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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby Kwackman » Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:40 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:There are 2 places where I find a star system somewhat useful -
Amazon. .

Hmm, I've given up reading these and the number of times there have been consumer reports about fake reviews, people being paid to do positive reviews etc, they're not (IMO) worth the screen space. There was a recent story about smaller sellers on Amazon being bombarded with negative reviews because they were upsetting rivals. A couple of years ago I was reading reviews of lawnmowers on Amazon. Amongst the negative reviews was someone complaining that the day Amazon delivered the
lawnmower it was raining and they couldn't use it.
Some people shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard!
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby blinddrew » Fri Sep 18, 2020 3:04 pm

Kwackman wrote:A couple of years ago I was reading reviews of lawnmowers on Amazon. Amongst the negative reviews was someone complaining that the day Amazon delivered the
lawnmower it was raining and they couldn't use it.
Some people shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard!
I always read the one-star reviews, just to understand how many I can completely and immediately discard. ;)
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Sep 18, 2020 3:25 pm

I have been both sides of this debate - I have written reviews and I have of course bought stuff based (partially - I ain't that stupid!) on reviews.

On the writing side - star or points ratings are impossible. You soon run out of numbers or points. I wrote plenty for audio and video mags and our agency wrote many more for other fields.

Camcorder Magazine started having ratings and as soon as digital camcorders came out, they all had to have five stars as they all out-performed the old analogue boxes. So the Canon XL1 gets 5 stars - and then the Panasonic EZ1 is even better - so what then? Six out of five?

Then HD, followed by 4K and now 6K and 8K and large-format sensors? If the shitey little EZ1 in SD gets six out of five, how many does the 6K Eva-1 get? 20? 30? Do you then have to give the Arri Alexa-LF 50 points?

Reading reviews - Hugh Ford wrote credible reviews in Studio Sound and Hugh Robjohns writes the only reviews I actually believe today. The rest from cars to cameras and from lenses to lights are probably mostly pretty worthless. There may be some I don't know about but I ain't found them yet. It may have something to do with the name Hugh - just a theory!

I recently had to buy a set of cinema prime lenses. Prices range from £1.500 to £30,000 per lens and one needs about five. If you read the reviews, you would think that the £30,000 lenses are so wonderful that only a fool would try to shoot a movie with anything less.

Results of schlepping around showrooms and using the studio of a cameraman friend and neighbour - I tested Arris, Cookes, Zeiss, Canons and Xeens for smooth bokeh, detail, distortion and skin colour. The best were Arri Signature Primes (2nd most expensive) and the 2nd best were Xeens (the cheapest!) The worst by a considerable margin were Cookes and they most expensive and always got the usual rave reviews.

As five Arris would have cost the best part of £100,000, I got five Xeens instead! Obviously! With the notable exception of the Arris, the order of merit was in reverse order of sticker-price! (That was especially true for skin colours.)

In audio - where do I start? Cameras and lenses are easy - all you need is a set of eyeballs, some test cards and some common sense, but how many punters have distortion meters, sig-gens and oscilloscopes? Just how many can trace the impulse response of a mic-pre or a speaker?

And then we have all the 'snob-value' name-brand products that seem to be carrying price-tags that have little to do with quality or a rugged build.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby BJG145 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:01 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:star or points ratings are impossible. You soon run out of numbers or points.

Yeah, I was just reading through the latest SOS and I think it's fine. The reviews are honest and rigorous. (When it comes to synths, Gordon Reid is the best in the business.) People aren't going to send duff things in so it's all going to be pretty good, and five-star ratings aren't useful.

It did used to be pretty entertaining when Sam tore into reader demos, but those days are gone.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby Jorge » Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:04 pm

If you are shopping for expensive gear that is high quality and a good match for your needs, and you will likely be spending hundreds of hours using it over the next 5 or 10 of 20 years, surely it is worth spending the few hours it might take to carefully read detailed and thorough reviews like those in SOS. A quick star system, even if it has several different dimensions (sound, build quality, value, etc) and is reported by many users, will rarely be as informative as a thorough review by a professional reviewer, unless the reviewer is blatantly biased. I do think quickly perusing 1- and 2-star reviews to identify deal breaking problems can be time effective, however those will probably be rare among the products submitted to SOS for review.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby al_diablo » Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:14 pm

I think the detailed description of how gear functions in use are incredible - in many cases I have decided not to buy gear based on a glowing SOS review, simply because the reviewer has made it clear that the equipment wouldnt fit my workflow (also some that clearly would)

That is significantly more useful to me than any form of rating. I also love reading the list of alternatives that usually appears in a review, and it is worth noting that reviewers often discuss the strengths and weaknesses of gear in comparison to edtablished options or alternatives, which also helps.

