REVIEWING THE 'REVIEWERS'

MICHAEL FREMER

INITIAL CORRESPONDENCE

A LETTER FROM MICHAEL FREMER

MY REPLY TO MICHAEL FREMER (This is very lengthy)

MICHAEL FREMER'S 2ND LETTER AND MY RESPONSE

A "READER" DEFENDS MICHAEL FREMER

THE (SECRET) RULES OF AUDIO REVIEWING

INTERNAL LINKS

A LETTER FROM MICHAEL FREMER

INTRODUCTION

This is the first communication I ever had with Michael Fremer. It is important to note that this exact same letter was also sent to Phonogram (an on-line subscriber service) less than 6 minutes after it was sent to this website. Ironically, Fremer had never been mentioned by name within this entire website prior to the receipt of his letter. I feel that this letter reveals much more about the writer than about the subject(s) of the letter. Fremer's letter is totally unedited and uninterrupted.

My reply to this letter is just below it. It is very lengthy and highly detailed.

A LETTER FROM MICHAEL FREMER OF STEREOPHILE

Subject: Secrets of reviewers....
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 13:30:44 -0400
From: grooves@microdsi.net (Grooves)
Organization: The Tracking Angle
To: arthur@high-endaudio.com

Dear Mr. Salvatore:

You do make a total fool out of yourself with what's below. Your jealousy rages, and your cynicism is quite ugly. But before I pick your pathetic "secrets" apart, let me clarify your discussion of Tom Miiller (which you spelled incorrectly and I spell correctly) and HP. You obviously are fairly new to this because HP and Miiller have had this "relationship" ongoing for literally decades! Miiller, an obsequious, unctuous writer, foams at the mouth, praising everything he hears, and HP reigns him in or flat out contradicts him. This is ongoing and there is no "reconciling it" nor does there need to be. HP enjoy s humiliating Miiller and he obviously enjoys being humiliated.

Now, on to your 'secrets'-since you lump all audio reviewers together and accuse them all of these dubious practices I take your words very personally. So here goes:

THE (SECRET) RULES OF 'AUDIO REVIEWERS'

1. Never anger an important current, or potential, advertiser; including manufacturers, distributors or retailers, or any other audio establishment which has a "personal relationship" with you.

You do not understand or have any knowledge of the review process if you believe this goes on. Reviewers do not know or care about who's advertising in the magazines for which they write! THAT'S A FACT for TAS and STEREOPHILE in my 13 year experience with those mags. I don't give a damn who I anger nor do I pay attention to who advertises in Stereophile, NOR does Stereophile EVER tell me what to review or key it to advertising. MUCH of what I choose to review...read it again...I choose to review... is never advertised in Stereophile...VPI, Simon Yorke, etc. and I don't pay attention to the advertising and if anyone EVER tried to influence me on that basis I WOULD QUIT. If you don't believe that, I don't give a rat's ass. I have a "personal relationship" with Harry Weisfeld at VPI. I owned his 'table. GUESS WHAT? I heard something better from someone I didn't know and I sold my TNT and bought it. I do not do this to make friends or enemies and I really don't give a damn about any of that stuff. I don't go out of my way to be mean or to be "friendly" in print. I have a "personal relationship" with Allen Perkins at Immedia. I owned some speakers he imports. I reviewed Amati Homages and liked them better, so I sold the APs and bought the Amatis. Big deal. Your first secret is absurd. Reviewers have no stake in the magazine business and they don't get paid enough to be told what to say or how or when. Sometimes I am assigned something to review but I am NEVER told what to say. EVER, nor do I care if I piss anyone off...My goal is to write what I hear and do it responsibly which means what I hear comes first, what I think of what I hear comes dead last. My taste is not really relevant. What something sounds like, is. Those are two different things!

2. Delay acknowledging any serious problems with an advertised component until you give another rave review to the "updated" model which replaces it and "corrects" the problems.

This is pure bullshit on a stick since what's advertised means nothing to me or to any responsible reviewer.

3. Avoid making any direct comparisons, but if you have to, follow these "Solutions":

I try to make DIRECT comparisons with competing products with which I am familiar and so do other reviewers at Stereophile and elsewhere. I have the nasty phone calls from manufacturers to prove it and again, I don't give a damn how much they scream and yell. I do my job and call it as I hear it. I just directly compared a group of phono sections and ranked them as I heard them. I ALWAYS compare like priced products with which I am familiar. I did it when I first joined Stereophile and I do it today. My first two reviewer were of the Audio Physic Virgos and ProAc Response 2.5s--direct competitors and I have a "personal relationship" with both importers--meaning I like them, speak to them and see them every so often. Nonetheless I compared them and bought the APs. I also got a really nasty, angry phone call from the ProAc importer, but he got over it because he is an adult and didn't take it "personally," nor did he think I had an 'agenda.' Unlike you his vantage point is of an adult not an envious infant.

A. Compare the component only to older and/or obsolete models, especially from the same manufacturer. (See Rule #2 above).

I compare it to COMPETING CURRENT MODELS AND/OR TO DIFFERENT MODELS FROM THE SAME COMPANY WHEN POSSIBLE

B. If Solution "A" is not possible, compare the component to "competitors" costing either MUCH more or MUCH less.

C. If both Solutions "A" or "B" are not possible, "forget" to mention the actual names and model numbers of the rival components that you compare it to in the 'review'.

More B.S. and so twisted it defy's a logical answer.

D. If Solutions "A", "B" or "C" are not feasible, and you must compare the unit to a current, similarly priced (and advertised) competitor that you must name, then you must be as ambiguous as possible, and never proclaim a clear-cut winner. Both (or all) components must be seen as equally desirable and of similar value.

Not what I do. But when you talk about "winners" and "losers" you give away your infantile approach to the subject. THIS IS NOT A RACE, DUDE. My job is not to determine winners and losers. It is to describe as accurately as possible what something sounds like and to tell readers about the build quality and the value given for the price charged. I did that in non ambiguous terms in my KR amp review and in my ClearAudio Reference turntable review to cite two examples where I thought they were POOR VALUES for the money and I was QUITE unambiguous in stating that the Souther arm is a JOKE in my opinion and cannot possibly work as claimed.

E. Problems or imperfections that aren't obvious (such as no bass below 40Hz with small speakers), may be described as "serious" (easy to hear) only when using Solutions "A", "B" or "C". Any problems described when using Solution "D" must always be "subtle" and "difficult to hear", or even described as an "advancement" if possible.

This is more horseshit. Perhaps you think in these twisted terms but I promise you, no honest reviewer I know does that....

4. You must never inform readers if an audiophile accessory or tweak is also available in a generic form at a fraction of the price that the manufacturer is charging (Blue Tac and RF rings etc.).

More bullshit. Many reviewers in Stereophile and elsewhere discuss "tweaks" based upon commonly available materials. In a review of Brightstar audio sandboxes I described how you can build your own. BUT my conclusion was, based upon the LIST PRICE, and the time it would take to build such devices, MOST readers would be better off BUYING them rather than BUILDING them....

5. You must never divulge the actual price, if any, you paid to "purchase" your reference components, or any extra costs you paid, if any, to have that same component updated, modified, repaired, replaced etc.

Do you divulge what you pay wholesale for components you sell the customers you friggin' hypocrite! Do you list your margin on every product you sell. I DOUBT IT!

6. You must never mention the actual costs, even at retail prices, of the parts that are used to manufacture the component.

I FREQUENTLY DISCUSS WHAT PARTS COSTS ARE WHEN I CAN DETERMINE THEM AND WHETHER THE FINAL PRICE REPRESENTS A GOOD VALUE FOR THE MONEY OR A POOR ONE. IT IS PART OF THE JOB AND I WILL AGREE THAT SOME REVIEWS DON'T BUT SHOULD. BUT YOUR "SECRET OF REVIEWERS" IS A GIANT GENERALIZATION LIKE "JEWS HAVE BIG NOSES" AND "HOMOSEXUALS ALL TRY TO BUGGER LITTLE BOYS." IT'S OFFENSIVE TO THE HONEST REVIEWER, WHICH IN MY EXPERIENCE IS THE MAJORITY OF THEM.

7. Further to Rules #4, #5 & #6, you must never state that any component or accessory (including the non-advertised) is "over-priced", or that anyone, within the entire high-end audio industry, is either "selfish", "greedy" or "dishonest".

SORRY, DUDE, BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. BUT whether someone is "selfish" is not part of the job because it cannot be determined by auditioning hifi gear! "Greedy." Ditto. "Dishonest?" You had better have proof of that or face a libel suit. In is infantile to suggest that any reviewer write such things about any manufacturer....those are different statements than saying a product appears to be "overpriced." That is acceptable and far different than hurling personal insults. But then you seem to be very good at that!

