Giving Advice without recommending your own equipment

I've noticed over the years that you can't ask a general question on Audiogon without getting people answering who with a specific model recommendation.  They  think the answer to every question is to just buy their model.  For example:

OP:  What is the difference between R2R and FPGA DACS.

ans 1:  I have a model x that is R2R and you should just buy it.  it is spectacular.

ans 2:  I have model y what is FPGA and it is spectacutlar.  buy it.

ans 3:  I have model z.  I don't know if it is FPGA, R2R or what, but you should buy it.

ans 4:  I have owned both.  I found the FPGA to have the following attributes..... and the R2R to be more ......  The models i owned were not exactly in the same price range so YMMV.  But my opinion is that I like ______ better.

Which of those answers sound more useful?  I'm just suggesting that your advice is more meaningful if you can refraim from recommending your latest and greatest piece of equipment.   I would totally ignore answers 1 thru 3.  Ans 4 is well thought out and give you a useful opinion.

Sometimes people ask for specific model advice from people who have heard certain models.  Of course 99.9% of the comments come from people who love their model x.  Apparently nobody ever buys something and decides it is not that great (I wonder why there is so much used equipment for sale).  But comments about specific models are appropriate then.

Just a few thoughts about how to navigate theough the forums and sort the wheat from the chaff.  there is lots of good advice here and lots of bad advice and this is more of an example of useless advice and how to avoid giving it.



Good point. People (and not just with hi-fi) tend to recommend what they own or use. I had a really bad mechanic and a crooked dentist before I learned to take such advice with a grain of salt.

Of course, 4 is the advice that tries to be useful. But one could append to that, "I really can’t say whether the differences I heard were due to the underlying architecture (R2R or PFGA) or to other differences in the implementations." A huge issue with audiophiles is the tendency to overgeneralize from limited experience, which includes the tendency to assign causes to heard differences without really knowing. This is similar to the tendency to think expectation bias applies only to other people. One runs into these issues constantly in audiophile comments.

People are substituting recommendations from internet forums for the visits we used to make to our favorite audio equipment dealers where we could actually hear stuff. The problem is that, considering the level of individual care invested in the systems of people on this forum, nobody can really tell anybody else what they like to hear. For the most part, you have to hear it for yourself.

Most here are trying to be helpful but there is still a healthy dose of confirmation bias, the same as there was from the dealers we used to visit - I own it (or, I sell it) so it must be good. It is just human nature, people trying to help. As an example, there is a dealer here on A’gon that often takes the opportunity to promote one of their products as the de facto solution for underperforming digital applications. Sometimes you need to separate the chaff to find the wheat.

Also, it seems many recommend equipment they do not own or ever heard.

I only specifically recommend equipment I own or have owned. I may link specific equipment that I never owned/seen/heard, usually used from hifishark, because it seems to fit the solution, but only for people to research themselves or ask more about.

I often finish by asking other members if they know about something I find like that..... No one ever chimes in.

I prefer giving advice based on concept, experiences, physics, efficient speakers, SPL, test cds, tube testers, toe-in .....whatever I’ve convinced myself I know about. How to figure out your cartridge’s SUT xfactors, etc.

Like the photo sites I am on, I always imagine others watching/reading along, I may ignore OP to some extent and put info that relates to the subject for those imagined others.

I sometimes feel people may be disappointed by lack of specific equipment answers from me..



Good point ! interesting thanks OP ...

I generally dont recommend equipment .... I recommend to learn embeddings mechanical,electrical and acoustical controls devices and experiments.... 😊

I like my gear but some pieces are so modified i cannot recommend them ...They dont perform the same before and after modification...

The worst piece of gear i ever bought i will never mention...I will be executed on a piles of wood set in fire  so popular the brand is... 😊

People focus on chosen gear piece not on acoustics and other learnings...



My personal favourite is when the OP asks for input from members who have actually owned a specific piece of equipment.  Inevitably, someone will chime in with "well I've never heard that .......... but I can highly recommend XYZ"  Apparently many of us have trouble understanding a question?  IMHO  As an aside, I've only been following this site for a few years, but I can already guess the answers or recommendations that I will read from about a dozen members.  I'm rarely disappointed.  😆

Still I find 1, 2 and 3 better than some answers that I've seen here, so many chime in based on perception rather than real experience, but I very much do appreciate people that have heard gear and give comparisons and their opinion. 

