Ever wonder about the advice you are generally given by the mags to audition in person? Do Stereophile and TAS still labor under the illusion that dealers are out there, willing to support home auditions for their trusted customers? Well, maybe they exist somewhere but the reality of modern purchasing is that dealers with listening rooms are going the way of the dodo, and in the last 5 years, I've not met a single dealer willing to let me hear a pair of speakers in my own room. Am not blaming the dealers, but it suggests that a magazine reviewer hiding behind the 'don't take my word for it, go hear it yourself' is now invoking this as a weak defense for the state of the reviewing art.
There are two aspects here I wish to explore, and it will take several entries. First, buying audio can be a painful experience, and it is no wonder that online dealers are taking over.
Second, the science of audio discrimination is so limited, reviewers are just not reliable as guides to purchasing when they won't even subject themselves to calibration tests. More anon.