8. The more dishonest your magazine is, the more you shall proclaim your honesty.

That is true in life....and has nothing to do with hifi!

9. Magazines shall never divulge the actual percentage of their advertising revenues to their total revenues.

More bullshit of no interest to anyone. Magazines---all magazines--exist on the basis of advertising. That' s all that counts. Magazines are "sold" simply to have circulation which can then be used to sell advertising at prices commensurate with the circulation. IN FACT most magazines LOSE money on circulation. It doesn't matter since they make their money on advertising. YOU ARE AN IGNORAMUS discussing something you know NOTHING ABOUT.

10. OVERRIDE CLAUSE- Some of the preceding rules (#1, #2 & #3) may be ignored only in the event of either a serious (and apparently indefinite) breach of the "personal relationship" between the audio company and reviewer/magazine, and/or the termination, or non-payment, of their advertising contract.

All of the above that you wrote should be ignored by all but the most imbecilic and gullible of fools who stop by your site!

Cheers,

Michael Fremer

END OF LETTER


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MY REPLY TO MICHAEL FREMER

INTRODUCTION

Michael Fremer's letter is a figurative "Gold Mine" of information. How?

1. It is an unprecedented exposure and revelation of the true outlook and attitude of a veteran audio reviewer.

2. It also reveals the normally hidden activities between a well-known reviewer and the audio manufacturers whose components are being reviewed.

That being said, I don't want to minimize, in any manner, the vital significance of Fremer's vulgar language and the underlying anger. They are critical for fully understanding Fremer's serious concerns about not only the contents of this website, but any perceived threat to his, and his associates, privileged positions inside the audio industry.

Consider this: Michael Fremer had never been mentioned even once in this entire website prior to the posting of his letter, but he still felt the following was necessary:

1. To personally insult Tom Miiller of The Absolute Sound.

2. To personally insult Harry Pearson of The Absolute Sound.

3. To personally insult the editor of this website.

4. To disclose (in his own words) the "really nasty, angry phone call from the Pro Ac Importer".

5. To personally insult the readers of this website, and the countless other audiophiles who sincerely believe that there are serious problems with the direction that most audio magazines have taken.

To appreciate the full degree of Fremer's anger and loss of control, you must contrast his letter to his typical writing style in Stereophile, with its fun and carefree image of audio. It is obvious that Fremer read something which struck a deep nerve. That's the only possible explanation for such a hysterical response.

The Goals of My Response to Michael Fremer

I have no intention in joining Fremer in "the gutter", so I will ignore the ubiquitous insults. Instead, I will discuss only the relevant points, charges and claims of his letter. Fremer's own published work, which he has brought up himself, will also be "reviewed", in the context of "The Rules", and the many claims of his letter.

A good deal of stamina will be required by the reader to digest the fine details and the examples, but it is also an opportunity to better understand my method of thinking, which led me to my present outlook. Michael Fremer, within the second sentence of his letter, promised to "pick (my) pathetic 'secrets' apart". Of course, it is now only fair for the tables to be reversed.

In Short- It is now my turn to "pick apart" Michael Fremer's Letter.

MY RESPONSE TO THE MICHAEL FREMER LETTER

SCRIPT EXPLANATION:
This color and script = "The Rules" (TR)
This color and script = Michael Fremer's Letter (MF)
This color and script = My response to Fremer's Letter (AS)

(MF) You do make a total fool out of yourself with what's below. Your jealousy rages, and your cynicism is quite ugly.

(AS) 1. This is total nonsense. I could never be "jealous" of:

Fremer's association with Stereophile, which...

A. Actually claims that there are "50+ best amplifiers".

B. Encourages on-going, confidential "relationships" and "financial transactions" between their reviewers, their advertisers and other manufacturers.

C. Ignores small, innovative companies, especially if they are a serious threat to any of the manufacturers that are advertisers or who have current "relationships" with the reviewers.

Bottom Line: No amount of "perks", "loans" and "gifts" would ever be enticing enough for me to commit intellectual and ethical suicide.

2. "The Rules" were organized after observing their use for 15 years. They were inspired by the actions of the many reviewers of the major magazines, including Michael Fremer.

(MF) Now, on to your 'secrets'-since you lump all audio reviewers together and accuse them all of these dubious practices I take your words very personally.

(AS) This is both "paranoia" and "BS". I don't "lump all audio reviewers together". I even recommend 7 audio magazines within the essay, "The Audio Press" (Stereophile is not one of them). Fremer is either a liar or an extremely poor reader.

(TR) THE (SECRET) RULES OF 'AUDIO REVIEWERS'

1.Never anger an important current, or potential, advertiser; including manufacturers, distributors or retailers, or any other audio establishment which has a "personal relationship" with you.

(MF) You do not understand or have any knowledge of the review process if you believe this goes on. Reviewers do not know or care about who's advertising in the magazines for which they write! THAT'S A FACT for TAS and STEREOPHILE in my 13 year experience with those mags.

(AS) More complete nonsense. Fremer is now actually claiming that audio "reviewers" don't even bother reading the magazines that publish their own work! The pathetic contents of their "reviews" indicate that reviewers "do care", a lot.

(MF) NOR does Stereophile EVER tell me what to review or key it to advertising. MUCH of what I choose to review...is never advertised in Stereophile...VPI, Simon Yorke, etc...Sometimes I am assigned something to review...

(AS) 1. Fremer even directly contradicts himself:
A. "Nor does Stereophile EVER tell me what to review..."
B. "Sometimes I am assigned something to review..."

2. Fremer fails to acknowledge the reasons why he chooses certain manufacturers, and not others, to receive the (usually valuable) reviews, and the confidential, "personal relationships" he has with those manufacturers. Fremer is not alone. Many other reviewers follow these same secretive practices.

(MF) I have a "personal relationship" with Allen Perkins at Immedia. I owned some speakers he imports. I reviewed Amati Homages and liked them better, so I sold the APs and bought the Amatis. Big deal.

REALITY CHECK

(AS) 1. The Amatis cost $ 20,000, while the APs (Virgos) cost $ 5,000. There was no conflict. Why should it be a "big deal" to Perkins? Fremer even gave the APs one more valuable "plug" within the actual Amati Review.

2. Fremer may have made a very nice profit when he sold the APs. We will never know, because all the financial transactions between the reviewers and the manufacturers are kept strictly confidential.

(MF) Reviewers have no stake in the magazine business and they don't get paid enough to be told what to say or how or when.

(AS) Misleading. The reviewer's actual "pay" is inconsequential because of the "perks" of their position...

The "sweetheart deals", "loans", "gifts" and various "favors". For most reviewers, their actual "pay" is chickenfeed compared to the rest. Best of all, all of these "benefits" are confidential, especially to their readers.


(MF) ...but I am NEVER told what to say. EVER, nor do I care if I piss anyone off...

(AS) 1. Michael Fremer was chosen to be a 'reviewer' in the first place because he doesn't have to be "told what not to say"

2. The List of the manufacturers that Fremer has "pissed off", because of something he wrote, is even shorter than: The List of Compassionate Acts by Saddam Hussein.

(MF) My goal is to write what I hear and do it responsibly which means what I hear comes first, what I think of what I hear comes dead last. My taste is not really relevant. What something sounds like, is. Those are two different things!

(AS) Of course they "are two different things". However, Fremer's statement is again inconsistent with his own reviews.

1. What Fremer really "thinks" is very important to him, and hardly "dead last". In fact, it can be more important than "what he hears". Proof? You will always observe that...

When Michael Fremer really likes something (the KR VT8000 amps or the Rockport turntable), he'll let you know exactly how he "thinks" and "feels", and at great length and detail. In contrast...

2. It's only when Fremer is not excited about a component that he uses the gutless evasion: "My taste is not really relevant". (Ergo: No one gets angry.)

(TR) 2.Delay acknowledging any serious problems with an advertised component until you give another rave review to the "updated" model which replaces it and "corrects" the problems.

(MF) This is pure bullshit on a stick since what's advertised means nothing to me or to any responsible reviewer.

(AS) Yet more nonsense. In his letter, Fremer personally insulted both Harry Pearson and Tom Miiller, and in the most sickening terms, but he never once addressed The Main Issue:

Harry Pearson's editorial and publishing decision to:

"(TR) Delay acknowledging any serious problems with" the Wilson WATT 5 until the "updated model", the WATT 6, was reviewed 5 years later.

Fremer obviously feels that Harry Pearson is not a "responsible reviewer". (See the TAS file for all the details.)

