Diaries of a Gear Reviewer: The White Noise of Online Reviews Is Deafening

How do you find a review you can trust?   08-Aug-13


I have respect for these guys, anyone brave enough to upload anything to YouTube is alright in my books (unless they are spouting hate-speech of course), but it does make it difficult to find a great review of a particular product, your best bet is to go to your favourite reviews website or YouTube channel and see if it is covered on there.

Of course, not all of these videos are reviews, some of them are demos, giving no critical insight but simply demonstrating the sound and tone of a pedal.

This is what some people want to watch, they don't want some big mouth like me bumbling on about the lack of range in the tone parameter envelope on a delay plug-in. They just want to 'hear' it.

Fair enough! But another trend I've noticed recently is the proliferation of videos demonstrating a new pedal, but where the guitarist simply shreds for ten minutes without really changing the tone or demonstrating the sonic range of the pedal.

For me, product reviews should never be about the player, they should always be about the product. That's lucky for me because I'm not the best player in the world.

In my opinion you will be more authoritative if you are a better player, just like being a decent driver helps if you are trying to review a car, but your first thought should be exactly how you can convey the concept of a pedal and demonstrate its sonic range, and this should also call upon you to play a range of different techniques and styles.

I think if I could shred like a boss, I'd probably fall into this trap, simply because guitarists always want to play to 'the best' of their technical ability, they want people to know how good they are.

Well, here's my confession:

I'm not the best guitarist and I'm not the worst (please God I hope I'm not the worst), but I will help you make a choice on whether you want to blow this month's wages on that new amp you definitely don't 'need' by you think you might 'want'.



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5 Comments... Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus

Connor    Said...

I may be a synth enthusiast, but I am definitely one of the people that likes to HEAR the capabilities of a synth and not hear someone talk about it. Though if I can get both, that's great too, which Sonic State usually does, thankfully.

08-Aug-13 01:11 PM

S R Dhain    Said...

Very true. Ive put up a demo in the past of my system 100, with a view to carry on and develop my style into some sort of mini review scenario. When i realised the amount of work that goes into it, in terms of editing, and even working to some sort of brief ( it's got to have a coherant structure, eg:- intro, main features, and so on), i thought "nah, i'll leave it to nick and the guys". Sonic state are THE place for new gear reviews as far as im concerned. The level of detail, pace, and most importantly INFORMED OPINION during and at the end of the reviews, is par excellence. With regards to older stuff, there's already a plethora of older synth videos out there, so plenty to choose from in that regard.

14-Aug-13 11:04 AM

Ted    Said...

For me, the technical playing comes secondary to the infotainment of a good review.

A really good guitarist (or keyboard player, etc.) can make any piece of gear seem wonderful. It feeds the notion that if I just had this gear, I'd be better and have more fun.

There's always a level of mistrust I have when I see a professional-lever player review gear, especially if they are connected to a gear store. They always praise it with a small token downside. The real issues are glossed over, up to you to discover once you've bought it.

I get more value from seeing a less pro review, with a playing style closer to my talentless strumming and keymashing. At least I know what it will sound like in reality.

Sonic State provides deep reviews and I don't feel they are pushing any sales goal. Maybe that Boss Pedal review earlier this year was a bit much, but the opinions seemed honest.

17-Aug-13 09:39 AM

brian from usa    Said...

Don't worry Rich, you're not the worst. I'm far worse than you!

I agree about the proliferation of "reviews" that don't really review and "demos' that don't really demonstrate.

Twenty years ago I wrote tech articles on synthesizer gear and today sporadically post on forums about gear and software that I use. I always worry that I'm not really getting across the information I want to pass on.

Today on the net I surf for info on gear and find lots of web pages that provide no real info at all! I suppose that's inevitable when there's no gatekeeping...editors, publishers, etc. When anyone can post their opinion eventually it does become white noise. The worst is when you get wildy divergent opinions...it's the holy grail vs. it's the worst turd ever foisted on the public...and no way to know what the background and perspective of the "reviewer" is.

SonicState has been steadily improving over the years in both content and polish of the videos. BTW I miss Shorn Rah, his videos were always fun to watch. Keep up the good work, guys.

19-Aug-13 06:13 AM

mark    Said...

You can say someone who is a better player will be more authoritative I suppose. But you can also question whether they're just being opinionated. And I'm always watching out for any hint that they're being PAID to review a product which eliminates any credibility in my mind. I prefer straight demos without ANY discussion whether they like it or not. I've also found time and time again the sound coming from a Youtube video is no way to judge a product. Just my .02

21-Aug-13 11:26 PM

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