A Question for Readers

This week, instead of answering a reader question, I'd like to ask you a question. You can answer in one of two ways—either post a comment after this blog or send me an e-mail at scott.wilkinson@sourceinterlink.com.

Before I pose the question, let me give you a little background. Anyone who reads our reviews knows that we strive to be comprehensive in our evaluation of audio and video products—this is one of the hallmarks of UAV reviews. Another hallmark is the experience and expertise of our reviewers, all of whom have well-trained eyes and ears that allow them to form reliable subjective impressions you can count on as surrogates for your own eyes and ears.

On the objective side, all video-display reviews include a full suite of measurements, such as peak white levels, black level, peak contrast ratio, overscan, resolution, grayscale tracking, and primary and secondary color-point accuracy. All of our video reviewers have the equipment necessary to perform these measurements as part of the evaluation process, so it costs nothing extra to publish the results.

Measuring audio products, however, is a different story. Most audio reviewers do not have the necessary equipment or, in the case of speaker reviews, an appropriate acoustic space in which to perform objective measurements. As a result, we must hire a consultant to do so, which takes time and money. This is why UAV has stopped publishing measurements of audio electronics (AVRs, pre-pros, and power amps), though we still measure speakers.

As the new editor of UAV, my primary goal is to serve you, the readers, by publishing reviews that include the information you need to make informed buying decisions. On the other hand, as with all things corporate, I have a limited budget, which is the heart of the quandary and the crux of the question I wish to ask you.

So here it is: Which would you prefer, fewer audio reviews that include measurements or more reviews without measurements? This is the decision I must make, and I'm asking for your help in making it.

A follow-up question: If you would prefer to see measurements at the expense of more reviews, does that apply equally to all types of audio products, or are measurements more important with speakers or electronics?

As you ponder these questions, keep in mind that objective measurements do not always jive with subjective impressions—an audio product might measure well but sound bad or vice versa. In the end, I believe that subjective impressions ultimately trump measurements—after all, at the end of the day, you're going to listen, not measure. On the other hand, objective measurements can provide insights into a product's subjective performance, and they can certainly reveal how unrealistic many manufacturers' specifications are.

Please let me know what you think about all this; I look forward to your responses. Again, feel free to post a comment here or send me an e-mail at scott.wilkinson@sourceinterlink.com.