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?

Yiangos's picture

Why would anyone opt for an "utltra revealing" system,when music isn't recorded perfectly? This would limit my music only to audiophile recordings.

KLAX's picture

I am too tired to find the right cables for revealing systems.

Judicata's picture

Recordings should be good—we shouldn't rely on equipment to make up for poor recording. On the other hand, it is nice to have both so you can bear to listen to otherwise unbearable recordings.

Doug Bowker's picture

Unvarnished truth would, in my opinion create beautiful music most of the time. Sometimes recordings are glaringly bad, though if I love the music itself, I'll just suck it up and deal. If a system makes my old punk albums sound as pretty as a Bach suite, I'm not interested!

FB's picture

What about having one of each? In a pinch I would pick constant beauty if I can't have two systems.

Jason's picture

The measure of a system should be how well it makes your worst recording sound. How many of you would prefer your woman without makeup, your food without spices, herbs and condiments, your home with interior decoration? Beauty enhances every aspect of life. Why should audio be any different? There is, however, no denying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Jim's picture

Beauty is subjective and can change over time. Platform shoes, anyone?

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA.'s picture

Perhaps a compromise between the two is in order in a less than perfect world.

westcoastman's picture

I would prefer to listen to all my recordings and not have any that were no fun to listen to.

John Paul, Noo Zillund's picture

Out of respect for the artists, you must go for the truth. Many instruments do not always sound sweet & lovely as the artist/ composer will express the whole range of human emotions via their works. All which, respectfully, must come through any decent high fidelity system.

Bret's picture

I like to hear everything a recording has to reveal about a piece of music. Truth is better than beauty.

Cesar De Sousa's picture

I'd like to know what's there, for better or worse. The truth is, I can't afford a super-revealing system anyways, so I'm getting some form of veiled beauty. As the saying goes, "the grass is always greener on the other side." I'm sure if I had a megabuck, super revealing system, my opinion may change. But, for now, the truth shall set you free! I wonder how many more cliches I can fit here...

Mark's picture

For me, a beautiful system reveals the strengths of a recording without adding undue emphasis in the high and low frequencies. It also maintains good dynamic range. However no system can make up for the deficits of a bad recording. While some hardware may "cover up" the faults they also have trouble revealing the strengths of a good recording. This is true if a system is geared for "truth" or "beauty." However, if you want Truth and Beauty, visit Steve Roach dot com. It's a good album.

Swedesound's picture

Truth or as close as I can get to it. Lesser recordings might not sound as good, but they are far from unlistenable on a revealing system. It becomes more a state of mind than anything. If I know the recording is sub-par, then I can excuse it on some levels. But if a recording sounds good only because my system has made it sound better because of some shortcoming or oversight, then it's harder for me to excuse it. Why not strive for a revealing AND musically satisfying system. Hardly mutually exclusive, at least from where I sit.

craig's picture

Truth is beauty.

Reid Bogie's picture

Once I have that, I like either to: A) appreciate it as-is, or B) use other equipment to "improve" the sound.

Skellum's picture

The truth is, not every recording is beautiful. Give me the truth of performance, I'll take it from there.

Jared Gerlach's picture

Having had both, I prefer a system which lies a little, but not a lot. Analytical sound is fine with terrific recordings, but I find that it limits what I want to listen to. A system that softens harsh recordings a bit allows me to listen to a broader variety of music for a longer time without fatigue.

Pradeep's picture

I will be happy with a system which reproduces the source without adding its own color.

Ken's picture

I like to know what's actually been recorded. Then I can choose to listen or not listen, to "modify" the sound, etc.

Aaron, TX's picture

Trick question. A well-balanced system reveals the flaws of a recording, but does it in such a way as to not hit the listener over the head and distract them from the music. Yes, it is possible.

OvenMaster's picture

Truth, please.

Dylan's picture

I wish the unvarnished truth would always be constant beauty.

daryl, winnipeg's picture

I look for the truth in the recording released by the arist. If they released a badly produced album, then that is their failing.

R.P.'s picture

I want the truth even if it hurts. After all, I work as a tester for a major player in the industry and though I don't work with the actual sound-quality tests I'm one of the guys giving a input based on wanting utter truth while others may want some coloring on some products.

Dr.  Haja Andrianasolo's picture

We listen to music to get enthralled and moved, I hope, not to dissect gear. Better anyway to get both "constant beauty through unvarnished truth."

Noy's picture

As a sound engineer I'd like to enjoy the production and studio work as well as the music.

Dimitris Gogas's picture

Normally, I ask for the truth. However, these days I find myself deep in the CDO mess, so I think I'll go for beauty.

Chris's picture

Great question. I find that I've always preferred higher quality recordings, so I guess I side with the "unvarnished truth" crowd. I know that there are some good records out there that, had they only been engineered well, would be absolute joy to listen to, but, because they sound like nails on a chalkboard, I don't get the pleasure from them and just don't listen to them.

John P's picture

90% of my music is not "audiophile approved" and I have heard some of it on ultra revealing systems. Give me a kit that makes beautiful music and its sins only of omission.