Important Aside- Readers should always return to the original review whenever the "updated" model arrives. You will observe a consistent pattern: The reviewer almost always hearing problems with the original model which were only noticeable after the original was discontinued. Why is there this "delay"? Because the problems are now irrelevant and safe to disclose.

(TR) 3. Avoid making any direct comparisons, but if you have to, follow these "Solutions":

(MF) I try to make DIRECT comparisons with competing products with which I am familiar and so do other reviewers at Stereophile and elsewhere.

(AS) Total "BS" again. In Stereophile's "featured (9 page) review" of the WATT/PUPPY 5 (November 1995), there was not even one comparison.

(MF) I have the nasty phone calls from manufacturers to prove it and again, I don't give a damn how much they scream and yell.

(AS) I believe Fremer, but he lacks the guts to name even one of these sensitive manufacturers.

(MF) I do my job and call it as I hear it... My first two reviewer (sic) were of the Audio Physic Virgos and ProAc Response 2.5s--direct competitors and I have a "personal relationship" with both importers--meaning I like them, speak to them and see them every so often.

(AS) (Please read this next part of Fremer's Letter Very Carefully)

(MF) Nonetheless I compared them and bought the APs. I also got a really nasty, angry phone call from the ProAc importer, but he got over it because he is an adult and didn't take it "personally," nor did he think I had an 'agenda.' Unlike you his vantage point is of an adult not an envious infant.

(AS) 1. Fremer has finally revealed the honest ("scream and yell") communications between a reviewer and an importer, in contrast to the monthly diet of "pabulum" you will read in Stereophile's "Manufacturers' Comments".

2. We are now going to compare the contents of Fremer's letter to what he actually wrote in his review of the ProAc Response 2.5. (January 1996 Stereophile, page 221)

How Michael Fremer Misled his Readers

Fremer's letter: "I compared them and bought the APs."

Fremer's actual review: "Which do I prefer? I bought the Virgo's, but that was before I heard the 2.5s. Had it been the other way around, I might have bought the ProAcs." (My underlines)

A Quick Summary:

The Letter: Fremer compared the Virgos to the ProAcs first, and then he bought the Virgos.

The Review: Fremer bought the Virgos first, and then he compared the Virgos to the ProAcs.

Bottom Line- There is a total contradiction between the clear sentence in Fremer's letter, and his deceptive comments in the ProAc review. In short, Fremer lied to his own readers.

(For those readers who suspect that there is something "missing" concerning this entire incident, there is a pertinent FOOTNOTE, below the Conclusion, that addresses these suspicions.)

(TR) 3A. Compare the component only to older and/or obsolete models, especially from the same manufacturer. (See Rule #2 above).

(MF) I compare it to COMPETING CURRENT MODELS AND/OR TO DIFFERENT MODELS FROM THE SAME COMPANY WHEN POSSIBLE

(AS) Let's take Fremer at his (twice qualified) word, for now. However, many other reviewers can't make the same claim. Just two quick examples:

1. Stereophile-Martin Colloms-Wilson WITT II-January 1998-Comparison only to original WITT.

2. TAS-Harry Pearson-WATT/PUPPY 6-Issue 125-Comparison only to WATT/PUPPY 5.

(TR) 3B. If Solution "A" is not possible, compare the component to "competitors" costing either MUCH more or MUCH less.

(TR) 3C. If both Solutions "A" or "B" are not possible, "forget" to mention the actual names and model numbers of the rival components that you compare it to in the 'review'.

(MF) More B.S. and so twisted it defy's a logical answer.

(AS) More Nonsense. Fremer must have his own personal sense of logic and reality. Below are just 3 examples of these particular rules being used over the years, which Fremer has (once again) conveniently ignored.

1. Ultimate Audio, Summer 2000, "review" of the Expressive Technology Preamp; "neglecting" to mention the models which didn't equal the performance of its line stage. (Solution 3C)

2. The TAS "review" of the VPI Aries turntable; the "competition"? A Rega Planar 3! (Solution 3B)

3. The TAS "review" of the Jadis 845 ($20,000); the "competition"? A Dynaco Stereo 70! (Solution 3B)

NOTE: I changed the word "forget" to "neglect" in Rule 3 (C). I felt that the word "forget" was sarcastic in its context.

(TR) 3D. If Solutions "A", "B" or "C" are not feasible, and you must compare the unit to a current, similarly priced (and advertised) competitor that you must name, then you must be as ambiguous as possible, and never proclaim a clear-cut winner. Both (or all) components must be seen as equally desirable and of similar value.

(MF) Not what I do.

(AS) Oh yes you do!

Fremer has not only used this particular "Rule", he has even demonstrated a rare mastery of it. Let us take another look at Fremer's ProAc Response 2.5 review (Stereophile-January 1996). The ProAcs were "compared" to the Audio Physic Virgos.

These are the published results of Fremer's "comparisons":

"These are...equally accomplished designs, either one of which I would gladly own." (Sounds familiar? Read the last sentence of "Solution 3D", just above.) Then Fremer gets even better...

"Which do I prefer? I bought the Virgos, but that was before I heard the 2.5's. Had it been the other way around, I might have bought the ProAcs." (It would take the genius of Shakespeare to be more ambiguous than Michael Fremer.)

Fremer has provided us the quintessential example of the now common practice of never stating a clear-cut preference for a particular component.

(MF) ...When you talk about "winners" and "losers" you give away your infantile approach to the subject. THIS IS NOT A RACE, DUDE. My job is not to determine winners and losers. It is to describe as accurately as possible what something sounds like and to tell readers about the build quality and the value given for the price charged.

(AS) Wrong again! Yes it is a RACE! High-End Audio is a "race to perfection!". We will never reach the goal line, but we wouldn't be real audiophiles if we didn't try. Of course the sound must be "described", but that is not enough! The readers must always know which component is liked and preferred by the reviewer.

A real reviewer must have the courage to declare and expose his "true feelings and preferences".

Fremer and his associates are terrified of doing this. They don't like putting their rear ends on the line and making real value judgements. That is why there are now 50+ amplifiers in "Class A". Further...

If this isn't about "winners and losers", then a few questions are in order:

1. Why does Stereophile publish a "Recommended Components List" every 6 months?

2. Why does The Absolute Sound have their "Golden Ear Awards"?

3. Why do manufacturers "scream and yell" when they don't receive a "rave" (a "winner")?

4. Why do manufactures (and retailers) desperately want all their components on the List?

5. Why has Stereophile increased its Class A Recommendations 1,055% in the last 15 years?

6. Why is there a "Products of the Year" contest, with lots of "Honorable Mentions"?

7. Why do many consumers only consider purchasing equipment on the List?

8. Why is Fremer still writing for a magazine that thrives on naming "winners"?

It would appear that my "infantile approach" is shared by everyone else in the audio world, including Fremer's associates at Stereophile. I wonder when Fremer last called John Atkinson "infantile"?

(MF) (On describing sound and value)...I did that in non ambiguous terms in my KR amp review and in my ClearAudio Reference turntable review to cite two examples where I thought they were POOR VALUES for the money and I was QUITE unambiguous in stating that the Souther arm is a JOKE in my opinion and cannot possibly work as claimed.

(AS) IT'S TIME FOR ANOTHER REALITY CHECK. Fremer's actual description of the KR VT8000 amplifiers (November 1999) was:

"They...delivered the most convincing, captivating musical performance I have ever heard in my system-or in anyone else's...the...overall performance set new standards for the reproduction of music..."

Fremer then "qualified" these remarks in December 1999: "they do sound somewhat on the 'ripe' side, meaning harmonically rich and inviting, as in real music..."

Incredibly, with "13 years" of 'reviews' to choose from, Fremer picked this KR amp review as the "example where I thought they were POOR VALUE", and "in non ambiguous terms". Fremer never used the term "poor value" or anything like it in his review. In fact the actual review was one more "rave". So what does this ALL mean...

This is one more example of how Michael Fremer mislead his readers.

(TR) 3E. Problems or imperfections that aren't obvious (such as no bass below 40Hz with small speakers), may be described as "serious" (easy to hear) only when using Solutions "A", "B" or "C". Any problems described when using Solution "D" must always be "subtle" and "difficult to hear", or even described as an "advancement" if possible.

(MF) This is more horseshit. Perhaps you think in these twisted terms but I promise you, no honest reviewer I know does that....

(AS) 1. Even an "infant" knows "The Rules" were NOT meant to be used by an "honest reviewer".
2. "Twisted Terms?" We must go back, one last time, to Fremer's ProAc Response 2.5 review, where he used "Solution D". So,...

How does Fremer actually "describe the problems" of the ProAc?

