During my 30-year career writing about audio I’ve often asked myself, “What is an equipment reviewer’s job?” Over the years the answer hasn’t changed much. First and foremost is the task of entertainment. I have a short attention span when it comes to reading reviews, so I write for me and people like me. When reading other writer’s reviews if I hit two run-on sentences in a row I’m gone. So I try to write in a way that won’t bore me, or hopefully, you.
Second most important part of a review is whether said review describes the product so that potential users can discern whether it will be appropriate for their particular uses. In the auto biz there’s the expression, “an ass for every seat.” The audio equivalent would be, “There’s a system for every pair of ears.” My job is to unite the two parties. I accomplish this by describing a component as thoroughly as is needed to bring out what makes it special or different from other seemingly similar products.
I’m Jewish. On the Passover Seder night the question is asked, “What makes this night different from all other nights?” The audio equivalent is “What makes this (fill in the blanks) different from all other (fill in the blanks)?” That’s the reviewer’s job in a nutshell.
So, there you have it – entertain and describe – that’s a reviewer’s Sisyphean task. Sure, a bit of personality is a bonus, but you really don’t need to know about a reviewer’s second divorce or favorite restaurant, but their musical tastes and favorite products do deliver some basis for commonality, which is a good thing.
And finally, when you read an equipment review the first question in your mind should be, “Are you talkin’ to me?” Hopefully the answer will be yes.