UPDATE August 2019: Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.
Darko.Audio covers news and reviews of interesting and affordable hi-fi equipment; it is aimed at anyone striving for better sound quality from modern music, at home or on the go. It is especially aimed at readers who like to think.
Darko.Audio is NOT pay-to-play (see below: “How is Darko.Audio funded?”). We do not do sponsored content. If we deem it sufficiently interesting, we’ll cover it. As of 2018, YouTube videos are a large part of what we do.
Writers published in these pages are guaranteed to have no direct (or indirect) financial affiliation with any hi-fi or audio equipment manufacturer/distributor/retailer. That means no writer has a (secret) side gig as a PR representative, a show organiser, a product photographer or a Saturday audio store helper.
The majority of articles are penned by John Darko with occasional contributions from Srajan Ebaen (of 6moons) and others: John Grandberg and Phil Wright. Srajan’s splendid series of ‘KIH’ (“Keep It Honest”) editorials are listed here.
How do I tell them apart?
News announcements aren’t lifted lock-stock as copy-paste from press releases – not even close. With an editorial voice providing additional context they often read like reviews. But they’re not.
Separating news and reviews is easy when you know what to look for: 1) the absence of judgment, especially on sound quality; 2) the presence of manufacturer-supplied photos. These both indicate a news item.
It’s a different story for reviews. With review loaners in the immediate possession of the reviewer, all pics are shot in situ. They not only show the product au naturel, a long way from a photo studio’s airbrush but also reveal the supporting cast of associated gear, the room or space in which it was listened to and – perhaps most obvious of all – evidence that the review wasn’t fabricated from thin air.
What else can I expect from a Darko.Audio review?
Reviews are written from a consumer perspective – subjective listening – with the aim of unearthing how something sounds (and the emotional response it solicits) and delivering the results in an entertaining way.
One process fundamental to the Darko.Audio review M.O. is comparative listening. “What does X sound like?” moves to “How does X compare to Y?” – it’s the most commonly asked question by readers of ANY website.
Then there’s context. Expect to see a range of ancillary products that cater to more modestly-sized listening rooms and budgets. Reviews are conducted in real-world living spaces, much like your own.
We also ask “Who is it for?” – a question that sometimes necessitates musings on the product’s market placement, its industrial design, implications for your listening/living space, current hardware setup and your wallet. A $200 DAC might be life-changing for someone stepping up from their laptop’s headphone socket but far from satisfactory for a listener already rocking a $20K multi-box solution. Flipping it around, $10k floorstanders might seem ridiculous to a listener happy with their $300 standmounts.
What won’t I see in your reviews?
1) Measurements. We don’t have the budget to undertake them. End of story.
2) Reviewer clichés. “Competes with products two or three times the price” is a no-no unless the competing hardware is called out explicitly. And does the audiophile world need yet another dose of, “Listening to Norah Jones, I was immediately struck by a sense of…”. No, it does not.
Talking of which…
What kind of music do you listen to whilst conducting reviews?
You won’t find any Diana Krall, Jazz at the Pawnshop or Nils Lofgren ’round here. No classical either. Instead, Darko.Audio aspires to bridge the disconnect between contemporary music covered by Pitchfork, Mojo and Resident Advisor and modern audio equipment.
For some real-world examples, check out the Spotify playlist “Enough With The Diana Krall already” here.
Electronic music also gets its fair share of airtime during the product review cycle. Check out our posts themed around “Electronica For Audiophiles” here, here, here and here. 2016’s ‘303 edition’ can be found here. 2017 Bandcamp edition here. And another one, Part 7, here.
What’s the showcase section all about?
This is where factory tours, press events and show reports get filed. Covering the goings-on at audio shows is an important part of the audio world’s news cycle. Each year you can expect to see coverage of the likes of CES, Munich HighEnd, Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, T.H.E. Show Newport Beach and (sometimes) the Australian Audio and AV Show.
Some of the lesser-known Tokyo events get pixel space on Darko.Audio now too, specifically the Fujiya Avic Tokyo Headphone Festival and e-earphone’s Portable Audio Fest.
Walking the floors of these hotels and exhibition centres assists with flagging new product announcements, earmarking items for future review coverage and threading the needle through emerging trends. Video coverage is used to convey the show’s atmosphere and conduct interviews with exhibitors.
Please note: unfamiliar surroundings, music or a combination of both keeps sound quality judgments at shows on a super-short leash. Show reports are the sizzle and not the steak. They’re about the what, the why and the how much.
Darko.Audio does not charge show exhibitors for show coverage or any other coverage.
How is Darko.Audio funded?
This website is funded by the banner advertising you see around you. Advertising revenue pays for the time taken to conduct reviews by all manufacturers and not just advertisers themselves.
This income never influences editorial commentary contained therein. Readers believing the opposite to be true are advised to alight here. The point is this: banner ads serve double duty as promotional tools and as a statement of Darko.Audio’s financial interests.
What about your YouTube videos?
Our videos are NOT sponsored content (i.e. funded by the review subject). Their funding is split between the occasional pre-roll advertiser, Google’s Adsense network and Patreon support.
What about other pecuniary interests?
Nope. None. Nada. Zilch.
Most definitely. Read it here.