There was a period (about 10 years) when The Absolute Sound came out to challenge Stereophile ('72-'82), and other publications were the writers were trying to be seen as the least corrupt. Then Aczel came out with The Audio Critic (and was revealed as a fraud by Issue 6) in the mid 80's. But TAC took money from subscribers and used it to finance a speaker company that made a dreadful product, and the other two started taking ads. SInce then the net came about, and there is no shortage of reviewers, most of the serious ones get free equipment, some of the most important ones probably get more - or at least are offered more. I was deeply involved in sales of high end equipment from 1975-2003, also involved as in investor, and there was dark money, spliffs (that's kickbacks and percentages), lavish dinners and even trips. I read lots of reviews and reviewers. If they have more than a few too high or too low ratings based on what I hear I tend not to pay attention to them - what else can you do? I agree Tyll and Marvey seem like good ones. As usual make up your own mind. The "high end" is very open to suggestion, bias, neurosis, snobbery, etc. That's why you end up with power cables that cost $5k for 5 feet. Have I found cables that work better (headphone cables seem to make a big difference - XLR interconnect cables not so much) - sure, some fairly cheap, the decider should be sealed with some attempt at A/B testing. Your opinion and your money.