You know the routine, you pick up an audio magazine or bring up an online review. In the article, the reviewer will speak positively or extoll the virtues of a particular product.
Have you ever wondered why there are so few genuinely negative reviews? The behind the scenes reality is quite interesting.
In general, there are two basic reasons why there’s a dearth of negative audio reviews. The first is obvious. Manufacturers put forth their best products. Manufacturers who know they have a borderline product generally won’t offer that product up for review.
It’s quite common for reviewers to spend a significant amount of time with gear and put it through some scenarios that the manufacturers hadn’t envisioned or tested. In fact, there are frequent occasions where the reviewer will uncover some underlying things about a product and act as a bit of another layer of quality assurance. This can lead to days or weeks of back and forth debugging the issue. You’d be surprised how many consumer AV products have benefitted from reviewer’s feedback.
The second reason is that if a product does come in for review and ends up being sub-par (or a dud), magazine publishers will then communicate with the manufacturer and either decline to do the review or give the manufacturer the option of declaring that the product is not ready for prime time. This latter scenario takes on another nuance when said manufacturer has an existing advertising contract with the magazine.
The flip side to all this is just because you don’t see a review for a product clearly doesn’t mean it’s sub-par. On the contrary, some publications prevent good products from coming light. For example, some won’t review a product unless the manufacturer has a presence with a minimum number of dealers. Some publications won’t review a product unless there’s an advertising contract between the publication and the manufacturer. You’ll also find instances where a publication is looking for a particular kind of product to review or that the manufacturer is looking to promote a particular model in a lineup. They will then decline to do a particular review even the manufacturer wants to promote it.
Whatever the circumstances when it comes to reviews, you can rest assured of one thing: When you see reviews, the positive ones will far, far outweigh the negative ones.