I come from a school of thought that a great component should sound great in most systems. I realize that it's not possible 100% of the time- but at least that component should sound good! Some reviewers and editors don't seem to subscribe to this viewpoint, however. A few years ago, John Atkinson openly adimitted in his review of the Magico V3 that the speaker did not sound good with 2 of the 3 speakers he tried it with (review is posted online on their site). I think he liked with it Levinson but said that it was thin with Parasound JC1's and other amps. He still awarded it Product of year. I think TAS gave the speaker the same award. I don't recall what amps Mr. Harley or Mr. Valin reviewed that speaker with, but to me it should have disqualified the speaker from such high honors if what Atkinson found is true. At the time I thought that since Magico if not my cup of tea (sounds too detailed, lacks a midrange a $1500 electrostat can produce, and has a distinct sound of treble, bass, midrange drivers, etc.) it was just audio media gushing about something I didn't really follow closely.
Fast forward a couple of years. Stereophile awards the VTL 450 II a runner up for Product of the Year. TAS writes a lukewarm review. There could be many factors. Fremer wrote the review. With the death of JG Holt, no one is singly associated with the Stereophile brand as Fremer. (He single-handedly saved analog from the garbage dump of history!) He can't be wrong. Personally, I appreciate negative reviews. Most readers would love to see more negative reviews. However, in this case Stereophile has tested this amp with many speakers since this amp was a VTL 300. (Could it be groupthink?) Another possibility could be that TAS may not have done its due diligence 100%.
Is Stereophile wrong again or should TAS have tested this amp with several other speakers to present this a more accurate picture of this amp?