The logic goes like this: a component has to be part of a system in order to be heard, and also that every system system has flaws.
These system imperfections can:
* Cover up what the component does best
* Conceal flaws in the component.
* Be counter-balanced by the imperfections of the component (i.e. the component can cover up flaws in the system)
This why equipment reviews should be comparative, for example:
* component A sounds leaner than component B
* component A communicates more detail than component B
and even value judgments are OK here, for example:
* component A sounds less natural than component B
Even better would be to give some context:
* component A has better control of the bass than component B in my bass-resonance-rich listening room and with the X amplifier, which is under-damped is comparison to most amplifiers evaluated here, driving these same speakers.
And finally, and of course these kind of conclusions can be wrapped up in many pages of expository brilliance (no, I am not being catty, I wish I just had a couple o’ them drops of expository brilliance, or even just the time to read them)
* speaker A has better control of the bass than speaker B playing tracks 1, 2 and 3 on the CD that contains lots of information in the 60 - 100 Hz range produced by an electric bass in a studio environment, when driven by amplifier X, known to be under-damped in comparison with most amps, notably the X, Y and Z which audiophiles might be expected to also use with these speakers, in my bass-resonance-loving room of dimensions HxWxD, with interconnects known to less detailed than most, including the more often recommended C1 and C2 cables, which might themselves rob the bass of some detail and control, and with speaker cables that smear information in the time domain causing a lack of punch in comparison with all speaker cables evaluated here, ever….
This should make the obvious even more obvious, that the more perfect a system is, the less excuses and qualifications the description of a component’s sound in that system has to have.
Next: Why oh why do good systems seem to go spontaneously bad?