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Bigwig07

Marantz SA-KI/PM-KI Ruby ; Hi Fi News Review - Sound Rating Query

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In the Jan 2019 edition of Hi Fi News they have reviewed Ken Ishiwata's latest birthday kit as above (£3500 each component), and given them a sound rating of 85% and 'Highly Commended'.

Not bad - except if you go back to the Oct 2015 edition they reviewed one of his last premium efforts - the Marantz SA/PM-14S1 SE, at a much cheaper £1799 each component, which they gave a rating of 86% and an 'Outstanding Product' award.

So, does that mean that Marantz have gone backwards and are selling their latest products at too high a price ? Or maybe you shouldn't directly compare sound quality ratings across different price points ? The HFN sound rating system is not clear to me, and it seems that most items tested score between 80 and 90% so there is never much differentiation anyway.

I know all reviews are  mainly subjective and should be taken with a pinch of salt, but i'd be interested in views on the HFN rating, particularly if you have any inside knowledge of how it works.

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The rating is a combination of the outright sound quality equipment plus a consideration of value. Therefore, in the case of the Marantz items, it’s not unlikely for the cheaper items to score more highly if they offer better value on a ‘sound per pound ‘ basis.


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Absolutely; well said. We reviewers are all corrupt slimeballs, after all...

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17 minutes ago, Beobloke said:

Absolutely; well said. We reviewers are all corrupt slimeballs, after all...

Not all.

But reviews are often little more than taste-driven, biased opinions... Who needs those.

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IMHO reviews should only be used as a rough guide, and at no time would I recommend buying purely on reviews as they don't reflect the real world in which these products will be used.

So many times in the past I've read sob stories of people buying equipment based on awards without hearing them first. More often than not they tend to come unstuck and having to grovel to the dealer that they've made a serious error. Red faces all-round.

Edited by plasticpenguin

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In HFN-speak, Outstanding Product is a higher award than Highly Recommended. Editors Choice seems to be the lesser rating for either extortionate priced products, like cables that cost ten of thousands, or good products that aren’t wholly recommendable  

As Beobloke says, it’s a combination of performance and price, so 85% is not an absolute sound quality assessment. That’s as shame as it would be much more helpful to readers - but much less attractive to advertisers, who keep the magazine in business! 

I believe Martin Collins once used an absolute scale, which eventually went above 100, to accommodate improvements over the years.  

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5 hours ago, Nopiano said:

In HFN-speak, Outstanding Product is a higher award than Highly Recommended. Editors Choice seems to be the lesser rating for either extortionate priced products, like cables that cost ten of thousands, or good products that aren’t wholly recommendable  

As Beobloke says, it’s a combination of performance and price, so 85% is not an absolute sound quality assessment. That’s as shame as it would be much more helpful to readers - but much less attractive to advertisers, who keep the magazine in business! 

I believe Martin Collins once used an absolute scale, which eventually went above 100, to accommodate improvements over the years.  

Hmmmm surely if it was more than Sound Quality the rating would be called something like Overall Rating or at least Sound Quality and Value for Money rating or such like ? And what about build quality and ease of use - are these taken into account ? Very unclear

Having said that i do like a bit of hi fi porn, and the reviews are useful as a guide to new products. However, I do choose to ignore some of the  comments from other users on this hi fi forum, which aren't helpful !

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It all depends how much the reviewer has been wined and dined by the company being reviewed. So they lost 1% meaning the reviewer didnt get a personal lap dance or pudding at dinner. 

Cambridge Audio put on a party at Hugh Hefner's mansion each year for What HiFi.

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18 hours ago, The Chronicals said:

It all depends how much the reviewer has been wined and dined by the company being reviewed. So they lost 1% meaning the reviewer didnt get a personal lap dance or pudding at dinner. 

Cambridge Audio put on a party at Hugh Hefner's mansion each year for What HiFi.

Oooh, you old cynic :D

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It all depends how much the reviewer has been wined and dined by the company being reviewed. So they lost 1% meaning the reviewer didnt get a personal lap dance or pudding at dinner. 
Cambridge Audio put on a party at Hugh Hefner's mansion each year for What HiFi.


Dammit, why have I never had any invitations like this in my 11 years of reviewing?

I always check the boxes of review items for brown envelopes of cash and I’ve never found any of them, either. I think I’m being treated very badly, frankly.
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being an owner of both the SA14 & PM14 i would love to hear the ruby's to compare. 

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On 30/01/2019 at 22:48, Beobloke said:

Absolutely; well said. We reviewers are all corrupt slimeballs, after all...

The problem is that not many of them cover themselves in glory - in the grand scheme of things there is still the problem of selling advertising space in a magazine so perhaps it is to be expected that reviewers can be economical with the truth (and it may not be them the editor may adjust the text).  

As to a reviewers rating it is only of value if you agree with it :D by that I mean where you have heard stuff they have reviewed and have considered the outcome they have reached to be the same as your own experience.

The mags do tickle me though - HifiWorld consistently gave some products five star reviews in the past (e.g.  Systemdek IIx) and yet they do not feature in their recommendations of older products (they have a big list at the back of each issue).  

Then there are those rave reviews of a product and then some six months later the reviewer is selling the product they reviewed.   Then there are the very rich variety.  I do not know how much a reviewer earns but I cannot think it is in the top tier of anyone's list, yet they seem to have enough exotic gear that if they sold it all they could pay off the mortgage. 

So as they say "Caveat emptor" when buying, so for reviews  "Caveat Lector" is just as relevant 

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