Do hifi systems have souls?

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I’ve heard it said more than once. “Vinyl has soul. Digital does not.”

I can relate to what’s being expressed in that statement and I don’t disagree.

If we think of soul not as an immortal entity but rather as the essence or embodiment of a certain quality—as in the soul of an argument—then vinyl qualifies easily in my mind. Where digital is a clean, accurate, unrestricted, and uncolored representation of the original source material, the gyrations needed to squeeze the same onto the vinyl medium lend it a form of soul enjoyed by many (including me).

My friend Jim McCullough of Cello is kind enough to send me his collection of vinyl rips each year and they are terrific—filled with the soul of vinyl, reproduced flawlessly on a reference digital system. The soul I refer to is captured in those digital rips.

So, yes, I believe hifi systems can have a type of soul, a unique voice tailored to each system owner in the same way we might distinguish ourselves through dress and mannerisms in a crowded world. This soul of the system, to me, is a good thing.

I’ve also put together another little video on the Soul of Vinyl that you might enjoy.