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ampnut's picture
Last seen: 6 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 4 2005 - 5:26am
Truth vs Beauty !

I throughly enjoyed reading, last night, a Great piece by Laurence Borden in the March 2005 Issue of Stereophile - "Truth vs Beauty"

He was comparing a belt drive CD transport vs a conventional CD transport. He also spoke about a comparision between Wilson & Sonus Faber speakers.

Similar analogies could be drawn in Solid State vs Tubes... etc.

I recall more than 30 years ago, I heard the B&W 801 AND the KEF 105 ( both in their 1st avtaars ). At that time these were Both Statement speakers, amongst the best that the market had to offer.

(I heard these on an Oracle TT with a Koetsu Red cartridge )

To me, the KEFs were accurate... and little else.... I think "clinical' would be a good description.

The B&Ws were warm ( and therefore less acurate ( ? ) but Far more involving and musical. I preferred the B&Ws....

A SUPERB comment in the Stereophile article is :

" the difference between Beauty & accuracy is not so clear cut. In all true beauty there is accuracy and in all true accuracy, there is beauty "

I also recall reading a signature line on some forum
" It aint nothing, if it aint got swing ! "

ohfourohnine's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:41pm
Re: Truth vs Beauty !

The foregoing Ellington quote was mine. Screwed up the sign-in. Sorry.

I didn't post it simply to be pedantic. My point is, the Ellington title itself swings.

gkc's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Feb 24 2006 - 11:51am
Re: Truth vs Beauty !

Yo, Ampnut -- yes, this is a great piece, because it focuses on the listening experience. Which is ultimately subjective, no matter how much we desire to quantify the experience, formulate it, and analyze it, or somehow control it by going from the abstract numbers back to the subjective experience. Thus, you have what I see as the companion piece (in the April issue), "Naughty but Nice," an objectivist's scientific attempt to translate the musical experience into an abstract metric and pin down the distortion element as a component of beauty. Was it the Brobdignagians (sorry, I don't have my Swift handy for a spell check) who tried to turn excrement back into food? Keith Howard, who I am sure is a very bright guy and may even be a music lover, takes recorded music, deliberately adds a synthesized (!) distortion component to it, listens to it through his headphones, and decides the music sounds worse distorted. Then he suggests (to his credit, he doesn't postulate, but merely suggests, by the tenor of the entire article) that all "euphonic" renditions of reproduced music fly in the face of the facts. Does this exercise in turning food into excrement and back again, by the numbers, REALLY get us any closer to why well-designed tubes sound better than "scientifically" superior transistors? He concludes that attempts to enhance "fidelity" by adding benign harmonics (Hiraga's contention, apparently) fly in the face of the cold numbers, and that may or may not be so, but was Hiraga talking about "fidelity" to the perceived experience of music (or beauty) or "fidelity" to some abstract metric?

Howard's final "proof" for his contention that there is no such thing as "euphonic distortion" comes from a SUBJECTIVE judgment conferred on his listening experience through headphones. I'm wondering, why waste the ink? If a component is reliable and sounds good (but measures badly, according to some abstract metric), I'll take it ANY day over one that sounds relatively less "beautiful" but measures well on the 'scope. THAT conundrum hasn't been solved by Mr. Howard or anyone else. Cheers and happy tunes. Clifton

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