September 22, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

Conventional wisdom would have us believe best results are obtained via simple solutions. The simpler the solution the better and cleaner the outcome.

I find simple solutions are often the most difficult to accept and inevitably the hardest to find.

How many times have you gone round and round in search of a solution only to finally land on what, after the merry-go-round of effort, seems suddenly obvious?

A DC blocking capacitor is a heck of a lot simpler than a complex DC servo-eliminating circuit.

When a magician saws a woman in half or causes their assistant to seemingly vanish we often struggle with complex theories to explain simple illusions. It is in our nature to assume complexity when the simple answer does not present itself.

Too often I have watched complex equipment solutions applied to less-than-great stereo systems when all that was really needed was better setup.

Digging down to the point of simple is a complex task.

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29 comments on “Simplicity”

      1. 6.0 + earthquakes are somewhat rare in Victoria / New South Wales / South Australia generally striking the northern territory and western side of the continent.

        The last event of this magnitude was a 6.2 in Victoria / Tasmania on 1946-09-15.

        1. dr g,
          There was a 5.6 in Newcastle NSW on 28th of December 1989 that did $3.5 billion worth of damage & killed 13 people.
          I remember it well, as I was sitting in my office in Sydney & I felt it.
          In 53 years of living in Sydney, Australia, that & yesterday’s Mansfield are the only 2 significant earthquakes that we have had.
          Thankfully no fatalities yesterday.

          1. Interesting! Did you feel yesterday’s quake on the Southeast Coast?

            October 17th, 1989 was the Loma Prieta 6.9 event here in the Bay Area that cost 63 lives, 3,757 injuries, freeway overpass collapse and destroyed the Marina section of SF.

            The Bay Area bounced back and now the cost of living is 4-5 times what it was in 1989. Check out the Magnetic Disturbances section of this Wiki page. This is some organic low frequency infrasonic shit.

            “After the earthquake occurred, a group led by Antony C. Fraser-Smith of Stanford University reported that the event was preceded by disturbances in background magnetic field noise as measured by a sensor placed in Corralitos, about 4.5 miles (7 km) from the epicenter. From October 5, they reported that a substantial increase in noise was measured in the frequency range 0.01–10 Hz. The measurement instrument was a single-axis search-coil magnetometer that was being used for low frequency research. Precursor increases of noise apparently started a few days before the earthquake, with noise in the range 0.01–0.5 Hz rising to exceptionally high levels about three hours before the earthquake. The Fraser-Smith et al. report remains one of the most frequently cited claims of a specific earthquake precursor.”


    1. Earth is still a dynamic, tectoniclaly active planet. But it is not malicious. Damage, injury, and even death sadly occur, but it is essentially people and their stuff being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What is the right place and the right time? Dunno.

      Everything moves in an incredably complex dance of energy, momentum, and structural integrity that is only partially understood, at best. So many unknowns that may lie in quiescence for even longer than humans have been around and then the balance shifts and they explode. Or not. Many parts of the metastable balance have been observed, trends evaluated, sometimes forward predictions are made, always with a significant fudge factor. You observe, you measure, sometimes you learn something. Maybe even a tiny bit of enlightenment.

      Despite the perils to fragile yet surprising resiient life, all these activities are necessary. A geologically dead planet is likely a biologically dead planet. Take a look at our neighbor Mars.

      Life has had an enormous influence on the path the outer of the surface of the Earth has taken. Geology, led to the hydrosphere and the atmosphere, but not an oxygenated one. Some anaerobic bacteria led to free dissolved oxygen in the ocean that oxidized most of dissolved iron into precipitated out and then mostly got subducted. Free oxygen built up in the ocean and then started to build up in the atmosphere. High altitude oxygen became the ozone layer, which shielded the land from solar ultraviolet radiation and allowed life to move out onto the land. And on and on. This is a vast oversimplification, of course, but you get the idea.

      Now people, all 7.9 billion of us, are collectively making this still beautiful blue-green planet a less and less tenable place for us and many of our fellow critters. Hopefully we will wise up and stop in time, but trend analysis does not look good. We are a clever species and what has been done can be undone, at least to an extent. I do not despair (yet).

      1. Mr Blue,
        It’s sad, & I believe that the human race will amuse itself to death because no one wants to give up their electronic toys & go back to tending the farm once they’ve had a taste of the high-life; which having all of these toys & devices is.
        The price of entertainment & convenience en mass.
        Oh, & let’s poison the ground water with fracking for gas…wheeee ! 🙂

      2. This is a very political problem and the pandemic has made it more obvious. Most of the problems of man’s impact on the planet we all live on such as pollution, clean water, depletion of natural resources, possible impact on natural climate change cycle would be significantly reduced if we had 5 to 6 billion people instead of the almost 8 billion. The problem in doing that is two fold. First, you have got to get people to have fewer children. BION, the US is already there with a birth rate of 1.7 children per couple. Still doing this world wide is a much much bigger problem. The second problem is a 20% reduction in population would be devastating to the economy of developed countries. In developed countries something like 70% of their economy depends on consumer spending. If consumer spending goes down by 5% to 10% it causes a recession. A 20% reduction in consumer spending would catastrophic. A 20% reduction in housing demand would mean a collapse of the real estate market. Most economies rely on constant growth so even a gradual draw down in population would be disruptive.