Other people's views can be of limited use in relation to SQ but not in relation to reliability. For SQ you have to hear it yourself preferably, if at all possible, in your own listening environment.

If the person replying has been around the audiophile block a few times and then suggests a component(s), some of which they may own, I see no problem. In fact. I see it as weeding out what pairs well and what does not. I dare say that It may actually provide useful info to the op, possibly saving time and money. Of course, the op should have a listen for him/her self, albeit not always easy to accomplish nowadays.

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with experienced audiophiles recommending products that they own. THE MERE FACT THEY HAVE CHOSEN IT IS A TESTAMENT TO ITS MERIT. In this forum you are dealing with sophisticated consumers of a sophisticated line of products who have tried many components. When one of these knowledgeable veterans tells you, "I now own this, and it's heaven if you share my taste and budget," I find that to be highly useful advice. Often they will discuss other components that they know well and have used previously. The more these lifelong audiophiles are willing to share, the better informed you will be. And it's free! Where else can you get value like that?


I recommend nothing, since pursuing SOTA isn't within either my budget nor a requirement imho....  I've a mix of vintage, used, new, and collected items that fulfill my personal 'intent' and desires, and work well enough together to keep me pleased.

I Do pay attention to y'alls' commentary, though...really.

What 'n why, where it works, where it fails, what went *foom* (and the 'perhaps why's'), how much/little expended in $'s or sense....

Somethings get bookmarked...some get more attention than others...

I'll happily tell you what I own, but don't expect anyone to understand why.

As in audio and most of that sort considered:  It's personal, and I don't expect perfection in an imperfect universe...."IMHO", which is apparently universal of us all. ;)

Hence the need to read MULTIPLE replies on forums and product reviews before purchasing any new gear. I first smiled when I read the OP thinking immediately of Aurender. 

Your observations are accurate. You are asking advice from owners. It's unlikely they would miss the opportunity to demonstrate their excellent choices in gear. Instead of seeking impartial advice in this forum, do your own research and supplement your findings with the experiential information the community shares.

Also, it seems many recommend equipment they do not own or ever heard.

Truth rides on the credit system, William James said. That means that most of what we pass along are claims we have not verified ourselves. Why would audio be different?

Why do we pass along claims we, ourselves, have not verified, experimentally? Because we have to get along without this kind of "hard" proof (which is typically not that hard, anyway), and we do so by making judgements about language and speakers. And it works, a lot of the time. And the alternative would be to remain silent, or caveat things to death.

That's the wisdom I see in @baylinor's comment, "read MULTIPLE replies on forums and product reviews." It's not perfect, but it makes a good judgment more probable.

Well, I feel like a broken record giving the same advice, same info about 'my' stuff, but I carry on, imagining 'newbies' following along.

People post what they know.

If it makes you feel better, classic car forums are worse.  I’ve been called names for loving certain aftermarket Porsche parts more than OEM, a heretic agaisnt St. Ferdinand 

I actually think the OP mistaking us for professional reviewers speaks volumes about the quality of replies so often given here.

OP: We don’t get paid for giving advice, and don’t personally benefit from it. If you want to hold us to some sort of standard then pay us.

This also means we don’t spend our lives reviewing gear. Unfortunately for you, the last time I was in a stereo store was 3 years ago. Again, either pay me or sponsor me so gear shows up at my home for me to review.  I would love for DAC makers to send me their gear to review, honestly, then I could start recommending something other than the best I could hear and afford. 

Otherwise, instead of complaining about how all these tinkerers and enthusiasts try to help others you should set a good example yourself. Be the change you want to see.


If someone is looking for a recommendation, of course it will be something excellent we own or want to own; or something we are aware of. To me that's the best kind of recommendation. I became aware of Aric Audio, Clayton Shaw, Anti-Cables, Audiolab CD transports, Bakcert Labs, Denafrips DACs, Aurender streamers, and a ton more....all from you guys or from friends.

Personally I recommend gear that I own and really like, or equipment that friends of mine own that I know well. I am very blessed to know some well healed clients (I'm a financial planner) that are into audio and can afford some really nice stuff.

