Paul McGowan: Most high-end audio systems are very personal because they are hand assembled by the owner. Rarely are any two alike and that’s kind of what makes this sport fun. But if dealers sold pre-assembled “cookie cutter” systems that the owner did not personalize, would they still be high-end?
I believe so. I believe high-end has more to do with the sonic experience – achieving the you-are-there sensation that gives all of us goose bumps – than with individualizing the setup.
The argument can be made that in order to qualify as high-end our systems should be hand matched to our individual tastes. This notion is easily discounted whenever you sit down in front of a “guest” high-end setup – perhaps at an audio show or a friend’s home.
I am strongly in favor of dealers and magazines pushing the cookie cutter system approach to get people into our community. That doesn’t mean I want to push aside people’s enthusiasm for individualizing their systems.
How you create something is less important than what you create.