The other side of the coin

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After all the negative things I said about integrateds you might think I dislike them as a category, but you'd be wrong. I actually like them a lot. I wanted to point out their drawbacks before extolling their virtues, which are many. Of course the convenience and compactness of integrateds is desirable, and that much is obvious. What may not be so evident is their internal synergy of parts. Take Sprout as an example. Herb Reichert, a reviewer for Stereophile recently wrote: "With Sprout, I always enjoyed the way I felt when a song ended and the next one began. I took pleasure in how I would go from smiling satisfaction to eager anticipation." The emotional impact Herb experienced was not accidental, it was crafted by its designers. With enough experience, talented designers can create single-box systems that together outperform their individual parts, like a chef creating a five-course meal. They do this by curating components with great synergy, working around problems, amplifying what's good, reducing what's weak. Thus, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. And this can be the legacy of the integrated if executed well. But building great sounding equipment isn't always the goal. Designers focused more on cramming what they can into one box, and selling it for as little as possible, are more like the all-you-can-eat buffet, than the gourmet restaurant. As always in life, it is possible to use available tools for best performance or greatest return to the shareholders. Just be clear what you're asking for.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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