BLOG #68. Would You Go for a “Mountain”, Or Are You Content with Just a “Molehill”?

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BLOG #68. Would You Go for a “Mountain”, Or Are You Content with Just a “Molehill”?

There is an old Soviet joke.

“A man comes to pick up his bespoke two-piece suit from a tailor.

When he tries the trousers, one trouser leg is too long. In response, the tailor says to the customer, “Please, bend your leg at knee”. The customer bends his leg and the trousers’ length on that leg becomes perfect.

Then the customer tries the jacket and it’s also got some problems: one sleeve is too long, and the front part of it is shorter than the back side. So, the tailor instructs the customer to bend the longer sleeve hand at its elbow and to bend over his torso forward. The customer follows all the instructions and the jacket lengths from all sides become as they should be.

So, the guy goes out to the street and continues to walk in such a crooked pose when two women pass him by.

One of them says to the other, “Poor guy! How terrible it must be to be crippled like that!”.

And the other lady replies, “But look at his suit’s fit! It is absolutely perfect! And look at the suit’s buttons – they are just gorgeous!”.


In my opinion, the joke is about, first, how a shabby job can be aggravated by an irresponsible attempt to further fool the goofy customer, second, it’s also about how distorted the public response to the deception can be, and, finally, how gullible and vulnerable some of the customers can be either.


As in every consumer industry, very similar scenarios would occasionally unravel on the scene of high performance portable audio trade.

Although, as a rule, all the “actors” are completely unaware of what’s going on, and nobody feels that some offences could have taken place.

For instance, if we would take the class of audiophile ear monitors, their currently applied typical fundamental design principles simply would not allow even the highest aspirations products to achieve “the best it can be” sound quality, and even if these products would use, actually, some of the highest grade components available:


https://stereopravda.com/blog/93/


Nevertheless, quite a few top tier audiophile earphone manufacturers insist on using such compromised design principles to build their products because the techniques would allow them to strike a path of the least resistance. They can get away with all the compromises due to the fact that such “well proven” IEMs design methods are in full compliance with all the current customers’ expectations and are readily taken by them for granted.
You can’t help but to think here about that gullible two-piece suit customer from that joke above who took for granted all the absurd tailor’s instructions in those Soviet times, infamous for the shabbiness of consumer products during that period.

Because the distortions of the fundamental principles of obtaining “the-best-it-can-be” IEMs’ sound quality lie outside of awareness for the vast majority of the laymen customers, the latter are easily manipulated and will eagerly accept all the most compromised well-established IEMs solutions at their declared face value.

Even if we would allow the personal comfort as the top priority for some IEMs designs (that is when their sound quality is consciously sacrificed for achieving the highest possible level of personal comfort), then even the most established suchlike design solutions, nevertheless, quite often seem to “fall between two chairs”. On the one hand, compared to a rare breed of sonically non-compromised products, they obviously lack in their sonic department, but, on the other, an adequate level of comfort is also never guaranteed.

For instance, I am constantly disappointed at the typical level of ear monitors’ both comfort and isolation. As a rule, when I am auditioning the vast majority of best earphones at the trade shows, I should always hold the earphones with my fingers at a certain position, so they would stay where they are supposed to stay, and so that my ear canals would stay permanently sealed (again, striking a pose not unlike the one the poor “two-piece suit guy” from the joke above struck).


Our company, StereoPravda, has been always driven in our activities by the “absolute” sound quality priority bar none, and when we would use an expression “no pain, no gain”, obviously, we would not mean the word “pain” in its literal sense of physical pain. The expression is used by us to instigate our customers to reconsider a value of historically happened “conventional” solutions and to invest some additional (psychological and physical adjustment) personal efforts via an application of the products provided by the some of the “off-the-beaten-tracks” manufacturers, ourselves included.

Of course, with a corresponding reward of arriving at much better sound quality.
At the same time, despite some obvious sonic flaws in quite a few of the IEMs and CIEMs technologies currently used in production of the best ear monitors, the vast majority of the manufacturers seem to not mind to “beat up the same old (technological) horses” over and over again. A very limited choice of those “conventional” IEMs/CIEMs technologies and a lack of any new developments lead the top tier earphone industry into a cul-de-sac of its current saturation point, which, in its turn, eventually lead to the insipid homogeneity of the whole segment of the market.