A. Are they "serious" (breaking the Rule)? Or...

B. Are they "subtle", or "difficult to hear" or even "an advancement" (following the Rule)?

Michael Fremer Describes the 5 ProAc's Problems-In His "Own Words"

Problem 1. Overall Tonal Balance- "a few small anomalies"

Problem 2. Lower midrange suckout- "helped keep the bass from sounding 'thick'-a plus"

Problem 3. Rise in mid-treble- "...an attractive sense of 'presence' and lushness"

Problem 4. Very top rolls off- "...sound so smooth and easy on top..."

Problem 5. Air and Space- "the 2.5s didn't give me everything...only because...the Virgos...are the...champs..."

Michael Fremer Describing The 5 ProAc Problems-The Final Score
"An Advancement"-3
"Subtle"-2
"Serious"-0

Fremer was right: You do have to think in "twisted terms" to be able to transform "problems" into "advancements", but Fremer proved that it can be done!

(TR) 4. You must never inform readers if an audiophile accessory or tweak is also available in a generic form at a fraction of the price that the manufacturer is charging (Blue Tac and RF rings etc.).

(MF) More bullshit. Many reviewers in Stereophile and elsewhere discuss "tweaks" based upon commonly available materials.

(AS) Reviewers never "discuss tweaks" that directly replace the overpriced products from the audio manufacturers. That's the obvious point, which even an "envious infant" should have understood.

(MF) In a review of Brightstar audio sandboxes I described how you can build your own. BUT my conclusion was, based upon the LIST PRICE, and the time it would take to build such devices, MOST readers would be better off BUYING them rather than BUILDING them....

(AS) Translation: Fremer has not yet found, after "13 years", even 1 generic product that his readers can buy, or build, to save money from the "audiophile price". That's not a surprise. So, we are announcing a...

*******************************************
BIG CONTEST!

What will happen first?

1- Michael Fremer discloses a "tweak" or improvement, at the expense of an audio manufacturer
Or
2- OJ Simpson finds "the real killers"

MAKE YOUR BETS!

*******************************************

As for his actual "Brightstar Sandbox" example, Fremer made a most unfortunate choice...

I had 6 of those same "sandboxes" built by a professional carpenter, filled them with sand myself, and I still saved "good money", from the WHOLESALE cost.

(Safe Advice: BET ON OJ!)

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UP NEXT-THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE

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(TR) 5. You must never divulge the actual price, if any, you paid to "purchase" your reference components, or any extra costs you paid, if any, to have that same component updated, modified, repaired, replaced etc.

(MF) Do you divulge what you pay wholesale for components you sell the customers you friggin' hypocrite! Do you list your margin on every product you sell. I DOUBT IT!

(AS) 1. Michael Fremer has officially equated himself, in his own writing, with someone in the audio marketing chain. This is an unprecedented admission for a reviewer, and...

Extremely important, because Fremer is now admitting that he no longer makes any type of distinction between his reviewing position and anyone else in the audio industry who makes money from producing, marketing and selling audio equipment. In effect, Fremer considers himself justly entitled to all the "perks" you normally receive within a particular industry; including the confidential "sweetheart deals". His written words above are totally consistent with his actions.

2. Fremer has had so many "financial transactions" with audio distributors and manufacturers over the years that he has completely forgotten the most basic truth:

He is supposed to be: AN INDEPENDENT AUDIO JOURNALIST!

Ethical Journalists never have "secret relationships", financial or otherwise, with the people or organizations they report on. That would create an obvious conflict of interest with the responsibilities they have with their readers. This is so fundamental, that even non-journalists are aware of this Rule.

Journalists must never profit from the companies they report on.

3. If there is any unavoidable conflict, they are supposed to disclose it. This allows the readers to make the final decision of whether or not the journalist's objectivity has been compromised. What does this mean in practical terms? That is simple...

Reviewers must always disclose the price they pay for any audio component or service if it's less than their readers would pay. (A deal by any other name.) Since they all refuse, the readers must ask themselves...

A. What are the reviewers hiding, and why are they hiding it?
and
B. What do manufacturers receive in return from the reviewers that THEY want to hide?

5. And to directly answer Fremer's ignorant accusation: I informed customers 100's of times of the wholesale price in the last 20 years, especially with "closeouts", "sales", "demos", and "trade-ins". Atleast the customers always knew that I was paying "standard wholesale". No one knows what Fremer and his reviewer buddies are paying for their components, if anything.


"Audio Journalism" is unique in all Journalism.

It is the only form of "Journalism" where the so-called "journalists" regularly receive "perks" and "deals" from the companies whose components they are reviewing, and all of this "activity" is confidential.

(TR) 6. You must never mention the actual costs, even at retail prices, of the parts that are used to manufacture the component.

(MF) I FREQUENTLY DISCUSS...WHETHER THE FINAL PRICE REPRESENTS A GOOD VALUE FOR THE MONEY...AND I WILL AGREE THAT SOME REVIEWS DON'T BUT SHOULD. BUT YOUR "SECRET OF REVIEWERS" IS A GIANT GENERALIZATION LIKE...(Fremer's disgusting examples can be read in the unedited version) IT'S OFFENSIVE TO THE HONEST REVIEWER, WHICH IN MY EXPERIENCE IS THE MAJORITY OF THEM.

(AS) Reality is not kind to Michael Fremer's "Claims"

1. Fremer highly recommended (April 1997) the Crown Jewel Reference pickup at $ 2,650, while the Shelter 501 II, $ 650, the same cartridge with just a different outer shell, has never been reviewed, let alone "Recommended". Why not?

2. Fremer finally admits that "some reviewers" aren't doing their job.

3. Of course "The Rules" are generalizations. Anything written about any group is a "generalization", by definition.

4. Any amount of dishonest reviewers, whether it's 5%, 49% or more, are too much.

5. A real "honest reviewer" will be "offended" by the actions of their dishonest colleagues, not by the person who discloses those actions.

6. An "honest reviewer" would encourage the person who reported on the shady practices of his dishonest colleagues, not insult him.

(TR) 7. Further to Rules #4, #5 & #6, you must never state that any component or accessory (including the non-advertised) is "over-priced", or that anyone, within the entire high-end audio industry, is either "selfish", "greedy" or "dishonest".

(MF) SORRY, DUDE, BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. BUT whether someone is "selfish" is not part of the job because it cannot be determined by auditioning hifi gear! "Greedy." Ditto. "Dishonest?" You had better have proof of that or face a libel suit. In is infantile to suggest that any reviewer write such things about any manufacturer....those are different statements than saying a product appears to be "overpriced." That is acceptable and far different than hurling personal insults. But then you seem to be very good at that!

(AS) 1. This a display of rank cowardice. Most cables, cartridges and accessories (let alone many other components) don't just "appear" to be overpriced:

THEY ARE OVERPRICED!

Fremer's qualified and gutless statement is useless to his readers, which is just one goal of following "The Rules".

2. Readers may choose their own adjectives to describe the audio companies who mark up some of their products as much as illegal drug dealers. I thought I was being prudent. (Check out The Audio Critic for really tough language, and they are not in court.)

3. Fremer's 3rd use of the word "infantile" to describe me deserves some thought. What does "infantile" really mean to Fremer? My best guess...

"An audiophile who still believes that there are higher priorities than making "big-time" profits or of abusing a position of influence for a share of those profits."

(TR) 8. The more dishonest your magazine is, the more you shall proclaim your honesty.

(MF) That is true in life....and has nothing to do with hifi!

(AS) So Stereophile's continual claims of "honesty" and "integrity" are not part of what is "true in life". As I have written elsewhere, the audio magazines' first priority is to make the audio consumer believe that audio "has nothing to do with...life".

Fremer is now claiming that the inherent struggles, greed, dishonesty and routine b.s. found everywhere else in the world are totally absent in "audio". Why? They want audiophiles who are naive and gullible. Skepticism is their greatest fear.

(TR) 9. Magazines shall never divulge the actual percentage of their advertising revenues to their total revenues.

(MF) More bullshit of no interest to anyone.

(AS) Yet more nonsense and a total lie. Fremer has conveniently forgotten that it was of great "interest" to both Stereophile and The Absolute Sound, and their readers, when those two magazines made the decision to accept advertising around 20 years ago.

(MF) Magazines---all magazines--exist on the basis of advertising. That's all that counts. Magazines are "sold" simply to have circulation which can then be used to sell advertising at prices commensurate with the circulation. IN FACT most magazines LOSE money on circulation. It doesn't matter since they make their money on advertising...(Followed by some more personal insults.)

(AS) Fremer deserves credit for the above remarks, though his frank statements will never be admitted to, let alone published, by Stereophile or any of the other audio magazines that accept advertising.

