Audio Appraisal was founded in 2014 by myself, Ashley Cox. Then a software programmer and musician, fresh out of college with a keen interest in music and audio, I’d been authoring a small blog for some months which had quickly gained popularity. I therefore decided that a dedicated website may prove to be a worthwhile investment of my time, and thence Audio Appraisal was born. In December of that year, I decided to put an end to my short-lived programming career, Audio Appraisal having afforded me the opportunity to pursue blogging full-time whilst my music career, an interest I was also keen to pursue, could be run as a side project.

Audio Appraisal continued to grow in 2015. Though progress was at times slow, the schedule largely inconsistent, and the competition at times tough, thanks to the support of the readers, companies, public relations firms and musicians the blog was able to thrive. The quality of the content has improved as I’ve become a better writer, and the credibility of Audio Appraisal has also been boosted.

Naturally, I receive several correspondence from readers on a daily basis. I’ve decided to include a ‘frequently asked questions’ (FAQ) section below to cover some of the common questions I’m often asked by readers, PR firms and manufacturers alike. This section will be kept up to date, but if there’s a question you feel has not been covered please Get in Touch.

Will you review (Insert Product Here)?

The question I am perhaps asked the most often is whether I will review product X or have heard product Y. The answer to these questions is often “I’ll try” and “Yes” or “No” respectively. What many people fail to realise is that obtaining samples to review isn’t always as easy as simply dropping the manufacture an eMail. Of course sometimes dropping the PR firm or manufacturer an eMail is all that’s required; but they have a PR budget, and have to spend that wisely; so it’s up to you too persuade them that your take on a product is worth hearing.

Purchasing every product you review isn’t an option, as the loss you would then incur when you sold those products on the second-hand market would amount to more than your monthly earnings. I’m always looking for suggestions for new products to review or content that would interest the readers, and if you have suggestions you can send them to me Here. Similarly, if you’d like to request a review of your product or musical creation, you can do so Here.

Why are most of your reviews positive?

The answer to this question is that I’ve simply never come across a product that I truly didn’t like. It has nothing to do with being dishonest as has been suggested; in fact, honesty is my number 1 rule when reviewing products. If a product has a fault (which happens), I’ll invariably ask the supplier of the product for a replacement sample or for a fix for the problem. If a new sample fixes the problem, the problem will be mentioned but described as an isolated fault. If no replacement or fix is forthcoming, or if a second sample offers the same issue, the issue will be mentioned and described as a defect.

Who is your target audience?

My reviews are targeted towards whomever wants to read them. Of course, readers will have a preference for the category or type of review they read; some may visit for the music reviews, while audiophiles will look out for the hi-fi reviews, and musicians and engineers will undoubtedly discover Audio Appraisal thanks to the now small but growing library of content covering professional audio equipment and musical instruments.

Of course, Audio Appraisal isn’t just a review blog. Towards the end of 2015 I began a series entitled ‘Hi-Fi 101’ which aims to offer some honest, impartial advice to those taking their first steps on the hi-fi ladder. This series has been extremely popular, as have the other tutorials and even the opinions I’ve expressed in my writings on this site.

Why do you appear to favour (insert brand here)?

I don’t favour any brands. Audio Appraisal reviews are as unbiased as they are honest. Some brands have a knack for consistently producing products that perform and work well. Similarly, I don’t favour 1 brand over another simply because they’re considered to be more “audiophile”, because they’ve been in business for a greater length of time, or because they have a consistently good reputation. Audio Appraisal reviews are based purely on the quality and performance of the product that finds its way into the review system, the brand name is completely irrelevant.

Do you get paid to review products?

No. Occasionally (usually when the cost price of a product makes it cost prohibitive to warrant the return shipping cost) a manufacturer will not ask for the sample to be returned. And occasionally review samples can be purchased at a reduced price, as where they to be returned to the manufacturer they would have to be sold to the public at an open box price. Audio Appraisal’s earnings come from ad revenue, gratefully received donations from readers who feel they have benefitted from the content, and from affiliated product links sometimes posted where relevant in reviews whereby a small amount of commission is given based on the sale price of the product.. The reference system in which products are reviewed was also purchased by myself.

Why don’t some of your reviews mention the specific tracks used?

Everybody has different musical tastes, audio equipment, and listening environments. Therefore the sound of a product will differ, and therefore in my opinion attempting to describe the sound of a product by referencing audio tracks is is a fruitless endeavour.

Occasionally if requested by a product supplier I will give examples of the tracks used; and similarly if I feel a track was particularly adept at demonstrating the strengths or weaknesses of a product in a particular area, I will mention the track. But for me, equipment reviews should focus more on the quality, usability and integrability of a component, with the sound being not an afterthought, but instead a rough guide by which a potential purchaser can decide whether or not they wish to audition a piece of equipment, at which point they can conduct their own listening tests in an environment with which they are familiar.

Why do your reviews rarely mention the price?

Prices fluctuate on a daily basis. In some rare instances the price may be set by a manufacturer, with the retail outlets instructed to adhere to that price. However more often than not a retailer has a margin in which the price can fluctuate, and therefore consumers will more than likely research the best price before purchase.

Why do your reviews not include a star rating?

A star rating is a difficult one to award. Some publications who award star ratings lack a criteria for doing so, which clearly shows. To award a given number of stars, a product must be ranked based on a set of pre-defined areas, which can limit the scope of the review. Also, a low average rating in a given area can result in a poor overall rating, which a product may not necessarily warrant.