Audio Journalists and Reviewers

Just posting in another thread, I had cause to think about HiFi reviewers and how my opinion on them has changed over the years.

There are some really amazing journalists out there - and a long list of illustrious alumni!

I remember Jimmy Hughes being a particularly divisive character - he was Mr Tweak-it before it was generally accepted that you don’t just plug things in and expect them to sound great. I think he was quite partial to a Flux Dumper, but I may be wrong. Quite a character!

The dear departed Malcolm Steward was never short of strong opinions - and felt very “flat earth” before that was brought back into to the mainstream. Flat Earth = Less is More!

The journalist that I’ve shifted my opinion on massively over the years is Ken Kessler. I made reference in the other post about how his review in HFN&RR of the Apogee Scintilla Ribbon Speakers in the 80s was my absolute ground zero for this hobby. I must have read it 30 times - even though I was 17 and they cost £5500 (THEN!!!) - I lusted after them. Similarly Audio Research, Krell (which I decided I needed to drive those Apogee’s!) and a funny (but hugely expensive) Tone Control by an outfit called Cello…never heard of since to my knowledge, but his review was so effusive it was infectious.

It’s fair to say my opinion has shifted a lot since then, and to be honest HFN&RR feels more and more “the world according to KK” every time I read it (I still subscribe!) with me knowing exactly what he will think about the latest esoterica without reading the review, and rolling my eyes at the oh-so-predictable Record Reviews of his usual suspects of favourites. Oh - and he bangs on about Reel to Reel far more than I like too!

Anybody else have favourites - or otherwise?!?

Memorable reviews that kick started our journeys??

No favourites, but Jimmy Hughes and his magazine’s propensity to apparently support the musings of one Peter Belt played a major part in turning me off reading hifi press, and over a fairly short period I went from browsing several magazines in newsagents each month, often buying one, to only doing that at times of actively searching for new gear.

Oh Yes! …I can’t exactly remember what Peter Belt was notorious for, but he was certainly that! …I know there was a craze for freezing CDs and running green sharpies around the edges of them - that may have been him - Jimmy H will have been all over those two madcap theories like a cheap suit!

…I think I’ve been guilty of getting Peter Belt and Max Townsend and Russ Andrews mixed up in the past.

Which magazine did Jimmy Hughes write for? …I don’t recall.

Alvin Gold is another that springs to mind. Always enjoyable reviews - never snooty - open minded, but not part of the lunatic brigade as I recall.

Think - like Malcolm Steward - he’s also no longer with us.

I enjoy some, as Michael Fremer, Martin Colloms, Roy Gregory, or Joel Chevassus.
Some audio magazines are not anymore interesting, like Hifi Plus, Absolute Sound for instance. They are only advertising.

Hifi Critic and Stereophile are my favourite English language magazines.
Audiophile magazine /Joel Chevassus , France.
High Fidelity magazine , Poland.
6 moons audio is very good, but hard to read for me.
Hifi advice, Nederland . Very good.
Audiophile style , ex computer audiophile. Interesting too.

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Andrew Everard…he pops in from time to time on the forum, takes it on the chin and has a good sense of humour. Too many take themselves seriously…including us forumites.

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Yes - he’s great - Paul Messenger is also a big Naim fan I think, and I do always enjoy his reviews.

I had a lot of time for anything Paul Messenger reviewed. Very honest with a lovely command of the English language coupled with great wit.

I had the good fortune to meet him a couple of times. A lovely chap who loves his music.

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VERY technical - I’ll confess that I’ve never got through one of his lab reports. Not really certain what or who they are for.

When he’s in more subjective mode though, I do think he’s a good reviewer with a good and consistent ear.

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Harry Pearson. I actually got to meet him and hang out and listen to the “Big System” at his home in Sea Cliff NY. At the time he had the Genesis 1’s driven by by CJ amps, preamp was Roland and Turntable was the Goldmund Reference. This was 94-95-ish. Also attended a big party at Sea Cliff once with a lot of industry heavy hitters, that was cool!

