Everything we choose is based on a reference—a model in our heads of what we should expect. Each of our internal references have been honed over the years. We know exactly how a human voice sounds; a violin; a piano. When we playback recordings of these familiar instruments and voices we evaluate their closeness to our internal reference. Real or artificial? The thing is we can't ever compare sound for sound. We're not tape recorders. We can't actually record in our heads exactly what's on offer from a musician. Our references are built over our entire lifetimes and stored in our memories—not the actual sound, but rather our impression of that sound. We record with great accuracy the feelings evoked from those instruments. We capture the emotions, the small details, the essence of that sound, or taste, or experience. Our HiFi systems are all about playing back music that engages our emotional memory. How it makes us feel. The better the system, the better to evoke those emotional memories.
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