Dear John – I love what you and your team do. Have you heard product Y? Can I get your opinion on it?
In the first instance, please use the search box here on Darko.Audio. If you find no review, I’ve not heard it and therefore, regrettably, I cannot offer a reliable opinion.
My search results for product Y returned an article but it doesn’t have much in the way of sound quality commentary – what gives?
That’s probably a news item or a show report.
How do I tell the difference?
News items feature manufacturer-supplied photos and don’t contain sound quality commentary because I’ve yet to hear the product at home. Reviews feature sound quality commentary and self-shot photos. Show reports are somewhere in between: they don’t contain sound quality commentary but they do feature self-shot photos.
U wot m8?
OK. I’ll make it easier: each article is tagged as ‘news’, ‘showcase’ or ‘review’ directly above the headline. Whilst you’re there, take note of the article’s author as some reviews are penned by guest contributors.
Gotcha. Yeah, it’s a news item. Will you comment on its sound quality anyway?
I’m sure you understand that it’s impossible for me to comment on something I’ve yet to hear at home. A show report doesn’t mean I’ve heard it. It just means that product Y and I were in the same (hotel) room for 20 minutes.
So I should wait for the review then?
Yes, please. That’s assuming a review is on the roadmap. I don’t review everything announced as a news item. If the product in question isn’t on the roadmap, a review won’t be forthcoming.
How come you haven’t reviewed anything from brand A?
There’s only one of me (and a handful of guest contributors). We must pick and choose our review subjects carefully. In a year’s worth of new product announcements, we have time to review only a handful. We choose products that interest us the most. It’s also worth noting that I don’t have access to every piece of hi-fi gear on the planet. Far from it: I only have media contacts for a small percentage of the world’s hi-fi manufacturers.
Why aren’t you using product Z any longer?
Because I’m a reviewer and the review of product Z is done and dusted. It might make a guest appearance in another review but most likely it’s already back with the manufacturer.
I saw/read your review on product X. How does it compare to Y?
If that comparison isn’t in the review, I didn’t do it. Each review is time-limited and tough choices have to be made. Most of the time those choices are made for me by the gear that I have on hand. Sometimes you’ll get the comparison you want to see. A lot of times you won’t. Why? Because Product Y is already back with the manufacturer. I only get to keep review units for so long.
Can you give me your thoughts on X vs. Y anyway?
Sorry to be blunt but no. In conducting reviews, I don’t do quick fire A/B comparisons. I listen to X for a week. Then Y for a few days. If I’m going to do that for another pair of products, I should publish the results for everyone to read, not just you. However, I don’t have a week to spare and, besides, as you know, the review of X is finished. That and I’m already deep into listening for the next review.
Between you and I, what’s your ‘real’ opinion on Y?
If you’ve read/seen my review on Y, you already have my ‘real’ opinion.
I’m trying to get this feature to work but it won’t play ball – can you help me?
Sorry – I am unable to offer technical support on the products that I review. Please contact your dealer or the manufacturer.
I’m looking for a DAC/streamer/amp to match the rest of my system — what should I buy?
I’m flattered that you would ask but I don’t know you, your taste in hi-fi gear, what kind of sound pleases you or your taste in music. That makes it impossible for me to make suitable recommendations.
I’ve a shortlist of three units – X, Y and V. Which one should I buy?
Again, this decision falls to you and your tastes, not mine. Helping you along the way is a job for your local dealer, not me. I’m a reviewer, not a private audio consultant.
Oh – listen to you, Mr. Rockstar! Sounds like someone’s gotten too big for his boots?!
Not at all. To understand your tastes in hi-fi and music and to do so remotely would take many hours. Many hours that I simply don’t have. I work for 6.5 days/week on Darko.Audio; time that is more equitably spent creating review content that every Darko.Audio reader/viewer can enjoy. The opportunity cost of our videos’ high production values (that benefit the many) is fielding follow-up questions (that benefit the few).
So you don’t give buying advice?
Nope. Sorry. Think of it this way: you’re not being charged to access this site’s reviews, show reports, editorials, news announcements or videos. You get to see the results of me and my team’s findings for the price of being served an ad or three. I’d say that was more than fair. And like I said, I’m a content maker and publisher, not a buying consultant.
How come you seem to like every product that you review?
Of all the products coming to market each year, I have review time for less than one per cent. I’ll say that again: less than once per cent. I do extensive research on a product before requesting a review sample. Why would I waste my time on something that I’m not going to like all that much? Answer: I wouldn’t.
Do you have a Patreon?
No. And if I did, it wouldn’t provide enough of an income for me to continue Darko.Audio as a full-time pursuit. Instead, my income is derived from the banner ads that you see around you. These ads double as a declaration of financial interests. Double-dipping via Patreon isn’t my style.
Enough of the doof-doof. Why don’t you review gear with proper music?
Maybe you don’t mean to sound like a music snob but electronic music and indie/alt-rock IS proper music. So too is hip-hop and rap. And funk and soul. And metal. Not everyone in the audiophile world is trying to maximise their listening experience with classical, jazz, blues or opera. I am talking to people who know their Sigur Ros from their Supergrass, their Bowie from their Black Dog, their American Music Club from their Aphex Twin.
Why have you disabled comments on Instagram?
Because I get too many comments asking for opinions on gear I’ve not heard or comparisons I haven’t conducted. One of the biggest misconceptions about my job is that I’ve heard everything out there when, in fact, I only get to hear a small percentage – we’re talking single digits – of products coming to market each year.
Ok. So why not just ignore the comments you don’t want to reply to?
Better to show zero comments than ignored comments.
Why didn’t you approve my YouTube comment?
I don’t approve comments that are ill-mannered, littered with expletives, off-topic rambles, especially, once again, if they pertain to gear that I’ve not heard or to comparisons I’ve not conducted.
So how do we know if you’ve heard something or not?
This is where we came in: in the first instance, you should do a search on the site. If a review exists, I’ve heard it. If it doesn’t exist, I haven’t. Simple, innit? If the comparison is in that review, I’ve done it. If it isn’t, I haven’t.
What’s that music at 1:36 in your video?
All music featured in our videos is fully-licensed and is, since the end of 2019, featured in the review music playlists (Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz) listed in the description box below each video.