I recommend my good gear, and think it would benefit others at a fair price point. Examples: Denafrips Pontus II DAC, Denafrips Iris DDC, Buchardt Audio S400 MKIIs, Clayton Shaw Caladans, brands of cables, Audiolab 6000CDT transport, Bluesound Node 130.

I've never recommended my gear that I know is not beneficial: Panamax power conditioner, Pangea cables, some failed cable choices, etc.

If recommending your own purchases was banned you'd get very few to no recommendations. People can only recommend what they have experienced, and the mass majority have only heard what they have personally owned.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that you guys turned me on to CODA; otherwise I never would have known about the absolutely brilliant CODA S5.5 which now sits in my rack.....and for that I will be forever grateful. That amp is amazing, and in my mind a steal at it's price; what an eye opener to what is possible for a reasonable price that amp is.

Audiophile threads is created by subjective journeys and various testimonies..

It is also motivated by more than just gears measured specs...

It is motivated by our personal informed or ill informed experiences...

I like all people journeys information as a story...

I like people as much as gear...




One of A'Gon's daily contributors is oddly absent from this thread.



I do wish more respondents would read the OP more carefully. Posters will often say "My budget is X dollars," and replies will recommend products that are 3x more expensive or claim that the OP did not specify a budget....

Fair comment. I'll mention equipment I have owned if it is directly on point, or I am trying to put into context what I am hearing given the strengths and limitations of my systems. I tend toward those companies which are one man bands-

I’m not sure what specifically happened but I agree. Some things really bother me too. People asking for recommendations but not describing their systems or their budget of the items they want to try or buy. This hobby can get big and expensive. When money was falling out of the sky it was no big deal. Now it is the opposite or close too it. I have encountered similar situations from legitimate business. Some have nothing to do with audio at all.  Almost blatant disregard for customer service. I really hope it has not hit anyone too hard. Going forward trust everyone, but verify. Get it in writing and CYA. I really feel this is the new policy. Please be cautious. If you look at some of these names and number posting you are looking at some very knowledgeable people. Again, I’m sorry you had a bad experience and I truly hope you come out way ahead. 

I like that people are enthusiastic about their gear.  Keep on recommending!  

Questions are equally important.  Ask away!

It's a forum, not pay for advice, like, for instance, psychiatry.  Get some!

Great post!  It's really bad form when someone responds totally off topic and appears to have not even read what the OP wrote.

This is something I have wondered about for years. No matter what an OP asks about, people will respond like they couldn't care less about the question.

Case in point.

Title of question:

Integrated amp: Component weight

OP writes:

"I'm an older guy with a bad back . . . . .my threshold considerations are price, power, and weight.  . . . . . hope to keep weight under 40lbs

Response he gets:

"If weight was not an issue I would suggest the Coda CSIB,"

The Coda weighs 55 pounds.


Many responses could come from dealers recommending the latest cash cow (dealer’s cut maximized on said item). Sometimes, it’s his forum pied piper who’s on the take that’s recommending it.

Sometimes, you’ll see a guy talking something up (advertising) when he also has it listed, trying to get rid of it. Yeah, he is in love with it so much (NOT) that he’s also trying to get rid of it!

And then, of course, there’s the fanatical fan boy trying to convince himself that whatever he bought has to be the best thing ever! He emptied his wallet, hence, how could it be anything but the best?! the all knowing seer that he is....

It takes some time to categorize the usernames of all these categories of jokers (mentioned above) into specific pockets. It gets easier from there...


I was planning to start a guidance thread at some point for the rookies seeking advice.

How to spot a incognito dealer

How to spot a incognito pied piper

How to spot a forum shiister


Guidance material........

But, maybe, i’ll just sit back snicker at all of it for now 😁

Yes, there is subjective bias in much of the reviews, but hoping for better non-partial evaluations is wishful thinking.  Sifting through possibly bias recommendations is still better than no data at all, and I find great value in a component preferred vs another component- that’s allows me to identify relative value at it’s price point.

Also, I’m not one to think one size fits all.  I rarely suggest my own gear unless is fits the requirements of the user,  unlike a certain past Agoner who suggested Tekton as the universal solution.