Do you scoff at audio fashion?
Roger Skoff does:
The full piece can be read at Positive Feedback."LP recordings CAN sound better than their digital successors or counterparts; tubes can certainly make for great-sounding electronics; and horns (still except for deep bass) can be wonderful and thoroughly exciting speakers. I even own a pair that images! The problem is not that people are using and enjoying these things; it's that the form seems now to have surpassed the function in importance.You've seen it yourself, with people on the Internet showing pictures of vast pretty glass bottles, the size of a small fish tank that turn out to be exotic, hideously expensive and largely irreplaceable, RF transmitting tubes, and asking if they might not make a nice amplifier. Or the never-ending parade of ever more baroque, grandiose, complicated, and viciously expensive turntables, tonearms, and phono cartridges—including, now, a super deluxe and pricey cartridge just for MONO! Or the horns: What a truly amazing array of ever larger, ever weirder, and ever more costly horns we are treated to every day; made of thousand-year-old wood or other materials equally strange and exotic.Don't they understand that tubes are just devices more or less suited to the task they are set to perform, and that some designers, notably Tim de Paravicini, use both tubes and solid-state, where and as appropriate, with equal facility? Don't they know that it's possible for an LP playback system to not look like it was designed by Rube Goldberg's rich uncle and still sound good? Don't they know that it's the shape, size, and length of a horn that determines how well it works, and that exotic materials aren't likely to improve it, but could very well, by adding spurious resonances, make it worse.All of these things and many more seem to me to be like long hair on a musician: If it's worn for style or beauty or—for marketing purposes—to make a memorable impression, then GOOD! Go for it! But if it's intended somehow to make a real improvement, that's not likely: How well you play is how well you play, regardless of what your hair looks like.It's the same for High-End audio: If what we're after is looks, or a membership card, or bragging rights, any of those things are fine with me. I love 'em all and want every one! But, just as with a musician's long hair, I really shouldn't expect any of them to make my system sound better!"