Howard Popeck (Stereonow Ltd) feels no shame in saying ‘I just don’t know’

I read recently the following: “I think most died-in-the-wool audiophiles have two distinct goals:

  1. We want a system that bathes us in glorious, unadulterated sonic bliss that washes away our troubles and soothes us emotionally and inspires us intellectually and….
  2. We want a system that’s as true as possible to the live performance.

As owner of Stereonow and previous hifi businesses I've confronted this myself in discussion with customers. Moreover it’s an internal dialogue I have with myself from time to time. I'm never lonely inside my head!

I can rarely recall situations where such laudable and reasonable aspirations coincided. They were usually consecutive and rarely concurrent. This then, arguably, is the core problem.

I’d like to be able to tell you that my vote is to strive for accuracy i.e. the best recordings will always supersede a system that consistently sounds good with all or most sources. Well, truth be told, sometimes with me it is and sometimes it isn’t.

I compromise; I also prefer a system that sounds good, but recognise that the industry itself must have some kind of standard to evolve it in a positive direction; a benchmark if you like. I might be lacking in imagination but as far as I can rationalise this, the only standard we have now, as flawed as it is, would be the live performance.

If you care about such matters then you might want to internally debate the conundrum – do I want accuracy or emotionally inspiring – given that even with state-of-the-art equipment I can rarely achieve both. As for me, I just don’t know.

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