I am often amazed by the disparity of reviews in the hi-fi press. With a few product exceptions, awards vary considerably from magazine to magazine - why is this? After all, these reviews are supposedly carried out by "bat-eared" audiophiles under perfect "blind" listening conditions, so a good product in one magazine should do likewise in another. As we all know, this is not always the case. Even among forums such as these, the variety of opinion is varied to say the least. I know that it is impossible to listen to every component for long enough to make a fair evaluation, but it begs the question - Is our hearing more varied than the equipment itself?
Great point Adrian and one that certainly bears some truth. I'd say probably the biggest variable is the type of music somebody is listening to; clearly certain genre's will sound different on different speakers and I suppose this will lead to different opinions on how the speakers perform. Not to mention differing room sizes and positioning of speakers. And of course there's personal preference...
The truth is any expensive hi-fi component is going to be of superior quality so the differences between them is inherently subjective IMO.
Everybodys idea of Hi-Fi Nirvana is different, and what sounds good to you can sound awfull to somebody else. In the end you have to trust your own ears. I just use the magazines as a starting point because they all have hugely expensive reference systems in which to audition kit.