In part one we proposed that there are other valid goals for high-end audio systems besides that of reproducing ‘exactly’ what is on the source material (i.e. 100% Real), and that these other valid goals can be thought of as being similar to the goals of artists who, say, paint a landscape.
The argument I usually hear against this kind of anarchy is that the muscians intended for their music to sound a certain way [maybe but it rarely makes it to the source material this way, given sound engineers and limited budgets], how dare we muck with their composition? They are the musicans, we but the audience. Then are we to tell painters to stop painting impressionistic landscapes, because Nature or God intended it to look a certain way?
So, this means all but one or two of us can stop beating ourselves up because we like systems that sound ‘better than real’, or communicate ‘better than real’, or are more engaging than real [this ‘better tha real’ stuff is more possible for Jazz, Pop and Rock&Roll than it is for Classical. Give me the capability for reproducing Real Carnegie Hall, THEN we can start working on better than real Carnegie Hall]
Whew! Hopefully we can all feel more confident in ourselves and the work that we are doing. I know it can be hard when we run into lots of obnoxious layabouts who give us a hard time on the forums, they have not educated themselves about how to appreciate good sounding music and its impact on the listener. We are going against the ‘common wisdom’. Why?
Because… Carrying this analogy further, many of the people reading this blog are high-end home audio system ‘artists’.
Artists, and their admirers, are never understood by lay people - and especially artists of our rather new and certainly unheralded art form.
How many times have you heard someone ridicule art with somthing like: ‘Honey, how come that guy can’t paint a face that looks like a face?’. ‘Why would anyone want more than loud bass and something that can play each of the notes from 20 -20K Hz?’. ‘What can you see in a Jackson Pollock painting that you can’t see in a bowl of spaghetti ?’
OK, I made that last one up
There are several different kinds of work habits associated with artists:
1) Most of us think of somethng they want to build, build it, then refine it, polish it up. Then start on a new system variation. Just like a painter who pulls out a new canvas, paints something, spends some time touching it up, making it as good as they feel they can without going crazy [which is never good enough] and then going on to start the next painting. Unlike painters, we cannot keep our systems around in stacks against the wall unless we are VERY rich and have a LOT of room.
But we can photograph them, like painters do, so that they have sometihng to remind them of the piece after they sell it to pay for food. See? Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
2) Some of us tinker with the same old darn painting, I mean system, for years and years, trying to get it …. just….. right. In general, systems do kind of evolve into one another as opposed to repalce one another.
3) Some of us are more radical, tearing up a lot of canvases before the paint is even dry, the canvas still white in places, so unsatisfied we are with how the system is shaping up.
4) Some of us commision systems from artists [aka good dealers].
5) And the vast majority of people buy posters that kind of look like art, and equipment that kinds of looks like systems, from wall-mart, and circuit city.
Carrying the analogy further [I know a lot for one post, maybe this will get split out…] we can see the future of high-end audio…
As posters and serigraphs and glicees and laser printing gets closer and closer to being able to look like the real thing, so will high-end audio systems found in, say, circuit city.
What will be left?
Posters are availabe for only a relatively few masters, and circuit city systems will eventually sound good, but have only a few different sounds. For those that want something that uniquely speaks to them, something special, that has a pride of ownership associated with it, these people will always have to shop somewhere else, at a boutique, or learn to build systems themselves.
In a sense this is what we do now, unstatisfied with the ‘commonality’ of the sound found in the ‘common’ store fronts. Yes, their sound quality also currently sucks - but if it didn’t? How many of us could go back to a generic sound when we know how ‘our sound’ can make us feel? Not most of us, I think.
Anyway, just some thoughts….