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Are the WhatHiFi Experts right? Are Expensive Accessories worth it?

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by dovercat, Apr 18, 2009.

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  1. dovercat

    dovercat Guest

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    Bought What Hi*Fi? Sound & Vision May issue, the first time I have bought the magazine in well over a decade.

    According to the magazine
    "Our suite of test rooms is respected the world over, and every product is reviewed there by our team of experts."
    "Every verdict is that of the magazine, not of an advertiser or a press officer. When we say something`s good, it is"

    Well I respect their room as I do all rooms, do not drop litter, put feet up on furniture, etc...

    But what about their experts they claim there is a blatantly obvious improvement in sound and picture quality using expensive power cables, note not power conditioners when you have problems with your mains power, but power cables. Also they are firm believers in improved picture quality with expensive hdmi cables. In fact all expensive accessories apparantly give noticeable improvements.

    When I bought What HifI over a decade ago, I was young and impressionable, and I had no access to the internet. So I took their experts as being experts and belived their claim of editorial independence from advertisers. I now think I know better than their experts, but am I just jaded by the cynics on the internet. Their review of power cables makes reference to their still being some skeptics, am I in the minority, are the skeptics stupid not to believe the experts as the review implies.

    Do you respect their experts, are their reviews to be believed. Have you tried these expensive accessories do they work just like the experts say.

    If not what cables are actually worth upgrading. I have a home cinema setup with projector and 5.1 surround sound with active subwoofer. What improvements could I make with better accesories.
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  2. Dude a llama

    Dude a llama Member

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    Basicly no I don't believe them. To quote Mr. Crabs " Money,money money":D
  3. swift1

    swift1 Member

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    I found when you spend around £30/1m on a audio/ video cable you will definately notice a difference over the cheaper cable. Although I spent a lot more on each of my cables, only because I wanted everything from the QED Silver Reference/Signature range - differences are noticeable over the £30 mark but not worth the extra money.
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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2009
  4. nokinnikon

    nokinnikon Member

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    all i can advise is that go and check them out for yourself. i know the types that work at those magazines, their advice is not always the best, but
    go and see for yourself, you are your own best critic imho.

    i can remember 20 years ago i went on the hunt for a av system, at the time i had denon seperates and some mordaunt shorts, great little set up, i trawled
    the shops and found a bang and olufsen dealer.

    went and had a demo and £££££'s and years later i have always purchased from b&o and never had a problem, even mags at the time never really suggested them so i went out and found out for my self. do your own research. im that much of a b&o geek i have all the brochures since 1971 to present!


    http://redirectingat.com/?id=223X354&url=http://profile.imageshack.us/user/nokinnikon/

    you are your own best expert
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  5. davepuma

    davepuma Well-Known Member

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    I always take reviews with a pinch of salt. I've seen a certain manufacturer's products being given 5 star awards despite serious faults. Look at who is associate editor of this manufacturer's "magazine", which is also produced by the same publisher. The 5 star reviews stood yet when other manufacturers lost stars because something new appeared on the market or another manufacturer dropped its prices. That is just naughty in my opinion. If they backed up the reviews with a bit of science, I might pay more attention but they don't unfortunately.
  6. the mechanic

    the mechanic Member

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    What gets me with What HIFI reviews is the the way that a product gets a 5* review one month, yet the next (or when it is put in a supertest against its peers), it suddenly drops a star or two :confused:
    I seem to agree with the comments that it is down to advertisers ££'s that help sway the outcome. Take Denon for instance, nearly all their products got a 5* rating at one time. Then when Onkyo came along (with more advertising page inches than Denon in the mag), there were comments of Denon slipping with the sound / picture quality.
    I admit I too was taken in by their glowing results the (then) new Onkyo 805 AV receiver and decided to "upgrade" my old Denon AVR2805 to one. I went to my local AV/HIFI dealer and asked for a demo of the Onkyo. When I told them what I was upgrading from, I was told I would be disappointed and would be better sticking to a Denon product. There was no pressure to sell me the more expensive Denon receiver, just the fact that the Onkyo was in no way the best upgrade path available to me. In the end I bought the Denon I have now (see sig) as an ex-demo and it was a hell of a lot cheaper than what the 805 was going to cost.
    So, in summing up. What HIFI are NOT the font of knowledge that they make out to be (IMHO), especially when it comes down to AV products. They should stick to what they (supposedly) know, ie stereo HIFI gear and leave the proper AV reviewing stuff to the likes of HOME CINEMA CHOICE etc.

