in ,

Anyone for “Musicality”, “Highly Recommended” or a “Veil is Lifted” ?

The prose of a HiFi review is what sets it to be either a turkey or ‘winner winner, chicken dinner’. Sorry.. I can’t apologize to the guy who didn’t understand my slang and colloquialisms – because I am from the Cockney speaking East End. Well, nearby: Essex, in fact. But I digress – back on point, and that’s that the murky borderlines of conveying enthusiasm and creativity in a review and real world product comparableness, against using pretentious and ostentatious language, is a fine one.

So a review that uses the words ‘musical’ or ‘highly recommended’ have their place, contextualised with an impassioned engaging case for a product, conveying what it does. Providing that the product performance hits between the lines of course. OK I took it a bit far with the ‘veil is lifted’ in my title teaser.  But what might words like ‘favouring frequencies above the waist’ actually mean or indeed, the not quite evergreen “a caffeinated top end?” I suppose it depends on whose waist or which cup of tasters choice is your medicine. Those frequencies might have a job getting around Michael Moore’s but not so much Tom Cruise’s.

You’ll love this amp as it has a caffeinated top end?


Aren’t words a means to an end of conveying what you need to know, not to the inclusion of florid language which strangulates itself too much. I’m not talking of the functional straight marching language that some might like from the HiFi print press. It has a place, but the way of creative article writing is essentially to glide through, entertained along the way and maybe have a joke. Leave something to easy imagination, like I just did on the size of guts, whilst giving you all the information you need. That’s partly my aim in writing on 13th Note.

Using comparison is a good way in bending ears because it allows easy parlance to have more meaning. It’s really easy to understand a speaker having more dispersive room filling sound like Definitive Technology’s Demand D11’s against Neat Iota Alpha’s wider soundstage, but being less dispersive. I think most people would know what these terms mean and apply normal meaning that Audiophiles and newbie Audiophiles can mutually understand. I really don’t need to say ‘the treble is like a white wine spritzer’. You understand what these easy terms mean…..then help yourself and take your pick.

A problem is that in an endless way to be more descriptive or creative by making sound comparisons to alimentary canals or coffee beans, it alienates people away from audio. It isn’t an all inclusive meal, rather an ‘exclusive’ cordon bleu one and only for the familiar ‘fine diners’. Not fine diners in budget but in pomposity of language. Sometimes I read certain HiFi blogs and I catch myself wondering more what the words mean, rather than being an easy glide through HiFi. It’s damn hard work. This too is HiFi, and HiFi plus the musical conveyor, be it CD or whatever, equals MUSIC. But Music is non exclusive and universal, so HiFi should be too. As one distributor put it to me, HiFi is the entertainment business.

I shirk at the idea then, that when I read into what should be a non exclusive pursuit, that I somehow have to know what all these descriptives mean before I start. That there is little to be explained but lots to take for granted. To read a car review and have to understand what ‘cornering with a real arching entry’ means. Ok I made that one up, but I think you get me. It doesn’t mean that the review puts off experienced users, as it can still go off on interesting tangents with analogy and wit, and explain technicalities in easy ways, to appeal to all. More new Top Gear concentrating on human benefits of the product, than old Top Gear and too much about unimportant things like the size and design of the wheel arches. Yawn.

Being assertive we can take these words so far, for sure. Most would know what a warm sound means. In fact this is a natural extension of Synesthesia – where you experience one of your senses through another. Clearly there is a place for using more accurate descriptives and I’m not having a go at that. A HiFi is about timbre, dynamics, soundstage and many such descriptives besides. But we’ll have shot ourselves in the foot, if reviewers extend descriptives to a wine connoisseur like Jilly Goolden proclaiming that a certain ‘Cab Sav’ conveys the taste of a ‘plane revving up on the runway’. 😂 Some might think we are already there.

Let’s remember HiFi needs broadening and not restricting and as Audiophiles we have a responsibility to this approach for new entrants because a bigger market means we stand to benefit on price. If anything, with current world events in 2020 and detrimental effects on the HiFi industry, it should teach us we need more people, not less.

What do you think? Please drop me your thoughts – Respectful ones only please!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Simon Price

I'm an audio lover who likes sharing experiences of faithfully reproduced audio in a CREDIBLE, BALANCED and ENGAGING way. I’m interested in products; their looks, functionality and features, and most importantly how they sound! My reviews keep technicalities easy, as I believe great audio is non exclusive and to be enjoyed by all! It's all about the music!

Applying bias from the McGurk effect to Audiophile HiFi?

Yamaha WXC-50 Review

Yamaha WXC-50 Streaming Pre-Amp: all you need, nothing you don’t.