I mostly agree with this and certainly the amount of power an audio amplifier produces doesn’t alway correlate with sound quality, but parts used and poor build quality, can have an effect beyond the designer.
I once imported a high end audio line from Australia and the products were very well designed and the parts quality was good, but the build quality and packaging were horrible and ended that experiment for me!
More power equalled worse sound
One of my readers, Daniel, was surprised to find that a smaller power amplifier sounded better than a bigger, more powerful version. He wondered how that could be given how many times I have waxed enthusiastically about the benefits of headroom and power.
Of course, the answer lies not in the power differences but the skills of the designer.
It is often tempting to focus on one area of performance as the key indicator of how a piece of equipment will sound in our systems. Unfortunately, it’s never quite that easy. The number of variables determining sound quality is so many as to make one’s head spin like Regan MacNeil.
Which is why we listen.
Too many facts
The problem with facts is choosing which to follow. For example, it is a fact that regardless of which audio cable we use to connect the output of a power amplifier to our Audio Precision test equipment the results will be the same. Of course, that doesn’t mean the cables are the same.
As access to information increases so too do the available facts of any subject. Some facts are important to include while developing understanding while others detract or at best confuse us. If we’re designing an amplifier it’s best to stick to the facts pertaining to our specific design rather than chase factual rabbits down confusing holes.
How to choose which facts to follow?
Before the internet’s deluge of information, our limited research turned up end results that resonated with us: a product we liked, a person we admired, a book worth reading, a teacher worth learning from, a circuit worth emulating. Once a direction had been chosen, we could then dive deep into the facts that pertain specifically to that end result.
Today, we have a tsunami of facts and end results that may or may not be relevant, yet each can send us spinning off into the confusion of the weeds.
If we want to rely on the clarity of facts we need to make sure we are researching the relevant ones.
Pick a product, pick a guide, pick a direction, and then study the facts that helped shape it.