The answer to this is no. Expensive audio equipment often sounds pretty bad to me. , but high end audio has turned into bling for the wealthy and if the economy bursts, watch out..
Does expensive equipment always sound better?
Today’s fact or fiction question is a little like the old chestnut: does throwing money at a problem always work? The answer’s as old as the question: of course not (but it usually helps).
I struggle with this basic inquiry because it’s a question in search of a pat answer when none are available (the catchword is “always”). We cannot honestly answer this often asked question because of its “always” qualifier.
That said, I would have to put forth a general answer of yes. In general, the higher priced equipment sounds better than lower priced products. Our own PS Audio Stellar vs. BHK are good examples and I am certain there are many others.
There is a caveat here and it’s one we should all think about for the continuing health of our industry. There’s a danger in blindly proliferating this generalized wisdom because it’s just too easy to take advantage of it: over-the-top expensive chassis, unnecessary audio connection jewelry, exotic materials that don’t really matter, name brand parts in places that don’t improve performance.
There’s no doubt that with a big enough budget and the right intent on the part of designers, more expensive equals better equipment.
I would just hope that honor and ethics in our industry will always trump the opposite.
Performance above 20kHz matters
Fact or fiction?
Does amplifier performance above 20kHz matter?
This question came first in our list of Fact or Fiction because it’s a fairly easy one to answer but the answer’s going to piss off a whole bunch of objectivists. Let’s try and fix that so everyone wins.
To an objectivist, 20kHz and above does not matter for one plain and simple reason: humans cannot hear above 20kHz. Ergo, if we cannot hear something then it doesn’t matter. Case closed.
While the base statement is accurate, it ignores the consequences of implementation.
If we instead look towards the practical application of high bandwidth amplifiers we see that we could ask a very different question and get a very different answer. The right question to be asking is this:
Does phase accuracy matter within the pass band of human hearing?
Now we have a proper question that circumvents all the narrow focus arguments that plague us.
The answer to question 2 is an unequivocal yes! Human hearing is very sensitive to phase differences within the audio pass band.
Circling back to the first question, we can now answer it with another unequivocal yes! because there are no practical means of bandwidth limiting an analog amplifier to 20kHz without affecting the phase. It’s typically important to have a bandwidth approaching 100kHz to get phase accurate performance in the audio pass band.
See? That wasn’t so hard.