Putting it together

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An integrated combines multiple systems together in one box. A good example is a laptop computer; its screen, keyboard, mouse, processor, hard drive, are all contained in one enclosure, when traditionally they are separate. Laptops offer greater portability and convenience than their mulit-part competitors, yet performance is compromised relative to the best assemblages.

2-channel audio systems can be integrated or separate, and the choice for either has ramifications similar to those I just described: convenience and compactness vs. performance. Yet, for those focusing on performance there is a problem in that argument. Much of what we believe to be true in high-end audio suggests integrateds should sound better, when the opposite is true. Our cherished notions of fewer cables, shorter distances between units, preordained synergy between components, and the benefits of a master architect, come into question when we listen to music reproduced through single-box equipment subscribing to this dogma.

Can those among us proselytizing the benefits of a minimalist's approach on the one hand, be trusted to proffer opinions on the superiority of separates on the other? There seems an obvious disconnect but one I believe can be explained. We need another piece of the puzzle to reveal itself and that, dear reader, happens tomorrow.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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