Can an audio system ever be perfect?

Some of us strive to reproduce a recording faithfully, while others look simply to create a pleasing sound, no matter what the source. Regardless of how you define perfection, can an audio system ever be perfect?

Can an audio system ever be perfect?
24% (61 votes)
76% (190 votes)
Total votes: 251

tonyE's picture

It's not the problem of the audio system per se, but the recording method. If we recorded in 12 channels and had 12 speakers it might get close. I gave up long ago attempting to make my system sound like the real thing. It sounds good, true, but it simply doesn't sound like the real thing. Ever heard a garage band? A piano in a house? A full blown symphony orchestra? Etc.

Rob Gold's picture

We can now do a pretty darned good job of reproducing a recording, but the recordings themselves are what is lacking. This is, unfortunately, more a matter of commercial reality than of physical limitations.

Brendon's picture

No. When they are good, they are damn expensive. if there was a perfect one, even grandma would own it.

Doug Bowker's picture

No. But I don't need perfect. Great, satisfying, exciting—those are enough. Right now, my system is all those things. Over time I might want more, but for the time being I'm happy just finding new music to love.

RS's picture

My system is incredibly good; one of the best I have ever heard. Doesn't come close to sitting in Myerson and hearing a concert.

Dimitris Gogas's picture

Of course it can. If it gives you musical bliss, it is perfect. At least for a while.

Rob Auld's picture

Will the perfect audio system ever exist? I doubt it very much. Does the perfect audio system exist for an individual? Most definitely. We all have different tastes and different ways we hear things. so the perfect system is out there for everyone. It's just different for everyone.

djl's picture

I say no, but you can get pretty darn close!

Pete's picture

The playback system is like a projection lens, with each component and cable being a different element in that lens (the software being played is like the 35mm film, and the room itself is like the screen). Just as no multi-element lens is perfectly clear, introduces no light scatter or distortions, so too are all audio systems flawed. However, a audio system featuring good equipment well matched can get close enough to deliver great enjoyment.

Christian Hueber's picture

The room is a big problem and I belive that EQ-processors bring their own flaws to the signal.

Dismord's picture

How do you define "perfect"? Some concert halls aren't even perfect. A better question would be," Does your audio system convey the heart and soul of the music you love undiluted?" That's all that really matters.

Steve.'s picture

There is always something better.

Ivan's picture

Everything can be perfect for certain amount of time, or even forever. Audio systems are no exception.The real question would be: Are people conscious and smart enough to recognize that they have something perfect,something to hold on for a long period of time?

Giovanni Mattia Porcelli's picture

No, but... The exact replica of the originary vector field, i.e. (pressure, pressure gradient) is clearly out of question. Maybe you can approximate something derived from the originary vector field, paying attention to some psychoacoustically relevant set of features. This could be a problem of differential mapping between differentiable manifold, with some assumptions about which features you want to represent and preserve, again taking in account which dimensions in the originary manifold can be "safely collapsed," given the very complex non linear mechanisms involved by human hearing. This is the good news: there will always be market for many of us.

daryl's picture

Please define "perfect." Our definitions evolve as our listening experiences change. A live performance may affect what we thought was the perfect reproduction of an instument, for example.

Ted's picture

At this end of hi-fi, it is mostly subjective perception.

Joe Hartmann's picture

First, I do not know the sound created in the recording venue, so how could I know what exactly I should be hearing? What I hope for is a nearly accurate reproduction of an event I would have not heard and that experience is what I want. Horowitz at Carnegie Hall or Callas signing Norma.

JJ Zarate's picture

Not perfect, but satisfying enough in order to halt the quest.

S.  Chapman's picture

I would submit the extent to which you are dissatisfied with your audio system is directly proportional to the amount time you spend reading Stereophile and other audio publications. These magazines put a lot of effort into convincing us that our five-year-old gear is out of date and needs to be replaced with the latest and greatest, even though newer models often offer only small marginal improvements.

Jimmy's picture

The human ear is not quite able to "hear" perfection!

tom collins's picture

If perfection is defined as duplicating the original performance. By its very nature, audio is a reproduction. It can not equal the original. The word "perfect" will also depend on the person doing the defining. Will some people think their system is perfect for them? Possibly.

H's picture

Yes, if your system consists of the New York Philharmonic (or insert the name of your favorite musicians) playing live in your living room.

Daniel's picture

Perfection is impossible. And even if it was, a proper audiophile would never be satisfied with it anyway! The best you can hope for is a set-up that, when you push its buttons, it pushes yours right back.

Eduard's picture

Yes, but not for long.

EG's picture

Perfection is a matter of opinion. My current rig is perfect for my needs and budget.

Mike Agee's picture

Yes, on the odd night when you are receptive, the mains are sweet, the selections fortunate, and the atmosphere conducive. Does it sound like the real thing? Not likely, but then the real things sound different every time, too.

Jouni's picture

Your system can be perfect only for a while. Sooner or later you get used to it and then you want some more. If you want to be satisfied with your system, you just have to stop wanting for more. You just have to accept that it could be better, but so what?

Jim Dandy's picture

Probablly not...there are too many factors to deal with, including each individual's sonic perseption. My personal reference is live music drawing back to my late teens and early twenties. At that time there was a small saloon just outside downtown Buffalo NY that featured a small jazz/pop group... bass, piano, drum set, occasional trumpet and the featured male vocalist. The front of stage was surrounded, 180 degrees, by the bar. The only amplification used was for the vocalist, and it was minimal and sonically excellent... very natural sounding. I've never again heard music sound this good... open, spacious, detailed and dynamic with a natural roll off and decay. Man, you really knew what those instruments sounded like. Perhaps the rumored digital recording breakthrough by Doug Saxx and Bill Schnee will get us closer to that kind of live sound... I'm rooting for them.

Tim Simpson's picture

It is always a game of chasing rainbows. I'd like to reach a point where I could say that I will never change anything in my system but that point will never happen.

Mike Brown's picture

Everyone has their own taste when it comes to sound. What may sound perfect to you, may not to me. Speakers and electronics will never be able to reproduce perfection as their environments prohibit such a thing.