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My Favourite Credible HiFi Websites

Stripped bare to its core, the main purpose of the HiFi review is to give you the lowdown on how a product performs. ‘Me too’ as I read them as well. A good’un is your ears and eyes….by using comparison and having an element of objectivity. Assuaging what one guy referred on my Facebook page as the ‘word salad’ reviewers, whether your thing or not is not the point here, but what is – where do such reviewers laid bare, stand, if the fundamentals are missing?

Dictionary Definition of ‘Review’

1. a formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change if necessary
2. a critical appraisal of a book, play, film, etc. published in a newspaper or magazine.

Those that give the cop-out “it’s up to you to decide if it’s value” juxtaposing value for money as just being an absolute judgement related to wealth and money, when many an Audiophile wants value regardless of bank account bulge. Or the perennial – my opinion doesn’t count. What??!!??….of course it counts.

Clearly poor products are rare in the world of uber competitive HiFi, but when they come along, we want to know. Equally good reviews want to sing from the rooftops when a product performs well – which, I’d say is at least 90% of the time and the reason we do this as enthusiasts. I love getting hold of something as profoundly good as the dCS Bartók, as much as the next man. That’s the whole point, otherwise nobody will believe us and the whole review is counter intuitive and productive. Manufacturers say they want honest reviews because if they are all same old, same old, irrespective of the quality of products, it adversely effects manufacturers and the industry generally through low confidence.

So which publications or online sites actually publish the most honest Reviews for me? The list is a small one but, whatever, below is the list nonetheless (in no particular order). Obviously I cannot count myself – but certainly honesty & credibility is an aim of my site.

Be aware too I’m not being paid at all writing this article, I’m simply writing it as a fan of these sites.

1. What HiFi

I describe Audiophile HiFi websites, other than my own, which I really rate and go to for credible and reliable information.

Whether a reader is pessimistic or not to view a magazine as acting for manufacturers where that mag stands to gain from big advertising budgets, is a point you’d never convince people over. And it’s not my intention here anyway, whichever side of the fence I’m on. The point is, can we take certain elements of reviews and relate them to our own experiences to form opinions about their trustworthiness? Well, with What HiFi, absolutely.

Not only is What HiFi scoring by assigning 5 star reviews, all the way to 1 or 2 stars, but comparison is made between products that perform well, too. Where equally poor reviews tie in with our opinions as much as good ones, that’s the trigger and acid test for thinking, ah yes, a Credible one. You’ll find they might not always tie in with your experiences – for it’s impossible. Feel free to call them out too, I’d say. But what is for sure, I’ve found that more often than not they do stand up. And this is the interest – finding out lines of agreement, not casting an aspersion, on the single or few occasions agreement isn’t reached.

I also like the way What HiFi’s online site and mag keeps good continuity between reviews and doesn’t make HiFi and audio too technical. Just enough to get you through, with as many explanative journalistic articles explaining new technology, as the reviews themselves.

An edition, yours for 85p in 1983, this British magazine was part of the Haymarket Group. They went global in ’91 and more recently in 2018 were sold to Future Publishing by Haymarket in a deal worth £14m.

2. Headfonics

Headfonics is a site that I really rate.

The notion that you get a very detailed run down on everything at Headfonics, is what appeals. Very need to know, succinct, to the point and a site not afraid to be honest in comparisons.

If you want the most honest reviews of headphones, IEMs, DAC products, etc, Headfonics is my first point of call. They probably don’t so much need the link, I do more than them, but click on the web page photo to get to this site.

3. Audio Bacon

In his review submission page, Jay Luong, the writer and editor of Audio Bacon comments that if a manufacturer is ‘butt-hurt’ about the slightest negative products, please don’t bother sending them in.

This is true if you think about it, because this is a our job. The wording is similar over at 6 Moons, although I tend to find that site hard to follow and too technical, personally. Audio Bacon is a pretty easy site to get through and if you want comparisons on audio equipment, with a steer for Audiophile gear, then you can be assured that Jay will get to the bottom of the component across a very wide range of gear.

