Bad web re­views… where are they?

Australian HIFI - - EDITOR'S LEAD IN -

Aus­tralian Hi-Fi Mag­a­zine has been a whip­ping post for thou­sands of au­dio­philes over the nearly half-cen­tury it’s been around, but I have to say that now we’re big-time on the in­ter­net, as well as in print, the lash­ings are be­com­ing more fre­quent, and de­spite many years in the edi­tor’s chair, my skin is no thicker.

You won’t be sur­prised to learn that of all the crit­i­cisms lev­elled at the mag­a­zine, the sin­gle most com­mon is that we don’t pub­lish any neg­a­tive re­views, and that this is ob­vi­ously be­cause we don’t want to up­set our ad­ver­tis­ers. Pure in­ter­net hi-fi pub­li­ca­tions, on the other hand, are ap­par­ently paragons of virtue… and most es­pe­cially the ones that don’t ac­cept ad­ver­tis­ing. ‘ They tell it like it is,’ I am emailed by var­i­ous cor­re­spon­dents. Firstly, we do pub­lish neg­a­tive re­views, which I’ve listed in the past, and am not go­ing to do so again here. In­stead, I’d like to say that I have yet to see a neg­a­tive re­view pub­lished by any of the so-called ‘in­de­pen­dent’ in­ter­net op­er­a­tions that are ap­par­ently able to pub­lish what they like be­cause they’re not be­holden to ad­ver­tis­ers, nor have I ever had my at­ten­tion drawn to one by any of my cor­re­spon­dents. Am I wrong? Then please use the email ad­dress be­low to send me the links to all those neg­a­tive re­views… it can’t be that hard, there should be hun­dreds of them out there. Call me a cynic, but I’m not ex­pect­ing them a del­uge!

The sec­ond most com­mon crit­i­cism of Aus­tralian Hi-Fi Mag­a­zine’s equip­ment re­views is, con­tra­dic­to­rily enough, that we make too many neg­a­tive com­ments about fea­tures and/or con­trols that are miss­ing or don’t work prop­erly or are badly-po­si­tioned, too many neg­a­tive com­ments about poor-qual­ity man­u­als, and too many neg­a­tive com­ments about build qual­ity. So, from where I see it, we’re si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­ing cas­ti­gated for not pub­lish­ing any neg­a­tive re­views at the same time that we’re be­ing cas­ti­gated for mak­ing neg­a­tive com­ments in those self-same re­views. I think I’m miss­ing some­thing here…

An­other widely-held mis­con­cep­tion is that Aus­tralian HiFi Mag­a­zine will only re­view a prod­uct if the im­porter or dis­trib­u­tor is also an ad­ver­tiser. Like all great ru­mours, this one is also com­pletely and demon­stra­bly false. So why don’t you see some brands in the mag­a­zine? Some im­porters/dis­trib­u­tors/ man­u­fac­tur­ers don’t want us to re­view their prod­ucts, be­cause they don’t want to run the risk get­ting a bad re­view. Oth­ers don’t want us re­view­ing their prod­ucts be­cause they don’t have Aus­tralian elec­tri­cal safety ap­proval for them… which of course we’d men­tion in the re­view, which would get them into hot wa­ter with the au­thor­i­ties. And, fun­nily enough, a few won’t loan us prod­ucts for re­view be­cause they say that be­cause they have no in­ten­tion of ever ad­ver­tis­ing in the mag­a­zine, they don’t think they should ben­e­fit from one of our re­views (which cost them noth­ing). But my all-time favourite ‘bad re­view’ story con­cerns a cer­tain man­ag­ing direc­tor who tele­phoned and spent five min­utes abus­ing me about a bad re­view be­fore I could get a word in edge­wise. ‘ Hang on Alex [not the fa­mous one],’ I said, ‘ why are you com­plain­ing… the prod­uct re­viewed isn’t one of yours.’ ‘ No it isn’t,’ he replied, ‘ but bad re­views make the whole in­dus­try look bad, so I don’t like see­ing them, even if it’s a bad re­view for a com­peti­tor.’

greg bor­row­man [hifi@next­media.com.au]

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