REVIEWING THE 'REVIEWERS'

MICHAEL FREMER

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
Arthur Schopenhauer

MICHAEL FREMER THREATENS ME WITH A LIBEL SUIT
MY RESPONSE TO FREMER'S THREAT

FREMER'S REPLY AND MY RESPONSE

MY CONCLUSION ON THIS INCIDENT

THE (SECRET) RULES OF AUDIO REVIEWING

INTERNAL LINKS

MICHAEL FREMER THREATENS ME WITH A LIBEL SUIT

This letter came totally out of the blue. I haven't corresponded with Michael Fremer, or 'Jason Bergmann', for more than 3 years.

Click on Fremer for his entire file. This totally unedited letter speaks for itself.

From: Michael Fremer
To: arthur@high-endaudio.com
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 8:18 PM
Subject: Still a douche bag, after all these years!

I see that you are still a total paranoid imbecile. Because I disagree with you about something (ZYX) you need to attack me personally. Yawn. I really don't give a shit what you think of my audio opinions.

However, what's below is beyond one of your girlie- attacks. It is an attempt to damage my reputation with an outright lie. It is libel and is being reviewed by two attorneys: one in the U.S. and one in Canada.

First of all, when I reviewed the Crown Jewel back in 1997, the Shelter line was unknown to me, and to the best of my knowledge was not being imported to America.

Secondly the Crown Jewel importer then was not, and is not now my 'best buddy,' but is someone I have met two or three times in my life at CES. I suggest you remove that libelous statement from your website.

I realize how utterly jealous you are of me and I have no problem with your infantile protestations or your insinuations about my honesty, but what's below is a total fabrication and I will not tolerate it. Got me asswipe?

(Explanatory Note- The below paragraph, which Fremer considers "libelous", is taken from the Shelter 501 description posted in the Cartridge File.)

"It (the Shelter 501) is also "reasonably priced", which embarrasses almost all the existing (and very 'generous') cartridge distributors. Worst of all, any honest and thorough reviewer would be forced to mention that it is essentially the same cartridge as the (former) Crown Jewel SE. How can they then explain the $ 2,000 price difference ($ 2,650 Vs. $ 800) without exposing the excessive mark-up structure of the Crown Jewel's former distributor (one of Michael Fremer's best 'buddies')?"

My Reply to Fremer

First I should explain that by putting the word "buddies" in quotes (''), and then further in parenthesis ( ), the meaning I always intended was clearly figurative*, and not strictly literal.

*American College Handbook Second Edition-Page 192-Quotation Marks-27i-"Use quotation marks to enclose all words or phrases which you want to show you are using in an unusual way or for a special purpose."

Who's a real "Buddy"?

I have no idea who Fremer's personal "buddies" are, but it's not very difficult to distinguish the people within the audiophile community that Fremer actually treats as if they were his "best buddies". Fremer is not alone, most other reviewers have similar "priorities".

Fremer was singled out in this instance not only because of the special responsibility he bore for writing the original Crown Jewel review, but also for being Stereophile's analog 'front man'. He consequently owed it to his readers to prominently bring up the Shelter line once it became common knowledge that it was a Crown Jewel with a different name, for far less money and was available either through mail order or later through a U. S. distributor. Instead, he's totally avoided the line. No reviews. No recommendation. Not even one mention.

I even used Stereophile's own search engine to find any information they've published about the Shelter 501 or 901 as of December 2004. What did Stereophile's search engine report?

"No results found"

Further Confirmation?

Fremer, the Crown Jewel and the Shelters-A History

Just look at the most recent Stereophile Recommended Components List, October 2004, which is the easiest list in the world, by far, to join. The Shelter 501, 901 and 90-X are all still ignored. They finally mentioned the budget 301 model in Class K, which is not even a 'recommendation'. Let's look at the timeline for the Shelters and Crown Jewel.

