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Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Balancing Act

What do you listen to music for? To enjoy the complex interaction of musical notes, the dynamic of human vocal range, the complicated mathematic calculation and millions of on/off action on the silicone chips, or do you only care about how wonderful the 'blend' of sound which touches your heart? The truth is, listening to music is the sum of science and art. We use sophisticated electronic equipments like expensive CD transport, DAP, amps and headphones that are designed to faithfully reproduce the music, yet we do not want to listen to the cold, soulless, 'digital' sound and still prefer the warmness of vintage vacuum tube in modern equipments. Gears are not just the instruments, but part of the experience and should be treated as so. Individual gear each reflects its own design philosophy from the designer, and together they have a 'synergy' - the blend of different characteristics that contributes to the final sound. It is beyond just simple electronic engineering that try to be 'bit-prefect'. This is the reason why we don't just enjoy sunlight as a result of nuclear fusion, but because it makes life possible and gives warm to the heart. We are, and always will live our life between science and art, between the principles of physic and the creative complexity of the human mind.

Recently I saw some debate among audiophiles on whether measurement and spec really mean anything in the audio world. While dismissing science from the equation of finding better sound quality is not correct in itself, total reliance in science to resolve this partially artistic quest is foolish as well. Here is a post by Swanlee @ Head-fi that worths a read:
I just think some people put to much int clinical graphs just like some people put to much into snake oil. We should be able to draw some conclusions from each side but in the end we have to decide what we like based on what we hear and our own personal preferences.

A player that has treble roll off at 15K is not big deal for me cause that is where my hearing stops, for someone else this may be a huge deal. A player that dips in bass will not meet my approval as I like a lot of bass someone else may not care. A player with a crazy graph curve may match my personal preferences as to what I like in sound signature which is more enjoyable to me than a flat line.

You simply can't look at a graph and get the complete picture on how a player REALLY sounds but graphs can explain why a player has certain characteristics.

At some point if you don't let your own ears decide what you prefer then why bother even listening to music, just look at straight line graphs all day then.

Amazon's Deal

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Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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