WHY: It’s why so many legitimate reviews of equipment today express an opinion on sound and ignore the details of performance!

PS AUDIO / Paul McGowan

And continuing our thought from a recent post, only this time in reverse, isn’t it obvious that just because something has all the right stuff it doesn’t necessarily qualify as great itself? And doesn’t this observation help explain one of the age old mysteries in audio about how something can measure great and sound poor?

How many times have we all struggled to understand how a loudspeaker can measure flat, have great efficiency and technology and yet sound unlike music? How many times have we seen a piece of electronics measure with remarkably low distortion, perfect frequency response, transient response, all the right elements, yet fail to make music?

Great products are entities unto themselves. You can’t judge a book simply because it’s filled with many great words.

The words together have to mean something. Just like the elements within a product have to work together.

It’s why so many legitimate reviews of equipment today express an opinion on sound and ignore the details of performance.

It’s the whole that matters.

I am mindlessly working out at the gym on the elliptical trainer, watching the many TV’s and there it appeared. Out of nowhere. I nearly fell off the machine. It was an ad for The Wolf Of Wall Street, proclaiming it’s been nominated for Best Picture. This in the face of actually having watched the film and deciding it os one of the worst films I have ever seen. That really got me because I am normally not that far off the mark. I mean, this film is really bad.

But I got to thinking about how anyone could have nominated such tripe for best anything and it occurred to me this happens a lot, even in our industry. It happens when all the elements are good but they don’t add together to make something great (or even good). The reviewer focuses on all the good elements but misses the big picture.

When I dissect the film it’s full of good elements: acting, visuals, directing. But together they don’t add up to anything that’s worth existing as a whole. Like taking a handful of great food ingredients, mixing them together into something awful. Individually each item is great, together they don’t work.

When I dissect a bad audio product I can usually identify multiple great attributes: great power, bass, quiet. But sometimes taken as a whole they simply don’t work together.

Making a great film, food or audio product requires great ingredients. But those ingredients don’t together always add up to something great.

Great products exist not necessarily because of the quality of their elements, but more importantly, how those elements are put together.

Paul McGowan

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