I had no idea of the animosity between Charles Hansen, founder of Ayre Acoustics, and Stereophile magazine. Here is a response to John Atkinson, British editor of Stereophile, written shortly before his (Hansen's) death in 2017. It makes absolutely fascinating reading and calls into question the bias in the American hi-fi press.
Hmm. Levinson gear .... I must admit I was a bit shocked back in the day when the DAC stage of my beloved £4k No.39 CD player was noticeably bettered when I hung Stan's £100 Beresford DAC from its digital output. Made me think a bit, that did. Stunning chassis on the Levinson, though.
More generally, there is no shortage of 'personality' in the world of high end hifi. And conflict is inevitable when they bump up against each other.
i. Qobuz HiRez > Lexicon DC-1 DAC/pre > SpeakerCraft SC2-100 power amp > MBL 116F speakers Cables : Wyreworld Starlight USB, Epiphany Atratus3 interconnect, VdH Teatrack bi-wire speaker cables. USB signal pampering : Wired4Sound Recovery & Halide Bridge.
Yes, I stopped subscribing to Stereophile a while ago. I did prefer it to the British mags which is not saying much. They are all biased and many of the reviewers quite obviously have a relationship with one or more brands.
In the end, reviews are only opinions and so are write-ups in forums. You get to trust certain people and use them as a shortlist. It's the best you can do. Then home demo, there is no substitute.