    Getting back on track, unless you have ears like a golden retreiver and a HUGE budget for high end esoteric gear, then I dont think expensive cables make the kind of differences that they make out. I swapped a cheap freebee HDMI cable for a £30 QED one. Do you think I noticed a massive improvement ??

    Graham.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  7. the mechanic

    the mechanic Member

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    Totally agree with you. When you read the results of their findings it's always the reveiwer "heard" or "seen" subtle differences between product A and B. Never have I seen any kind of specs from a testing lab like What Video and Hi-Def TV do. Its all just subjective testing and like you say, they have no real way of quantifying their results.

    Graham.
  8. jay mc

    jay mc Member

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    I liked there 46inch tv group test, pany 85 got five stars and a sony also got 5 stars. Yet they claimed the sony was better so surly that would make the pany 4 stars??

    Any way long story short i bought the panny and seeing the sony made me relise two things, one the pany is better and 2 sony seem to sponser what hi fi.

    As for the power lead debate, ive seen a set up using russ andrews ones and yes there was a diffrence. Was it £200 better and would i buy one??? nope dont think so, id rather spend a extra 200 on my next amp.
  9. tut_gareth

    tut_gareth Member

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    Must admit i have always had a soft spot for Toshiba's,
    so when i saw the 46" Test i thought i would check out the Sony's that where getting the all star treatment................ yet I still think the 4 star Toshiba has the better picture quality and performance
  10. andy1249

    andy1249 Active Member

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    Why then , dont they print or make available online , some of their data or plot curves , this would back up their claims.
    For an excellent example see some of the reviews on here.

    Clearly ad revenue driven , given the disparity between their glowing reviews and some of the independant test reviews online.


    Pure unadulterated drivel .... there is absolutely no possible way for this to happen , both in the case of the power leads and the HDMI cable , its trash and preys on the gullible , unfortunately there are a lot of gullible people out there.

    The Skeptics are 100% correct in these cases , where there is a possibility of a change the true experts will always plot the curves and show you the difference , where there is no measurable difference there is no difference , its as simple as that.

    There are any amount of sites out there that will go into great detail about why these " magic " power cables ( and gold fuses now as well ....) cannot possibly do what they claim to do. In fact the Hi Fi magazines that claim improvements are very much in the minority.

    In your god you can trust , everyone else brings data.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  11. nokinnikon

    nokinnikon Member

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  12. MarkTaylor

    MarkTaylor Active Member

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    Had to edit a couple of posts in this thread, not that I have a particular reason to disagree with the sentiments, but there is a difference between believing for example that advertising revenue affects reviews and stating that it is a fact.

    Moderator
  13. nokinnikon

    nokinnikon Member

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    i work for the press (photo-journalist)

    on a regional level this does happen.

    you get a lot of perks in my job as any journalist will tell you.

    but as a member of the press i must remain unbiased :rolleyes:
  14. Phil Hinton

    Phil Hinton Editor Staff Member

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    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  15. davepuma

    davepuma Well-Known Member

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    Yup, I've spotted a few glaring errors in HCC reviews in the past, which made me question whether they even reviewed the kit at all.
  16. the mechanic

    the mechanic Member

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  17. William YZF-R1

    William YZF-R1 New Member

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    Having not bought a HiFi mag for probably 30 years I was advised to buy one and bring it to Richer Sounds (by RS staff) to buy my Tannoys at a great Sale price last December. Purely because they claimed they were unaware of the advertised sale prices.

