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ARE THEY AUDIO-EQUIPMENT REVIEWS Or RECORD-REVIEWS?

A Satirical Observation

by W.A.J.

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Is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed with equipment-reviews which read like record reviews and history-lessons, among other things?

Of course, it can be a big help when a reviewer cites a familiar recording, or two, in describing the sonic-characteristics of a certain component - we can relate to that. However, there seems to be an ever-increasing trend where-in reviewers reel-off the merits, label, artiste, and characteristics of one recording after another, in a seemingly never-ending cycle. This is in addition to a basic history-lesson, and reams of other irrelevant information.

Where's the sense in that? And what is this in aid off?

Is this practice really a cop-out? In other words, could it be that the writer really has nothing much to say about a particular component and, therefore, meets the required word-count with what are basically record-reviews and trivia?

This certainly seems to be the case. It's especially annoying, not to mention frustrating, when the reviewer refuses to illustrate how good (or not) the reviewed item is, compared to others such as the reviewer's own reference components, for instance. Many reviews actually amount to a whole lot of words telling us absolutely nothing of any real significance, directly regarding the real performance of the reviewed item.

Should I illustrate a classic example of a typical review of this sort? Indeed, I'll do just that, and I challenge you to find any real substance in this, or any similar 'review'. OK, here goes:

Reviewing: Treble-Excess Audio's LEAN-MIDS 4U Speaker-System; The New Paradigm!

The following is a long-awaited review of the Treble-Excess, model; Lean Mids 4U, speaker-system.

We first encountered this speaker at the Audiophile-Association's Auto-Show, where these speakers were outstanding in balancing the ramps on which each car was displayed. It was there we met the company's current director of R&B, Xiang Chin-Low. Xiang is an affable individual whose lineage, on this continent, can be traced back to the days before Columbus, when Leif Ericson ran a shutte-service between Europe and the Americas. Xiang is also rumoured to be a distant relative of the Queen (said to be his great-grand aunty) on his mother's side, by marriage. On hearing this, we decided we just had to get an example of Xiang's latest speaker-system in for review.

But first I'll relate some of the background of this outstanding company.

Origins: Treble-Excess Audio Limited is the latest acquisition of the Mids-Deficient Group of Companies. However, Treble-Excess Audio was originally an affiliate of the Turds R Us Group - purveyors of fine B-S since 1976. Indeed, Treble-Excess Audio, as a part of the Turds R Us Group, was foremost amongst the fly-by-nite P.O.S. audio companies that were instrumental in obliterating the foundations laid by previous stalwarts such as; Acoustic-Research, Advent, Wharfedale, RCA, Klipsch, Western-Electric/Altec, KLH, JBL, Tannoy, and other icons of the 70s and prior.

To illustrate further, let's recall that the sonic-characteristics displayed by speakers of that era were much more akin to live music than what prevails today. Acoustic-Research, for instance, became famous on the strength of 'live vs recorded' demonstrations in which the audience found it nearly impossible to differentiate between the live sound and that of A-R speakers, at the time. Similar demos and results were garnered by several others of the era, including Wharfedale and RCA. The best speakers of that era actually sounded like music. How quaint?

Thankfully, the revolutionary *P.O.S. speakers produced by the likes of Treble-Excess Audio, from the mid-70s onward, resulted in a radical change in the direction and sound of hifi - to this day. Briefly; the brilliant British creators (BBC) developed a series of small to medium-sized monitors for compromised situations (like monitoring in the close-confines of an outside-broadcast van, for instance). It should be noted that, even then, their large monitors (such as Tannoys) were still recognized as most realistic. It was never ever intended that these small-monitors and their compromised sonic characteristics would form the basis of hifi, obliterating the higher standards that existed before. Yet, distinguished P.O.S. companies like Treble-Excess Audio, world-wide, saw fit to emulate the Britishers' compromised designs, developed for compromised situations. [*P.O.S., meaning; Piece Of Super-Heated Insidious Turd)

This afforded greater profits for these companies, of course, as these small compromised designs were purported to be better than pre-existing designs. Of course, the public was/is willing to accept that the laws of physics could be adjusted to conform to aesthetics and WAF, so these lesser designs dominate to this day. Companies like Treble-Excess Audio should be eternally congratulated for bringing audio-standards and quality to the level which dominates today. And the Turds R Us Group must also be recognized for their vision in keeping such despicable traditions alive. Three chairs for the C.E.O. of Turds R Us (launch them at the delicate parts, below the hip). Hip, Hip, Hip.... Horaay! And the Mids-Deficient Group is no less worthy of similar kudos - they all should be draped in septic effluence in measures befitting the magnitude of their ill-gotten affluence.

So on now to the review. But before that...

Set-Up: This review would not be complete if we didn't seek to waste some more of the reader's time. This segment facilitates that. I'll start by telling you that, on the morning the speakers were delivered, Xiang called at 8 to say they were on the way. The whole famliy awoke that morning, and the wife took the children to soccer-practice. (Oh, I forgot to mention that we had bacon and eggs, for breakfast, that day).

