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Reviewing Styles: Reductionism vs. Gestalt/Global Approach to Reviewing Equipment

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  • Reviewing Styles: Reductionism vs. Gestalt/Global Approach to Reviewing Equipment

    Which type or do you enjoy both styles of reviewing? I usually try and straddle both worlds when reviewing audio products though realistically my reviews do lean to the former school of reviewing. Maybe that's the HP influence on me.

    American reviewers are often associated with a reductionist approach while UK reviewers usually take a more global approach to describing the sound of equipment. Philosophically (and also in biological systems), the argument against the reductionism approach is assuming that if you know the basic building blocks, you can figure out how something works. The argument against the reductionist approach is that systems always have unpredictable synergies going on that aren't always apparent. Of course, we know the famous quote, "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts." And all bets are off anytime you throw the undefinable emotional connection into the equation.

    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    Good writing is good writing in my book but if the approach is too reductive then the piece can get crammed with a lot of context laying. If these contexts happen to be too basic or too advanced that things start flying over my head then tedium sets in. Too global and the reading can be too much to relate to. Getting the right balance must be a pretty tough challenge for all journalists regardless of the subject matter. One reviewer crams so much little details in so many different directions that I just can't finish an article. Not knocking the guy, he gets an A for being thorough but it's just too much sometimes.

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    • #3
      I never gave personal styles any thought at all, it was all about the content. Of all the audio publications I always liked the Japanese Stereo Sound best, and I can't even read Japanese!

      david
      Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
      Distribution: NEODIO

      Special Sales: van den Hul
      Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

      Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
      http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
      http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

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      • #4
        Originally posted by david k View Post
        I never gave personal styles any thought at all, it was all about the content. Of all the audio publications I always liked the Japanese Stereo Sound best, and I can't even read Japanese!

        david
        That's the audio mag that's all 4/C pictures?
        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
        -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
        -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
        -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
        -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
        -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
        -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
        -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
        -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
        -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

          That's the audio mag that's all 4/C pictures?
          It is, great pictures and the choice of equipment that they reviewed were right up my alley. They always had a great spreads of both modern and vintage gear and specials with entire issue dedicated to a single brand reviewing all their historical and current designs, showing the evolution of the company and its accomplishments over time. I haven't seen that kind of in-depth editorials in any other audio magazines.

          david
          Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
          Distribution: NEODIO

          Special Sales: van den Hul
          Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

          Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
          http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
          http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

          Comment


          • #6
            In my view reviewing is storytelling. The reviewer should be trying to get the reader to know the subject and become more familiar with it. Good advice to follow;

            http://www.openculture.com/2015/04/k...ort-story.html

            If the reviewer tells a good story I will read (and remember) that review whether or not I intend to consider purchasing the subject of the review.
            Tannoy Glenair, April Sound SET 50 monoblocks and LR phono, EMIA silver remote attenuator and Strain Gauge, Mono TT - AE 208 TT, Abis 1.2BCS arm Miyajima Premium BE, Stereo TT - Fairchild 750 Schroder Custom BA, Miyajima Kansui, Mac Mini w/ Roon, Bel Canto RefLink, Dac 3.5VB, Wadia 860x.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Beaur View Post
              In my view reviewing is storytelling. The reviewer should be trying to get the reader to know the subject and become more familiar with it. Good advice to follow;

              http://www.openculture.com/2015/04/k...ort-story.html

              If the reviewer tells a good story I will read (and remember) that review whether or not I intend to consider purchasing the subject of the review.
              Great suggestions.

              The biggest issue I had as an editor is the writer wanting to talk too much about themselves and it would take two pages until they actually got to the product. Get to the review by two paragraphs. The story is the product, not the reviewer.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
              -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
              -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #8
                "Reductionism" as applies to an equipment review would be the device under tests technical information and bench performance (?). "Global/gestalt" would be the entirety of the performance of the device in its natural habitat, a system or more ideally several disparate systems (?).

                If so as a reader of reviews, a review of purely one style or the other would not provide sufficient insight into a component to base any decision on, such as a decision to purchase or the pursuit of additional information to be applied towards a decision to purchase.

                A description of technical details is expected, a communicative description of the "feel" of a thing is desired.

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