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Gear Review Site

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Littlefish, May 13, 2013.

  1. Littlefish

    Littlefish Active Member

    I would like to ask for your help creating this user generated gear review site.

    The aim will be to take hype out of the gear, and give honest appraisals of gear, with the ability to start shootouts, comparisons, video and audio reivews easily.

    On April 15th we will be giving away an Ocean Audio 500 series Preamp and a Kush Audio Clariphonic DSP plugin for the user with "Most Product Reviews" and "Most Entertaining Product Review" respectively. Please help us create the most honest and comprehensive Pro Audio review site on planet earth.
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    I'm going to give you my opinion of reviews and then bid you good luck. I hope you do better than the last 100 people that tried this.

    I've found through personal experience , anyone who tests/ reviews gear, including myself, are only as accurate as the chain and more importantly, "the monitoring and room". Do you have a world class monitoring system and a perfect room? I believe about 5 percent of any review and almost zero percentage of any shootout. In fact, if you don't have the exact same set-up as me, how is that going to help me trust your results? How does this serve the manufacturer or end user?

    And where are you going to get gear to review that deserves bad ratings, or are you going to be like the majority who don't really say much? You'll have a short career telling the real truth. But is anything you say accurate anyway?
    Thus, why forums were created and do so well. Forums offer good, better, best real world opinions. Opinions that are constantly being questioned and updated be readers and end users. Why would we need another review site?

    So, good luck to what most professional these days put little value in. I suppose they are fun and entertaining up to a point. A point to where it becomes misinformation. Sound on Sound and Tape Op are where I go for this on the rare occasion but once again, it doesn't tell me much either because the reviewer is not using my chain. I usually always end up on a forum to find the best information.

    This is why we created this place 14 years ago. We were sick of BS reviews that didn't tell enough of anything. Forums that are monitored well, like this one, are the best source for pro audio product information and how to use it by a long shot.

  3. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    This is one of the very reason I like my article centered around interviews and comments then lean more to service and quality.
    I tend to favor customers audition gear for themeless. And yes I know that is not always easily done by some but for most it is.
    Not to mention we all have different tastes.
    Lots of great gear find what works and run with it.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

  5. mberry593

    mberry593 Active Member

    I have a few comments. Some of this may sound fairly grouchy, but I do wish you well and I am trying to be constructive.

    First of all, I find reviews to be mostly worthless. That doesn't mean that it is impossible to do a helpful review, just that IMO they almost always don't help.

    Let's start with microphones. I'm very fortunate. I have been in situations where I have been able to use microphones before I purchased them. I have 24 microphones in my locker and in most cases, I bought them after having used the models at a another facility. There are a lot of people who don't have that luxury. They need a way to figure out what to buy based on some other person's experiences. Most formal magazine-based reviews are so general that they are useless. The forum approach that others here have discussed does have some merit. You actually have to hang around on a forum long enough to get to know some of the members and then you might trust their opinions. That's a terribly inefficient way to do it, but I don't know of anything better. Your site might approach this, but it is going to take a terribly long time before I could get enough trust in any of your reviewers to base a several thousand dollar purchase.

    Now let's talk a little about equalizers. How do you do that? Let's forget the sweet vintage stuff for a minute. Most contemporary parametric equalizers are all able to achieve any curve you wish....and they all have reasonable distortion performance. So what's the difference? For me, it is how easy it is to get what you want. For me, I can quickly achieve what I want with some but others require me to spend more time adjusting. This is a function of how much change you get per degree of rotation of the control. But how do you talk about that? I can get exactly what I want either with a Neve or an API but I find the Neve much easier to use. Others who I respect have exactly the opposite opinion. Both are quality units and I can always get exactly what I want with either but what is easier for me is not what is easier for everyone. The big problem with this is how do you talk about it in a review? This would be great to know before purchasing an equalizer, but it is very difficult to communicate in a review. Even the trusted-forum-member approach can fail here as I have said, there is so much personal opinion difference.

    Next, here is a thing that really irritates me. My previous comments have been about opinion things but when reviews fail on easily measured hard facts, it is inexcusable. Let's talk a moment about everyone's favorite whipping boy...yes the evil empire itself...AVID! (video: villagers carrying torches & pitchforks) The preamps in the current mboxes and Eleven R are very neutral (fact, not opinion) but they do have a very serious problem with low gain (again, fact, not opinion). This is the kind of information that would be very valuable to know before purchase if you do chamber music and/or like to use ribbon microphones. It is easy to measure and the results are hard facts, not opinion. Go ahead, search the internet for reviews. You won't find any review that warns buyers about this (please correct me if you find one). You will find some people complaining about it in forums, but even there I have only seen one instance of anyone actually taking the time to do a measurement. This is an opportunity you have to easily make some useful contribution to reviewing. I have singled out Avid for scorn here but they are not alone in this. There are quite a few products that seem to have never been tested in the field before the design was finalized. Again, this can be a real value if your reviewers can address these issues.