Never forget Michael Fremer's two significant admissions:


"Advertising...That's all that counts."

and

"Most magazines LOSE money on circulation. It doesn't matter since they make their money on advertising."

The only thing left to add is this: Does anyone really believe that any business would help the numerous customers (subscribers) that they "LOSE money on" at the expense of the very few customers (advertisers) who actually provide them "all that counts"?

(TR) 10. OVERRIDE CLAUSE- Some of the preceding rules (#1, #2 & #3) may be ignored only in the event of either a serious (and apparently indefinite) breach of the "personal relationship" between the audio company and reviewer/magazine, and/or the termination, or non-payment, of their advertising contract.

(MF) All of the above that you wrote should be ignored by all but the most imbecilic and gullible of fools who stop by your site!

(AS) Fremer's final "BS" statement. I only ask readers to look at the "fate" of Sonic Frontiers and Audio Research in Stereophile; Infinity, Genesis and the Pipedreams Speakers in The Absolute Sound and Mitch Cotter in The Audio Critic. There are plenty more examples.

(MF) Cheers,

Michael Fremer

SUMMARY

The readers who have taken the time and effort to read through this entire response have earned some unique and valuable insights...

1. Readers have now seen how a major reviewer actually thinks, acts and writes. More importantly, you will have noticed the differences between those 3 activities, when there shouldn't be any, if a writer is truly credible, honest and trustworthy.

2. Readers have seen actual examples of the use of the "Rules", including (despite all his denials) those by Fremer himself (1, 3D, 3E, 4, 5, 6). Readers have seen the destructive results of using the "Rules", and now know who exactly gains by using them.

3. Readers now understand the underlying reason for every single "Rule". The "Rules" will evolve and they will become more precise, but the justification for their existence is all too real and necessary.

CONCLUSION

Some readers might find much of the above confusing and disturbing, since it may conflict with their favorable image of Michael Fremer, and his reviewer associates. Those feelings are normal. I, and many other experienced audiophiles, used to feel the same way. We had the "advantage" of viewing it all in slow motion, because the questionable activities, described above, didn't just start happening on a particular day. Instead, they evolved, becoming more obvious as time went on.

I, and many other audiophiles, lived "in denial" for years, until we had no choice but to accept the new reality. It was either that, or still believe in a fantasy. Sharing this letter with the readers of this website is one of the greatest pleasures I've ever had in my practical audio life. It is also one of the most important. Why?

One of the main purposes of this website is to encourage the readers to be both independent and to make their important audio decisions on their own.

ALL audiophiles must become their own "guru"

All "disciples" must eventually "kill the guru", so they can grow and evolve and become their own guru. Fremer decided to expose his true self in a manner that made it very easy, and even inevitable, to "kill the guru". This is an extremely rare event.

Finally; "The Language"

I have been looking for the appropriate language to describe the character of Fremer's letter. I found it in another publication, which aptly did the job better than I could.

Here is how The Audio Critic described Michael Fremer in Issue 24:

"Possibly the most unattractive individual in the American audio community. In his writings and in his personal contacts, he is vulgar, abusive, bigoted and intellectually dishonest..."

When I first read that description a few years ago, I thought it was an exaggeration. I stand corrected.

and "The Anger"

Fremer's abusive language and his anger make sense if you take into consideration both his character (described above) and what he is trying to protect. Which is his very privileged position in audio. He is only one of two dozen or so individuals who are treated like Royalty by the audio manufacturers and distributors, both big and small. Additionally, Fremer feels everyone else is "jealous" of his position, but...

He has one great fear; losing his privileges. He must feel that he has worked long and hard to reach his present position; that this is "the way the world works" and that anyone who thinks otherwise is "infantile". I believe any audiophile would be tempted by Fremer's "perks", though not all of us would "give in".

The Awful Price we paid, and still pay

The real tragedy is "the awful price" we have all paid for Fremer's perks. I don't mean just the price in money. All the reviewer's perks and gifts combined, while very important to them, is insignificant compared to the total dollars spent in the high-end market. It is even negligible compared to the daily rip-offs just in cables and cartridges. Yes, the reviewers have been complicit in legitimizing these practices, but that is just a small part of the larger picture. Which is...?

The continual compromises, evasions and deceptions have accumulated, over all these years, to destroy The Trust we all had in each other at one time, even when we inevitably disagreed. We took that group trust for granted, and now it is gone. What price can you put on trust when it's no longer there? That question can't be answered, but we are now starting to realize how little it actually cost to "purchase it". The exact cost will always be a mystery to everyone but to those who "sold out". Michael Fremer and most of his reviewing associates and publishers do know that "exact cost" but, you guessed it, it's CONFIDENTIAL.

FOOTNOTE

A Few Mysteries (Or "The Case of The Missing Dots")

Something troubled me about Michael Fremer's ProAc/Virgo anecdote; his purchase of the AP Virgos; the resulting "nasty" phone call and "the happy ending". There was just too much missing information. For the sake of perspective, let us refresh ourselves as to the chronological "dots", using Fremer's "own words":

1. "My first two reviews were of the Audio Physic Virgos and the ProAc Response 2.5s--direct competitors..."
2. "I compared them and bought the APs."
(Shortly thereafter...)
3. "I also got a really nasty, angry phone call from the ProAc Importer..."
(Sometime Later...)
4. The Published Review came out: "(Had I heard the ProAcs before the Virgo's)...I might have bought the ProAcs."
(The Happy Outcome...)
5. "The ProAc importer...got over it..."

I have the strong feeling that there are some "missing dots".

The First "Mystery"...

First, how did the ProAc importer even find out about Fremer's purchase? Remember, the importer called Fremer, and not the other way around. Let's do some serious, and detailed, "detective work"...

These are the facts according to Michael Fremer's Letter and Stereophile Protocol:

1. Fremer received a "nasty, angry phone call" from the ProAc importer.
2. The call came after (and because) the importer discovered that Fremer purchased the Virgos.

However, Fremer neglected to mention Stereophile's Routine Protocol, which is:

3. Stereophile would have faxed the draft of the ProAc review to the importer before it was published, so that they could receive and publish a "Manufacturer's Comment" in the same issue.
4. That draft review would have mentioned Fremer's Virgo purchase.

So, the first "mystery" appears to be solved:

1. The ProAc importer most likely found out about Fremer's purchase from the draft of the review that would have been routinely faxed to him for a "Manufacturer's Comment".

2. The importer consequently made "the nasty, angry phone call" to Fremer.

The Next "Mystery"...

Why did the ProAc importer become so upset ("nasty, angry") just because he read about Fremer's private purchase in the draft review? (Don't forget that Fremer described him as an "adult".)

1. The published review states that the ProAc was "equally accomplished", along with other ambiguities.
2. It doesn't make any sense for an "adult" to become so incensed by such an ambiguous conclusion. However, don't forget that...
3. Fremer wrote in his letter: "I compared them and bought the APs".
4. No "qualifiers". No "ambiguity".

The second "mystery" also appears to have been solved:

The importer most likely read a draft review where Fremer stated his clear preference for the Virgos, without all the "qualifiers" and "ambiguity" found in the published review. If true, the importer had a legitimate reason for being "nasty and angry", because such a clear statement would hurt his sales and even the prestige of the ProAc line.

The Final "Mystery"...

Why, and how, did the ProAc importer "get over it", after making that "nasty, angry phone call"?

1. Was it because "his vantage point is of an adult not an envious infant"?

Or

2. Did the draft "evolve" into the published review, with the ambiguous ending that made everybody happy

Only Fremer and the "adult" importer know for certain which is true. The readers are encouraged to decide themselves which scenario makes the most sense and answers all the questions.


Back

Top

MICHAEL FREMER'S 2ND LETTER AND MY RESPONSE

INTRODUCTION

I received this latest, unsolicited note from Michael Fremer totally out of the blue. I had not communicated with him since the end of October 2000.

It basically is more of the same: Personal insults and irrational arguments. The only thing new is an unsubstantiated and grossly negligent accusation at the end of the note.

Fremer's entire note is unedited, but this time I am inserting my comments and reflections at the same time. I will not allow Fremer's false and disgraceful allegations to stand without an immediate and factual reply.

Readers should look carefully at the e-mail "heading". You will notice that John Atkinson, the Editor of Stereophile, also received a copy of this note. I discuss this important, new development at the end of Fremer's letter.

SCRIPT EXPLANATION:
This color and script = Michael Fremer's Latest Note (MF)
This color and script = My Response to this Note (AS)

Subject: My response
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 17:58:33 -0500
From: Michael Fremer grooves@microdsi.net
To: arthur@high-endaudio.com, John Atkinson atkinsoj@emapusa.com

(MF) Please post this.