Instead of trying to implement some new technologies on a wider scale to attract some new customers, for the last many years, the high performance earphone industry continues to strike its path of the least resistance, which is to continue to “up-sale” its old devoted “enthusiast” customer base with some very similar, although more and more expensive, “well-proven” solutions. Even despite fully accepted within the audiophile community “The Law of Diminishing Returns” dictum, the constantly escalating price tags for, actually, the same level of sound quality seem to drive the industry to the very edge of that acceptance.

To deal with the customers’ growing disappointment over the constant price/performance ratio increases, especially, at the top tier of the market, the high performance portable audio industry attracted a whole arsenal of “smoke screens and mirrors” promotion tricks. Which are mainly intended to help to justify some drastic price differentiations within, actually, a bland homogeneity of quite narrow range of sound quality over the whole scope of the proposition.

The same promotion methods are also used to support a whole multitude of various aftermarket products. As all the latter don’t challenge the basic design principles of the “core” products but, on the opposite, fully depend on the latter to stay the same as long as possible, all these “modifications” and all sorts of “snake oil” products help to “lubricate” and preserve the industry’s current status quo.


The high performance earphone industry’s current status quo is based on an algorithm which is the result of the saturation point it reached after following the path of the least resistance for so many years. This algorithm is based on the constant attempts of all its participants to shift the customers’ attention from some new or “unconventional” IEMs’ design principles, whose implementation would yield the most significant positive returns in the sound quality, to the design principles which are “well proven” but whose positive sonic yield is much less significant. To reduce visibility of such new- and “well forgotten”- type technologies and to decrease the perception of the stagnation in the industry, quite considerable over exaggerations – if not mystifications – to dramatize the constantly diminishing scale of relatively insignificant sonic differences between various (although, pretty much the same) “conventional” products are being used. These blown out of all proportions messages are packed, sealed and delivered to all the potential customers via different formats of either some (pseudo-) technical babble, made out of thin air colorful prose, or just pure entertainment reading (to each its own).

Some of that “objective” technical stuff can sound fairly convincing “on paper” but, even if true in some isolated cases, the vast majority of audiophile customers are technically illiterate and, therefore, will never be able to relate to it, however barely. Therefore, to justify a relevance of any insignificant sonic phenomena to the portable audiophile community - which is very easily susceptible to all sorts of predominant phobias, anxieties and obsessions due to the general lack of mindfulness on its members’ part regarding the fundamental personal reasons for this hobby - a particular mentality of “making mountains out of molehills” is deliberately cultivated within it.


Now, I would like to give a few examples of some of the most “significant” IEMs design principles, which would yield the biggest sonic returns. They almost never mentioned as such during all sorts of public discourses on the earphone design. While at StereoPravda, we would use them as our main guiding principles to develop all our current ear monitors.

As the earphone top-tier segment is represented predominantly by devices relied upon application of “bellows”-type drivers (of Balanced Armature- and/or Electro-Static- nature), most likely due to their most miniature physical dimensions, all further elaborations here are intended to be applied to suchlike products.

So, here we are,

- a principle of concrete positioning of IEMs’ drivers in relations to the distance from their outlets to the tympanic membrane is a very significant IEMs’ design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: due to the “bellows”-type divers’ inherent sound radiation properties, not to mention some other obvious reasons, the closer the distance, the better);

- a principle of concrete positioning of the front line of IEMs’ tip acoustic isolation within an ear canal is a very significant IEMs’ design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: again, the deeper the line resides within an ear canal, the closer it is located to its Second Bend, and the smaller “the trapped operational volume of air” is, the better);

- a principle of taking some additional efforts to diminish the ear canals’ “occlusion effect” is a very significant IEMs’ design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: the front line of acoustic isolation within an ear canal should be at the maximum depth, as the deeper it is the less pronounced the “occlusion effect” becomes; also, we use some special tricks for the earphone tips’ design to ensure a good seal and a proper earphone physical orientation at that “optimal” position);