    Good luck, I do hope your site becomes something useful.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    looks like ya told us about a month to late...

    i think mberry made an excellent last point. other than that it's just gonna be another pi$$ing match. It's too subjective, it's only good, if you think it is. it doesn't matter what others think. Things like, it's got this bug, or the knobs are wobbly (mackie unversal control), thats useful. like mberry said. things like "smooth top end", 'sounds huge', 'worked on everything i tried it on'. well, it's clear how i feel about most opinions. lol.

    They are usefull to help point you in the right direction, is a trusted source says hey ya might like this, or ya gotta try this, well then i'll try it sure. but that's as far as it goes. I learned my lesson about buying before i try, won't do that again. same w/ floor models, if that guitar or amp, or what ever is 'the one'. thats the one i'm getting. if i insist on a 'new in box', it's getting opened in the store/test spot, and compared directly, to 'the one'.

    shootouts are okay, for giving very general comparisons, like 'oh that's brighter', thats fuller, but still. mics, for instance, if you set up 5 mics in front of a vocalist/instrument equidistant, all that really tells you is what those mics sound like at that distance, on that person. maybe one mic would smoke em all if youe moved it back a few. ect ect ect. theres just too many variables for these things to hold weight, unless it's among a bunch of like minded individuals. maybe thats a way to catagorize your stuff. like say 'heavily distorted guitar amps'. then people can say if you like the triple rectifier, but want a more controlled gain sound, try this bogner... i dunno. half the time people rave about stuff, and it's un-impressive to me, which usually translates into i just spent alot of money on this, hear what $2k sounds like per channel. i understand that you pay 10x for usually a very incremental improvement, and it's the sum of your whole system, which is all the more reason to actually try before you buy.
    maybe what would be cool, would be to have like say 8 trusted, qualified reviewers, use the same setup individually, on a similar task, say 'outdoor live gig recording of rock band', and compare the general experiences. if they all find something, 'boomy' that's a decent hint, that when ya try it, it 'could' be boomy.

    it's kinda like when someone tells you "oh that movie is soooo good". would you buy a pair of shoes without trying them cause someone says ' of they're soo comfortable'. or a car, just cuz it looked cool on the comercial. i certainly wouldn't buy a pair of shoes if someone said man, they fell apart after a month, or if they said, that car gets terrible gas mileage. i'd only watch the movie if the person new me well enough to know what i like, or if it looked cool.
    guess i'm echoing mberry, but the difference between fact, and opinion, is very important to a site like yours.

    best wishes, but like everything else in this field, if your not innovative, you won't get noticed.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL.... love the villagers with pitchforks analogy. "Kill the monster!" Heheh. Just got a vision of Young Frankenstein there for a second. ;)

    Mberry makes an excellent point in terms of reviews always seeming to shout the positive aspects of a particular piece, or simply regurgitating the manufacturer's PR release -as opposed to listing the negatives.

    The example he gave regarding the Mbox and Eleven R and their lack of gain is a great example of this. I wonder if even one review exists that states this info that he found to be fact.

    So, if I was interested in subscribing to a gear review site, I guess I'm saying that I'd be much more interested in reading reviews that don't so much as tout the positives of a particular piece and simply regurgitate the manufacturer's party line.... but that instead lists the negatives.

    IMHO of course.
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    not gonna happen.

    if a reviewer did write and publish such a review it would most likely be the last time they received any gear from any manufacturer or dealer ......... that''s why you don't see honest reviews with forthright criticism as well as praise unless they are user generated and who's going repeatedly buy loads of gear at street just to write reviews?

    .... '57's forever!
  9. Littlefish

    Littlefish Active Member

    I love the feedback and can't tell you how much I appreciate each and every bit of it. My aim is to get beyond most of the issues you guys are bringing up which have been sticking points for me too. For nearly a decade I, and many other engineers have predicated gear choices (gear to try, and sometimes by) based upon recommendations...word of mouth, when we don't have a piece available for whatever reason. I trust independent, objective data, and sound that I myself can compare and contrast to come up with my own subjective evaluation.

