It's not when things are more right…
Often, it's when they're not so wrong. And that's the crux of solving the riddle posed in yesterday's post. I had asked how we can know if changes to sound when a new piece of gear is inserted are right, or wrong. It's not so much a matter of being right, it's more a matter of not being wrong. Let me explain with a non-audio example. We moved into a new home about a year ago. The drinking water from the tap doesn't taste good. I have been lobbying for a filter for as long as we have been here, but my better half has to have a filter that aesthetically fits the rest of the kitchen. And finding something aesthetically pleasing apparently takes time. A lot of damned time. Now it's installed and the quality is vastly improved. Drinking water is again a pleasure. And my first reaction to the purer water was interesting. I thought to myself, "drinking this pure water will improve my health–almost like taking vitamins when I am deficient." But that's a false positive. The purer water won't enhance anything, it will simply stop whatever perceived damage was occurring. And this is the same thing happening in our stereo systems. Good equipment shouldn't make anything better than right, it should make it less worse than wrong. Take a Power Plant for example. Power Plants fix what is wrong with the power. They do not enhance the power. It may seem like a play on words but if you think deeply about this, as I do, you'll appreciate the significance of the statement. My friend Bill Low of Audioquest has based his company's marketing strategy around the idea of doing as little harm as possible. He gets it. Most of us don't. I routinely see reviewers, customers, and industry pundits suggesting how this product or that product makes things so much better. And yes, that can be an accurate statement - but it can also be misleading. We begin to believe products enhance the sound, when that is exactly the opposite of what we want to do. Like the tube warmer product of years ago. Placed between the preamp and power amp, it improved the musicality of the system by adding tube warmth - it enhanced the colder presentation of poorly designed equipment. More than just a Band Aid, it is exactly what you do not want to do. More tomorrow.
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