He was a very idiosyncratic fellow but a real southern gentleman. I remember when my son was very young Mrs. Opus and I took a trip to Nantucket to hang out for a few days with friends. Decided on the way to stop and see HP, he was very gracious made us mint juleps and we sat out side on the veranda.

He was arguably the best reviewer of our time, I miss him and his writing.

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I’ll confess he’s not somebody whose work I’m familiar with - pre internet, non UK journalists may as well have been Martians. We’d heard of Stereophile and The Absolute sound - but I’d never actually seen a copy of either of them.

Ah - that’s another product for which I read reviews of in my formative years. I’m pretty sure it was a Ken Kessler review in HFN - and it setting the standard for years to come. I may have read that review a few times!

I lusted after that Turntable, a Keotsu Cartridge, a nice Krell pre power, and some towering Magneplanar Speakers for years! …oh - and a Nakamichi Dragon of course!

My fantasy system inspired by these reviews long before I’d even set foot in a HiFi Shop.

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The Absolute Sound when it was young and printed in the small format was the Gold Standard of audio reviewing. HP could be very difficult and if you wrote in to comment on a review you’d better have had your s…t in order and know what you were talking about or Harry would skewer you. Great Times

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Matt
Not sure if you know this, but Cello was the company that Mark Levinson started after he “left” ML. Very high quality equipment.

BTW: thanks for the kind words about the Apogee Scintillas–I was the designer of the Full Range Apogee Ribbons and the Scintillas, and a founder of Apogee Acoustics. I still have the Prototype in my listening room that we used to introduce the speaker to the world at the CES in Chicago in those days, we were are the Raphael Hotel, offsite.

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Cello was some great gear. Mark Levinson’s music recordings are also very good.

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I still remember “Jazz at the Pawn Shop”, one of my favs. All my vinyl went with the company. Ref system was Goldmund Reference, Levinson ML-6s pre, ML Cables, ML3 on the bottom, and bridged ML-2s on the top of a Full Range Ribbon system. It took lots of air conditioning to keep the temps reasonable. We used to run the AC for a while, then turn it off and get about 15 minutes of listening in before we had to come up for air. Did this late at night to take advantage of the cool night air.

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Ian Rankin and Malcolm Steward always did it for me. My choice also indicates how long it’s been since I took any reviews overly seriously. I actually find reading hifi Mags a bit dull these days although I still have Critic on subscription.

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We always used to tell customers who showed up with a rolled up WHF and whined about us trying to sell them something that did not get 5 stars, “Remember, hifi magazines and journalists are not in the hifi industry. They are in the journalism industry.”

And therefore, they don’t know everything.

I think everything is okay to take with a grain of salt and work with a good dealer and your ears. I greatly enjoy reading things for discovery but rarely put any stock in opinions when it comes to buying decisions. The only publication that actively offends me because it has just enough knowledge to be dangerous, is Audio Science. Many of those reviews and conclusion are from people who grasp the tip of the iceberg of knowledge and think that’s all there is. Very dangerous and misleading quite often.

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Really miss the late Art Dudley’s Listening column’s in Stereophile, they were always a great read. He wrote a few nice reviews on Naim gear, always strived to understand what it was all about.

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Yes Srajan Ebaen with 6moons is a very talented writer if a bit on the fringe, I can see where his reviews can be a challenging read as he loses me sometimes.

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Started with Ken Kessler for me too. He would give as much good copy over budget esoterica as the real deal. When I splashed out on that cheap arcam CD player I felt like I was in the big boys club.
I admired most of the early days of hifi plus. Roy and in particular Chris Thomas.
Their better reviews go to some considerable effort to articulate the experience of listening. Rather than quick sound bites.
I forget who it was with that great tip to playing a cd. Instead of letting it play through. Stop it at the end of the track and start it back up using the numerical corresponding input for the next track - it will sound better.

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