons stated it actually reads more like advertisement for the product than an actual unbiased review.  I can think of nothing worse to say about a review, and sadly many reviews out there are similarly awful for the same reasons.  Sorry for the rant, but especially as a former reviewer this piece of garbage pushed all my buttons and really ticked me off.  What say you?



Since every reviewer has a different setup and all of us have different setups the variations are endless and so are the subjective outcomes. 

@tom2015 That’s exactly why making relevant product comparisons is absolutely critical.  Humans are inherently awful at analyzing things on their own, but we’re very good at identifying relative differences between two things, and it’s these relative differences that provide  extremely valuable perspectives and insights that better reveal a component’s sonic character.  Without that perspective I completely agree with you that we’re left with highly questionable subjective opinions as there’s no check and balance to keep the reviewer honest.  As an example, many’s  the time I was well into reviewing a product and thought I had its sound nailed, but when I substituted another component for comparison almost without fail I’d realize my compass was significantly off and I had to reassess the component under review.  It’s a very humbling and time consuming process for a reviewer but absolutely necessary IMO to be able to write a more accurate and useful review, and that’s also why I suspect publications like TAS, etc. refuse to do them. Just my take FWIW.

There are full format reviews on a number of the components: Burmeister turntable, Vandersteen speaker, Magico speakers, and some others. These all contain sections on associated equipment, and are in depth.

@ghdprentice Yeah but how many of those reviews included comparisons to competitive products? My bet would be none.  That’s the fatal flaw of TAS IMHO and why I no longer subscribe or read their reviews.  After reading them I have little confidence I have a good idea what a review product really sounds like, so to me there’s little point after that.  It’s all just pretty pictures and a product overview with some completely subjective and unsubstantiated gobbledygook thrown in at the end.  That’s my take anyway, and it’s too bad because they review a lot of gear I’m really interested in.

The problem in this hobby is that there is no baseline. If every reviewer would start with the same speakers, amp, etc then a comparison would be meaningful.

Since every reviewer has a different setup and all of us have different setups the variations are endless and so are the subjective outcomes.

There isn't a baseline for ones sonic preferences either.


There isn't a baseline for ones sonic preferences either.

@uncleang  Sure there is.  It’s your own ears and they’re the best possible baseline you could have.