Best implementation of Product Reviews?

I’m wondering if anyone has come across a great way of organizing and displaying reviews in a forum.

My current thinking is that reviews that have met a “bar of quality” (determined by the community or by leadership) would be shown in an “official reviews” thread for that particular product.

Any thoughts on how best to implement product reviews?

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I believe that reviews like this Chord Hugo 2 DAC/AMP - Official Thread posted by @Torq are a very good example of a well thought out, detailed review.

I think if we can all agree on a format of how we would like reviews posted official review threads would be good. There’s already a lot of great content and thoughts being posted that would be nice if they had some extra visibility.

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Thanks for the kind words.

I’d regard that particular post of more being a high-level review or just “impressions”.

When I think “detailed review” I tend to wind up going down this sort of rabbit hole (another SBAF link, and probably the last).

The former is probably more generally useful as it’s a shorter read and more to the point.

Also, the more concise style doesn’t require so many formatting options, which is possibly a better fit for the Discourse software than would be the case with other forums platforms.


I do like the idea of having some quality-bar, be it community driven (the simplest metric being “Likes” I suppose) or based on leadership/members with higher trust-levels. That sort of post/evaluate/promote model would help keep facts straight at least.

Something else to consider is that detailed impressions or full-on reviews (assuming differentiation there is even desirable), should include a picture of the unit/item in question in context/use. Beyond adding some visual interest, and some context, it helps weed out “impressions” posted by shills that have never actually heard the item in question (a major problem on some sites).

Organizationally, it might be possible to let the actual impression/review posts live in the original “[Item] Official” thread in which they’re posted, and maintain a couple of index threads that link to them to catalog the reviews. Alternatively a dedicated category for review, with subcategories by item type (Headphone, IEM, DAC, amp etc.) might be cleaner. I don’t have a firm opinion there, however.

Hope that helps!

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In my experience reviews fall into four categories:

  1. Naive, casual users who don’t have much perspective (“I love my Beats/Bose”)
  2. Advertising disguised as reviews / vendor kickbacks / never say anything negative
  3. Critical and/or super technical efforts to honestly evaluate and compare products
  4. Eccentric and/or idiosyncratic opinions presented as superiority – $$$$ audiophiles $$$$

I think the goal of this forum is to maximize #3 and minimize the others. Unfortunately that can be difficult, as the standards vary by culture and other factors. For example, Yelp in a large city tends to be very negative about ordinary chain restaurants but these can be well reviewed in the suburbs. Plenty of casual listeners are happy with #1 while aficionados focus on #3 and #4. There is no right or wrong, but #2 is fraudulent and will lead to a backlash among the hardcore.

Some editorial curation will weed out the truly off-base content (a la Wikipedia), but this will shift based on the people doing the work and it takes time. You could also “endorse” certain reviews or reviewers and then give them free reign–turns into a magazine with columnists. Finally, the low-involvement method is to highlight what is voted to be favorite, but they can and are manipulated by those with an agenda (a la Amazon).

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You guys all have some very good ideas as far as reviewing products.

Sad thing is I have run across #2 type reviews on several “professional” review sites.

It would be great to have a place that has honest reviews from consumers/enthusiasts of great sound. The ideas that you folks have presented so far sound like a solid foundation to achieve this metric.

I’m looking forward to seeing this topic develop.

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I would love to see a great way of organizing reviews and even keeping them separate from the “official” product threads. I have seen this dealt with in various ways but none of them are seamlessly integrated. For instance, SBAF will often have 2 separate threads for a given product, one for general questions, comments, and reviews. And then a second one for measurements that is also accompanied by impressions/reviews. It is sometimes hard to figure out where is best to place a full review. Often times the border between these 2 threads is blurred and hard to keep track of.

Head-fi actually has an interesting system, but not quite perfect. There is a massive, long running chain for a given product that usually is created once a product gets announced. From there it just becomes a mix of questions, answers, comments, impressions, full reviews, and random junk. Head-fi also does have a separate “review” portion of the site for each product where people can write full length reviews and uses a 5 star rating system as well as a short pros vs cons highlighted section before jumping into a full review, which usually includes embedded pictures. These collection of reviews are all contained in 1 “thread” so they are all together and it does allow for users to comment on each person’s individual review. It also allows for sorting the reviews by date or by liked received. I do generally like this method, but because the “review” thread is so segregated from the “official” thread often times the reviews get overlooked and they are hardly referenced within the “official” thread such that people don’t know to check there.

I do like the idea of keeping a standard running thread going for a product as well as having a separate thread or space for just full reviews. But it would be nice to somehow link them together in a very visible and easily accessible way. I have no idea how that would work in this site or what is possible, but that would be my preference. And for this separate review thread, it would be nice to enforce some sort of quality control on it, maybe a minimum word count or something.

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It would be great to post an official template of how a review should be formatted, to offer some consistency between reviews posted. This would include a minimal set of topics which should be covered for a given piece of gear being reviewed. For example, a headphone review should discuss the topics of tonality, build quality, etc… These can be further broken down into sub-topics if necessary.

In addition to this, it would be great if some sort of numerical scoring system was implemented to help quantify a given review. Thus a reviewer would need to assign a numerical score (out of 10?) for each applicable feature/trait - i.e. tonality, build quality, musicality, etc… These would then be averaged to create a final overall score the reviewer assigns to the item under review.

