Product reviews are great and generally benefit the retailers who to some extent depend on the press to advocate certain qualities in the products we distribute into said retailers. It helps the retailer qualify what they have in store and confirms that said products are what they are.
Reviewers are for the most part experts in one area or another related to the Hi Fi industry. Some are engineers, others musicians or both but largely they are enthusiasts with a vast level of experience and knowledge of the industry and often provide a great deal of objectivity.
ABL accept that reviews also benefit consumer in guiding and explaining why one product may be better than another, however we must realise that we are all individuals with very different criteria and opinions on what is good or not. What one considers expensive or well designed, beautiful or down right ugly – no matter what it sounds like! Personally there are speakers and electronics that sound amazing but I wouldn’t let them in my house, as they would just not work with my décor!
As a consumer we would advise you to understand as much as you see is relevant to your situation, what you actually require and not to be led by someone else’s criteria. You may actually like the look of something but be put off by its 3 star review and be missing out on your ideal system, equally it may be just that little bit more expensive than a competitive product but reviewed poorly based on that higher price; you however, really like it, happy to adjust your budget but are swayed away from ever getting it!
Empower yourself, listen to many different systems at varying price points; a good retailer will often set something up in your home for you to trial. You are the best judge of what is good, your eyes, your ears and your music. Yes, by all means read the reviews they are good guides and provide insight into a given product but ultimately you decide!
We also always advocate setting your own budget, find a retailer that you can spend some time with, review the budget once you know what you’d like and ultimately want, and together retailer, magazine review and you – can come up with YOUR ideal system.