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The Reviewer’s Fallacy: When critics aren’t critical enough


mansr
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44 minutes ago, mansr said:

 

Critics are always open to criticism.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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2 hours ago, gmgraves said:

merely opinion legitimized in print.

"merely opinion" - not necessarily. That's incredibly dismissive. 

Depends on the approach of the critic. Some just spout opinions, some give you reasoned arguments and use evidence and comparisons to support their point of view. 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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5 hours ago, firedog said:

 

"merely opinion" - not necessarily. That's incredibly dismissive. 

Depends on the approach of the critic. Some just spout opinions, some give you reasoned arguments and use evidence and comparisons to support their point of view. 

Ultimately, it's still just the reviewer's opinion. Reasoned arguments, evidence and comparisons give rise to informed opinions, certainly, But for every review, positive or negative, there are are going to be people who disagree with the reviewer's conclusions. That's the basis of opinion.

George

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8 hours ago, gmgraves said:

But if you consistently agree or disagree with a critic, their criticisms are very useful.

 

Very true in my experience too.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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I agree with that statement, audio is about reproduction and not a creative process, playing music is. The exterior design of the components should be much more interesting and a matter of taste. How about the recording to mastering process as the music performance is rarely reproduced as one could hear listening to the musicians in a room but instead manipulated ("improved") by the recording process.

Even with food and wine there are objective components so not only opinions of taste.

Criticism just based on opinions are pretty useless.  Increasing the understanding by objective background information is what criticism should be based on but that is much mork wore for the critics.

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Simply put, "audio relativism" can be characterized in one word: bullshit!

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Since I started systematically reviewing music on my blog, I actually thougtabout this problem quite a bit. 

 

Some observations from my side:

 

I agree with the statement above that reviews are essentially subjective. Even professional critics that have years of experience and writing well reasoned reviews often completely contradict each other.  So what to make of this? My way out is to find reviewers I like and often agree with. My biggest overlap is with the French magazine Classica, and to a lesser extent with Gramophone. So I check out both. With music it is easier than with equipment as thanks to streaming we now can sample everything and don’t have to buy blindly any more. 

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47 minutes ago, Musicophile said:

Since I started systematically reviewing music on my blog, I actually thougtabout this problem quite a bit. 

 

Some observations from my side:

 

I agree with the statement above that reviews are essentially subjective. Even professional critics that have years of experience and writing well reasoned reviews often completely contradict each other.  So what to make of this? My way out is to find reviewers I like and often agree with. My biggest overlap is with the French magazine Classica, and to a lesser extent with Gramophone. So I check out both. With music it is easier than with equipment as thanks to streaming we now can sample everything and don’t have to buy blindly any more. 

 

Subjective music reviews are fine  but I expect an equipment review to describe different aspects of its performance. Of speakers I want to know about things like tonal balance, distortion at high volumes, low level detail, driver and cabinet resonances, dispersion characteristics, driver integration...

This one is a reasonable example:

 

S100-HiFi+News.pdf

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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7 minutes ago, semente said:

 

Subjective music reviews are fine  but I expect an equipment review to describe different aspects of its performance. Of speakers I want to know about things like tonal balance, distortion at high volumes, low level detail, driver and cabinet resonances, dispersion characteristics, driver integration...

This one is a reasonable example:

 

S100-HiFi+News.pdf

I'm not so sure one can be much more objective on gear review than on music or other art. But I agree, good reviews are very descriptive.

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1 minute ago, Musicophile said:

I'm not so sure one can be much more objective on gear review than on music or other art. But I agree, good reviews are very descriptive.

 

I think it is possible perform a listening assessment from an observationist perspective and then impartially describe what you are hearing in an unbiased manner. Why should a reviewer characterise performance according to his taste when by doing so he's rendering the review absolutely worthless for the reader?

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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