    Reading said magazine later it made me laugh at the claims for expensive mains cables. It was an entirely new phenomenom to me.

    My house, probably like most, has a ring circuit for the ground floor. This ring supplies amongst other things, refrigerators, HiFi, TV etc. Yet my TV doesn't flicker when the fridge trips in and neither does my HiFi bat an eyelid (no clicks) when something else turns on.

    So why do I need one of those leads? IMHO I don't.

    Snake Oil, I think, yet they actively seem to promote them.

    Then again perhaps I am a little strange, years ago I was first in the queue for a £500 DVD player when they first appeared, yet I am still hesitating on a £220 Blu-Ray player (BDP-S550). The DVD player was a great upgrade over a VCR but still unconvinced over BR.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2009
  18. nokinnikon

    nokinnikon Member

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    this is exactly what i was saying, nokinnikon
  19. Sgt Siff

    Sgt Siff Member

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    How to write a WhatHiFi article:

    The [Insert item e.g. Chord Carnival cable] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [buzzword] [.]
  20. Jay J

    Jay J Member

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    I 'm not sure who to believe in revews. I am looking for a mini/micro system and What HiFi gives the Denon DM37DAB 5* and is Best buy. However Richer sounds say the Onkyo CS525 is better. I don't know if R.S just wants to sell this system and not the Denon.

    I enjoyed reading the post by "Paul D" in this thread http://www.avforums.com/forums/hi-fi-systems-separates/923773-running-cd-players-misconception.html that mentioned different mains cables, they are only better by the "Placebo Effect".

    I read other mags, such as Auto-Express and they do tests on thing like headlight bulbs. These are tested in the Philips labs, and guess what always comes out top. They recently tested polishes and waxes and 2 of them, Turtle Wax and Collinite have been given different results, even though they were tested last year. Car and Detailing Forums have criticised AE for not knowing the difference between a polish and a wax, also both of the winners are heavily advertised in the mag.
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    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009
  21. Jay J

    Jay J Member

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    On some things I buy, I use Which Magazine for their independent advice. My old Denon (D-C30) mini system was a Which Best Buy.
  22. dovercat

    dovercat Guest

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    Thanks for the link I enjoyed reading the amusing thread.

    Personally I am a blinkered rude arrogant flat earther unwilling to believe the world is round despite others saying they have seen it, and lack an open and enquiring mind as I am unwilling to believe that the perceived differences are beyond current sciences ability to measure or explain. Mind you my opinion is worthless as I am also talking from a point of ignorance as I have not bought and compared lots of high end kit or expensive cables etc...

    I particularly liked the comparison to improvements in home cinema projectors and science then discovering why people were perceiving things like dlp rainbows or image depth or motion blur. My understanding is that science was well aware of all the effects and their causes before people started noticing the differences between projector technologies.

    I am in awe how manufactures manage to design and build these things if they are beyond modern sciences understanding. I suppose they must rely on trial and error or be truely at the cutting edge of science, but then how do they know if they have managed to improve the sound quality as it can not be measured and blind listening tests do not work. Perhaps the evil rummurs are true and they make sacrifices to the hifi gods for divine inspiration.



    .
  23. ryart

    ryart Member

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    How nice it is to not disagree :D.

    I had forgotten about that post and a quick re-read reveals some interesting points and ideas from all points of view.
  24. IWC Dopplel

    IWC Dopplel Active Member

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    I have some, sympathy for magazines (not much) as their audience is wide their business model IS based on advertising revenue (Sorry mods but this IS fact. I have advised highstreet magazines and dealt with the Future publishing and Haymarket in the past)

    Times are tough the internet provides far more in the way of information. The magazine is not a club or anything other than a business (In most cases). The pressures to ensure manufacturers and retailers advertise will be harder than ever. They as most of us are feeling less secure than we should.

