Chipping away

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My friend Tony reminds me it is unrealistic to focus one one part of a complex chain, when what we hear is the sum of all that has transpired.

He’s right, of course, but those of us creating the chain have to do both.

Imagine Michelangelo’s task of converting a slab of stone into the statue of David. He had to chip away at the bits, in service of the whole.

As designers we tinker with the bits and evaluate the whole through imperfect speakers and rooms. What a daunting task!

One of the most curious aspects of our art is the delicate, minute work we do—taking jitter to seemingly absurd levels, flattening phase and amplitude beyond the reasonable, lowering the tiniest of perturbations of the signal—and evaluating the benefits on grossly inaccurate speakers played in even worse rooms.

Reader Steven Segal sums up our task brilliantly.

Take two wooden boxes, a few wires, transistors, capacitors and transformers, and make a device that will PERSUADE me I’m sitting in Carnegie Hall listening to Vladimir Horowitz playing Scarlatti.

We chip away at the tiniest of imperfections to change the bigger whole, yet somehow it works.

So, the question for tomorrow’s post: how can the tiniest of changes be so obviously reflected in the grossest offenders in the chain, the speakers and room?