Generalities

September 28, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

While reading through the comments section of this blog I stopped at one standout.

“I prefer the sound of speakers from across the pond.”

Generalities. We tend to group our opinions into neat little boxes: British speakers are bass deficient, American speakers are big and brash, silver conductors are brighter than copper, tubes are warmer than solid-state.

The good news with generalities is that it offers us a quick way to sort through the myriad of choices.

That’s also the bad news.

Whenever possible, I find it more helpful to narrow my generalizations around smaller proven segments that allow greater latitude for technological variances: people, companies, and philosophies. I can more easily trust how someone I am familiar with will respond or act and the same is true for companies and philosophies: A design from PS Audio’s Darren Myers or Chris Brunhaver will most assuredly sound great; A new product from Apple will look and feel like an Apple product; It’s unlikely a Buddhist monk will be starting a drunken brawl.

The trick with generalities is honing and polishing them such that they don’t limit but instead assure.

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46 comments on “Generalities”

  1. Great last sentence!

    I think anyway the remaining problem with generalities is, that they depend on peoples’ opinions and experiences and are perfectly valid for their individual experience so far, but completely wrong for others. Take the topics you mentioned: tubes, solid state, various speaker types, vinyl, digital, cabling etc.

    I think there we will find several different opinions on generalities, which always assure the one who has them in mind … because due to the person’s somehow limited experience they were always true so far, however wrong they might be from an “absolute” standpoint 😉

  2. The new ‘Apple’ iphone 13 is a brilliant piece of engineering…it only unlocks if the owner is vaccinated!

    I usually use the word ‘Generally’ or the phrase ‘from my experience’ when I’m (typing or speaking) generalising about anything…just to cover my arse.
    On Sept 20 ‘The Bark Syndrome’ I said, “In my experience of home audio loudspeakers over the decades, generally, the wince factor has always been higher in German, American & Japanese loudspeakers but hardly ever present in British or Danish ones.”…obviously this opinion of mine may not reflect someone else’s experience.
    As with all things in audio YMMV.

  3. I tend to keep an open mind about brands and designers. All but two components in my system are from different brands (the only two are speaker cables and an isolation platform from Max Townsend) and almost all are the first purchase I’ve made from those brands (the exception being I upgraded my conditioner with the same brand). I generally avoid valves, but the best system I’ve heard had a valve amplifier. I’ve recently switched from British to American speakers. I’ve also got riotously drunk with Buddhists on more than one occasion.

    1. I went searching for an isolation platform this past week for my Thorens TD145. I wanted something with adjustable feet to more accurately level the table. As with all things audio I found a host of companies making these with a myriad of features and claims. I had not stumbled onto Townsend Audio but found plenty on “this side of the pond”.

      In the end a fellow on Facebook pointed me to a small company that makes direct replacement feet in milled aluminum with sorbothane for my table that are adjustable and isolating/decoupling so I went that route for a little over a hundred US. They arrive tomorrow and I will be interested to see how they work. Finally I can be done with the shims and various other methods I’ve used for 50 years under the feet of my turntables to level them.

      Sorry, slightly off-topic but your mention of isolation caught my eye.

      1. The Townshend Platform for components provides damping, but the Podium which is primarily designed for speakers works very well with my turntable. It provides complete isolation because the feet are spring-loaded under tension and can be finely adjusted. You can get very good deals on them in the UK buying direct or from one or two known dealers who discount them heavily.

        My turntable has an elegant levelling system. The feet are three spikes that can be raised and lowered with an Allen key through a small hole in the top of each leg. So I can get it perfectly level in a couple of minutes.

      1. Very much so. Once during their New Year celebrations in Kathmandu, on another memorable occasion which was the only time I ever drank an unidentified liquid that came out of a jerry can strapped to a donkey.

          1. Most Muslims have a good time drinking tea all night long, in the desert where it gets cold it’s not a bad bet. Morocco and Lebanon are Muslim countries with large wine production, mostly for local production. I’ve not been to Lebanon, but the Moroccan wines are generally very good. Probably has a lot to do with the French influence in both countries. The French Rothschchilds were also responsible for setting up the Israeli wine industry (it was Palestine at the time), it was initially unsuccessful, but now prospers.