Dear Mr. Salvatore (and I use "Mr." in the loosest sense of the word):

I sent you a personal note, not something which should have been posted on-line. That you posted a personal email to a website without permission and without even having the common courtesy to ask permission is indicative of your character.

REALITY CHECK AND PERSPECTIVE

(AS) Fremer sent me his "note" at 13:30:44 on October 29, 2000. At 13:36:29, less than 6 MINUTES later, he sent the exact same "personal note" to Phonogram, an on-line members only service, which in turn sent the same letter to ALL of their THOUSAND OR SO (3rd party) members (plus it is in their "archives").

He even included a gleeful, facetious introduction with 5 exclamation points (!!!!!) along with it. What does this all prove?

Michael Fremer is both a Liar and a Hypocrite

Fremer didn't stop there, he then posted another letter to Phonogram, on that same day, in which he referred to me (a person who he had never met and who had never written about him) as a "putz" (A Yiddish expression for "penis"). Fremer obviously never thought this would all come out, but now it has.

(MF) You may "reserve the right" to do so post-facto or whatever. You may also reserve the right to axe murder someone, but it doesn't make it right or ethical. Your posting of rules of ethics is laughable in light of your own behavior.

(AS) 1. Fremer's "facts" and analogy are convoluted as usual.

The Reality: Fremer's "note" was posted on October 30, 2000, one day after it was received. The "reserve the right" section was posted on or around November 29, 2000. That was four weeks after I posted Fremer's letter. There was obviously no connection.

2. Fremer should read the "Journalistic Code of Ethics" instead of "laughing" at the fact that I posted it. At least I have made an initial, serious effort to follow them. Fremer has made no such effort. Instead, his actions and communications have demonstrated his complete contempt for both any ethical code and for the readers who expect all journalists to follow some reasonable code.

(MF) You may pick me apart to your heart's content. You may try to embarrass me by posting a private note written in anger defending the people who toil in my field against your infantile, ignorant and hostile "exposť" of audio reviewing. Whatever slight damage, if any, posting it may or may not have done to my reputation or to my relationship with readers or other reviewers doesn't bother me in the least. My reputation rests on my many successful years as a reviewer and the credibility I have built with the readers, which is great because they have found that what I've written rings true. Your pathological attempts to pick apart my reviews and those of other reviewers remains pathetic and rooted in your jealousy.

(AS) 1. Fremer has "embarrassed" himself by his own words and actions. Even this latest note is full of personal insults. Fremer had total control of his thoughts and feelings until he decided to write and transmit them. Instead of taking personal responsibility, he blames the messenger.

2. Fremer also displays his complete contempt for "ordinary" audiophiles, because he certainly wasn't "embarrassed" when he transmitted his same exact note to his fellow members at Phonogram.

3. The fact that Fremer brings up the subject himself indicates that he has serious concerns about his future. I can understand why. I don't know anyone, outside of his fellow "reviewers", who has read Fremer's "note" who hasn't changed their opinion about him in the most negative manner.

4. Fremer's 'defense' of the 'reviewers' within this column is pitiful. According to Fremer's own words, in effect...

All 'reviewers' are beyond any criticism because of their "toil".

This statement is just more evidence that he is now blind to, or is not concerned with, even the most blatant abuses, oversights and deceptions by his fellow 'reviewers'.

5. If the posted criticisms in this column were truly "pathetic", neither Fremer, nor Myles Astor, nor 'Scot Markwell' would have responded to them in the first place.

(MF) You have lately taken to using your personal distaste for me, to knock the Rockport System III Sirius turntable which I doubt you've heard despite your claims to the contrary. There are fewer than 25 in the field and so it is not difficult for the manufacturer to contact the owners and ask whether you've been over to visit. You don't tell your reader(s) whose System III Sirius you auditioned. In fact you claim to have heard 2 of them. Whose?

(AS) This paragraph epitomizes Fremer's gross negligence, continual lack of thought, recklessness and irresponsibility. Any reader may go the "Reference Components" List and read the Rockport entry, Class A Turntables. You will find that...

1. At no time did I ever "claim to have heard" the Rockport. In fact, I specifically wrote that I had not heard it! Fremer's accusation can only be described as exceedingly foolish. He has also proved to be an incompetent reader. (See Footnotes #1 and #2)

2. An associate of mine "auditioned" the Rockport, not I. This is crystal clear in the text. The "knock", actually a "warning", was posted around a month after Fremer's "note" was posted. There is nothing special about a "warning" or a "caveat". Virtually every component I recommend, including those I personally own and use, has some form of qualifier or "knock". (See Footnote #3)

3. Meanwhile, Fremer may have conned Andrew Payor of Rockport into calling all around the world in a desperate attempt to discredit me for something I never "claimed" in the first place. This was a "claim" that only existed in Fremer's wrathful mind. If true, think of all of the wasted cost and effort by Mr. Payor.

(MF) That you would use a personal vendetta toward me to attack a well regarded, but small manufacturer of an extremely high quality product is yet another indication of your lack of character despite your self righteousness.

(AS) Fremer has now made a despicable accusation; that I would "attack" an innocent third party because of my feelings towards him. This accusation was made without ANY evidence.

Even worse, the accusation was entirely based on Fremer's own total misrepresentation of what I actually wrote and his newly acquired psychic ability to know how I actually feel about him. It is his repulsive methods and thinking that should, and eventually will, define Fremer as a person. If Fremer himself had any real sense of "character", he would apologize to me (and Andrew Payor) for his reckless and baseless charge.

I have no "personal vendetta" towards Fremer. That is only his own paranoid fantasy. In truth, I have been overjoyed with the receipt of his valuable and amusing "notes". I have only responded to his personal attacks on myself and my work.

Fact- Everything that occurred between him and I, including this recent letter, has been initiated by Michael Fremer himself.

(MF) Sincerely,

Michael Fremer

SUMMARY

Michael Fremer's "World"

Michael Fremer's 15 years as a reviewer has appeared to pervert his perspective. He has become too accustomed to, and in love with, his perks and the routine ass-kissing that now comes with his fantasy 'job'. It has reached the point where he has no idea how to deal with someone, within the audiophile community, who is prepared to challenge him. In his tiny, closed world, Fremer uses the manufacturers and they use him. The readers and customers are only "marks". That may be Heaven for him, but it would not be for me.

Michael Fremer-The Liar and Hypocrite

Michael Fremer is a liar of the highest order. He accuses me with publically posting his "personal note" without permission, when he had posted the exact same note himself the day before to Phonogram, where it was sent to people around the world. Only the first person posting a letter makes it "public", the remainder are only after the fact.

Fremer's Inconsistency

Fremer proclaims himself to be a serious critic, but he can't accept, or appreciate, being criticized himself, even indirectly, which he describes as "pathological". Fremer's "gang of ass-kissers" will never criticize him, and I am not joining Fremer's "gang". I believe in honest and constructive criticism. Terms such as "infantile", "pathological", "jealous" and "putz" etc. can never be constructive, and serve no useful purpose.

Fremer the "Victim"

Fremer's entire letter is written from the perspective of an imaginary "victim". This is a complete perversion of reality. Yes, there are many victims within our audio world. Who are they?

The only true victims are the many readers, and countless other audiophiles, who have wasted their money by purchasing the wrong components based on his, and his colleagues, 'reviews'.

The "Real" Michael Fremer

Is there anyone remaining in our audio community who actually still thinks that the original "note" from Michael Fremer was some aberration? That note was, and this note is, Michael Fremer. The real Michael Fremer. Stereophile has chosen this individual to be their official analog spokesperson. He isn't mine.

FINALLY, LET US NOT FORGET

John Atkinson, the Editor of Stereophile and Michael Fremer's boss, also received a copy of this note. He is now aware of Fremer's personal insults within this note and his wild and groundless accusations. How did Mr. Atkinson respond? He didn't. He just ignored Fremer's deplorable behavior.

We now know that it doesn't matter to Mr. Atkinson that one of his senior reviewers has written and transmitted a contemptible accusation, without any supporting evidence, with a request that it be posted on the Internet for the entire audio world to see and read.

FOOTNOTES

1. This is my original, relevant entry, of August 2000, on the Rockport (now deleted):

"This is the very first Reference component on the list, and it is also the only component none of us have even heard. It is here because from what I have read, and seen, I would be shocked if this wasn't the finest turntable/arm in the world at this moment."

2. This is the exact post from Audio (Vinyl) Asylum:

Posted in Vinyl Asylum on September 07, 2000 at 11:05:15:

In Reply to: "How about this..." posted on September 07, 2000 at 09:00:04:

"I'm amused that the dealer who writes that site admits that he's never heard a Rockport turntable, then proceeds to rank it as "Class A" anyway."

