I was reminded by one of our commenters to these posts about an era in audio I think of as the flavor of the month. It was a period of time in the 1970′s and early 1980′s that found loudspeaker and audio electronic manufacturers designing products that were not especially true to the music.
No, in fact these products were tailored to meet the perceived needs of “ordinary people” who probably didn’t want music – they wanted sizzle and flash.
I remember well one CES where an (unnamed) loudspeaker manufacturer demonstrated their entire line of these speakers with a Telarc recording of a 747 jet passing overhead. You know what? They sold a lot of speakers. The pitch was: “if it can reproduce the sound of a jet thundering overhead, just think what it can do for your favorite music”.
I am happy to report that we’ve managed to mature out of this era and most manufacturers aren’t selling sizzle and flash, they’re honestly trying to reproduce music or theater as if it were live.
As a certain commercial back then said “We’ve come a long way baby”.
My friend Art Tedeschi from the Colorado Audiophile Society sent me an interesting observation which I think is rather relevant and relates to our thoughts.
“I think most died-in-the-wool audiophiles have two distinct goals:
1) We want a system that bathes us in glorious, unadulterated sonic bliss that washes away our troubles and soothes us emotionally and inspires us intellectually and….
2) We want a system that’s as true as possible to the live performance.
Unfortunately, these goals do not necessarily coincide, which is the crux of the problem.
So however unreachably lofty, my vote would be to strive for accuracy, as I believe the best recordings will always supersede a system that consistently sounds good with all or most sources.
Practically speaking, of course, I also prefer a system that sounds good, but the industry itself must have some kind of standard to evolve it in a positive direction, and I think the only standard we have now, as flawed as it is, would be the live performance.”
So accuracy or emotionally inspiring? Heck of a choice.
Why can’t we have both?
from PS Audio International 1/11/2012
What’s the difference between 0.5% distortion and 0.5% distortion?
Is it a trick question as the two numbers seem identical? No, I use this as an example to make a point.
If the output of my Power Plant is trending down, from 1% to 0.5% I am happy. If my Power Plant is trending up from 0.1% to 0.5% I am worried. The number we are working with is identical, it’s now the trend we are concerned with. The direction of the movement is what we are now focusing on not the actual number itself. So if you start with 5% distortion on your power line and a product lowers that number by ten times, that’s a good trend.
When it comes to absolute numbers, how you are feeling about those numbers has a lot to do with your attitude towards the equipment at hand.
Trends matter more than absolutes in the long run.
Paul’s Post from PS Audio 1/10/2012