a disclaimer

Everybody's got a disclaimer : a legal one.

Here is an intellectual one.

Throughout this site I have tried to be thorough, but I must admit it's flawed. There are numerous omissions. There is over simplification. There is duplication and a scatter of opinions. It is all unavoidable. To include everything and eliminate simplification would take hundreds of pages. In order to avoid repetition and opinion it would require countless awkward cross links and omniscience. On top of this, there is perhaps nothing on this site that couldn't be debated. I have tried to examine every point of view and collect abundant amounts of solid, verifiable information before carefully distilling it down into its current compact form. (And I apologize for not referencing every source.)

It should be obvious that the emphasis here is on objectivity. Although, let's not forget the limitations of objective, empirical science, and that in the end, audio comes down to how it sounds. Everyone of us listens differently, to different aspects of sound & music, and in different ways. Our hearing/listening is subjective, but no matter how I hear, or how you hear, the source we use as the standard of reference, live acoustic music, is the same. We all recognize live sound instantly, no matter how our hearing differs.

Scientific theories do not take our subjectivity into consideration. They reduce and simplify the phenomena of our world in order to help make things more easily understood within the limits of human cognition. This fault, along with a good dose of arrogance and over confidence, often leads to misguided orthodoxy. These stumbling blocks often throw a blanket of suspicion over science, a distrust of objectivity, and a conflation of cause & effect with subjectivity. We must be diligent at keeping a watchful eye for the failures and limitations of science, and our own intellect. At the same time, we must not let those failures be cause to dismiss what is in fact well established, or to off handedly throw out what doesn't fit our own personal views. Reverting back to primitive superstition and mysticism solely based on what science has yet to explain is not prudent. And yet a direct, unswerving, skeptical outlook on science is an indispensably necessary counterbalance.

Yet again, skepticism is the most important ally of science. Without it we'd still be in the Dark Ages. Science relies on consistent, replicable results, time after time, by anyone, anywhere. This is how science validates its conclusions. The greatest attribute of science is the scientific method : the organized, systematic, replicable means for the confirmation of knowledge, and the disconfirmation or revision of knowledge through the critical application of a self-correcting feedback mechanism when presented with newly substantiated facts. No other form of thought, philosophy or world view applies these crucial methods to the same stringent standards. By this method, science has the tolerance to stand up to the challenge of skepticism. I encourage everyone who reads this site to systematically question, challenge and revaluate all that is presented.

Despite the flaws and the repetition, I strongly recommend reading the entire site as it is all interconnected and each page reinforces others. Most important to read are the Principles & Priorities page and the Types of Distortion page.

— Sidetrack —

I grew up with vacuum tubes and vinyl at a time when high fidelity audio was just starting to hit its stride. Specialty shops were popping up everywhere to bring the wonderful new world of high fidelity to Main Street. Their success was bolstered by the advent of stereo, both FM broadcast and stereo LPs, first introduced in the late 1950s. Transistors and stereo retained their hot & new status through most of the '60s. (Technology moved a bit slower then.) This drove turntable technology to develop right along side. Preamp and amp separates were the only respectable way to go. (Probably had more to do with size, weight and heat dissipation than sound quality.) As tubes aged, the need occasionally arose for pulling them out of their chassis, shuffling off to the electronics store and checking each, one at a time, on the tester to find the bad one(s). This trip for buying another replacement tube became a routine, sometimes only a few months apart. Add to that routine the drill of LP handling, the bulk and weight, the cleaning, good pressings and bad pressings. Never, never, never would I loan an LP to anyone for fear they wouldn't properly care for my precious records, or that their turntable was inferior and would cause undue wear or damage. (Forbid they play my LP with a sapphire needle at a tracking weight measured in ounces rather than grams.) I even had a Tandberg reel-to-reel which was used almost exclusively to record the LPs I wanted to listen to frequently so they could be kept like new. (When I finally sold my LP collection, most were in pristine condition.) I didn't get my first transistor amp, a receiver no less, until 1981. Didn't buy a CD player until ten years after that. The early years of transistors and digital, as with all new technologies, had bugs that needed to be worked out of their systems. (It took well over half a century for records to go from wax cylinders to 78s to stereo LPs, a couple of decades for transistors to surpass tubes, then only a few years for digital to get its wrinkles ironed out and high resolution formats to appear.)

For those who have fun jumping through the hoops of anachronistic technologies, I do understand. The frustrating, yet irresistible challenge of getting everything just right is great fun. The anticipation of reaching for a distant idyllic goal and the thrill of seeing how far you can take it can be captivating. And since there's always something bigger, better, newer, the chase never ends.

By 1991 I had set all (almost all) the tail chasing aside. For me, it's not about playing with the gear or the next mile marker to reach. (That's only one side of audiophilia.) The struggle is no fun any more, rather, it's a distraction from the ultimate goal : discovering new music.

See the Discover page.

p.s. The renaissance of vinyl is quite ironic. LPs were designed for mass market distribution, for low cost, high volume sales aimed at consumer convenience and corporate profit, not high fidelity. Reel to reel tape was the real hi-fi medium of the age. Funny how a few decades of memory loss flip-flops a vulgar consumer grade product into haute technologie.

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