3. These are the two relevant entries on the Rockport, posted on November 28/29, 2000, and retained up until March 14, 2001:

"Someone in our group has now heard the latest Rockport, and within two different, very high quality systems. He was also familiar with most of the other components. Unfortunately, neither system had the resolution required to make a definitive opinion. However, he heard enough, and I trust him enough, for me to post this warning:..."

"I doubt if this web site had any influence during the 3 months it's been listed here, especially considering the qualification of not having actually heard it, but if I have, in any way, I apologize."

IMPORTANT NOTE: Underlines were/are not in the original text, and are used only to emphasize what Fremer ignored while he was formulating his foolish accusations. The Rockport entry was also changed on March 14, 2001, after new and relevant information was received from a reader.


Top

A "READER" DEFENDS MICHAEL FREMER

IMPORTANT: Please do not read this section until after you have read Michael Fremer's previous correspondence, or you won't understand and appreciate the full implications of what you will read here.

This is the first, and only, "defender" of Michael Fremer, and other reviewers, since Fremer's "note" was posted on this web site last October, 2000.

I have to admit that when I initially posted "Jason Bergmann's" first letter of June 22, 2001, I actually thought it was legitimate.

After Mr. Bergmann's second "letter" of June 29th, I had my suspicions.

The third letter, from June 30th, confirmed the real identity of "Mr. Jason Bergmann", to a virtual certainty.

Readers should note that all the correspondence below is in chronological order.

The true identity of "Mr. Jason Bergmann", if it isn't obvious to the reader by the end of his third letter, is hinted at in the salutation of my July 5th response to "Jason".

Finally, I have not corrected even one of the numerous spelling mistakes, including the names of the "participants". All these letters are unedited.

The 1st Letter from "Jason Bergmann"

Subject: review of reviewers
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 08:11:04 -0400
From: "Jason Bergmann" vwdubcrazed@hotmail.com
To: arthur@high-endaudio.com

I stumbled upon your site by accident. At first I thought it might be interesting. As I read I began to realize that you have zero qualification to review anything. Moreover, as I read your line-by-line analysis of Michael Fermer's response (if indeed that was his response and not a ficticious peace generated by you for your own entertainment), I realized that you sir are a nut! Fermer's mistake was even responding to your nonsensical waste of space.

If you do own a high end audio store (part time? do you own it part time or run it part time?), please do everyone a service by posting its name so all of us can steer clear.

My Reply to "Mr. Bergmann's" 1st Letter

Subject: Re: review of reviewers
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 21:00:06 -0400
From: Arthur Salvatore arthur@high-endaudio.com
Organization: High-End Audio Ltd.
To: Jason Bergmann vwdubcrazed@hotmail.com

Dear Jason,

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and critically respond to the articles and essays on my web site.

I will post your letter, unedited and uninterrupted, in my "Reviewing the Reviewers" section.

Regards,

Arthur Salvatore

Mr. "Bergmann's" 2nd Letter

Subject: Re: review of reviewers
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 08:50:28 -0400
From: "Jason Bergmann" vwdubcrazed@hotmail.com
To: arthur@high-endaudio.com

Good, you freak!

Mr. "Bergmann's" 3rd Letter

Subject: Re: review of reviewers
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 03:57:00 -0400
From: "Jason Bergmann" vwdubcrazed@hotmail.com
To:arthur@high-endaudio.com

Arturo,

You miss the point. I saw your posting of my message. You claim I am the first and only to come to Mr. Fermer's defense. The intent was not to come to Mr. Fermer's defense. I am sure Mr. Fermer is a fine audio equipment reviewer. I have read his pieces (hey look, I spelled it correctly this time! Props for me!) as well as many other reviewers throughout my 30 year involvement with this "hobby."

Arthur Salvatore (AS)- The writer, by extrapolation, and by sheer coincidence, is around the same age as Michael Fremer, and even has around the same amount of experience. ("my 30 year involvement with this hobby.")

(JB) What I cannot understand is why you devote what must be your precious personal time (or maybe your professional time -- perhaps you aren't moving much equipment) to personal vendettas against specific audio journal reviewers. I believe Mr. Fermer and any other audio reviewer report what they hear. And I do believe their reporting is based on their experience in critical listening as well as their opportunity to compare a unit under review to other equipment they have reviewed or have on hand. Whether you or I agree with their assesment of a particular piece of equipment is immaterial.

AS- The criticism is directed at their professional behavior and actions. My criticism is not meant to be "personal". My time and my effort are my own to allocate.

Reviewers don't "report what they hear". Instead, they routinely overlook the problems with certain, "chosen" equipment, and exaggerate the problems of the "non-chosen".

Serious comparisons and thorough criticism are virtually non-existent in today's audio press.

(JB) What is material, Arturo, is that they have access to equipment that people like me may not have access to, whether because we cannot spend every weekend prowling audio salons, or because the equipment is not available in our area. What they can report is their subjective assesment of equipment under review relative to similar, or dissimilar ($$$), equipment that they have on hand or may have evaluated in the past. That gives us non-audio store owning folks a basis to go and explore. We might seek out a piece of equipment based on Fermer's, or others', review and walk away thinking Fermer has a tin ear. Again, that is not the point. Fermer and his ilk report on what they hear. We (that includes you Arturo) are not bound to take a reviewer's word as gospel. And most reviewers I have read instruct the reader to go and listen for themselves. That is the key Arturo. Listen for yourself. As a mid-fi stereo store owner you ought to support that. One would think!

AS- How can you "listen for yourself" if "the equipment is not available in the area"? That advice, while obviously true, is both impractical and disingenuous for most people.

The "rave" reviews, now the norm, are virtual advertisements for the components. The magazines have become "cheerleaders" for their advertisers and their reviewers' "friends".

The enormous amount of (recently manufactured) audio equipment on the used market is the ultimate indicator of the audio reviewers' collective dishonesty and incompetence. Satisfied customers, being those who received the performance they were expecting based on the "reviews", wouldn't be selling their equipment so fast.

(JB) Anyway, that brings up an important point. You own, or at least claim to own, a stereo shop. You are conflicted Arturo! You sell certain lines. You might very well advertise in a number of audio journals, if only your pathetic business could support the fees. No one should take seriously a hi-fi store owner's maniacal musings about a reviewer's opinion. This is even more true when the maniac (that be you) rambles on about his reference system that consists of components that are far outdated and that no one else can buy or listen to. I refer specifically to your outdated (1989) Jadis crap that apparently has undergone undisclosed and mumerious modifications that YOUR website readers are not privy to. Uh-oh, they are privy to the modifications. You, or some hack, simplified the circuit. You said that on your "site." The Jadis folks must be pleased.

AS- The (1989) "Jadis crap" is the earlier version of the current JP-80MC. The only difference is that the 80MC has a tube moving coil stage. Both the phono and the line stages, and even the power supply, are unchanged.

This means that even if this MC stage were "perfect", it still obviously wouldn't improve on the Jadis' existing ("crap") phono and line stages.

Now, how do Mr. Bergmann's reviewing friends describe this recent "Jadis crap", with the added MC stage.

"The Jadis (JP-80MC) is the premier preamp of the '90s."- Dick Olsher, September 1994 Stereophile.
"Do I dream of one day owning the JP-80MC? Yes..."- Jonathan Scull-same issue.

If the Jadis was truly "crap", either:
1. Both Mr. Olsher and Mr. Scull didn't "report on what they heard" or,
2. They both have "a tin ear". Which one is it "Mr. Bergmann"?

(For the Record: My JP-80 obviously never had the MC stage, and the entire Line Stage has also been removed. The RIAA is now accurate to 1% of 1dB. The power supply now consists of only polypropylene capacitors, and the coupling capacitors are all Teflon.)

There is one more very revealing "footnote" concerning the Jadis preamplifier and "Mr. Bergmann" at the very bottom. Please read this part last to experience the final revelation.

(JB) Arturo, you have a vested interested in certain equipment lines. That disqualifies your critique of a reviewer's opinion of any equipment -- equipment you sell; equipment you do not sell. Consequently, I hereby issue a cease and disist order! I hereby command you to stop your website lunacy, your attack on decent, fair god-fearing folk (Fermer, et al) and to stop your assinine "Mr. Atkison hasn'r reponded in X days" count. Of all of us, John Atkison is the sane one. Rightfully, he ignores a half-assed hi-fi boy who for some reason doesn't like a member of his staff. End your day count -- FREAK!

