The Audio Cynic

All I Want For Christmas…

…is Peace.

And no, I don’t even mean the large-scale, unobtainable kind of peace involved in the World Order. I just mean, can we kindly for once remember that the whole deal of audio and listening to music is about enjoyment and immersion in the brilliant work and talents of others—and not endless, pointless debates of, say, musicality versus accuracy??

This is far from the first time that I’ve raised this objection/rant, and indicative of the endless feuding we see: have you noticed that most audio websites have deleted the number of comments that have posted on even relatively harmless articles like this one? Why is that? Because they don’t want to encourage the pile-ons that result when the bellicose and belligerent start going?

I have a granddaughter coming to our household, and two dogs I’m attempting to make manageable before that arrival. The kind of no-win, endless internecine warfare so intrinsic to audiophilia is just not of interest to me in general, but especially not right now. Not of interest. At all.

I love music, and I know that the challenges involved in reproducing it in any way resembling the real is damned near impossible. Props to all who attempt it, no matter what the method: horns, planars, triodes, MOSFETS, LPs, digital files, whatever. Each and every form has its plus points, and its minuses. If you’ll looking for The One True Way, you’d better go back to reading tales of King Arthur, or something. There is NO ONE RIGHT WAY.

I’ve frequently referred to Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus and one of the most brilliant engineers who ever lived, in any field. Colin had his shortcomings, including the fact that his designs were often so close to the edge that they broke, and sometimes folks died. Like Jim Clark, one of the greatest drivers ever. EVER.

Anyway: with one of his road cars–the first Elite, I think—Chapman was faced with the fact that there just wasn’t enough headroom, and an additional 2″ was needed (okay, say 50mm for you fussy metric types). The options were for him to lower the floor—decreasing ground clearance drastically—or raise the roofline, befouling the aerodynamics.

Chapman explained the dilemma to a hapless, well-meaning bystander—who  said to Chapman, “Well, why don’t you raise the roof one inch,  and lower the floor one inch?”

Chapman was not a large man (as anyone who has attempted to sit in a Lotus Europa can attest), but he was known for his fiery, ferocious, vicious temper. And his response to the suggestion was immediate,intense, and furious: “I can’t DO THAT!?! That’s a bloody COMPROMISE!!”

Sound familiar? Audiophiles are often dogmatic and bound to their particular point of view or school of thought. In the grand scheme of things—and this is true for most doctrinal disputes—it just doesn’t matter. NOBODY CARES.

So, please: as we leave Hanukkah and approach Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Omisoka, New Years Eve, whatever: please. Just stop. Be grateful for music, musicians, and the fact that we are able to enjoy their work in whatever cobbled-together creations we have.

…and Peace Be With You.