I tend to keep review systems narrower as I feel that if a component is a good one it will work well, across a range of gear. I’m somewhat dubious of sites that don’t offer comparisons but then proclaim they use lots of testing gear, which seems to be a contradiction. None of that at Audio Bacon which is good too, for the sake of ease of understanding and complexity. Admittedly if you own the gear then it makes more sense to make as many comparisons as possible. Because the more comparisons made, the larger extent to which Jay would rate your existing gear with a component you might want to buy.

If I want to get the opinion of a credible independent Audiophile reviewer of speakers, amps, DACs and all else besides, this is the site I will read first.


Tell me who you rate and why?

24 Comments

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  1. I personally do enjoy reading the in depth reviews of 6moons.
    And as a contrast the way less technically but still comprehensive and not too long reviews on audiophilia.

  2. Hi, interesting article but before I attempt to contact any of the above mentioned publications perhaps you can help. I am looking to buy some tws earbuds that support aptX LL. Whilst a large number support aptX few seem to indicate the low latency version. I have come across a couple of manufacturers Sennheiser being one, however it has poor battery life and it appears a problem with battery drainage. I have been in touch with Sennheiser to find if their 2nd iteration is likely to have a firmware update to include LL but still await a reply.
    Are you aware of any makers that include what seems to be the “hens teeth ” of audio codecs ? If so I would be most interested to know.
    Regards Mike.

    • Can’t really help there Mike. Sorry. Marcus at headfonics would know more than me, as he reviews so many headphones. However I did review the HIFiMan tws-600 and not really any latency issues with my gz2000 Panasonic oled.

  3. What hifi is an issue for me for 2 reason’s. Sony products always got good ratings Evan if other mags said not so good. As it stood an editor of what hifi also worked for Sony at the time but said it did not affect the review. Really. Also it massively pushed expensive HDMI cables it advertised in it’s pages. Yet in the end PC world Currys etc had to offer refunds as it was acknowledged the expensive HDMI made no difference at all over cheaper ones. So clearly what hifi lied to sell advertised producs

  4. I would tend to agree that What-Hifi and Headfonics are great sites for reviews, however I draw the line at Audio Bacon. Are Jay Luong’s reviews comprehensive? Yes. However, when there are reviews on his site that make the claim that a $1000 ethernet cable made a difference in his system, he loses all credibility to me. I can’t believe that he’s an electrical engineer, as he claims. Same goes for his reviews of high end power cables from the wall to his amplifiers. If he didn’t replace all of the wiring in his entire house, and the wiring from the power grid to his house, how could there even be a noticeable difference? Not to mention, he claims it takes “several days” to even begin to notice a difference in something like a power cable. There isn’t a single person alive that could remember exactly what a system sounded like three days ago after a change as minor as a power cable.

    Finally, the comment sections on his articles pointing out the inconsistencies and fallacies in his reviews are some of the most toxic I’ve ever seen from any audio site. Jay himself loves to attack comments pointing out his lack of objective thinking, and claim that if the commenter doesn’t agree that a change like an ethernet cable in the system can make a difference, then they must not be an audiophile, because a true audiophile would believe in the possibility of any change making a difference, and would believe with their ears rather than their mind. He goes straight to the offensive every time instead of being open to possibile criticism or comments contrary to what he thinks.

    For these reasons, I simply cannot view Audio Bacon as an even remotely trustworthy site, and would much rather read reviews/articles from Headfonia, Inner Fidelity, or Crinacle’s site In-Ear Fidelity.

  5. Dificult to understand how you left out extremely credible sites as ” Enjoythemusic , Positivefeedback , Absolutesound and Thesoundstage . They are all very credible site for which their reviews must be taken seriously . Are they forgivening when they review equipment from one of their sponsors ? Of course they . Who isn’t ? They all are . It’s almost imposible to give a bad review when the equipment belongs to someone who is plucking down 40,000 a month for advertisement . Money makes the world go round so just read around the lines .

  6. Nice addition might be alpha-audio.net (also on YouTube).
    A Dutch website with a very original approach. And since a little while with articles and videos in English. Recommended!

  7. I trust AudioScienceReviews because of the methods they use for measuring equipment in the reviews. For example the speaker reviews use a very accurate system to predict how a speaker should sound. The DAC reviews show that many expensive DACs have poor quality measurements. For example the PS audio DAC attempts to improve performance by using a all transistor gain stage but in reality this solution to the problem causes much more distortion than the use of an attenuator does.