    Lets say I have grammy awards and multiplatinum record credits out the wazoo, why should I believe Joey "pro tools in the bedroom" reviews? Good question.
    It is difficult to accurately and concisely convey how a piece of gear captures or effects a source in words.

    Does the reviewer have ears? How would we know?
    Are they able to convey what they are hearing in written form, in a way that is cogent or even helpful?
    Do they have any hidden agenda (sales)?
    Are they unconsciously biased by past gear reviews, advertising hype, or a need to justify coming out of pocket hundreds and even thousands of dollars for their bit of kit?

    The written reviews are subjective, and therefore subject to criticism and disagreement. I propose a "was this helpful?" = Yes/No button. and "potential spam (bs sales hype)" button.
    A larger data set of subjective reviews, coupled with some form of "review reliability" metric should help mitigate the issues mentioned above.

    The truest, most value driven content will be raw audio. The objective stuff, garnered using a method which attempts to control for variables but at the same time is not so rigorous as to prevent data from being collected. This is what I am attempting to do with our converter shootout, and would like to do with future gear shootouts. We can calculate loopback file deviation from the original file and quantify how much a converter is changing original signal to answer "how accurate is your converter?" We can also determine what sound if any is imparted from the converter.

    For microphones, how could we "crowdsource" data points, or soundfiles that are as close to an apples to apples comparison as possible?
    What I am doing at the moment is remicing several different sources output from a genelec 8050 (which were prerecorded through our Brauner KHE through an earthworks 1022) to record the exact same performance. Reamped cabinet, player piano, any other recallable sources to mic?
    I think the closest that we can get if trying to "crowdsource" comparable mic files would be to:

    1) All use the same sound files with test tone (sine wave) in front of it.
    2) Output from the best full range speaker that we own, through the most transparent pre and converter that we own.
    3) agree on microphone placement 12" from source and calibrate leading test tone to record at -20 dbfs or some such.
    4) submit.

    I am open to ideas.
    For preamps we could output from converter into as neutral of a DI as possible and rerecord through preamp.

    Compression and eq, we could agree on settings, import file into daw, run it, and post.

    I need all the help I can get. If you have any good ideas that might help put together something truly beneficial to all of us, please let me know by way of PM.

    Thanks guys,

  10. Littlefish

    Littlefish Active Member

    Do checkout the converter shootout here: http://www.gearevu.com/[COLOR=#000000]converter-comparison[/COLOR][COLOR=#000000]/[/COLOR]

    Also we are trying our best to attract reviewers to get the site going with the following:

    Audio Gear Reviews - Gearevu Giveaway Contest
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I went on the page and checked it out. I went to the preamp reviews and I must say ; I don't get it.. The presonus converters at 87% and the UAD at 88% how can I tell which is better (I'm pretending I don't know here :tongue:). Than I saw the SM7b at 97% !!! facepalm Who does'nt know it's a sm57 repacked as a vocal mic ?? It's good, but not 97% good. Give me the very popular AKG 414 as versatile vocal mic, I get you a high %. Take any gear and ask around, you'll always get somebody to say it's perfect!! We all judge with our taste and limited ability to recognise the differences. After 30 years of audio works, I still find my ears could be better trained.

    Got to preamps.. Avalon VT-737sp at 91% and the ART Pro MPA II at 96%, what can I say... If only they would have been tagged Home user, Intermediat and Prosumer.

    Bottom line is : people will rarely admit they bought a bad gear unless it got defective. What we use is what we actually think is the best today. But it won't be once we find a better replacement.
    Before I bought better, I tought my DBX Silver valve preamps and compressor was the best unit in the world. I would, have argue it's pro graded and ..... Now that I got the Focusrite ISA 2 and he liquid safire. I'm thinking of using the dbx for the talk back mic.. But I could'nt have come to that conclusion until I decided to A/B them in my own environement.

    Open a site where we can rent gears for a week and return them. That's gonna be a Hit !! (I'll take 5 mics and tests them. Then I'm gonna return 4 and buy the one I like the most !!) WOW, that would be great.
  12. Littlefish

    Littlefish Active Member

    All great points. The truth can be approximated with more data points. Perhaps we can agree or disagree with a person's assessment; site visitors can silently vote on a listeners "ears" or credibility. This will be factored in to overall assessment.

