Reading them is interesting. What Hi-Fi is like the HiFi publication equivalent of the National Enquirer. As such, there's a certain childish fun in reading it and looking at their winning product lists. But I'd not take anything it says seriously.
So are you saying that - to take a selection of products WHF has given five-star reviews to in the past year or so - the Marantz SA-10, Klimax LP12, Naim SN2 and Rega P6 are all rubbish? Because I have heard all of them and they are all excellent.
Also the Enquirer is a celebrity gossip mag. WHF is not. They have absoloutely nothing in common, other than they're both printed on paper, with ink.
Absolutely not saying that at all.
What I am saying though is that you get Jo Public who wants 5-star rated CD Player X, 5-star rated amp Y, and 5-star rated speakers Z, with no regard for listening to anything else (because they didn't get 5 stars) and no regard for whether those chosen components work well together, and ultimately no regard for their own ears. I think it is fair to say (although sounding a bit judgemental, I'll stand by this) that we all know the percentage of the population who care enough about music to buy a proper hifi is, and has always been, incredibly small. And within that small group, the percentage who are not morons is, well... it's about the same as the percentage of the general population who are not morons - which if the IQ bell curve with 100 smack in the in middle is actually accurate (and I doubt it is but I'll use it anyway even though I don't beleive in IQ) that means 50%. Being an audiophile has no bearing on intelligence any more than liking football makes you a good footballer.
I've heard plenty of WHF 5-star items that sound amazing. I've owned a couple. But not because of WHF - because "I" liked them. I've also heard WHF 5-star components that were utter crap and 2-star components that were fantastic (of which I have also bought a few in my time).
Like I said, to keep the punters happy and maintain some integrity, you try and find enough of these components that you like and can stand by. Some dealers I know would just make sure they stock all the 5-star components and would stand by nothing and just let the magazine do the selling. As internet shopping invaded hifi too, those dealers have had a tougher time than most and many aren't around.