Not only is the Editor’s decision final, but …
His decision is not up for debate or interpretation. Let me explain. Years ago it was not uncommon for a reviewer to act as a talent scout for a magazine. He / she might have spotted a new maker and/or new technology at a show or industry social event and thought that the readers would appreciate a piece on it. Under these circumstances he/she would ask the editor to consider it and from time to time the equipment was reviewed.
Alternatively a maker, way back, might approach the reviewer and invite that reviewer to do the job i.e. review. Again the writer would need to gain the approval of the editor.
All that changed though, not so long ago. At least one editor and perhaps all of them enforce a severe and consistent policy that reviewers are not, repeat not talent scouts. In short, the editor chooses which products to review and which brands to ignore. I have my own theories as to why and on what basis they make these decisions – but the point here is that a reviewer’s only decision in the matter is to accept or decline the commission.
Returning now to Ken Kessler, my impression is that the proportion of his entire output devoted to Absolute Sounds products is smaller than one might think. Or put differently, my guess is that he writes more pieces re non Absolute Sounds equipment that he does re Krell, Audio Research and so on. Anyone out there prepared to check?