Digital Audio Review (DAR) covers news and reviews of interesting and affordable hi-fi equipment; it is aimed at audiophiles who like to think.
The majority of articles are penned by John Darko with occasional contributions from Srajan Ebaen (of 6moons) and others.
DAR is NOT pay-to-play (see below: “How is DAR funded?”). If we deem it sufficiently interesting, it’ll see coverage.
We pride ourselves on offering meaningful content to an engaged audience, as evidenced by an active comments section beneath each post.
Srajan’s splendid series of editorial pieces is called KIH (“Keep It Honest”). Click here for a full listing.
How do I tell them apart?
News announcements aren’t lifted lock-stock copy-paste from press releases – not even close. And with an editorial voice providing additional context they often read like reviews. But they’re not. (We’ll get to showcase posts shortly).
Separating news and reviews is easy when you know what to look for: 1) the absence of judgement, especially on sound quality; 2) the presence of manufacturer-supplied photos. These are both red hot indicators of a news item.
And 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 nothing.
What else can I expect from a DAR 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 not just the specifications sheet) and delivering the results in an entertaining and engaging manner.
A process that’s fundamental to the DAR 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 range of ancillary products that cater to more modestly-sized listening rooms and budgets. Reviews are conducted in real-world living spaces, hopefully 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 the in-built soundcard in their laptop 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 cliches. “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…”.
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, DAR aspires to bridge the disconnect 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 air time 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.
Like to see something covered on DAR? Contact us with your suggestion.
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 DAR 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 judgements 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.
DAR does not charge show exhibitors for show coverage or any other coverage.
How is DAR funded?
Simple: by the banner advertising you see around you – the same business model as adopted by TONEAudio, Stereophile and others. 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 DAR’s financial interests.
What about other pecuniary interests?
Nope. None. Nada. Zilch. 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 PR representative, show organiser, product photographer or Saturday audio store helper.
Most definitely. Read it here.