April 1997- Crown Jewel Cartridge Review in Stereophile by Michael Fremer (subsequently placed in Class A)

October 1999- Both the Crown Jewel and Shelter 501 II are included in Class A within this website's initial Reference Component List

Year 2000- There are rumors and then confirmation that the Shelter 501 II is actually the Crown Jewel (see Vinyl Asylum Archives)
October 2000- Stereophile removes the Crown Jewel from their Recommended Components List (there's no mention of the Shelter 501)
November 2000- This website removes the "overpriced Crown Jewel from Class A Cartridges"

May 2001- The new Shelter 901 is added to Class A on this website, while the Shelter 501 is demoted to Class B
Year 2001- No mention, discussion, review or recommendation of the Shelter 501 or 901 by Fremer and Stereophile

Early 2002- The Shelter line now has direct U.S. distribution
Year 2002- No mention, discussion, review or recommendation of the Shelter 501 or 901 by Fremer and Stereophile

November 2003- Shelter 901 is moved from Class A to Class B (Upper) on this website
Year 2003- No mention, discussion, review or recommendation of the Shelter 501, 901 or 90-X by Fremer and Stereophile

Year 2004- No mention, discussion, review or recommendation of the Shelter 501, 901 or 90-X by Fremer and Stereophile

Year 2005- Fremer finally reviews the Shelter line

Even a "total paranoid imbecile" can see the obvious pattern. Who is helped and treated like "a best buddy" by the actions, or lack of them, of Michael Fremer? Stereophile's readers, or is it someone else?

My Turn for some fun

"Imbecile"?- Name a 50+ year old professional audio writer who is ignorant of the common and proper use of quotes, and was stupid enough to make it public in a vulgar letter?

"Infantile"?- Name a 50+ year old professional audio writer who could be confused for a teenage trash talker?

"Jealous"?- It's actually "TOTAL CONTEMPT" that I feel, and I'm not alone! Also, could Fremer be projecting his own "jealousy" of me, the audio journalist who is truly independent? (Finally, he really means "envy", but he's too ignorant to realize that.)

"Libel"?- Example 1- Fremer sent his 'private' letter to me and also to Phonogram a few minutes later, knowing Phonogram would automatically send it out to their readers around the world within hours, which they did. Then Fremer publicly claimed that it was actually I who made the letter 'public' when it was posted more than a day later on this website.

Example 2- Fremer also claimed, with absolutely no evidence, that I "attacked" a small audio manufacturer as part of a "personal vendetta" towards him, Fremer.


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FREMER'S REPLY AND MY RESPONSE

This is Michael Fremer's latest personal attack. The mean and angry tone of the letter speaks for itself, but I (Arthur Salvatore) responded, point by point (in bold).

From: Michael Fremer
Subject: Re: Still a douche bag, after all these years!
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 10:17:14 -0500
To: "Arthur Salvatore"

Now please print my response to your typical paranoid viewpoint. I will put all of this on my website:

As of May 15, 2006, more than 1 year and 5 months later, you still have NOT "put all of this on my website". I'm not surprised anymore by your lies and misleading statements, and neither are other thinking audiophiles.

1) Your quote from the American College Handbook to justify your using my name gratuitously in a cartridge review when I have nothing whatsoever to do with the subject at hand is ludicrous and if anything, common usage of quotes as you used them with "buddies," indicates "special" as in sarcasm. So what most readers will clearly infer from your calling the Crown Jewel importer a "buddy" of mine, is not that you don't know if we're friends, but that we have some sort of nefarious relationship going well beyond "buddy" as in an under the table payoff, or some other sort of corrupt agreement.

A. Your glowing review of the Crown Jewel meant you DID have something "to do with the subject at hand". Accept your responsibility.

B. Quotes can be used in a manner other than for "sarcasm". Re-read the rule.

C. I've never claimed, nor even inferred, that you, or any other reviewer, received "under the table payoffs". Is this latest fantasy of yours "guilt", a "Freudian slip" or "paranoia"?

1a) To think that you meant anything other than that is laughable given your relentless, unfounded personal attacks against me specifically and reviewers in general. So spare me your stupid grammatical "legalese" in your pathetic attempt to justify your use of the word "buddy," my good "friend" Arthur.

A. What's "laughable" is that Fremer is STILL ignorant of the most basic grammatical rules.

B. What I "meant" has always been clear within the context of the entire Shelter 501 write-up; The avoidance of the Shelter Cartridges by the audio press, and that includes YOU.

2) Again you make a typically cowardly charge against me, that it is not difficult to distinguish who my "buddies" are in the audiophile industry that I treat as if they were my best buddies. This is yet another of your transparent attempts to harm my reputation and in good old Joe McCarthy style you insinuate that I am corrupt without making any specific charges....you just leave that taste in the readers' mouth. This is the mark of a true scumbag, which is what you are. Were you to be specific and level a real charge I might be able to respond to, that would be one thing, but instead you leave it as just a general insinuation- as if in my work it's OBVIOUS who I do favors for.... a tactic of a genuine scumbag, which is what you are.