    I am seeing tons of negative reviews on the site, of people slamming gear that they found to be sub par. That is the way it should be.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Well, I think that Chris (audiokid) probably gave the most accurate critique of review sites, in that unless you are using a professional grade gain chain, and have decent monitors and room(s) to monitor with, it will all be "subjective".

    So, yeah, okay, there are "those" specs available that can give you a representation of quality - bandwidth, S to N, distortion, headroom, etc. But beyond those numbers - which all gear has anyway, so that's nothing special - the use of the respective piece of gear will be subjective and limited by what the reviewer is using it in conjunction with, or for.

    I think that there are certain pieces of gear which have stood the test of time, and have been used so much for so long that their reputation(s) are solid and reliable; for example, in terms of mics, u87's, 414's, 57/58's, RE20's, etc., are all tried and true... but then again those pieces don't really need reviewing because of their long standing reputation.

    Am I ever going to be disappointed by anything that says "Neve" on it? Probably not, as the company has a long standing tradition of providing ultra high quality sonics. But, then again, the consumer base for that caliber of gear is pretty narrow. Is it possible that John Doe in his bedroom studio will pony up the 5 figure cost to front load his $299 copy of Pro Tools LE with a Neve Pre, channel strip or EQ mod? Yeah, it's possible... But is it probable? Not really.

    And, most of the consumer grade gear, that which shares the price range of $100 to $400, is really all about the same in terms of quality. You're probably not going to start seeing any quality upgrades in leaps and bounds until you start looking at the $1000 base (and that's a minimum).

    Yes... occasionally there's a particular piece of gear that will hit the market and will exceed expectations, and still fall into the "affordable" consumer grade price class, but it's pretty rare.

    You mentioned this:

    Those are very solid, pertinent points of concern, and I don't think that they are unrealistic, either.

    As to the answers to those questions? Who knows?

    Am I reading a review from a guy who is getting a kickback from the manufacturer? Are they like lemmings, in terms of the reviewer simply going with the flow and not wanting to be the one guy who "bashes" a certain manufacturer who has become an industry standard in terms of name recognition? What is the experience level of the reviewer? Do they have album credits to their name? Is their portfolio/resume one that would engage a certain level of trust by the reader? Or... are they just a hired spin doctor/yes man who has heard a particular gear name dropped in certain circles and is simply regurgitating what they've heard from others?

    I trust my peers and those people I know who share my occupation and craft. I trust those who have nothing to gain - or lose - by giving me their honest opinion(s), and who can also tell me the context of how the gear was used.

    I think, if you do a search back through the archives here on this forum, that you probably won't find a better resource for honest, unbiased critiques.

    IMHO of course.

  14. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    I stopped in a checked it out.
    Some of what you are rating as so great, I would not even do an article on because I don't find it that great.
    Also on the SM7b ( I know they get some love and I love dynamic mics ), but I do not care for the SM7n at all. Fact is I gave mine away because I did not like it so much.
    The reason I bring this up is as mentioned before what is, or is not some good ( provided build quality is adequate ), is subjective. you can in no way make yourself the final god given authority as to what is good or not good bad or awesome ( IMHO ).

    As for some of the give away stuff I would think of that as a conflict of interest and again not to offend but I would not even have it in here.
  15. Littlefish

    Littlefish Active Member

    We are of like minds on all of your points, I believe. I am not happy with the dearth of all things being equal a/b listening tests (subjective) though. I am also not happy with the dearth of independently provided specs (not from manufacturer). I do think overall reviews should be weighted by a reviewer credibility index.
    With current Neve stuff, I am not a HUGE fan. Some of it I find underwhelming (summing) especially considering the mighty cost. I do not blindly accept the names Neumann, Neve, Akg, either. They change design elements often, and do indeed have some uninspiring offerings. They do also have a long history of refining and improving upon tried and true designs.
    The U87 and AKG 414 are both very, very useful mics. What percentage of their universal acceptance as the "go to" mics is purely a function of "first to market," marketing push over a long period of time, and your lemmings phenomenon? 30%? 5%? 50%?

    There are present day microphones that regularly trounce many of these de facto mics, in all areas for a similar or lesser price. We don't hear about them as often.....why is that?
    Fear of bucking the norm, sounding silly or, perhaps inexperienced on a forum might be one reason. Lack of promotional resources and history?

    Our converter comparison really opened my mind as far as how accurate converters truly capture sound, vis a vis HYPE.

    I want a tried and true, systematic method of removing hype. I want honest reviews from guys with ears, to back it up with sound clips.
    I don't want to spend hours sifting through posts. I want to focus on making music and experiencing great gear first hand.

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