What drives us nuts

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What drives us nuts

It doesn't matter where I am. If I spot a crooked picture or something just a little out of order I cannot pull my eye off of it. Drives me nuts.

For the longest time I thought this obsession with symmetry was just me. Turns out that's not true.

In a recent Ask Paul video the PS Audio listening room rug was askew. Out of the hundred or so comments offered up on the video, perhaps 1/3 of them were requests to straighten out the rug (which I did).

Clearly I am not alone.

In fact, I have observed that most people sitting in the sweet spot of Music Room Three get uncomfortable if something is slightly off kilter: the rug, the symmetry of the left and right speaker toe in, distance for each speaker from the front wall.

What's really interesting is our ability to switch our symmetry meters on and off according to circumstances. If we sense something is supposed to be aligned, it drives most of us crazy if we sense a bit of asymmetry. But when the differences are big enough to intentionally be off, we can then relax.

Think of art. Looking at a beautiful painting from a realist we're instantly uncomfortable if the proportions are even a little bit askew. But, switch to modern art and we're just fine with shapes and colors that do not line up.

I gave up trying to figure out how to get comfortable with asymmetries a long time ago. Now, when I am able, I simply fix whatever I see wrong: crooked artwork in hotel lobbies, out of whack stacks of boxes on store shelves, place setting at dinner, and certainly out of perfection speaker setups.

Once put right I can relax. 

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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