Making a decision as to which model of amplifier, phono stage, or preamplifier can be daunting. There are more brands than one can count and, within those brands, many models.
In the days of dealers, we relied upon their curation skills to narrow the field. The only problem with that model is that most times big dealers carried not what they believed you needed most (after all, how could they?) but what worked best for them.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the norm in our small high-end industry. The dealers we loved and honored were those that stocked what they loved and eschewed brands and products that didn’t meet their standards. Those were the good guys in our industry. Personal pride and a love of audio drove their interests and formed their opinions.
Sadly, many of those heroes are gone. (Lyric HiFi recently announced the closing of its New York City store)
Despite the shrinking number of honest and heartfelt curators, it is still possible to cut through the cruft to narrow down the field to a few choices.
That happens through trust. Trust built through a magazine, an advisor, a reviewer, a manufacturer, or a friend.
Who’s-on-first gets less confusing when we’re working with people we trust.