The scores from multiple reviews for a given piece of gear could then be averaged and posted not only on the review thread but also the official discussion thread for that particular gear, depending of course if the review and discussion threads are separated. Some examples of such a scoring system that I like are used by sites such as headfonics.com and earphiles.org.

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OMG what a rabbit hole that 3 click link is. Reviews that use the word “I” more than the vowel “e” do tend in that direction. Especially when you need to read 5 paragraphs about what the reviewer is going to do.

@ModMax - you wouldn’t happen to be in professional publishing, would you? That’s exactly the way that collaborative technical books are written. I used to be the product manager for an XML-based editorial software system that helped editors organize the vast herds of cats that authors (particularly doctor authors) are.

My clients included John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Lippincott, WoltersKlewer, and a good number of professional societies.

Haha! Sounds like quite a daunting task!

Not publishing. Engineering is how I fund this obsession… er… I mean hobby.

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I liked ljokerl’s review format on head-fi.org and http://theheadphonelist.com/headphone-review-list/. It’s a balanced scorecard comparing comfort, build, sound, and price.

IMHO, reviews should list the source equipment, type(s) of music tested, and maybe the level of the reviewer (like a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being a total noob and 5 being a professional sound engineer).

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Personally, the reviews I’ve liked the best have often been from people who are not reviewers at all, but ordinary people posting their detailed impressions. Why? I think scoring systems are useless.

Firstly, if you’re evaluating headphones, scoring the bass, mids and treble has little meaning. Either the headphones work well with certain genres or music or they don’t. Impressions from how they fare from a variety of different types of music is far more useful to the average reader.

Secondly, equipment is half about functionality. How do you score functionality? Do you score it on whether it does its intended job, or do you score it on how many features something has versus the competition? Again, it is better simply to explain in what situations features are useful, and when they are not, or do not work well. For example, a DAP with many features but slow processor and a lack of memory isn’t as functional as the advertised features suggest.

Thirdly, how do you extract something useful from a score chart? People will mostly only look at the top-scoring models and buy those, if they are otherwise unable to decipher the information in reviews.

IMO anyway. :slight_smile:

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Very strong points (pun intended) @Currawong.

+1 for listing tracks used for testing. This would indeed be very useful information. No matter how many reviews I’ve read on a particular product, I always find myself reaching out to reviewers to inquire which genre(s) of music they think the product is best suited for - Headphones and amp/source equipment alike.

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I have used the points system in the past. For me, it helps work through a long list and sort on various features that are most important to my wants. For example, I might want to sacrifice some sound quality for price or comfort to achieve a level of sound quality within a given price range.

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I like the idea of a separate “review” area, void of discussion, discussion of the product should be in the forums.
I tend to get bored with “I love the perceived ambience of the new cryo-treated IEM tips” type of comments, also the plethora of ‘ME TOO’ posts post review.
As for bar of quality? difficult, could become a popularity contest “I like Brooko’s reviews so I’ll give it a 5”, but then it’s really up to the community to monitor that stuff. I think I’d go more for something simple like was this useful? (with categories like bought the item, interested etc.)

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I personally prefer less critical and more impression type reviews…mostly because everyone hears things different…we are all “snowflakes” after all, and it helps when you can find someone with a similar hearing profile to yourself when getting ideas for new headphones. But that being said, I really enjoy all types of reviews, if for nothing else than seeing how people interact with the headphones/DAC/amp technology :smile:

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100% in agreement with that. What one hears in their impression shared, may be what another person would like as well and learn what equipment they heard it from.

:dvd:

I tend to separate “impressions” vs “reviews”. To me, impressions are shorter, less formal, and usually done after limited time with gear like at a meet or from a loaner tour. Full reviews are more extensive and I prefer when they come after spending a lot of time with gear in the full chain. I tend to not write a full review unless I have had the headphone for a few months, and particularly AFTER I have upgraded or moved onto something else to be more critical in my perspective.

While we do all hear differently, I do appreciate full reviews because as you get to know people and their tastes/preferences you can find people that hear similar to you and can relate to. So full reviews help in getting the full scale from an individual and identifying those people that match your perspective. For example, I match spot on with earphiles.org (grizzlybeast). So now whenever he writes a new review on something I haven’t heard, I can basically know whether or not I would like it without even hearing it myself.

My vote is to leave shorter impressions in the official threads for a product, but to separate out full length reviews in their own space, hopefully connected to the official thread in some way that is easy to find and link to.

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Hmmm… interesting how “interpretations” can be completely different. I totally get where you are coming from, and agree quick impressions should be in the official threads. But to me a good impression is a full review of the headphones just without going into details like graph response and the technicalities/science of a thing, and more of the feel of the thing. So maybe I should change my term to Full Impression? Because to me a Review is getting into the nitty gritty of a thing and also giving your opinion of a thing (which is subjective). Or maybe meet in the middle and call it a Impression review? I would like to give my Impressions/review of the Focal Elex eventually, and I want to kind of find how I would go about putting my opinion on paper, and I feel like my impression of it mixed with my opinion would be the best way to go.

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