- a principle of “all-along-a-common-axis” for all the drivers’ radiation patterns used in IEMs is a very significant IEMs’ design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: each driver’s axises should be as parallel towards a common “axis” as only possible, and that common “axis” should be as parallel to “the main sound propagation axis within the ear canal” as possible, too);

- a principle of minimizing as much as possible the negative effect of sound tubes’ distortion on the drivers’ sound propagation is a very significant IEMs’ design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: within the context of typical multi-driver IEMs’ overall physical dimensions, the shorter the sound tubes’ length, and the wider their diameter, the better; the ideal situation would be to get rid of the sound tubes on some (front positioned) “key” drivers completely at all);

- a principle of total absence of any barrier acoustic filtering is a very significant design IEMs’ principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: a complete absence of such filters – please, see below);

- a principle of using simplistic techniques to achieve the “optimality” for all the earphone drivers’ and their arrays’ electrical loads with the “single way” amplification is a very significant IEMs’ design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: instead of using complex passive crossover networks, adequate implementations of which is absolutely impossible under “portable” conditions, we use just an “optimal” set of matching resistors, and the simpler this “optimality” is realized, the better, although the simplicity’s level of execution should be as high as possible);

- a principle of separate “active” multi-way earphone amplification with a choice of separate “in-band” adjustments is a very significant multi-driver IEMs’ design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: only this approach allows you “to have your cake and to eat it”, i.e. to preserve both the earphones’ resolution, and their widest frequency band operation alone the whole dynamic envelop of the music signal);

- and finally, a principle of constant embrace of all the most promising up and coming relevant new technologies, like, all sorts of DSP personalization applications, inflatable “bubble”-tip “active” or “passive” technologies, etc. -  is, definitely, also a very significant up-to-date IEMs design principle (a corresponding StereoPravda principle: we are constantly experimenting with such technologies to implement them in our products).


More details on the above can be found in one of our video presentations:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK9w8LdMG5U&t


The main common thread in the above list of the very significant IEMs design principles is that they are all about the most fundamental issue, namely, about various aspects of objectively the most congruent way to couple an earphone’s overall acoustic radiation to the objective human hearing mechanisms. A maximum compliance with this congruence is, actually, an objective basic necessary condition to achieve “the best-it-can-be” sound quality.

A sharp focus of a photo camera to capture a good quality image, or a perfect positioning of a pair of loudspeakers within a listening room towards the listener to achieve the best stereo effect are also examples of such objectively congruent methods of coupling between a system output and its intended recipient (in this case, the camera’s image sensor or the listener’s ears). The objective quality of such a coupling would most critically determine the end result of a given technology’s application.

Obviously, fulfilling an objective necessary condition of tightly focusing a camera or properly setting up a pair of speakers should precede fulfilling all the other sufficient – and subjective - conditions for optimizing either the optical, or the sound image qualities.

And, in this exact sense, I consider the IEMs design principles to achieve the objectively congruent musical image coupling between ear monitors’ sound radiation and our hearing apparatus of such an uppermost priority.

That is why, in the same sense, I would treat the applications of these objective IEMs design principles as the most significant in terms of their contribution to the overall sound quality.


Incidentally, the same way, a necessary condition for a two-piece suit to be considered as “the-best-it-can-be” is to reach objectively the most congruent “coupling” of it to the concrete customer’s body – that is, to get the best fit. While even the complete fulfillment of all the subjective sufficient conditions to arrive at the perfection, which would involve the selection of the best textiles, most fabulous buttons, and all the rest, would definitely follow in its significance to the main priority of such a flawless fit.


While the examples of these most significant objective IEMs design principles are almost never mentioned, all the secondary (and relatively less significant) subjective earphone design principles are given all the attention, both in the specialized media, and at the portable audio Internet forums.

However, because these two kinds of design principles exist in uncorrelated with each other dimensions of a top notch implementation  – within its objective necessary conditions’ domain vs within its subjective sufficient conditions’ one – any implementations of the secondary IEMs design principles will never be able to completely correct the deficiencies in the implementations of the top priority ones. And, of course, vice versa too.


