At the risk of talking myself out of future reviewing after writing this, I want to give you my take as a reviewer for a high end site. I make no salary as a reviewer and, just recently, began drawing from Social Security and my measly pension for a bit of income. Last week, my wife approached me, gently asking “So you don’t make any money reviewing, right? I’m not judging, but people at work think it’s weird…” Yes, it’s weird, honey.
I review because I genuinely love this hobby. I put in as much effort reviewing a $800 product as I do a $250K product. I’m currently reviewing a couple of super affordable analog to digital converters, one of which was self-purchased prior to coming up with the idea to do the review. I’ve spent 3 days making rips from them, from self-purchased vinyl, and have so far written 1200 words after hours of research. I’ll spend another 2 days listening to rips and writing and maybe, I’ll get the other converter for maybe $100-150 after the review. That is, if I like it.
My reviews generally run between 2200-3200 words. I never put this much effort to any writing in high school or college, preferring the visual arts to wordsmithing. The reviewing process takes weeks of break-in, listening and note taking. Regardless of the equipment I’ve reviewed or have on hand to review, I’m always glad to see it go on its way after review… I like the sound of my own systems.
My rigs are comprised of mostly high quality vintage gear circa 1978, 1985, 1994 and 2002, along with a pair of currently available speakers, and most of it was self-purchased prior to my reviewing efforts, along with a handful of currently available products. The turntables I own have been bought used from stores or off eBay and repaired and upgraded primarily by me alone, and some have self-built tonearms. I’ve built as many of my accessories as possible, from a rack to record weights, tonearms and roller ball suspension devices. Always on a budget, I’ve put in the time to understand how audio works in a very hands-on manner.
I’ve bought just 3 affordable items in over 3 years of writing at accommodation prices – each sell for $800 in stores – and all of which aid me in reviewing equipment and music. I always run hobby purchases by my wife, who trusts me not to overspend – and spending is always in hundreds, not thousands of dollars. I’ve turned down truly amazing sounding accommodation-priced gear that was still way out of my price range, often at the amazement of audio friends with deeper pockets.
I’ve received 3 affordable gifted products from a manufacturer whom I befriended and consider a dear friend – one of which I already owned one of and another that I’ve just mentioned in passing and not called out in a fun review. Last year, I was given a nice piece of gear and a great vintage piece (in need of repair) by the person I write for as a thank you for my efforts. With the help of a generous friend, I self-repaired that unit for the cost of friendship and a few nice records.
I can’t speak for Steve, but I can speak for myself. I review because I genuinely love this hobby. I’m in it for the friendships I’ve made and the knowledge I gain, not the gear I can get for myself.