  4. If you can hear speakers “from across the pond”, they must be very big and require a very powerful amplifier! And what if any else who lives near the pond doesn’t like your music? 😉

  5. Those given to speaking in generalities often convey a certain ignorance, lack of experience, inflexibility or prejudice, unless they give ample specific examples to back up their claim. Even then, they should be honest and admit that their experience is limited and that there may be exceptions to their generalization. They should welcome others to counter their generalization with examples to the contrary. I welcome your criticism of my generalization on generalization 🙂

    1. Good afternoon JosephLG!
      This kind of reminds me of a guy I met on the Greyhound bus on my way to Gainesville some 22 years ago.
      He tried to get me to believe that Panasonic made the best stereo equipment.
      That mite have been true once, but the quality of their products really started dwindling downwwords near the end of the nineties.
      But by that time, my ears had heard way better sounding equipment long before that time.
      And on top of that, the guy stayed drunk all the time.
      I learned the hard way a long time ago, to never take the word of a drunk.
      Because you don’t really know if they’re telling you the truth or not.

      1. Well, I was told by a drunk at a Greyhound Bus station that Bose made the best stereo systems. For that advice he wanted to “borrow” a dollar, which he never paid back. You just can’t trust anybody, it seems!

        1. Good morning JosephLG!
          Picture this in your head.
          Letts just say that, you’re a blind man.
          And you got aboard the Greyhound bus to go to a meeting.
          A drunken bumb gets on the bus, and sets next to you.
          He’s holding a palm pilot.
          And he’s showing you the way around it.
          The palm pilot has no speech output.
          But he trys to get you to buy it from him.
          #1. You don’t know if the device is hot or not.
          #2. The device is no use to you, because of the fact that, you can’t see how to use the darn thingg.
          But he wants you to help him out by asking you to buy the thingg from him?
          You already know what he’s gonna do with the money as soon as you get to your destination.
          So you tell him, “I don’t have enough money to buy that from you.
          And bisize, you’re trying to sale that to someone that can’t even use it.
          By the way, how did you get your hands on that thingg anyway?”
          I kit you not.
          This really happened to me almost 22 years ago.

      2. John, this subject gets a bit tricky, as you can’t trust your life with someone else until you’ve gotten drunk with them and shared your true personalities.

  6. There are many very good sounding speaker drivers from many different nations around the world. Like anything to do with audio, there are trade offs to be made. To achieve one thing, you may have to give up on another. Both Accunton and Volt make some incredible drivers. Obviously a ceramic driver is going to have different characteristics from paper drivers. Until the perfect speaker drivers are invented, it comes down to personal taste.

    1. Lirpa Labs Tweety Bird tweeter is the perfect driver.
      No its not, the puddy-tat whiskers substrate resonate at 16.18034 Hz.
      Hey, who said you were allowed to type here?
      They’re my hands, too.
      Would you two cut it out? I’m trying to watch the weather forecast.

  7. A drunk guy from Finland walked into a Chinese restaurant where a Buddhist monk was the trying to entertain the crowd with terrible fiddle playing. He insulted the monks’ scratchy version of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”
    The Monk smashed the fiddle over his head and wonton violin-ce broke out. The Finlander knocked the monk to floor and said in a mocking tone “Don’t ever start a fight you can’t Finnish!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTdeQIY0jjs

    1. Would you like to be a monk?
      C’mon, let’s go get drunk!
      Do you think Paul McCartney is okay?
      Can we crash here for just a few days?
      Ah, we’re from Rolling Stone, so it’d okay.

      — Leon Russel (1972)

      1. I been in the right place
        But it must have been the wrong time
        I’d have said the right thing
        But must have used the wrong line
        I been on the right trip
        But I must have used the wrong car
        Head is in a bad place and I wonder what it’s good for
        I been in the right place

        But it must have been the wrong time
        My head is in a bad place
        But I’m having such a good time
        I been running trying to get hung up in my mind
        Really got to give myself a good talking to this time

        Just need a little brain salad surgery

  8. I went to a musical offering by a load of Buddhist monks at a place called Gangtey and one of the chaps was playing a drum with a human leg bone. It was an experience in a non-musical sense. The Bhutanese Buddhists are far too happy to get drunk and start fighting.

        1. I have, but that was to avert my gaze from the ravenous bugblatter beast of Traal.

          Words to live by from Douglas Adams: always know where your towel is.

          Forty-two.

        2. Shocking; I know!

          Tried the towel with the beard & then some Muslim dude said that I had to shave off my moustache…there’s just no pleasing some people 😉

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