I thought I would update my website to explain what’s involved in my YouTube reviews, and how I review and produce my YouTube videos.
What Am I ?
But first, I exist to make YouTube HiFi Videos accessible to new and existing audio lovers, achieved through very engaging and high production value content, conveying easy technical understanding and honest as possible comparative based reviews, to both engender trust in buying and promote the brands I represent. That sounded like it is straight out of my press pack – for it is actually, but it gives you an idea of what I am trying to achieve because if I can’t convince you and get your trust then I am not working for the brands properly.
That’s why I struggle with review content quite often to get the tone right because like an insurance broker has what is called a reciprocal duty of care to the insurance company and the paying ‘insured’ client, I reckon this is the case with HiFi reviews. I recognise the importance of the consumer and gaining trust is so important because if you don’t trust or believe me, why would you watch?
My process takes some time and is actually quite obsessive. I’ll get a product which could come from a friend, I may have purchased it, or it has come from a brand. I start setting it up listening to it most evenings, writing notes as I go along. This could go on all week and often into another week. During this time I am producing my interlude clips, which could involve filming slider shots, and then post producing them in Adobe After Effects, recognized professional software for producing videos. I’ll generally make 4-5 interludes but sometimes 6 or 7, depending on video length. These clips can take anything from a day to a few hours depending on complexity. Making creative videos is a huge part of the enjoyment of why I do this and it has taken me to the stage of being able to model products / adverts in 3D, all self taught.
The reason I do this is many fold. Firstly I would be bored if I just produced ‘No-Pro’ videos that wouldn’t get the creative juices flowing. The HiFi element is of course a huge part of why I’m doing this, but you have to realize, producing similar videos one after the other is repetitive. After all I already know about the product and what I am going to present after listening etc. So in this light and beyond simply a journalistic capacity of content, having this extra creative reason to do this, must prevail. Enjoying the fruits of my labour is another aspect from which viewers benefit but if I produced the same videos with the same shots I think it would be easy to tell the channel is much less about the process but more about ‘hits for content’, and dangling a carrot of products, which I want to avoid to the extent of adding my own angle. The production is an anchor to improve the spoken content and my presenting to camera. Bear in mind each interlude requires music too – I use Epidemic Sound as most YouTubers do, a subscription copyright free service although sometimes I might use a cheeky cover version that the monetization algorithms on YouTube don’t notice. But this process of adding music and sound effects into the interludes takes time too.
By the way I am genuinely chuffed, encouraged and flattered when people comment so positively on my videos and say such things as ‘the best produced HiFi videos on YouTube’. It it the fuel that keeps the fire of continuance going because making videos as I do is very hard work….
Once I have completed the interludes during the week, I am close to finishing the script I have made of what I want to present, the week after. This comes during evening listening sessions generally but because it happens over a week I have ample time to refine my views on sound quality and technical features. Like a doctor making a diagnosis all my opinions are mine first so I don’t reach these before reading other reviews. But once I have my view, I then research other reviews to gauge what I agree with and don’t and I generally read /watch all the other reviews of a product. I then refine the script if I need too. This adds another 3-4 hours quite easily.
At this point I have easily spent around 60 hours of work and my video is just over half complete. The next week I’ll then film the pieces to camera. This usually takes about 4-6 hours, after I have set up camera’s and tripod’s for an hour. I try to remember what I am going to say and then just present the segments to make it flow and become natural and so I can ad-lib, as this often supplies creative moments. It is important to have fun as you do it too.
I will then marry up my mirrorless Canon Camera video (M6 Mk2 at present) to that from my Zoom H1N microphone and Rode Lavalier Microphone using Vegas Pro editing software on a PC so I have rough cuts of my footage interspersed with the interlude clips.
The next three of four days involves editing the footage – spending half to 3/4’s a day filming B-roll clips to add over my pieces to camera, but mostly editing those clips together, adding further titles and After Effects clips (which I make from scratch) and music into the B-roll segments. I am now well into week 2 and about to publish. But before I do I have to make the thumbnails up from photos, add description comments into YouTube, plus set the monetization and playlist options. I’ve also got to write an article for a website linking it, when I have time, and share to social media which can be another quarter to half day of work.
So at the time of release I have spent anything from 90-130 hours depending on how many interlude clips I’ve made and video length which extends the edit. It is a hugely rewarding process to see a professional video come together, that will stay in the digital domain probably forever. Ultimately though to get more content out, where I am not sponsored I intend to make easier videos without so much post production, whilst keeping my quality.
Once the video has been published I engage with my audience in answering all posts on features and use cases but understandably if someone wants system recommendation advice from me for free, since it adds to the time it takes to make videos, I ask for donations or suggest Patreon subscribing. Also it is not as simple as just giving the *better* product, because what meets a need will come from a chat of a number of messages and that all takes time.
Back to Review Ethos….
If I was here to do a review saying a product is good with no comparisons or imply a product is exactly the same as another by trading positive characteristics, then it will be extremely clear to any intelligent person that I am not reviewing and that the video is a product placement. That is not my style… It is incumbent on me to play devils advocate to give clear strengths and weaknesses of products, in positive case use ways as a dual purpose of ;
a) showing the brand I have fairly reviewed and promoted the product and its USP/Main Traits and;
b) allowing the viewer to read between his or her own lines of thought about whether the product is suitable.
So for instance a product is expensive (weakness), then it fits a premium category (strength)….a product has lots of treble (may be perceived as a weakness)….well that’s good in a suitable system (strength). That’s always my fair process and if I wasn’t doing this, with any level of effort of all the characteristics, again I would not be reviewing.
One must bear in mind that most reviews come across as favourable – not in any way because I want it too, but such is the competitive commercial nature of HiFi of price comparative gear. I am very often analyzing minutiae of products. But I do not hold favouritism to certain sound/brand characteristics as I put myself in the camp of peoples different sound preferences, every time I review. It doesn’t mean that because I personally do not prefer tube amps more than solid state amps, for instance, that a tube amp is not treated equally.
I indicate in my videos if the videos are unpaid (and do not form part of my sponsorships) so you as a viewer can understand which brands I rate through sponsorship, and so you can take a view. Not least if this is not declared, a video review would be tainted with a lack of understanding around the credibility of the content. To this end, all my ongoing sponsorships come from brands where I have initially reviewed their products without payment, which ties with a journalistic element of doing HiFi reviews. Banners on my website are an indicator of current sponsors too. (except for Roon and streaming services – Tidal & Qobuz who have given me free streaming subs, and HiFi Shark who mutually banner my site)
Generally you can only make credible HiFi reviews and be sponsored with brands you rate if you have a way of declaring your interests, and taking time to review products free is an investment I make before I seek sponsors. Any review where you do not know the financial motives of the reviewer should be taken with caution.
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My intention is to keep my personal opinions to myself, albeit sometimes not the case, but if you always want access to these, as well as ad-free Vimeo videos and free product giveaways, system advice etc, please sign up to low cost Patreon here where we can talk further privately. I look forward to seeing you there…..