TWEAKS: Differences, improvements and wishful (self-delusory?) thinking – by Howard Popeck

A frequent question I receive is “Will I hear the difference?” My answer is simple. “How should I know?“

A bit curt you might think. At face value, it is. But if you look beneath the superficiality, my answer is both objective and rational, to say nothing of truthful. This is because I am not you and you are not me. A more considered approach might be for you to consider this truism.

“For something to be better, it HAS to be different. However if something is different, that’s no guarantee it WILL be better!”

So here’s what I do when I’m evaluating a new accessory:

For myself, rather than as a retailer – such as a power cord – or in fact any change to any of my systems. I say to myself …

I KNOW this change is going to make a difference – and so the questions I must ask myself are these:

Q1  Can I hear that difference?

Q2  Is it merely different, or better?

Q3  If better, in what way? For example, is the bass tauter, or the vocals clearer, or the dynamics more credible? It’s no good being vague about this.

Q4  Can I repeat this experiment at some other time and get a similar result? Probably the most important question.

Q5  If yes to the above 2 questions, is it really worth the money?

Err – that’s it.

Choosing to stock it

At Stereonow, my approach is pretty similar to the above, but with a change of emphasis because now I’m looking at it through the eyes of a potential customer.

Q6  Is the extent and nature of this improvement related directly to the combination of items in the system at that time, or might it have a more general application in other systems?

Q7  At the retail price, does it offer reasonable value for the end-user?

Q8  Can I afford to offer a buy-without-risk / Sale-or-Return facility to the end user?

Err – that’s it.

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