  8. I really rate John Darko from Darko Audio Reviews (DAR). He’s got a very good website and YouTube channel, he’s unbiased and leaves the reader to form his or her own opinion on many topics.

    • He doesn’t give opinions or call out bad products, so you don’t know if you are on foot or horseback sometimes. You want people to help form opinions, not leave everything to you because trust me, there are bad products at a price, albeit rare. His commentary is one of apparent credibility, but don’t be fooled, he works very closely with some manufacturers and benefits to a big degree from them. He will give a semblance of opinion to the differences but he is treading a careful game for those interested manufacturers. So watch say his innuos or Auralic videos, where he is heavily sponsored, and you won’t see any bad comment. All left to you, no comment on value, no comment on opportunity cost etc. I don’t do that, if it’s rubbish like the Aries g1 for the money, and I think others will agree, like me, I’ll say so. It’s not just a matter of subjective opinion but objective opinion by comparison. And if I compare another steamer and it’s almost all the Auralic’s performance for same cash, do you want me to BS you? Of course not. Btw I don’t get paid at all.

  9. I second Audio Science Review. Founder Amir suffers no fools, has state-of-the-art evaluation equipment, and gives consideration for how the data are interpreted. Industry experts and audio engineers post on the forums pretty regularly, too.

  10. For me only measurements are transparent so ASR as almost one & only, then there’s need for good description of functionality which is probably hardest to obtain (all kind of reviews from various sources & most importantly what actual owners have to say) in the first place forum’s and again ASR pop’s out followed with HeadFi. Last but not least how it sounds based on the hearing ability of individuals. For this of course you need to know reviewer and trust his hearing. For me that’s Marcus from Headfonics all do we have almost opposite tastes (he is bass head and i am mid centric with a tad of brightnes).

  11. I didn’t come across this site before Daily Audiophile showed you had a new article. Too bad. And too bad, that you find the industry to be in such a terrible place. My main point is: your list of credible audio critics is VERY short!
    I don’t understand the inner workings of the industry, but I still do find that reading reviews help me better understand what a product is about and if that would be something for me. Even reviewers have done kind of reputation to protect, but we all also have to make a living. I’m not able to solve that dilemma here, but certainly do regret that you found it was necessary for you to, give up.

    • Thanks. I don’t really read many review sites. I find most of them a bit boring because if I am reading them, very few are independent. I agree we need to make a living and thanks for final kind comment.

  12. Just found out about this place and disappointed you’re stopping audio product reviews, Simon.

    Good to get out of the usual “audiophile” circle of websites (WhatHiFi, Darko, Sterophile, etc.) and take the proverbial Matrix “red pill”.

    Check out Archimago’s Musings (archimago.blogspot.com). Like ASR but without that same attitude and philosophy.

    • Thanks very much. Wasnt ever a fan of ASR of musing sites as they are bit anti products for me, and I rate products where fairness is due but I see too much bias on those sites against expense and lack of performance. Im going to do a series of articles about issues in industry as they are getting lots of hits and decent (but not massive) adsense revenue

      • Fun is fun and done is done. Measurements stand & opinions fail. Tho community theatre knows to be toxic but that doesn’t have nothing to do with measurements. Performance/price metric is a competitive one and it shouldn’t be different for anything.

  13. Thank you for an interesting article. I would add Steve Guttenberg -Audiophiliac YT channel. And maybe also Zero Fidelity and The Next Best Thing channels.

  14. Archimago’s Musings @ archimago.blogspot.com

    The best site in my opinion, no bs and an extensive list of products and their measurements.
    I’m just repeating a comment above, but it’s that important to me & hopefully yours..

  15. Hi Simon – I discovered your site fairly recently, and am a big fan. I was first struck by how parallel our observations are about some DACs we’ve both heard (Chord, PS Audio, RME), and how you really focus on the listening experience from a straightforward musical perspective. Your site is the closest I’ve found to the original inspiration for my own work, Bound for Sound magazine here in the States. I really hope you continue to publish your helpful and sane opinions!

    Best,
    Marc @ The Audiophile Weekend Warrior (taww.co)

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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!

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