A. The "bad taste in the readers' mouths" is caused by the lack of tough, honest and direct criticism in the "reviews" in Stereophile and most other audio magazines. Examples-
1. 60+ consecutive rave reviews and
2. 50 different amplifiers all described as "the best available".

B. So now you want "specific charges"?
1. Simply read my lengthy reply to your first letter;
2. My recent discussion of your sophomoric "review" of the ELP laser turntable,
3. and then there's your nauseatingly obsequious "review" of the Linn Sondek turntable, 20 years late.

C. "Cowardly"!? I don't see how anyone can read your so-called "review" of the Linn Sondek and not come away with the conviction that it was YOU who was Terrified of upsetting both the "Linnies" and your boss, John Atkinson.

3) Your timeline and the rest is of course steeped in paranoia. That I didn't jump and act according to your personal timeline and therefore that is "proof" of some sort of sinister behavior on my part is indicative of your paranoid mindset and a reflection of your enormous and perverted ego. My favorite part of your rant is this your ridiculous "timeline."

April 1997- Crown Jewel Cartridge Review in Stereophile by Michael Fremer (subsequently placed in Class A)

October 1999- Both the Crown Jewel and Shelter 501 II are included in Class A within this website's initial Reference Component List

As if my failure to respond to the high and mighty ARTHUR SALVATORE'S recommendation indicates that I am corrupt! You must be a chronic masturbator if this is how your mind works. I don't use Arthur Salvatore's schedule to determine my own, nor are Arthur Salvatore's priorities mine, nor, believe it or not do I scour through Vinyl Asylum--ever. I am too busy working to chase rumors and read dyspeptic posts regularly. I did just complete an entire review of the Shelter line, thoroughly and completely---AND ON MY TIMELINE, YOU SHMUCK, not yours. Who the hell are you to be making insinuations about my honesty and integrity because I don't jump to your schedule. You are one sick, sad and lonely guy Arthur.

A. You have predictably ignored the main point; 4 YEARS went by without a single word from you about the Shelters. In short- YOU HAD NO "TIMELINE" IN THE FIRST PLACE!

B. My website's activity was posted as a time reference to my readers, while also contrasting the reporting of a modest audio website to the LACK of reporting from a large magazine with relatively unlimited resources.

C. Other Stereophile writers post and regularly "scour through Vinyl Asylum". So, you actually expect people to now believe that you ("Analog Corner") were totally unaware of the Shelter line, and the controversy with the Crown Jewel, during all those years? What utter contempt you have of other people's intelligence!

Finally: you may think the Crown Jewel is the same as the 501 but the CJ used a samarium cobalt magnet, the 501 Mk11 and Neodynium magnet. The CJ used a hollow aluminum cantilever fitted with a boron rod, the 501MKII spec doesn't mention the boron rod so I am checking with the manufacturer to clarify this....BUT YOU GO WITH RUMORS ON VINYL ASYLUM SHMUCK.

A. At least one "Member" took apart both cartridges, at his own expense, and claimed they were identical. This person's experience has NEVER been discredited. You're the only person who claims it was just a "rumor".

B. There was more than one Shelter, and as far as I know, more than one Crown Jewel, so ALL of them were never ALL identical. The really important differences were in their Retail Prices, which you are once again ignoring, aren't you?

As for your "fun" below, yawn......double yawn, and now go put your penis back in your hand and rub hard because clearly that's your main source of fun literally and figuratively. As our Vice President said to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate: "GO FUCK YOURSELF." Sometimes, that's the right thing to say, and this is one of those times.

A. It's consistent for you to "double yawn" instead of explaining, let alone apologizing for, the recklessly false charges you've made in public about me which are detailed above.

B. Sorry, but I'm just not flattered that you're the first male I know whom appears to be fascinated with my genitilia.

C. First you quoted Schwarzenegger, and now it's Cheney, and at their very worst. Both of them are Republicans, while I was under the impression you were sympathetic to the Democrats. I guess since you couldn't beat them, you decided to join them!

Note to Readers- Fremer must have realized three days later that he forgot a few insults, so here's another letter. My Replies are in bold.

From: Michael Fremer
Subject:
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 14:24:16 -0500

Dear Mr. Salivate-ore:

That you think I actually bothered to use the pseudonym "Jason Bergmann" to defend myself to you is indicative of your disturbed, paranoid, conspiratorial, mind.

