The tiniest details

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There are times I can walk into a listening session and pick out the tiniest details in the sonic performance that, at the moment, seem like glaring errors obvious to everyone.

Other times I can listen with great intensity and determination and hear none of it. The system hasn’t changed, I have.

I am sure this same thing happens in any number of moments in our lives: the times when we are dialed in and the times we are not.

Being aware of this variability in our judgment process is important because most of us assume that our own evaluation standards are rock solid when, in fact, they vary all over the map.

This issue must be a constant headache for the professional reviewer who is called upon, even relied upon, to maintain a consistent standard in his or her head for every situation, piece of hardware or music under evaluation. It’s surely one of the reasons why the best reviewers take weeks, perhaps months of living with the piece before passing judgment.

The challenge is to find a good balance between always accepting snap judgments and relying too heavily on long deliberations. Both are valid, each has its place especially when we are evaluating either music or equipment.

Tomorrow: The power of one