Our expectations often determine our reaction to a piece of audio equipment before we even listen. If we expect the new preamp to sound warm, rich, and revealing then we’re either delighted or disappointed depending not on its actual performance but rather how close it met our expectations.
I learn the most about a new circuit or piece of stereo gear when I haven’t any expectations. Without a preconceived bias, I can evaluate gear based solely on performance.
The problem is that we almost never acquire new gear without an expectation of how it will sound. That’s because we made the leap to acquire new kit because of an expectation: better this or that, solving a problem, stepping up to the level of another system you heard before.
Even if your expectation is the new gear will outperform the older system you’re going into that demo fired up with the hope of getting somewhere specific—a problem because it’s easy enough to miss benefits outside our expectations.
It’s not often easy but I do my best to clear away expectations and preconceptions in the hopes of discovery.
Sometimes beauty is unexpected.
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.