Just can't let it go.

zipperfoot -- Sat, 04/21/2012 - 12:06

I just read through the April 2012, edition of The Absolute Sound Magazine and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed all of the reveiws from the 2012 CES show. It was a bit overwhelming trying to absorb  all of the information, new products, and reviews that were provided.
However, when I came to page 84 and read Jonathan Valin's best of show reviews, I was appalled at the level of pretension that was spewed forth in his comments for "Best Sound for the Lowest Price". The lowest priced product he could find to his liking out of thousands of products were a $17,000 pair of speakers?
That's fine, but then to throw out there that he does not review bargain based gear, and the fact that something may have been rated BOS if it fell into his price range was just too much to take. I could not turn the page without first responding  to this kind of elitist talk.
I like the idea that someone would choose to focus on a particular segment of the market, but I would guess that many of the reviewers that deal with high end gear could not afford to purchase much of the equipment they review. Knowing this just aggravates me more when I read this sort of talk.
This kind of talk reminds me of the  Lexicon BD30, Oppo debacle. In my opinion thinking something is better because of price is a dangerous path to walk and has no place in a reputable magazine.

Jonathan Valin -- Sat, 04/21/2012 - 18:42

Perhaps you might want to read those show reports a little more carefully, as I explain my quandary (when it comes to Best Bargain) in it.
To repeat the obvious, my "beat" at CES is speakers above $25k, of which there are an incredible number for a single guy to report on. Because there are so many very expensive speakers--and because I listen to each one as carefully as I can--I do not have the opportunity to listen to, take notes on, or write about anything else. It's not that I prefer the sound of many of these speakers to the sound of much less expensive ones; it is my job in Vegas to report on them exclusively.
As I noted explicitly in my CES report, this does present me with a problem when it comes to picking the "Best Sound for the Lowest Price." since I don't  get the chance to audition lower-priced speakers at CES. Of course, I could name several speakers that I've reviewed--the Maggie 1.7s and 3.7s, for examples--as "Best Sound for the Lowest Price," but I don't think it is honest to nominate a speaker that I haven't actually heard at the show as a "Best of Show." I picked the Raidho C 1.1 because: a) I did hear it at CES, b) it sounded fantastic, and c) in the world of ultra-expensive loudspeakers that I cover it is a relative bargain.

rossop -- Sat, 04/21/2012 - 19:59

I have always liked your reviews of the most expensive gear even though I will never be able to afford such things. I dont have a problem with that. What I find unusual is your discussions of cameras, optics and digital photography in general. You seem to have time for that so why not time for cheaper audio gear instead? I find such postings out of place.

Jonathan Valin -- Sat, 04/21/2012 - 23:29

Thanks. I can't afford any of the stuff I review, either.
The postings about photography may, indeed, be out of place on this Web site, although I know a lot of audiophiles who are also interested in cameras. However, picture-taking doesn't take time away from reviewing audio gear, cheap or pricey. I try to pick my spots with every piece of gear I review, so that whether I review a $1995 speaker like the Maggie 1.7 or a $795 amp like the Odyssey Khartago or a $60k floorstander like the Magico Q5 I'm pretty damn sure that it is not just great-sounding but a (comparatively) good value for the money.

Jon2020 -- Sun, 04/22/2012 - 23:05

 Zipper, give JV a break. He had a job to do at the show and he did it within the constraints of that job. Overall, I find his reviews very well judged, informative, well balanced and very entertaining, which is a bonus. Few audio journal;ists have all of these traits at the same time. 

Jonathan Valin -- Mon, 04/23/2012 - 01:45

 Thanks, Jon2020.

Twochannelman (not verified) -- Wed, 04/25/2012 - 13:03

Hello Mr. Valin,
With full acknowledgement to your knowledge and experience, what did you do for a living before audio reviewing ? How did you become a reviewer ? I think of you (and most reviewers) as a man with a talent for writing who has developed his love for audio and good music into a career in audio reviewing and who contributes much to the industry with useful information and assistance; be it in a magazine review or in these forums. Keep up the good work.

Jonathan Valin -- Thu, 04/26/2012 - 23:41

 Thank you!
I came to writing about audio from a career as a novelist and a sometime professor of literature and creative writing.

nhb007 -- Sun, 05/06/2012 - 08:10

 Hi Jon,
  I've been reading TAS for over 30 years and I'm enjoying your magazine as much as ever.  Are you the reviewer assigned to the review of the Odyssey Khartago monoblocks promised in the March 2012 issue, and when can we expect to see it?   Looking forward to reading it.

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