At around 10 a.m. the delivery-truck arrived with the three massive crates. Oh sure, the speakers themselves are only bookshelf-size occupying one crate, but another crate is needed for the instruction-manual and, yet, another for the necessary accessories (i.e. 'fufu-dust', etc - more on that later). Moreover, it does sound impressive when the reviewer is able to mention that the speakers arrived in three, or more, massive crates (all made of mahogany, incidentally, and polished to a fine finish). This also helps to justify indecent asking-prices for incompetent components.

So then, after the crates were unloaded, and the speakers unpacked with the assistance of four weight-lifters and a wrestler from the near-by gym, Xiang flew in with his special tape-measure to set-up the speakers. For this test, my regular reference system was used, but I won't forget to mention all the different cables, paper-weights, door-stops, and other accessories I've been given by various manufacturers, over the years, just for me to mention in the process of all my reviews. Most of these have no earthly relavance imaginable, but this is the way such matters are conducted - go with the flow.

Description: Dominating our listening-room, like the two distinkt and monumental piles of sh... showroom-fresh speakers they are, the new Treble-Excess, Lean Mids 4U speaker-system reminded us of  futuristic space-ships from that science-fiction epic; "Close Encounters of the Turd Kind".

Fittingly, it's available in various shades of brown, and may be embellished with any number of bells and whistles to impress the gullible. And, in that context, perhaps its most outstanding feature is as follows:

Indeed, audiophiles are frequently heard yearning for their systems to transport them to the various venues of disparate recordings. And so, to facilitate this, the wonderful people at Treble-Excess have provided a receptacle at the front of each woofer. All the listener needs to do, then, is to fill each receptacle with a pile of dirt from the relevant venue of the recording being played. So then, if a piece was recorded at the Carnegie Hall, then simply fill the receptacles with dirt from said venue. And don't worry, those considerate people at Treble-Excess have kindly provided dirt from every conceivable venue in the world. So all you'd need to do is to purchase a pile of dirt originating from each venue, for only $1000 each. Does it work? Of course it does. (With every forceful excursion of the woofer, dirt from the venue is blown into the face of the listener - atmosphere doesn't come much more realistic than this, I'm sure). Just make sure to also sprinkle portions of the usual fufu-dust in the listening room (available at extra charge) and dance around each speaker three times, on your head, before listening - works like a charm.  

Listening Tests: So how does this speaker-system sound? Well, you be the judge:

(1) I recently got a copy of the excellent recording of; "A Still, Dark, Night", by the Nutcase Phoolharmonic Orchestra, on the Asylum label. I know of no other recording which replicates a still, dark night as well as this one does - accurately reproducing the absolute sound of nothing. Even with the speakers unconnected, and amplifiers off, this speaker-system presented every nuance of this recording as if you were there (assisted, in no small measure, by $1000 worth of dirt, and the necessary portions of fufu-dust, of course). Nothing was added to the sound, by these speakers - and I do mean; nothing. Quite remarkable!

(2) Next was my copy of "O", by P, on the Q-Label. This brought back memories of a childhood sweetheart. So haunting were the strains of the trumpet-solo that they tugged at my heart-strings, in those days when I first heard it. How many of us have memories of that special recording which never ceases to bring those special memories flooding back into our consciousness?

(3) Another fantastic track is; "Snails'-Pace", by the Snails, on the Slimy-Vermin label. Talk about the authentic capturing of a snail's gait; this is it. The silence with which a snail moves has to be heard to be believed. (That is; 'silence', as opposed the the sound of 'nothing', showcased on the Nutcase album). And no other recording exposes the PRaT of a snail as much as this one - a collectors' item like no other....

Etc., etc., and etc.

(13) And finally, this last recording is even more interesting than the 12 that preceded it, in the review of this component. This is because, more than all the others, this recording allows the listener to literally see the component in the room. All those others were LPs and, as we all know, LP album-covers are huge. Therefore, if the listener were to place one of these in front of an amp, for instance, most of that amp would be obscured from view. And even though it has less of an effect on large speakers, the album-cover's effect is still quite significant.

However, this last album entitled; "See More Music", by I-Di-ots, on the Ri-dick-Q-lous label, is on CD. The CD is much smaller than the LP. This means that much less of the music-reproducing component would be obscured if this CD's album-cover is set in front of it. In such a scenario, this album-cover allows the listener to see much more of virtually any music-reproducing component, including speaker-systems such as the Lean-Mids 4U on review. Truly a must-have, for any collection.

I could go on and on, telling you about the recordings in my collection, and not much of the reviewed component (and for my next review I will) but I leave it there, for now (mercifully).

Conclusion:  So then, for a classic example of the state of the art in modern speakers, the Treble-Excess, Lean-Mids 4U speaker-system is amongst the very best in existence, as this review illustrates. No speaker-system as graphically illustrates how far we've descended from those halcyon days, when speakers resembled music, to the doldrums of reproduction extant. (Never you mind that this review did very little to illustrate that).

If this is what you seek, then this P.O.S. speaker-system is definitely amongst the most highly-recommended.

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The points have been made, so we'll leave it there!

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