        1. Slamming on the brakes would likely have unforeseen side effects. Easing into things may not be enough to avoid the crash in time. No easy answers, but we need to try something other than the current ‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!’ approach and have a catastrophic hard crash. David Farragut got lucky.

  1. I only have two items of audio electronics that actually process the signal, an EAR Phonobox and a Devialet Expert. Inside, one is very simple, a power transformer and a few components, the other is jam packed with electronics. They have one thing in common, which is a single button on the front of the case. I like simple.

  2. That’s the beauty of a simple solution. They can be hard to find but when you do, voila, bingo, WTF 🙂

    Second thought.
    Simple, great when applied to a solution, not so good applied to a person 🙁

  3. Examples of simplicity in my system:

    My preamplifier uses one tube per channel which is a dual triode ( actually two tubes in one casing ),

    My phono preamplifier has fewer tube than its predecessor,

    My turntable is direct drive instead of belt drive ( fewer parts, smaller foot print ).

    My speaker are full extension speakers that do not require subwoofers.

  4. In the era of IoT every device is connected to the www even a running shoe or a most “simple” cooking pot which downloads all kind of recipes. Adding computers and AI nothing will remain “simple”. At best handling can become as simple as possible. No user manuals required anymore but speech-controlled and eye- & mood-tracking. 🙂 But wasn’t there a saying: “Keep things as simple as possible but not simpler!” ?

  5. For the person that can’t see what they’re doing, the best way to go, is this way.
    Forget about touch screens to control your stereo system.
    In fact, let the only thing that’s digital, be the CD/SACD transport.
    Cemple plug and play on that without any complicated buttons to trip the person up.
    If you have to have those buttons, lets label them in brail.
    But for the rest of the system, lets use a tried and true method.
    The good old fashion analog knobs and switches.
    You can’t get any cempler then that.

      1. Good morning Ted!
        Just out of curiosity, what kind of a setup do you have right now?
        I have two systems that I’m currently listening to.
        I have a system in my living room that is put together with an old JVC quod receiver going in to an Avantone Pro CLA-100 power amplifier.
        But the receiver is going threw an old Mcintosh MQ-107 equalizer.
        My speakers are Welton USA cabinets with Tiffany 15 inch woofers, Tiffany 5.4inch mid ranges, and on top of them, are a pare of Dayton Audio B652Airs that I’m using for tweeters.
        In my bed room, I have a Fisher 800 tube stereo receiver that’s driving a quod of Avantone Pro CLA-10 studio monitors, and a pare of JBL LSR310-S powered subwoofers.
        But the one in my bed room, is the one that I record from.
        I also have a Schiit VALI2 headphone amp that uses a 6922 tube that helps me with the making of my recordings.
        But I’m looking to add a pare of vintage Pioneer Titan IVPW30-C speakers to that.
        I’m going for that old Motown sound.
        Does this sound like a cool setup to you?

  6. Keep it simple, stupid (KISS) is a design principle which states that designs and/or systems should be as simple as possible. Wherever possible, complexity should be avoided in a system—as simplicity guarantees the greatest levels of user acceptance and interaction.
    SOUNDS good to me

  7. Like ‘a straight wire with gain’. Wasn’t that term coined as the design goal in the audio community for an amplifier for years? That should be simple enough

    John Price, I hear your brother. You deserve better along with all sight impaired women and men.

  8. For simplicity I really like the Nelson Pass approach in his First Watt products, in using as few devices as possible. I was looking at a schematic for my old 70s Sony VFet amp and there were over 100 transistors in it, circuit boards jammed with parts. My SIT3 amp has only a few parts in it, sounds great but only 18 Watts. From what I read my old Sony and Yamaha VFet amps were not designed to truly take advantage of the triode characteristics of the VFet and Nelson has. Works for my 106db horns at 10’ away.

  9. “Less is More”…Mies van der Rohe.

    Some of the most beautiful solutions in the design world are minimalistic. The irony is that “Less is More” can also mean “Less costs More.” Simplicity typically requires greater attention to material quality and more exact workmanship. For example, the most simple pieces of furniture often cost more than the more ornate, busier designs that appeal to the masses. In building construction, precise joints without trim typically cost more than less precise joints covered by trim. Simple design with fewer components encourages greater attention to the quality of those components, which is a good thing.

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