The roundups and shootouts are good, and I do sometimes wish there were more of them!
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby Forum Admin » Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:23 pm

al_diablo wrote:The roundups and shootouts are good, and I do sometimes wish there were more of them!

Yes, it was a requested feature in the recent Reader Survey by many, but space is tight in print for such things, but we are trying to find ways to maybe do them online-only as it's way easier to layout articles online than in print designs and space is never a restriction! :thumbup:

It also means if we accidentally miss out a product or two, which has been known :blush: , we can easily add and update the web article.

So, we are exploring such ideas seriously.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby dpete » Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:50 pm

I find the SOS reviews, even for items I'm not likely to purchase, educational. I'm trying to understand what I need or would find useful. It helps me to get the reviewers perspective on evaluating a product, and when available any insights into the engineering decisions that created a product.

Feature comparisons can be interesting, and I think the online option is good. An out-of-date comparison matrix is of limited utility. However, I find most feature matrices are limit, probably by what the manufacture is willing to supply.

I still have to figure out how the capabilities of the product intersect my needs. So Audient Nero, or Drawmer CMC 3?
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby Forum Admin » Fri Sep 18, 2020 6:55 pm

dpete wrote:Feature comparisons can be interesting, and I think the online option is good. An out-of-date comparison matrix is of limited utility. However, I find most feature matrices are limit, probably by what the manufacture is willing to supply.

Thanks for the kind words.

Yes, online has the beauty of being easily updated and thus able to remain relevant. My idea is to involve the Forum community in completing feature data and also user feedback from gear owners. But needs lots of cogitation before it'll float as a concept.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby CS70 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 7:39 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I'm fully in favour if this idea where relevant, but it is quite a challenge to organise as it essentially requires the manufacturer to donate the equipment, which is much less possible now than in years gone by. I've thought about writing follow-up reviews for the gear I've ended up buying over the years, but they would almost all just say, "still working like it did when I bought it!" :lol:

Well, you know, that would be actually useful!! Especially for the more electronically-oriented gear.

As a random example, an EMU 1616M and a RME Multiface 2 are more of less of the same era (15-20 years ago) but one is just an odd door stopper nowadays while the other is still a perfectly viable interface..

I see the problem with hardware donation, alas..
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby Forum Admin » Fri Sep 18, 2020 7:56 pm

Hugh
Would be simple for you to add a time-stamped Update onto any of your online reviews. Useful thing. Let’s discuss after you get back.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby resistorman » Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:01 am

I’ve not regretted a single purchase I’ve made that was influenced in small or large way by an SOS review.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:42 pm

:thumbup: Same here except for niche products that wouldn’t get reviewed here like some of the more bizarre guitar pedals.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:23 pm

Very late to this discussion, but...

... before I read any SOS review I look at who has written it. Not all reviewers are the same; the reviews reflect the individual and their personalities.

So if 'X' has written it I know it'll be fairly broad-brush, quoting (but not measuring) tech stuff, user-focussed and generally positive - but highlighting any serious shortcomings.

If 'Y' has written it I expect - and get - a different style. Usually much more analytical, rigorous testing of the technicals and so on.

... and 'A', 'B', and 'C' all have their own styles too.

That doesn't mean one particular reviewer is 'bad' or another one 'good' - just different. And the style of review I like may be a complete 'zzzz-fest' to someone else.

I once wrote a review of something for SOS. I found an 'Eh? which I pursued with the manufacturer. In doing so I was aware of my responsibility to the manufacturer, to the reputation of SOS and to those who would read the review. I'm sure the regular reviewers take their responsibilities equally seriously.
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Re: SOS Product Reviews

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Sep 22, 2020 4:15 pm

Folderol wrote:That still fails. What if the buyer actually bought the wrong type of kit for what they wanted?
They'd give it a 1 star rating quite undeservedly.

I've noticed that happens a lot in Amazon reviews, when it's often fairly obvious that it's the purchaser who got it wrong rather than any failing in the product ;)


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