Saturday, December 27, 2008

New issues of Tone and A$$Audio online

Great new issues of Tone and Affordable Audio just out, both free and representative of excellent if slightly different approaches (Tone has resources ;). It speaks volumes that regular publications of this kind are alive and kicking, produced by, lets be honest, audio fanatics for other fanatics. I doubt TAS or Stereophile have to worry too much, there's a large community of us out there and just as our tendency is to buy the same recordings more than once, we also tend to read all the mags, not just one. I mention these two in particular as they tend to get less coverage than others, and Tone really is a visual delight also.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Shipping blues

I purchased a pair of Virtual Dynamic David biwire speaker cables in September for a trial. I liked them a lot but they came with spade lugs that were a little too small for the Von Schweikert speakers and this frustrated me. The salesman at VD told me that wider spades were an 'option' but I never noticed it nor could I find mention of it on their site -- so you might call it a secret option but it's one you should know about before shipping. So, at my shipping expense, both ways, VD offered to replace the spades with the larger options. Sending them back I had an uneasy feeling and should have paid more attention to it as the promised two weeks out of my system turned into a month. VD got them, changed them and sent them on their way back to me but they never arrived. Of course, through the power of technology the postal services can trace them, right? Wrong. Canada Post tells me they left the country on Dec 8th and arrived in the US (at some unspecified location) on the 9th, after which they claim no more knowledge. USPS told me their records indicate the parcel left Canada but they have no record of it actually arriving in the US so I have to take it up with Canada. Meanwhile Rick Schultz, the head honcho at VD, told me he'd make me up a new pair and ship them on, but it would not be this week. So, what can one figure? The biwire cables leave Canada by air but don't make it to the US. Does some light-fingered flyer have a penchant for exotic cable? Did someone steal the parcel expecting a prize and then stare in bewilderment at the thick wire that was insured for over $1k? Did Homeland Security get involved and should I expect a knock at the door? Well, as luck would have it, the day after posting this, I get a knock at the door and the original parcel has arrived. So, three months after paying for them, I finally get a chance to really listen to them -- too bad I've changed amps and now really need a shorter pair, given the snake's nest these create given their size and inflexibility. So you can see some further shipping is in my near future....just not this week. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reviewing the reviews

The Daily Audiophile (see link on the right) is running a survey at the moment asking people which of the main audio mags/sites they trust for reviews. Sadly A$$Audio is not listed but most of the others you'll know. Interestingly, 6Moons is proving very popular in early voting. In my own experience, I'd not say it is so easy to trust an entire publication, but certain reviewers within them. Over the years I've learned to calibrate what I hear with what others say and then I begin to get an idea which reviewers hear music as I do. As a result, I don't trust or distrust any of the major mags but I don't place much faith in several of the regular columnists within them. Either they hear things I don't, or they continually say the same things about products I find to differ in my system (or in one case, to continually push products from the same company or importer). No point naming names in that regard but those whose opinions I've learned to place more faith in include Kal Rubinson at S'phile and Wayne Garcia and Sue Kraft at TAS, only because I've heard some of the products they liked and found I liked them for similar reasons. Oddly, I respect greatly the work of Robert Harley but I don't assume the we will like the same products, since I've even visited a store he wrote about once, claiming it had great sound in all demo rooms, an experience I found not to be so when I went, even when hearing similar gear.

All this goes to say that writing audio reviews that convey a true understanding of a product's sound is largely impossible and you have to spend the time hearing and calibrating to learn the vocabulary that conveys most information for you. In that regard, while I like 6Moons, I would not 'trust' their reviews yet.