Are music magazines any help?

Every month I get 2 music magazines I subscribed to and even though I am looking forward to it, there is still something that makes me wonder. I am one of those who goes through a magazine quickly first of all (to get a glimpse) and then touch it again later and take my time to read through the articles in detail.

Especially when I do the latter, I always feel a bit dubious about all the test. Did you ever notice a bad – and I mean really bad – test and/or verdict? Probably not. One of the magazines I read does ratings from 1-10 and since I subscribed (approximately 5 years ago) I cannot remember ANY single rating that went under 6 (ten is the best). What’s more: most of the ratings are 8,9, or 10. In other words: everything is so good that it can hardly be topped. Honestly, give me a break!

I am not naïve, and yes, I know the correlation between the manufacturers and the press…but it still is strange, don’t you agree? I mean, what’s the point, or rather: how authentic and true is what you read? And does it also imply that everything that you got at home is somehow inferior.

The message is clear: buy, buy, buy –  but do I (and you and everybody) really need to rearm my gear constantly and permanently? Does it really mean that all the software and hardware I bought yesterday became insufficient and minor today? Not only do I doubt this, it simply is not true. And in most of the cases (at least as far as I am concerned), my stuff works perfectly well for me and gives me exactly the results I want.

Now, the question is, what do I really expect from a music magazine for musicians (or from a music testing website)? Well, first of all I would like to see tests that are closer to the real world, so to say.

What do I mean?

First: the gear that most of us own is NOT the latest and greatest Mac, PC or even Cluster that is sometimes used. More likely our computer stuff is older.

Second: I would be interested in more comparisons of the same stuff, e.g. what is the difference between, let’s say EQ 1 from manufacturer A to EQ2 from B. In other words: there ought to be a ranking that is comparable, starting from a defined reference system or reference soft- and hardware. If you look at audio tests, you will find exactly that – so it can’t be that difficult. Generally there is a top notch, just as well as there is lower end and nobody can tell me, that a 10 of lower end gear is the same 10 the top gear 10. Agreed?

Third: there are many ways to make it easier for us users to get a matrix where you can see what is useful to be combined and what not. I give you an easy example: if you define certain qualities with numbers or letters (or even a combination of it) things get clear right away. If you, for example, define top gear as A and lower quality gear as E AND define what fits with numbers between one and ten, it would be dead easy to compare and see what goes and what does not. Whether it is software or hardware. Unclear? Let’s say a PC got the ranking B5 (class B, and within that class a medium ranking 5) then everything that got the same combination is compatible, an EQ that got B5, a Compressor that got B5, a DAW that got B5. You’re getting it? It does not mean that everything else would not work, but it could mean that, if you use E7 gear, it might not meet your personal standards just as well as A1 gear might be not the right type that you can use effectively.

What am I trying to say? Well, generally, that all the music magazines I know are not more than a sort of sophisticated catalog. If they want to be more than that and helpful as an advisor, they should be orientated more at the customers rather than the industry. Would you agree? I am keen to get your opinion.

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