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Positive Feedback ISSUE 12
march/april 2004


From Clark Johnsen's Diaries: Why I do not review audio gear!
by Clark Johnsen


 johnsen_typewriter_web.jpg (4673 bytes)

Q: How is God not like an audio reviewer?

A: God never thinks Hes an audio reviewer.

Old joke, yes, but hardly challenging to a powerful intellect such as mine. Lord knows, my vast technical and musical expertise qualifies me as a veritable St. Paul or Philo Judaeus of audio.  Lacking time to do the job justice, however, I simply choose not to review. 

My saintly brothers and sisters who do ply the journalistic trade Im certain attend to every myriad detail of set-up an exalted reviewer must consider before aspiring fully to Deity. In no particular order, these items should cover the territory:

  • Physical stabilization and seismic isolation of every component

  • Sufficient damping on all resonant surfaces

  • All contacts cleaned and conditioned

  • Proper grounding of chasses and cables

  • Correct AC polarity (plug orientation) ascertained

  • Power lines filtered (or, not)

  • Alignment of "power factor" in mains supply

  • AC cords matched to every unit

  • Interconnects and speaker cables likewise

  • All wires properly mounted, harnessed and damped

  • All impedances closely matched

  • All tubes specifically chosen and biased

  • Each phono cartridge aligned in all three angles and demagnetized

  • Turntable and arm adjusted to peak performance

  • Records cleaned and treated

  • CD units properly isolated and connected

  • CDs cleaned, carved, degaussed and matted

  • Extended break-in and warm-up applied

  • Major household appliances unplugged

  • Every loudspeaker pair most effectively positioned

  • Room tuned with Tunes, Traps, kilims, bookshelves, etc.

  • Mpingo Discs (or equivalent) spotted around

  • Marigo/Harmonix dots (or equivalent) on tubes, drivers, chips, chasses

  • RFI and EMI suppressed with ERS sheets and/or line blocks

  • All recordings chosen for range, quality, musicality

  • Absolute Polarity ascertained for every selection employed.

Quite the daunting tasks! But each one you may be assured is faithfully performed before you read any magazine or on-line reviewers utterance. My heart goes out to that dedicated crew who spend many thankless, ill-paid hours ascertaining that all is shipshape before rendering righteous sonic judgment to the pious public. Indeed, audio reviewing is a sublime calling and wisely do its exalted practitioners evince undying trust in their powers of discernment. Readers may thus be confident that every detail has been covered before these worthies publish, knowing that whatever they say will be taken ex cathedra.

Forgive me, folks; I simply do not command sufficient time or resources to do the job right. I say, Leave it to Beaver.