I often see the remark that while PSA products are great they are in a lesser league than that of the ultra-priced reference boxes (eg, MBL, Wilson, Magico, Aurender…), ie an unfair comparison test. Ultra prices, though not always of course, enable stronger products.
Seems the media, eg Absolute Sound etc, think so.
Likewise, I notice many examples of pricey cables as presumably better than PSA’s available Audioquest cables for sale at PSA.
They aren’t trying to compete with Boulder (or intermediate tiers between PSA and Boulder).
Different classes just as Schiit not in PSA class, at least at the bhk level (lower Stellar maybe), and just as Amazon Echoes are not in Schitt class (or intermediate tiers therebetween). Options for every budget.
TAS in particular, Stereophile to a lesser degree, goes through what I describe as brand obsession phases. I still remember when Halcro hit these shores. TAS went nuts, requesting every model of gear Halcro makes and lavishing praise on every box with the Halcro brand name on it. Now you won’t find Halcro mentioned in the pages of TAS. I can list other brands they’ve become fixated on. In short, I’m not overly convinced the price of the box always elicits “the best I’ve ever heard”, but I am reasonably convinced whatever their current fad brand is increases the likelihood of “the best I’ve ever heard”. A purely empirical observation confirmed more than once.
The only truth is your ears, your music in your listening space. Reviews can be pointers to help on the journey, but should not be the basis of any final decision. Some wonderful sounding systems may be assembled at reasonable prices, with effort, patience and a trusted audio retailer(s). Will they outperform mega dollar systems, unlikely. Will they provide a smile on your face, most likely.
I haven’t noticed any bias in the audio press against PSA. The reviews I’ve seen have generally been enthusiastic (to put it mildly). I know the company and its products don’t get a lot of love from various twerps on social media and audio forums, but I just consider the source in those cases, and understand that many of them have probably not even heard the equipment they complain about.
Audiorags seem to be largely a collection of infomercials. I enjoy reading some of them for product information rather than anyone’s opinion or rankings.
The last things I’ve bought were not influenced by any magazines. A Reed 3P tonearm (last review 10 years ago, online from Poland), Puritan PM156 conditioner and cables (spoke to manufacturer, no reviews published), OePhi speaker cables (spoke to manufacturer, no reviews yet) and an RCM phono stage (no reviews, had a home demo). I had a word around, it’s quite easy to find out the choices. I usually do home demo’s first, two of the first three were on sale/return.
If you worry about if there’s something better or better value than what you’ve got, you will never rest and your hobby may become a constant source of stress. That will only be worse if you rely on listening opinion of an 80+ year old reviewer with impaired hearing or a former stand-up comedian.
I suspect we all make our choices different ways, but I don’t think treating it like a sport with league tables is any good.
Of course a massive problem is that magazines largely focus on new products, because that is what their advertisers are trying to sell and they pay the magazines to help shift new stuff. It can work, as some people buy into the next best thing from their favourite manufacturers. Personally I prefer products that have passed the test of time. Once a product becomes a few years old, they often get forgotten by magazines, for no good reason.
Perhaps an additional factor in play is the ever increasing appetite for ultra-resolution as a requisite attribute of the “best” electronics and speakers. I personally find the sound signature of many of the brands that reviewers gush over to sound sound so hyper-detailed that one is in a “can’t see the forest for the trees” situation. Not all reviewers are in that camp thankfully. Absolute Sounds reviewer Anthony Cordesman is about my favorite reviewer and he was using BHK300 monos as his personal reference last time I recall reading about his system. I’ve found PS Audio’s products to have a better balanced ratio of “musicality” and detail compared to some of the ultra expensive hyper detail oriented brands.
A sadly funny story. Some years ago at (I think it was) RMAF I was in a room listening, and there was a reviewer in the prime seat. Well known, been around for ages, at the time still a presence in audio review land. He may still be for all I know. When the music had finished the exhibitor asked him if he liked it. The reviewer looked at him and said “what?”, at which point a woman who was accompanying the reviewer leaned over literally to his ear and repeated the question. The man apparently was hard of hearing! He replied with some random positive comments as he was getting up to move on to the next room.
One of our well respected reviewers. I know they’re not all like this, but let’s face it there are some out there that are.
Isn’t Halcro out of the high end audio business? I heard they were a division of some foreign (meaning not USA) military grade industrial electronics manufacture who got a rude awakening with profit margins in end high audio gear. So they killed that division. True?
I have the same mindset. And that is for reviews of anything, not just audio components. What I look for are commonalities between the different reviews. For example, one reviewer saying a speaker is “too bright” doesn’t mean much, but if many of them have the same opinion, then it’s safe to say the speaker might actually be brighter than others. For electronics (and cars), a few people whining about a failure or quirk is one thing, but if many (or most) have the same complaint, then it could be an issue.
Reviewers, also. Some are naturally a sourpuss and either nitpick everything to pieces, or dismiss it just on principle. But they’re easy to pick out and avoid.
It’s not a print magazine, but Tone Publications regularly reviewed “classic” components that have stood up over time. It’s a trip down memory lane to read some of them…