If the goal of a high-end audio system is to have no sonic signature—to be as neutral as possible—then why do we insist on tailoring our systems to our likes and dislikes?
Perhaps the answer lies in a simple truth. There is no such thing possible as a neutral sound when we use non-perfect equipment to reproduce it.
The fact our crude measurement science records significant amplitude, frequency, phase, and timing responses in speakers is enough to put that argument to bed. We’ll ignore our own hearing abilities until such time we can create perfect transducers.
The idea of accepting the inevitability of sonic signatures seems abhorrent to some, a fait accompli to others.
Me? I am in the camp that has accepted the sonic signature that I assume will be with us for the rest of my days.
And once you accept its inevitability you can progress forward.
Always striving for sonic neutrality is a flawed mission. Better to accept the signatures that get you closer to musical truth.
The art of illusion
Following the threads of the last few day’s posts, it’s become clear to me how much we’re invested in building a palpable 3-d illusion with our high-end audio systems.
We’ve known for some time that turning the lights on low, closing our eyes, and tapping our foot to the music not only gets us in the groove but helps build this imaginary world where orchestras play in our living rooms, Diana Krall serenades us with her ivory tickles, and Art Pepper romances us with his horn.
When we audition new gear it’s not just for tonal accuracy, full frequency range, or increased clarity. Those are important attributes, to be sure, but I’ve yet to meet an audiophile that isn’t like me in wishing for that 3d illusion (I am certain someone will pipe up in the comments section of these posts – I can count on it).
Audiophiles and high-end stereo systems are in the business of crafting illusion, and my oh my, what a fine illusion we can build. Just turn the lights on low, close your eyes, and be transported to the recording (or vice-versa as we haven’t yet figured that one out).