Next, I’d like to give a few examples of those “less significant” audiophile IEMs design principles, which, to additionally emphasize their subordinate status, I would call here “sub-principles”. No comments here, as after implementing in one way or another an earphone’s construction aspects related to the domain of the most significant objective IEMs design principles listed above, further ways of much less significant IEMs design principles’ implementations in it would become no more than just a matter of some subjective personal preferences.

So,

-  a principle of defining a concrete earphones’ driver complements and concrete driver arrays’ physical configurations is a less significant IEMs’ design sub-principle;

- a principle of defining concrete electric and acoustic loadings configurations is a less significant design sub-principle;

- a principle of defining concrete (“seamless”) crossover circuitry configurations is a less significant IEMs’ design sub-principle.


Finally , considering how highly sensitive our human hearing mechanisms are, there are some “even less significant” IEMs’ design principles, which should be put even lower at the earphones’ design priorities list. Correspondingly, I will call them here “infra-sub-principles” (no comments here, either).

For example,

-  a principle of defining concrete sound tube material is an even less significant IEMs design infra-sub-principle;

- a principle of defining a concrete cableware to be used is an even less significant IEMs’ design infra-sub-principle (with some notable exceptions, like, our joint venture with Chris Sommovigo of Black Cat Cables; why is it so? - it’s another story);

- a principle of defining a particular type of solder to be used is an even less significant IEMs’ design infra-sub-principle.

Lastly, at the very bottom of the whole list of IEMs sonic design priorities should lie a priority of a concrete solution for an earphone’s outer body design. Actually, it should be one of the very least significant IEMs’ design infra-sub-principles – the body’s form should just functionally follow the “content” of the earphone innards, that’s it (the very plain body of Etymotic Research “ER-4” earphone, which started the whole premium IEMs’ game thirty years ago, is a very good example of latter concept).


To use again that “two-piece suit” analogy, a sonic contribution from implementations of the most significant IEMs design principles should be analogous to the contribution to a desired suit “look” from implementations of the main principles of how to achieve that “perfect fit” for it. The less significant IEMs design sub-principles’ sonic contribution should be analogues in significance to the contribution from choosing the principles of how “seamlessly” execute a suit in full compliance with those “perfect fit” concepts (the algorithms for a choice of a main textile, cut out and sewing techniques included). Then the “suit” equivalent of even less significant IEMs design infra-sub-principles sonic contributions should be the significance of the contributions from all the principles of choosing all the auxiliary materials and the principles of their implementations within the whole scheme of things (like, lining, pads, etc.). And, finally, in terms of the overall sonic significance, an earphone body implementation’s sonic contribution should be analogous to the contribution to the overall two-piece suit “look” from a particular style of buttons sewn to it.

It’s such a shame that, for a sole reason of constant appeal to some customers’ overblown vanity, the top priority in allocating a concrete IEMs’ overall design and production budgets is usually given to the looks of the IEMs’ bodies. Correspondingly, as a rule, a significant chunk of the earphones’ manufacturing time, effort and cost is to be routinely wasted, paradoxically, on a total equivalent of one of the least significant and least expensive parts to be used in clothes manufacturing.


All in all, my main point here is to try to attract the attention of the readers to the proper hierarchy of IEMs design principles, sub-principles and infra-sub-principles, in terms of their priorities derived from the significance of their respective sonic contributions to the overall ear monitors’ sound quality.

More details of my rationale behind this ranging of the IEMs design principles and my arguments regarding how that significance would organize a corresponding order of the engineering design priorities, can be found here:


https://stereopravda.com/blog/108/


In other words, my point here is to warn against “putting the (rearward) carts before the (front-line) horses”.

It would be useless to start to tune a pair of loudspeaker while they still sit barely unpacked in a corridor on the way to the listening room, or to rush to process a photo image before a sharply focused picture is taken. The same way, any attempts to “voice” an earphone before its sound radiation is properly coupled to our “objective” hearing mechanisms would never yield “the best it can be” sound quality.

