June
2024

The matter of the Meze meter

It was ticking to countdown. TikTok. Come June 10th, the floodgates burst open. Reviews of Meze's new €159 Alba popped up in 20-some YouTube videos. At once. Quelle surprise? There even was mine albeit in old-fashioned written form. How did we get here; and why did I opt out already? Let's rewind. Many months back Meze had solicited me for a review of their new Empyrean II. I accepted and penned my usual preview whilst awaiting a sample. When two months passed, I asked Meze and was told that the Ukrainian invasion had much delayed their driver shipments from Rinaro. In the meantime well more than 10 YouTube reviews on the same Empyrean II had been up for weeks already. I began to feel like a 3rd-class member of the press. Ink-head cleaner reporting for duty? When I pointed at this 2-tier treatment, Meze assured me that even though yes, they had given a new push to YouTube coverage, no, their esteemed partners in the print press weren't written off but continued to be valued assets. With my rank restored to publisher, I kept waiting on an Empyrean II which never materialized. But I did get a Liric 2 sample to write up. Subsequently I was solicited to test Alba. Having committed to two reviews upfront but only done one, I accepted. The parallel press release was embargoed until June 10th. This struck me as odd when Meze had paid good money to launch Alba and other novelties at the Munich show. When my IEM sample arrived in early May, I penned my usual preview then sent my Meze contact a 'sample arrived' email with the preview link. I figured they'd be pleased with the advance teaser. Instead I was told to unpublish it pronto to not break the embargo and have everyone work to the same conditions.

Wearing Alba for the occasion.

The bloody embargo applied to the review? It most certainly did. So I sent my contact five different links to Munich show reports detailing Alba with specs and photos to question their absolutely bizarre policy of putting a genie back in the bottle which they had let out in the first place. Touché. I was told that my preview could stand after all. But clearly my finalized review with actual listening impressions was expected not to publish before June 10th or else. In 22 years on the job, to be told by what date I can publish a review was a first. Yet I had a pretty good notion what this would entail. Et voilà. When the embargo's lid popped, Alba reviews on YouTube flooded the airwaves orchestrated in perfect sync by Meze's puppet masters of modern online marketing. As John Darko did in a separate Patreon feature, I too nurse misgivings. Only the most naïve or mindless of observers would view such a mass launch of reviews as anything other than a giant advertorial campaign. This appearance instantly devalues all of the content no matter how earnestly and honestly crafted. Time is money in that both are limited. The practical upshot is that having a choice, I'd rather not waste my time on something that is simultaneously reviewed by twenty other media outlets. I'd rather allocate my time to brands that approach reviews more selectively and scheduled over the longer haul rather than all at once. With my effort of producing content exactly the same no matter what I write about, I can make more of a difference to such products' visibility than those exploded by a mass dump. That in turn makes a difference to me. Quality over quantity.

Liric 2 on a photo op next to an also sealed Audeze.

Whilst the orchestrated flood launch of YouTube reviews might be the way of a future already here, I opt out just as I did for social media, WiFi, a Google account and MQA. I won't feed Meze's marketing meter with one more review. My last penny just dropped. Now I'm fresh out. They're obviously perfectly free to promote themselves as they see fit. In fact, I wish them the very best with this new direction. They make perfectly lovely product indeed. But sorry, this new approach of spreading the word just isn't me!