Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Dear Hans:

Honestly after reading your post, the point you were trying to make was not particularly clear to me and wouldn't have been even had my name not been involved.

What "Bullshit" are you calling?

Was it a piece about measurements versus performance? Price versus measurements? Inept reviewers? Inept editor assignments?

Differences of opinion between what a reader hears and a reviewer hears?

So far I don't smell any bullshit.

Was it a piece about the "rise of the Internet" and the ability to instantly respond to a review instead of having to wait for publication of a letter to the editor?

Interesting topics but so far I don't smell any bullshit.

Then comes mention of the "$200,000 speakers" that while you don't name, the name of which is obvious to anyone who knows my name, which you do mention.

Then you call me classless by sarcastically calling me "classy" for insulting readers.

A small turd but still no "bullshit".

So what is it you are calling "bullshit"?

Answer: Wilson XLFs and my so-called "rave" review because the speakers don't meet your supposedly "objective" definition of good measurements and your

"firm conviction that the very best sounding products boast exemplary measurements".

I don't consider my review a "rave". I didn't "rave".

Rather, I set out a very clear definition of what a very expensive speaker should be capable of doing sonically. And then I made the case for why the XLFs met the standard. That is not my definition of "raving".

Your post defines "rave" the secondary definition of which is "to speak wildly and incoherently".

You claim the XLFs didn't produce "exemplary" measurements but you don't bother to define "exemplary".

That's the second bit of "bullshit" in the post, but that one is a large stinking pile of it!

You claim the XLF's measurements are "mediocre"—a pretty stinging accusation—but you are too busy "raving" to make a case for why the XLF's measurements don't meet your "standards" or in what ways they are, in your opinion, "mediocre" or even what you heard when you listened to them—something you don't bother telling your readers you actually did.

That's more "bullshit".

They might be interested to know how the speakers sounded to you or in what ways the measurements you read correlated (or didn't) with what you heard.

That omission is the post's next bit of "bullshit".

Then you state without bothering to explain why and how, that a two-way design's measurements indicate it was "relatively competitive" with the $200,000 speaker and the "relatively small difference in the two model's technical performance"—leaving aside bass response and limitations inherent in any two way speaker.

More "bullshit". Laughable bullshit.

That is like saying "Between 40mph and 65mph on a straightaway there's little difference in the performance between a Lamborghini and a KIA" and they both get you to the supermarket and have seats. How they handle on curves or off the line or in braking speed etc. is off the table. Or in your case not even mentioned.

You write that few readers commented on the two way review but even there you don't bother to explain your point.

The point Hans is that readers react strongly and negatively more often than not to reviews of expensive products regardless of how they measure mostly out of envy and they are incentivized to look for deviations from "perfection" in expensive products as a shield to assert their envy.

You point out that readers tried to "grasp how the speakers' retail price in any way reflected the manufacturer's cost to build them". Perhaps there you could have pointed out how ignorant readers can be about costs of doing business and how the "parts cost" of a product is an imbecilic measure that fails to take into account the true costs involved in running a business.

It was your choice to mention the unsubstantiated and untrue charge by a reader that Michael Fremer was "likely charged a deeply discounted price for his review samples".


Every product regardless of price has flaws both measured and heard. I have heard many expensive products that measured well but contained sonic flaws or better, sonic "characteristics" that I found unacceptable to my ears. These are still good products.

There's a reason why all of the very expensive and well-engineered, designed and built speakers out there--many costing more than the XLFs—all sound different from one another and measure differently: the designers chose different trade-offs, used different materials, etc.

That is a fact of audio life you failed to mention. A discussion of that would have made for a far more interesting piece. There are no perfectly measuring products. There are no sonically transparent products either—especially transducers. All have colorations. Chose your favorite.

Are there overpriced products out there? Of course. If you think the XLFs are overpriced you should make that case instead of an irresponsible insinuation.

Then you commit the laughable: "My intention is not to single out Michael Fremer or Stereophile...."

YES IT WAS! Because you did!

If your intention was really to not single out Michael Fremer, or Stereophile or Wilson, you could have written the piece without mentioning my name, Stereophile's or the price of the expensive speaker, which by mentioning the price and my name makes obvious "WIlson XLF"

More "bullshit"!

I for one am always happy to have my findings "flagrantly challenged". That's been my lot since I began advocating for vinyl and writing, starting in the 1980s, that compact disc sound was awful despite the "perfect" measurements. However, I was correct: the early players and discs sounded poorly because what was causing the sound was not being measured, yet the mesmerized continued their "blind veneration" because the measurements were "perfect".

CDs still measure better than vinyl but vinyl sounds more life-like whether or not the cause is "euphonic colorations" or yet to be measured flaws in digitization or simply that they are two different technologies. Ultimately we listen, even after measuring.

You make this charge: "I was, and frequently am, bemused by the blind veneration some readers lavish on products like Fremer’s loudspeakers, presumably because of how exclusive the club of ownership must be. It is certainly not predicated on measured performance."

You "lavish praise" on readers who blindly lash out at products they've not heard and who make insinuations about manufacturer/reviewer transactions to which they are not a party, and then you criticize "some readers" who you fail to identify, who you "presume" have "blind veneration" for "products like Fremer's loudspeakers" because of "how exclusive the club ownership must be."


To quote a Motown song made popular by The Rolling Stones: that's "just your imagination running away with you".

Actually, without knowing their motivations I've accepted many reader requests to visit and hear my system for themselves. I guess when they say leave saying it's the best system they've ever heard or one of the best systems they've ever heard (the best I've ever heard was a gigantic horn system in Greece) I guess in your opinion I duped them or maybe they felt they'd gained "exclusive club ownership."

Finally Hans, after reading your piece I'm moved to leave you with your own words, which, for me, best sum up what you've written:

I have zero interest in the vacuous musings of Hans Wetzel whose proverbial 2¢ offer nothing to the greater discourse.

Rest assured that my intention in writing that was not to single out Hans Wetzel.

Michael Fremer
United States
Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

Thanks for reading, Michael. This really illustrates the stated point of my article, mainly that reader criticism of audio writers should be encouraged! Much appreciated. . . . Hans Wetzel