"Jason Bergmann", just happens to be...
1. Your same age; and
2. "Defends" you as emotionally as you do yourself;
3. Using the same degree and type of vulgarities;
4. Uses the exact same "arguments";
5. Uses the same personal insults;
6. Has a similar interest in my genitilia ("penis");
7. Becomes just as hysterical when challenged;
8. Has the same writing style and cadence;
9. Has the same interest in audio matters;
10. and he even has the same politics as you. (Yes, I read blogs.)
Hmmm... What's the plausibility of a total stranger taking the time and effort to defend you as though it was actually him who was criticized, with all those similarities, and yet he couldn't even spell your name right once, in 10! separate attempts? "Jason Bergmann's" letters defending Fremer

Amazingly, Fremer doesn't even realize that it's literally impossible for one person's actions alone to constitute a "conspiracy". Only a lunatic, in his own mind, could ever think that by using two different names, he is then two different persons, and thus is part of an actual "conspiracy". Even worse, he believes that others share his ignorance and delusions.

That you would say my letter came "out of the blue" when you are the one who chose "out of the blue" to attack me yet again in your coverage of Shelter cartridges, is indicative of the projection that warps your mind on a regular basis.

I first criticized the fact that you ignored the Shelter line 4 years ago, in "My Reply" to your original letter of October 29, 2000. Your subsequent letter, of February 14, 2001, indicated that you read that reply. Contacting me now, 4 years after the fact, is "out of the blue". Don't attempt now to rewrite history.

As for my language, like Dick Cheney, I am known as a well behaved gentleman, except when dealing with a fucking imbecile like you.

So now you're a self-proclaimed, "part-time gentleman", I assume only when people are kissing your ass. However, a person's true character is best demonstrated during times of challenge. The ugly nature of your "responses"* to me exposes your real nature far better than your own narcissistic description of yourself.

*"Paranoid imbecile, 'don't give a shit', girlie-attacks, libel, jealous, infantile, asswipe, cowardly, Joe McCarthy, scumbag, perverted ego, chronic masturbator, shmuck, sick, sad, lonely, 'put your penis...', 'GO FUCK YOURSELF', Salivate-ore, disturbed, paranoid, conspiratorial, fucking imbecile."

Click on Fremer for his entire file.


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MY CONCLUSION ON THIS INCIDENT

I feel these letters were a blatant and crude attempt to silence me, but they failed. Even worse for Fremer, they once again clearly exposed the fragile and highly insecure human being hiding behind the crafted mask of his "reviews" and other writings. In fact, Michael Fremer, as an audio reviewer, is easy to describe;

Fremer is a person who is particularly influenced, and even intimidated, by the retail price of components. He is so insecure (which is also the reason for all of his outbursts), that he feels that if someone has the "balls" to charge an outrageous price for a component, that person must have a good and valid reason to do so, even if Fremer can't observe the reason himself. Afraid of exposing his "ignorance" and "incompetence", he avoids seriously criticizing this component. This is "The Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome and, sadly, Fremer is not the only "reviewer" who possesses it.

Amazingly, after all these years, Fremer's childish and vulgar letters are so embarrassing and discrediting to him, there are some readers who still can't believe that they're actually from 'the real' Michael Fremer. I can understand this viewpoint, since I felt the same way myself 10 years ago. Unfortunately, for Fremer,...

There are two other offensive displays, as well as incontrovertible evidence, of his common and utterly repulsive character, along with further and definitive proof of his arrested psychological development. They have nothing to do with me or this website, but they're still highly indicative of his repugnant manner. To begin, check out this recent thread:

http://www.goodsoundclub.com/Forums/ShowPost.aspx?postID=1957

The second incident happened more than 12 years ago, when Fremer was still writing for The Absolute Sound. Please go to Issue 96, Pages 34 and 36 in the "Viewpoints" (Letters) section for confirmation.

Here are "the money quotes"; (my bold)

Tom Port-Better Records- "I am the 'fool of a used-record dealer' your Pop Music Editor Michael Fremer refers to in Issue 94-and proud of it! After receiving an obscene message on my answering machine and a letter in which he calls me a large number of mostly unprintable names,..."

Michael Fremer Responds- "The exact words I called Tom Port on his answering machine were 'fucking asshole'."

Nothing's changed, 15 years later.


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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

Click on Fremer for his entire file.

REVIEWING THE 'REVIEWERS'

AUDIO CRITIQUE

THE RECENT FILE

Reference Components

The Supreme Recordings

To E-mail:
Arthur Salvatore