Here’s something we can’t all agree upon. Wires matter. Cables matter. In all the years I’ve been involved with high end audio no other subject has been as hotly debated. And I won’t be adding any fuel or water to the fire in this post.
I suppose a disclaimer’s in order. I know that cables matter.You don’t have to agree.
One of the key advantages of an integrated amplifier is the lack of connecting cables and all that goes along with them like connectors, and interface circuitry. There are great advantages to be had by removing the complex tangle of interconnects commonly associated with separates–not the least of which is eliminating clutter and keeping the spouse happy.
But engineering a product means compromise, and compromise is a word not appreciated by perfectionists seeking the holy grail. Perhaps a gentler term would be intelligent choices. Yes, that’s a better phrase with less negative connotation (though the results are the same). However we wish to phrase it, when we pick up sonic ground by eliminating wires, we give up the advantages of separation, both physical and electrical. So it’s always a balancing act that’s never straightforward.
Take the interesting Devialet integrated as an example.
The folks at Devialet have built a very popular integrated with many novel circuit innovations. They’ve placed all the guts into a gorgeous machined chassis that one might associate with luxury goods, yet it’s not luxury priced. The sound is good, more than acceptable for an integrated the wife and friends would ogle over. It’s taken advantage of the positive features available to the integrated designer: lack of wires, lower costs, and the synergy of components, and in exchange, it’s given up perfection of sound.
Just as in food where we can select how we choose to get our nutrition: perfection of flavors via many separate dishes, or comfort food via eating a tasty integrated stew, what you wind up with has everything to do with what your starting goals were.
Both approaches are equally valid.