Be careful what you ask for

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In a comment posted in response to my post Dogma of some days ago, Lawrence Schenbeck, a professor of music and our resident classical music expert asked an intriguing follow up question. "What if the “theoretically perfect transducer” re-creates an acoustic, or an instrument, that just sounds terrible? How many audiophiles would line up to buy that? Every time I find myself in the Woodruff Arts Center’s Symphony Hall in Atlanta, I thank god for his big sister that my system cannot possibly re-create that horrid acoustic. It’s the last thing in the world that I would want to experience at home. Pleasure vs. Accuracy. Choose your poison." Indeed, great question, great conclusion. The answer, of course, is "if the recording's bad then it should sound bad on the system" in a perfect world. But is that perfection? There are systems we know of that make everything sound acceptable, even good, despite the recording quality. They sacrifice being great for never being bad. Since few among us are interested in being scientists when it comes to our stereo systems, which do we choose? If perfection in a sound system means I have to run from the room when a poor recording is played, count me out. Even if that means it's technically more accurate. I do require my system to let me hear differences in halls: if they're bad, as Lawrence suggests, I want to hear the sound that way; but only to a point. If it excites the room or me in such away as to drive me from that room, it isn't working. Like anything that stimulates our senses, food, music, hi fi, reading, it has to be just right to satisfy; the perfect blend of right and wrong.
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Paul McGowan

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