The Do Over
We’ve all made mistakes and I’ve made many. In fact, I’ve made so many I am getting proficient at fixing them, covering up their trail of destruction and moving forward in the hopes of not repeating them.
One thing I’ve learned from my mistakes is the Do Over. That sometimes it’s not good enough to clean up the mess. Better to start over and get it right.
The Do Over is a hard lesson but oh so valuable, especially when it relates to your stereo system. If you’ve started out with that perfect set of loudspeakers before following it with some poor choices in electronics and cables, I have always found it preferable—though painful—to start over instead of trying to fix the problem.
When we choose active room correction, warm-cables to soften harsh-electronics, blocks and magic discs to quiet power supplies, we’re often aiding and abetting a failed set of purchases.
Sometimes we haven’t a choice. Economics, room restrictions, and any number of hurdles get in our way.
But, given enough freedom, it’s often better to go for The Do Over than the Band-Aid.
Audio distortion is a net zero in the same way poison is. The less you have of it the better.
On the other side of the coin, there’s the net positive, like exercise. The more you do the better you feel and the stronger you get. Or thinking, absorbing knowledge, or helping others.
Some audio systems—the rare few—are net positive. They produce an experience better than the original.
Take for example a full range audio system in a great listening room playing an intimate violin performance. We’ll imagine that the recording was made by a pair of stereo microphones positioned above the performer. This is a net positive because you’d never have the chance to listen in the same spot as the microphones were located—dangling upside down from a microphone stand.
It’s one of the beauties of what we do in our field. A chance to beat life and get something unobtainable by any other means, including a live performance.
Yes, there are a few missing elements in this imaginary scenario: the smells, noises, audience, and temperament of the moment.
But I’ll take the best seat in the house in the comfort of my home as a great alternative anytime.