The Perfect is the Enemy of The Good

I was recently responding in a thread on Facebook about the false god of Audio Purism, which demands technical fealty to the original signal as the ideal.

So I likened that attitude to an idea about food, and replied to someone named Stefano, the following snarky retort:

"Stefano - that one would even think to put salt and pepper on a steak is sinful enough, but the original sin was to cook it in the first place! By the time it hits your plate, destroyed by heat and changed by salt and pepper ... it is no longer a steak at all."


He didn't seem to get it, so I followed up with the following:

"The only point I suppose I'm trying to make is simply this: the object of cooking a steak is to evoke pleasure in the person eating it - not to convey the pure flavor of the living cow/steer.

In the same way, the most important objective in our discipline is to evoke pleasure in the listener. These discussions around technical purism are irrelevant, except for those measuring by technical yardsticks. This isn't a Science Fair ... if no one buys your perfectly measuring doodad because they aren't able to enjoy the sound, you only demonstrate a valiant and pure way to go out of business.

So each of us as manufacturers will have our own philosophies about how things should be done, and these philosophies are different between different designers. This is why we have such a great variety of products in the market employing various technologies. My job as a designer is to be true to my own philosophies.

But the job of the customer is to find those things that sing to the heart. Ultimately music is something that exists beyond mere sounds. So in the same way that we choose music based upon the way in which it resonates sympathetically with our emotions and spirit, we build audio systems. There is no deep value in a system that projects sounds in clinically "perfect" ways if that projection doesn't convey meaning and induce deep connections between the music and the listener.

Even the notion of "perfect" is imperfect. Who can know what "perfect" is, anyway? It takes a perfect person ...

It seems to me that the most pervasive error we make when pursuing Audio Purism is simply that we confuse the container for the content, and thereby impose generally irrelevant conditions in order to force music to conform to our (arbitrarily derived) rules about signal propagation."

And there it is: We confuse the container for the content.

As a designer, I have some design philosophies that propel my efforts. I've been increasing my understanding over these last ca: 30 years, and along the way I have been evolving my philosophy governing my approach to cable design.

If there were a single, technically perfect way to design anything in the audio world at all, we would have no need for such diversity of approaches. This diversity is evidence that the popular notion of Perfection as a clinical, technical idea - is a myth.

Though I or others may be pursuing certain technical ideas, and these ideas form the basis for the development of our products, these ideas and approaches are diverse ... and yet each of them contributes to the musical delight of different people in different ways.

Nothing is perfect. Not even our ideas of Perfection are perfect. Let's not let the idea of Perfect be the enemy of the actually Good. 

Because oftentimes the Good is really, really, really good.