Back in the 90’s, when I was reading those nit-picking reviews by Julian Hirsch of the latest audio equipment, I never thought I’d miss them. But the mainstream hi-fi press seems to have completely given up on them. At most they seem to re-iterate some specs provided to them by the manufacturer in press hand-outs! Along with playing some beautiful piece of music through it and providing a highly personal description of how they think it sounds.
I’d really like to see some exploration of how well parts of a piece of equipment do what they are supposed to do.
For instance, take a $5000 DAC. If it has an optical digital input, I’d like to have someone play some jittery source into it and measure how well it deals with that. If it has coax or USB, I’d like to see some connections to electrically noisy sources, and measurements of how well it deals with them. Ditto for power supplies – let’s put some line noise on the inputs and see how well it does. I’d like to have someone play a digital sound into it, capture the output waveform, and compare it to the supposed ideal version of that digital sound. This would all be very useful information in terms of matching it with suitable line conditioners and LPS systems etc.
As far as I can tell, the only ones doing this today are the founder of Audio Science Review, Amir Majidimehr, and the pseudonymous blogger Archimago. What Hi-Fi and Stereophile seem to have given up. Right now it seems that the only evaluation made possible is relative numbers of thumbs-up versus thumbs-down.