We’re comfortable suggesting sound is subjective when it comes to our differences in perception, but then uncomfortable when we speak of it in absolute terms. In other words, we believe the source of sound to be absolute. The perception of sound a matter of personal choice.
The dictionary describes subjective as a central philosophical concept, related to consciousness, agency, personhood, reality, and truth, based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.
So, if the source of sound is absolute and the hearing of it is subjective, what’s an equipment manufacturer supposed to do? Cater to the subjective or the absolute?
This interesting question has always been a source of both inspiration and balance for me. On the one hand, the challenge of recreating the absolute sound has driven our design efforts for years. On the other hand, building equipment that pleases our subjective side has also guided our products since the day we started.
It is the balance between the absolute and the subjective that forms greatness.
Good audio equipment is designed to honor the absolute.
Great audio equipment balances the absolute with the personal.
Can and should
I can stay with what I have and be happy though I think I should upgrade and get better.
Can and should, two of my favorite words: I should avoid the calories but I can sneak this one butter tart if I promise myself not to do it again.
Deciding between the two can be maddening.
In designing audio equipment to a price point the cans and the shoulds are sometimes heartbreaking. I can include this feature yet if I do I’ll break the budget so I shouldn’t.
Where does one draw the line?
For me, it comes down to two other interesting words, risk and reward. If I am faced with a can or should moment I weigh the risk against the reward. Recently I was faced with just such a dilemma. While building our new recording studio, Octave Records, we’re constantly faced with cans and shoulds decisions. I can spend thousands on highly rated DIs (Direct Injects which connect electric instruments into the recording console without a microphone) or go a little more conservative and put those scarce funds into microphone preamps instead.
Which of those choices will make the biggest difference? What are we risking? Is it better to have a slightly better sounding electric guitar or acoustically captured guitar? And, how will we judge?
In the end, we went for the microphone preamplifiers but it was a real toss-up.
Can we do better with what we have or should we take the leap and put the pedal to the metal?
What are you asking yourself these days?