How I do my Reviews – the 13th Note way!

Reviews are for guiding people into HiFi purchases whilst keeping an article engaging and entertaining for those who too like to keep in the know. I also post informative articles about new products, reports from shows, and features imparting my love for all things audio.

Whether you are an audiophile or want information about a product, my attitude is that you don’t need specialist knowledge. Getting great audio is a non exclusive pursuit to be enjoyed by all! This is my steer on audio products – I’m interested in what they do, how they look, and mainly how they sound. I don’t get bogged down in the technological minutiae so often burdened by HiFi reviews. If you want me to answer your queries about how products perform please feel free here.


noun : a person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about equipment for playing recorded sound, and its quality.

Cambridge English Dictionary

I can write my reviews freely and impartially without hindrance, as I am not connected with any manufacturer. Nor do I have commercial interests at heart as I’m currently running as a hobby site.

The Rules I Follow with my Reviews;

1. Reviews can be objective

My aim is to give my own subjective opinion but drawing on opinions of others too and what I think most will prefer. In this sense reviews are not just subjective but can have an element of objectivity too.

2. My reviews are comparison based always

Rating all gear as fantastic, or implying so, but not saying why it’s better than other products, makes a review lack credibility. This is the bain of many HiFi reviews.

If a product stands out, it will understandably receive my praise! On the other hand, if it underperforms then I will draw comparisons in a fair, non derogatory way. I am mindful others will disagree and everyone is entitled to an opinion which is to be respected. So ultimately it would be unfair to be hyper critical.

3. I keep technical language to a minimum

Most of us are not HiFi technicians, HiFi designers or electronics engineers. If a product has the features and functionality, it looks good and sounds tremendous, this is all we need! Roger Federer doesn’t need to know the minutiae of why his technique is good, if it gets him results.

Roger Federer

I’m generally not interested in a debate about whether the technical features should in theory make a product better or not. This is because I realise I’m not an electronics expert. For every technician who believes in one technical viewpoint there will be another with an opposing view. For this reason it’s better to keep the review on track of how the product copes in the real world.

If it becomes more about the technology then the review becomes self indulgent as audio is to be enjoyed by all. Again I reiterate it’s non exclusive and enjoying faithfully reproduced audio, is for the masses.

4. Non pretentious relaxed reviews

This is from one review I read ; ““Listening to the 16-bit/44.1kHz TIDAL version of Dane Agnes Obel’s haunting 2016 album Citizen of Glass through this digital to analogue converter saw her mastery of the keys hanging delicately in 3D space while her voice arched upwards and over the ghostly accompanying bass, string arrangements and backup singers whose modulated voices fleshed out a sonic palette coloured with shades of a darkened and bruised sky which captured the moody winter feel of cuts like ‘Familiar.’”

Sorry, you wont find that here! It doesn’t convey how the product sounds and is pretentious and over indulgent. My take is that you want to know the main sound quality traits of a product. You won’t read through one of my reviews to be presented with pretentious descriptions that doesn’t inform you about the main sound quality traits.

I’m a “music first” audiophile. I use my HiFi to listen to music faithfully reproduced, rather than using faithfully reproduced music, to listen to my HiFi. Again no self indulgence. I will select music no matter its quality as the HiFi is serving the music, not the other way around. Lest we forget!

5. I don’t undertake measurements

I don’t do this, not least I don’t have the gear and it’s complicated again. Also they often can never predict how a HiFi is going to sound or perform. I don’t believe in thinking that measurements dictate what I should or shouldn’t derive from a product. I believe it’s based on what the product does and how it performs in the real listening world.

6. Home listening tests

Unless I say so, I always conduct listening tests in my home environment. The room is known to have a huge influence on the sound of audio, so we need to keep that the same. For the same reasons of isolating sonic qualities, if I’m testing HiFi separates I always remove one item at a time but keeping the rest of the system the same, or one I’m very used too at least.

Sound Quality is the be all and end all of HiFi

How I fund my site?

I fund my website myself and currently receive no inducements or sponsorship nor do I receive advertising incomes. I post adverts to fill out the site for the benefit of manufacturers whose products have been kindly lent to me. If you would like to sponsor me Become a Patron!