First and last generation.
Writing about and reviewing products is a subject that is brought up in forums and reader correspondence, and it generally follows the same story. Someone has read a magazine, got annoyed because 98% of the products got at least 8/10 ratings and/or a fancy award. Conclusion - the reviewers are in the pockets or the advertisers or simply bribed.
After working in the publishing business as a daily job for many years, I have to say that - sadly - I still haven't met a music technology journalist who drives a BMW or bloating around in a Hummer.
Writers in this genre are not bought, nor incompetent.
So why is it then that people doing this for a living only write good reviews? One suggestion that you often hear is that the standards of today is so high, that rarely anything can be considered bad - which of course is a pile of bs. The releases today contains as much crap as ten years ago.
Another misconception is that people believe that the producers and distributors bribe you with free software. Free licences, yes. Bribing - no.
Getting free software is great, but to be honest - it's a terrible pointless bribe.
Any reviewer of music tech is so damn overloaded with software, that if a company would try approaching one saying, if you write nicely about us, you'll get our delay effect FOR FREE, would only result in a laughter-attack of cataclysmic proportions.
I have huge trunks of software boxes up in the attic that never see the light. The worlds first commercial software synthesizer by Dave Smith: Reality. Damn, I still have the box of Generator sitting on my shelf: the very first product from Native Instruments - that later transformed into Reaktor. Would it amuse you to know that it came on two 3.5-inch floppies?
But nostalgia aside. If the fine gentlemen over at Kurzweil would knock on my door and say, hey write a good damn review of our latest PC3-keyboard YOU WILL GET IT FOR FREE, I would probably say yes, Mistah! Gimmegimme Oh-Sweet-Baby-Jesus. But only because I would hail that product to the skies anyway.
To end this fluffy tale about the honesty of reviewers, I'll explain the major reason why reviews tend to be positive.
No one wants to waste time on rubbish. And when it comes down to it, neither do you.
The typical reaction of that I hear is that negative reviews are as informative as positive ones. While I do agree with this in theory, the human mind doesn't work like that. If this humble blog would only review the worst of software, smash the poor piglets into pulp, no one would visit this blog rather than to see their most hated software developer getting it.
My time is limited and so is yours, and more importantly: in a magazine where you have to fight yourself bloody to convince that damn editor that Maschine v2.0 or Spectrasonics new product Megasphere is worth way more than a rotten 2000 character review - there is simply no room for writing about crap.
Writing about bad products is bad business from every possible angle. Nobody wants it. Not the reviewer, nor the magazine and at the end - not even the reader.
What drives these people - myself included - are two things 1) you get paid to do what you probably would have done anyway, 2) the pleasure of knowing that people actually read your babble.
It's not about money or incompetence. If it would be all about money, then most of these magazines, blogs, developers would not exist.
As widely known, the real recipe of success and earning good money is to simply give people what they what. Writing about software plugins is, from an economical point of view, futile. No one will every get rich from it. A blog dedicated to Lady Gaga will generate more revenue than one about Mr Oizo.
The sad truth about music tech writers is they do this because they like it, and they like writing about things they like.
It's that simple really.