AS- The readers of this site will decide whether the (now former) "vested interests disqualify" my opinions. At least they were all disclosed. No one knows about Michael Fremer's "vested interests", because all his perks, loans, gifts and "sweetheart deals" are kept strictly confidential from his readers.

As for "the sane one", John Atkison, he is the same person who has increased the "Class A" Recommendations 1,055% on his watch, and has 46 different amplifiers all described as "the best attainable". He even went to the embarrassing length of creating an entire new Class "A+". Why? Just to avoid removing the now inferior components already within the existing "Class A".

(JB) Arty, you are a sick individual who craves noteriety. Unfortunately, the internet and today's technology has given you an avenue to fulfill your perverse quest. You have no noteriety because you deserve none. You sickass, back-bacon munching, toe-cheese lickin', cold solder joint having, small penis equipped, Labatts swillin', Queen street prowlin' visage of an audio retailer.

Post this on your site. Jackass!

All the Best!

Jason Bergman

AS- Alert and focused readers will have noticed something extremely revealing and important in the closing of this letter:

"Jason Bergmann" spells his "own name" wrong!

"Mr. Bergmann's" (Bergman?) misspelling of his own name is the proverbial "smoking gun" evidence that this name, "Jason Bergmann", is unequivocally phony. That's not all. In his irrational rage, he forgot something even more basic: Why would someone forget how to spell the simple name of the person he was so passionately defending?

Thirdly, there is only one person in the entire audio world that has this particularly vulgar writing style and insulting manner. He is also the only person who is extremely incensed with the existence of this column.

These three exclusive elements are the ultimate equivalent of DNA for the final goal of recognizing and verifying his obvious, real identity.

My Second Letter to "Jason Bergmann"

Subject: Re: review of reviewers
Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2001 11:38:59 -0400
From: Arthur Salvatore arthur@high-endaudio.com
Organization: High-End Audio Ltd.
To: Jason Bergmann vwdubcrazed@hotmail.com

Dear Michael, ... I mean "Jason",

Thank you once again for another insightful letter.

I am grateful you took the time to read this web site in some depth.

In fact, your letter has given me, and soon others, much to think and talk about.

Regards,

Arthur Salvatore

COMMENTARY

The Humor

First, on a purely personal note, I find that "Jason Bergmann's" (Bergman?) first and third letters are really funny after you realize "Jason's" true identity.

I strongly advise readers to go back to them as soon as everything has been read and digested. (I particularly enjoyed the "stumbled" and "might be interesting" part. The "I am sure Mr. Fermer is a fine audio equipment reviewer" remark is also priceless. I can't read these letters now without literally laughing out loud.)

The only honest statement in the 1st letter was his admission that "Fermer" made a mistake in "responding" to the material on this website in the first place. His ridiculous accusation, that it is possible that I "generated" Fremer's original "note" for my "own entertainment", is incredibly amusing.

The Contempt for Audiophiles

I am not capable of fathoming the mind of a person who would attempt such a crude and obvious subterfuge, just to "defend" himself in such a manner. I can only speculate that when you are used to "working" people for years, and getting away with it, you become contemptuous of their intelligence. Eventually, you assume most people are either gullible or stupid, and that you can never be caught and exposed.

He even thought "misspelling" the name Fremer ("Fermer") 10 times would further the deception. He then misspelled John Atkinson's name ("Atkison") twice, for good measure. Why Fremer would "waste his precious personal time" on this demented endeavor is also beyond me. I was under the impression that these people were supposed to be always busy with important work to be finished.

Something must have triggered these recent letters; a newsgroup discussion, another web site, a colleague's or a friend's comment. Whatever it was, it must have been highly disconcerting in nature, considering the repulsive tone of the responses.

The "Contents"

As for "the contents" of the letter; it is another unique combination of common platitudes and some new, and even more childish, personal insults. This is all from, believe it or not, a 50+ year old, educated man.

The writer of "Mr. Bergmann's" (Bergman?) pathetic letters is obviously suffering from some deep anger, pain and anxiety. The 2nd "letter", and particularly the last paragraph of his 3rd letter, make this statement a fact, not just an opinion.

The author of these letters deserves our pity, not our animosity. "Mr. Bergmann's" readers, on the other hand, have no excuses, and deserve no sympathy, if they have read the contents of this column and still choose to take the reckless risk of being under his influence.

Example? Just read this....

Jadis, Michael Fremer, and "Jason Bergmann"-The Final Revelation

Do you recall what "Jason Bergmann" wrote at the beginning of his letter:

1. "I am sure Mr. Fermer is a fine audio equipment reviewer."
2. "I believe Mr. Fermer and any other audio reviewer report what they hear."

Then Mr. "Bergmann" wrote this about the Jadis JP-80 preamplifier:

"...(your) reference system that consists of components that are far outdated... I refer specifically to your outdated (1989) Jadis crap..." (My bold)

Now here is what Fremer himself wrote about the Jadis JP-80MC MKII, which is the exact same preamplifier, but with an added moving coil stage and now a remote control. This is in the December 1998 issue of Stereophile.

1. "...the JP-80 produced the most convincingly real sonic pictures of acoustic instruments I've ever heard in my home".

2. "The JP-80's portrayal was so transparent, so harmonically rich, so fundamentally convincing-tonally, dynamically, spatially-that I could hardly believe what I was hearing".

3. "Clearly, the Jadis JP-80Mk.II is one of the finest preamplifiers currently available."

You will never find the (very personal, direct and revealing) word "crap" anywhere in the printed "review". Michael Fremer, I mean "Jason Bergmann", saved that revelation for this letter.

FOOTNOTE- "Jason Bergmann" has since denied that he is actually Michael Fremer.


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THE RULES

THE (SECRET) RULES OF 'AUDIO REVIEWING'

1. Never anger any protected audio industry entity, such as:

A. An important current, or potential, advertiser; including manufacturers, distributors or retailers, or...

B. Any other audio establishment which has a "personal relationship" with you.

2. Delay acknowledging any serious problems with a "protected" component until you give another rave review to the "updated" model which replaces it and "corrects" the problems.

3. Avoid making any direct comparisons with a "protected" component, but if you have to, follow these "Solutions":

   A. Compare the component only to older and/or obsolete models, especially from the same manufacturer. (See Rule #2 above).

   B. If Solution "A" is not possible, compare the component to "competitors" costing either MUCH more or MUCH less.

   C. If both Solutions "A" or "B" are not possible, "neglect" to mention the actual names and model numbers of the rival components that you compare it to in the review.

   D. If Solutions "A", "B" or "C" are all not feasible, and you must compare the model to a current, similarly priced (and "protected") competitor that you must name, then you must be:

  1. As ambiguous as possible, and you must also...
  2. Never describe any problem as "serious" (See Rule #3.E)
  3. Never proclaim one model to be clearly superior to the other(s). In short...
  4. Both (or all) of the components must be seen as equally desirable and of similar value.

   E. Problems or imperfections that aren't obvious (such as no bass below 40 Hz with small speakers), may be described as "serious" (easy to hear) only when using Solutions "A", "B" or "C".

However, any problems described when using Solution "D" must always be "subtle" and "difficult to hear", or even described as an "advancement" if possible.

4. You must never inform readers if an "audiophile" accessory or tweak is also available in a generic form at a fraction of the price that the "protected" manufacturer is charging (Blue Tac and RFI rings etc.).

5. Any and all "transactions" between you and any of the parties mentioned in Rule #1 must always be kept strictly Confidential. Accordingly...

  A. You must never divulge the actual price, if any, you paid to "purchase" your reference components or accessories, or any extra costs you paid, if any, to have those same components updated, modified, repaired, replaced etc.

  B. You must never divulge any "gifts", "favors" or "perks" that you received from the "protected" audio entities, or those with whom you have a "personal relationship".

6. You must never mention the actual costs, even at retail prices, of the parts that are used to manufacture the component.

7. Further to Rules #4 & #6, you must never state, or even imply, that any component or accessory is "over-priced".

8. The more corrupt your magazine is, the more you shall proclaim your honesty.

9. Magazines shall never divulge the actual percentage of their advertising revenues to their total revenues.

10. OVERRIDE CLAUSE- Some of the preceding rules (#1, #2 & #3) may be ignored only in the event of either a serious (and apparently indefinite) breach of the "personal relationship" between the audio company and reviewer/magazine, and/or the termination, or non-payment, of their advertising contract.


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INTERNAL LINKS

MICHAEL FREMER THREATENS ME WITH A LIBEL SUIT.

REVIEWING THE 'REVIEWERS'

AUDIO CRITIQUE

THE RECENT FILE

Reference Components

Supreme Recordings

To E-mail:
Arthur Salvatore