    Frankly the power is moving away from the magazines, can they afford to be brutally honest ? Take an older copy of any HiFi magazine and you will see far more 5 Stars now, far more praise and far less negative reviews.

    I used to value a moderately independent view and understood personal tastes of reviewers (If Alvin Gold raved about it I wanted to hear it !). I think magazines need to think very carefully about providing quality content.

    'Accessories' can make a difference but I am struggling to see which ones I should try at home. They all look like life changing essentials and they usually get rated at 4 or 5 stars..........

    Most of the titles coverng AV in the UK are a complete waste of time IMO and this has worsened over the last 12 months, for me anyway.
  25. ryart

    ryart Member

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    Good points IWC Dopple. I find the main use of What HiFi is to catch up with what's on the market but their reviews are too short to gain much insight into the product. Some of the other magazines are better in this respect and it does help if you get to know the reviewers tastes by reading their review of equipment you own. Even so opinions and tastes vary wildly so they can only be taken as a starting point in whittling down the large number of products to a manageable number to audition.

    HiFi magazines are a bit of an oddity in that their subject matter, sound reproduction, can only be hinted at with words and pictures.

    Still; they can make for a pleasant hours read although I don't think they are worth the cover price these days.
  26. majnu

    majnu Well-Known Member

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    I find that WhatHiFi are biased towards Sony alot of times. I'm sure this helps Sony sales and Mr CEO gets a bit on the side. I also agree there reveiws are full of buzzwords and no technical and science to back up their claims.

    Also they have a bad habit of giving something 5 stars one month and 6 months down the line making it 3 stars as there are better products on the market. :rolleyes:

    The best critic is yourself and the reveiws on this forum are exceptional compared to WhatHiFi. :D
  27. dovercat

    dovercat Guest

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    Decided to try altering the home cinema room acoustics as a cheap upgrade instead. Oddly what hifi website, magazine does not seem to cover this much.

    Have put sound absorbers on each sidewalls and floor half way between speakers and listener and a sound diffuser behind the listener on the rear wall.

    My very low budget version is a spare mattress against each side wall as absorbers and a thick rug half way on the floor. For a diffuser I used two 3ftx1ft oblong ripple shaped concrete rockery blocks that have lots of pits extra - no flat surfaces except the bases which are now against the rear wall on top of a cupboard so the diffusers are ear height. Also stuck one in the front corner along the same wall as the subwoofer and one in the middle of the front wall below the screen, although I am unsure if they do anything to improve the sound.

    The sound has noticeable changed, had to lower my subwoofer volume and now left and right speakers sound the same volume without adjusting the balance on the amp, which I had to do before.
    Treble sounded cleaner - more precise with the matteress but too clinical, with the rockery blocks as well it sounds precise and natural.

    I also have paving slabs below and on top of my subwoofer so my home cinema is increasingly an indoor rockery, not that you can see it because it is all covered in black.

    So I have sated my tinkering bug for now.
  28. MarkTaylor

    MarkTaylor Active Member

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    I'm guessing you are not married are you :)

    The problems related to WAF tend to stop a lot of the more interesting low budget solutions such as the ones you describe even if they can be very effective.
  29. dovercat

    dovercat Guest

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    I am in the fortunate possition of having lots of spare rooms, so it is the home cinema room, rather than living room.
  30. AgentCool

    AgentCool Active Member

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    I'd say there was definitely a case for good quality analogue AV cables such as speaker wire offering a noticeable improvement over their bargain basement counterparts, but when it comes to mains cables and digital cables I really cannot tell the difference whatsoever. For example, the only time I've ever had any kind of interference with a digital cable was when I tried to send a 1080p/24Hz signal through a cheap 2-to-1 adapter which resulted in very obvious digital noise of the kind you'd get with a bad Freeview signal. But when it comes to comparing a £40 QED Qunex HDMI-P with a £9 Vivanco HDMI cable, there is absolutely no difference to my eyes whatsoever other than the QED cable being a fancy blue colour and the Vivanco a dull grey.
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