Asheville Home Theater and Audio presents Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

There’s a lot of controversy in yesterday’s post and I actually got some hate mail.  Wow, first time for everything.  I am not going to defend the post or my thoughts since it’s clear a number of people misunderstood my intent and thought process, yet an equal number got it.  I think those are good results.

As an adjunct to yesterday’s post NPR (our public radio in the United States) ran a terrific article on teaching democracy to students through jazz.  Jazz is focused on improvisation and to create music on the fly requires a group of people to get together and agree.  What a marvelous idea to integrate jazz into the classroom.  You can hear that broadcast by clicking here.

I would like to expand on yesterday’s core subject, however, the art of design.  Let me just suggest that there are many ways to design equipment, just as there are many ways to cook food.  Designers can follow tried and true recipes and prepare some wonderful sounding equipment, just as chef’s can do the same.  But rarely do designers or chefs standout as stellar examples of innovative creations by following recipes.

No, only those designers and chefs that have the courage to step outside their comfort zones and get away from the tried and true stand out.

There’s art and skill in following a recipe of design or food and creating a successful end result.

But for those adventurous enough to step outside their comfort zones and try something new, especially in the art of reproducing music, the potential rewards for their customers are huge.

Recipes are safe, creative art can be scary.

Asheville Home Theater and Audio presents Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Most technology based categories of products do not tolerate or encourage art and individuality.  Rather, they reward sameness and polish of existing art.  Take computers, for example.  The art in computers can be found in their packaging and peripherals but rarely in their performance.  Yes we can have faster, slicker, more efficient but they all better do exactly the same thing or they wouldn’t make it past first base.  Let’s put this observation in musical terms.

Most technological products resemble classical music more than jazz.  In classical music perfection to the original score is highly prized.  The art in classical music comes not from playing different notes than the original score, no, that is strictly verboten, but rather from slight variations from perfect.  Jazz, on the other hand, rewards different notes and recoils at sameness.  Jazz rewards mistakes in playing the instrument as long as those mistakes are in service of new emotion, new art, coaxed out of the artist’s soul.  Hit a wrong note in classical and people wince; perfection first and once achieved, let the art begin.  Hit a wrong note in jazz and we tolerate waiting for the soul to emerge; to heck with the notes.

High-end audio design is more like jazz than classical.  I like that.  It’s one of the few technologically based categories that rewards art over perfection.  The mavericks in this industry are some of the most creative and artful people I know.  More like musicians than engineers, high-end audio designers have soul.

Sure, as designers we want perfection, but not at the expense of art.