A friend dropped off a bottle of pinot the other night and I just got around to enjoying a small glass before dinner. It tastes nothing like the light, soft and easy on the palette pinots I am familiar with. This particular blend reminds me more of a rich Burgundy (of course the Burgundy region of France grows Pinot Noir but I can’t afford fancy French wines). Which got me thinking about stereo equipment and how it’s tough to categorize sound by its varietal beginnings.
When we think of HiFi varietals like tubes, FETs, and bipolars, we like to place them in familiar boxes: warm and lush, closer to tubes, accurate and sterile. Yet, there’s plenty of examples of each electronic varietal breaking with accepted norms. Just like wines.
A great take away here is to invest enough energy and thought into breaking with accepted stereotypes of performance. That’s helpful because high-end audio designers are very much like vintners: we blend a little of this and a lot of that to craft the sound signature we hope to achieve.
So, the next time you want to listen to handcrafted audio magic, it may make more sense to look to the designer/vintner than the particular varietals he’s used.
Like a good glass of red, it’s more the art of the vintner than the grapes he’s given.