Which do you prefer: A system that always creates beauty or one that can reveal the ugly truth?

Which do you prefer: A system that always creates beauty or one that can reveal the ugly truth?
I go for constant beauty
42% (122 votes)
I go for unvarnished truth
58% (167 votes)
Total votes: 289

Reader "dr.d" asks: "Is it better to have a decent system that allows all recordings to sound good, or to have a system that might make some not-so-hot recordings no fun to listen to?" What's your preference, a system that always creates beauty or one that can reveal the ugly truth?

ch2's picture

Beauty = Truth

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

If truth isn't beauty, why want it? If beauty isn't truth, why care? Can art be dishonest? Is it wrong to believe a beautiful lie?

Jason's picture

Unvarnished truth may ruin some recordings, but it gives worthy ones the chance to shine brighter than they would on a less-detailed system.

EP's picture

What is constant beauty? Is that warmth or coloration? I would not want a sytem that is colored, but I could accept one with a little warmth. However, I would have to go for the unvarnished truth so that properly-recorded music will sound true to the way I have always heard it to be. I want my system to have high resolution so that properly recorded-music will be revealed and not veiled to make it sound pretty. If it is properly recorded, the unvarnished truth will be a thing of constant beauty. You have to accept that poorly-recorded music is just poorly recorded music, why hide it?

Jason Stroud's picture

Let it rip.

John Atkinson's picture

The perfect system would do both, allowing you to hear the warts so clearly that you could then ignore them, just as you do in real life.

Gary Dayton's picture

A system that makes all recordings sound "good" is one that makes them all sound the same: blah.

Marcel's picture

Beauty means the system always stands in the way of the music and yourself.

jeff's picture

I want a system that is as transparent as possible that does not add or take away from the recording even though that means bad recordings sound bad. That also means a good-engineered recording will sound like what the artist intended with no coloration.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

Constant beauty? If you spend all the time listening to Debussy, well maybe? But electric guitars are not always supposed to be beautiful, and if it sounds ugly I think I ought to be able to hear that for myself. The truth matters.

Tim K's picture

Truth is for courtrooms and is inevitably a matter of perspective, anyway. Beauty is what soothes this savage beast.

Jeremy Close's picture

I'm paying the artists to show me their ideas of beauty. I don't want to impose one single view of beauty on all music.

Nick's picture

I used to go for constant beauty, then I realized what artifacts were being added by my colored LP12. I do try to strike a balance—for instance, buy a suspended turntable add an SME arm and then a really transparent Lyra cartridge. Works. Follow the mantra that mutts are healthier—mix and match to strike a nice balance, and you know you are on the right track. That is add a Krell in your system, just don't tilt to one particular brand.

C.  Healthgut, M.D., FACS's picture

This is a somewhat paradoxical question, in that, at some point, the two choices merge.

Chris H's picture

I want to hear what was recorded. If that means sometimes getting a dud, then so be it. Perhaps it will encourage producers to create higher quality recordings. God knows we need them!

Johannes Turunen, Sweden's picture

Beauty with kick and drama. Also, please tell me a system that makes all recordings sound good. I have some mid '80s heavy metal recordings that would benefit from such system. Anyone?

Pierre Gauthier's picture

Are you telling the truth, nothing but the truth, always the truth ? Amen

Jacques Raymond's picture

There is often beauty in the truth. The veneer has never been my thing.

macksman's picture

Better go for beauty 'cause truth isn't coming out of your stereo.

JL's picture

There's so many recordings I couldn't listen to if I heard "the truth." Thanks, engineers!

Rob Auld's picture

I would recommend to friends who are only average listeners to go with the first one—the constant beauty—in the hopes that they would listen more and enjoy the music. Then, when they come to my home, they can hear the true representation of those recordings and make their own decision. Once they love music, then they can become audiophiles.

Jim M's picture

If it sounds bad, I just don't play it.

Jim Dandy's picture

Go for true high fidelity. But be warned, the quality of the recording will be critical on such a system. It's like my old pappy once told me, "Garbage in, garbage out." So recording producers, engineers, & artists: Take heed!

Glenn Bennett's picture

I've finally decided to just listen to the music and enjoy it. It's important to have good components but listening to the music is what it's all about.

(The Original) John P.'s picture

I have owned both beauty-by-default and naked-truth audio systems, and my present system is somewhere between. I strongly prefer the naked truth type, because recordings that become much more enjoyable when revealed transparently outnumber lopsidedly those which become less enjoyable. Also, one of the worst remastered and manufactured CDs I have is a hodgepodge of romantic guitar works performed by Andres Segovia, and when I listen to it, I am nevertheless always thoroughly hypnotized by his artistry.

Jim Tavegia's picture

It seems like there are way too many marginal recordings to go with a purely analytical system unless you can go with the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Ayre Mono blocks, A C5-XE, and SME 20-12, and Some Wilsons. Then, all bets are off. Sadly, I will not get to go there anytime soon. Even I have a dream.....

m's picture

But with the ability to smooth off the edges when desired. Unlike the purists, I like well-designed tone controls that can be easily set flat or switched out for critical listening with good material. Sorry. Sometimes you just can't get the good stuff.

John Coyne's picture

I don't want the music manipulated at all. What's on the disc is what I want to hear.

djl's picture

I want to hear it all, good or bad. Usually a system that paints a soundstage in clear varnish, will have some recordings that shine like diamonds, and some not so shiny. Then it makes you treasure those recordings that do sound great!

Lick-T's picture

There is beauty in truth.