Measuring how good HiFi sounds is often a guessing game and there have been enough opinions about the value or accuracy thereof. Rating the green credentials of HiFi is a little bit easier, but just by a smidgen. As with sound quality, subjectivity plays a role, but I think there are several factors that are, if not measurable, at least indicative of what constitutes a passable grade.
Here are the 10 criteria I use to grade high end audio equipment:
- Labor Relations
- Toxicity of Components
- Green Initiatives
- Energy Efficiency
- Heat Dissipation
These are, I believe, self-explanatory, but just to clarify a few points: by Simplicity I mean that many features on equipment tend to be over emphasized to marketing reasons rather than actually making it sound better. For Labor Relations, I will rely largely on what I can find out online and through interviews, but this obviously one area that is difficult to investigate accurately. With Green Initiatives, I am looking for manufacturers that have policies, technologies, and processes in place to minimize their product’s carbon footprint.
The way that I evaluate each criteria is as follows:
Each of these criteria will be given a grade from 1-5 and then this will be added up to arrive at an average score between 1-5 for each criteria. I’ll then correlate that to a final grade 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=D, and give a final grade, aka a grade-point average
I initially started with 7 criteria and have used those since I started this website - a few of the early reviews used those seven. That said, some of those criteria were harder to pin down than others, so to even out the total score, I've increased the number to 10. Consequently, this also makes the math a little simpler.
A note on the order. While I don’t like to admit it, the fact is that I list these in order of importance, not based on conscientious factors, but rather on how feasible they are for HiFi manufacturers to meet these criteria. This carries no weight on the final score, but it does reflect the reality that for many smaller manufacturers struggling to make ends meet, that there are priorities for them as well.
Finally, I need to add that scoring is based primarily on the information that is available and therefore could change. A manufacturer may score particularly high in one criteria until a future investigation may reveal otherwise. I will do my best to stay current on these developments, but if you have sources of information that will assist me in my evaluations, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Of course, if
I haven’t had an opportunity to review a particular item that you’re interested in auditioning or purchasing, then I encourage you
to use this rating system to evaluate this for yourself.
My hope is to be able to use this scale to give a quick review of items and give my readers a quick resource without having to wade through five pages of prose. Yes, I know and I’ve been told, my posts can get long – I was a humanities major in college, and this is a difficult habit to break. I'm working on it!