Or, to use an analogy provided by that old Soviet joke above one more time, it would be a complete waste of your time and efforts to even try to correct a badly inadequate suit fit via an upgrade of its textile, fly on the trousers or a style of the buttons. And even if the latter would be “the very best” ones, meticulously made out of sterling silver or gold.


However, infamous for its close mindedness dedicated audio community constantly delivers endless examples of the opposite: how some superficial attempts to reach sonic Nirvana via striking a path of relatively insignificant endless serial quality upgrades would go completely astray.

Here’s an example of the latter.


A few days ago, I ran across a pair of Etymotic Research “ER-4” ear monitors equipped with an aftermarket audiophile silver cable (configured for the earphone’s “P” version).

It happened to be my first chance to listen to these IEMs in a few years.
Being always a huge fan of the Etymotics, I was really taken aback by the fact, that, compared to our StereoPravda SPearphone “SB-3.5”, which I had with me, this time, the sound of “ER-4P” seemed to me overwhelmingly indistinct,
constricted and veiled, with excessively fuzzy and overblown musical images.

The described difference was far from being subtle; it was a fairly dramatic one.

I’ve got a great deal of respect for the venerable “ER-4S” as they were my main original influence at the very beginning of my interest to portable audio more than a quarter of century ago, but, it seems that now, since that period of my first enchantment with them, “I’ve come a long way (, baby)”…


Here are my thoughts about the reasons why there was such a dramatic sonic difference between the “ER-4P” and the “SB-3.5”.

The former’s relative “indistinct” sound character seemed to come from the fact that “ER-4P” isolated my ear canals at their very entrance, so the ear canals’ occlusion effect was much more pronounced compared to “SB-3.5”, which isolate them much deeper, in the vicinity of their “Second Bend” (this is where their moniker “SB-” comes from). That “ER-4P”’s elevated occlusion’s “boomingness” created a feeling that the sound is “indistinct” and the same “boomingness” overblew the size of all the perceived musical images via our another hearing mechanism – of “masking” the high frequencies by the over exaggerated low ones.
Then, the “ER-4P”’s single BA-driver design really constricted the dynamics of the musical signal compared to the StereoPravda SPearphone “SB-3.5”’s four BA-driver array construction (in which the drivers represent all three main families of the Knowles “hi-fi”-ready “receivers”). The effect was exacerbated by much longer distance from the “ER-4P” BA-driver to the tympanic membrane than from the front “key” “naked” BA-driver to it in our case. That was another significant reason why the “SB-3.5”provided much wider scale of both “macro-“ and “micro-“ dynamics. Also, the “key” driver in our earphone is “naked” (i.e. it doesn’t have any sound tube attached to it), therefore, its sound radiation is not additionally (literally) constricted by some “masking” and compression effects inherent in the application of a sound tube on an earphone driver’s radiation.

And last, but not least, the wide-band barrier acoustic filters installed at the sound tube outlets of the “ER-4P” just veiled the sound even more, which is unavoidable, as there is no way for such a dense acoustic veils to pass all the ultimate transparency of an acoustic signal.

Incidentally, the latter is why we would never use barrier acoustic filters in our designs (and, obviously, “SB-3.5” uses none). Because, to me, their use represents no more than just a “band-aid” approach to solving a sound quality issue. That is, instead of finding a proper way to “cure” a sonic problem, which, naturally, does take time and an effort, quite a few of manufacturers would rather cover the problem with such a “(wide-) band aid”. An application of such crude devices represents no more than a typical “out of sight - out of mind” approach to the earphones’ “voicing”.

(N.B.: barrier acoustic filters are widely used exclusively for the earphones’ drivers, they are never applied for all the other high quality audio transducers, that is, either for the headphones’ drivers, or for the home loudspeakers’ ones.
The fact that this “vestige” IEMs part inherited from Etymotic Research’s audiological background is still widely used in “hi-fi” ear monitors is the best proof to the most of my arguments here.
And the portable audiophile community distorted nonchalant acceptance of such a ubiquitous bogus application of barrier acoustic filtering for “hi-fi” purposes brings back another case for some of the analogies to the Soviet joke above.).

Mead Killion, the founder of Etymotic Research, who was the first to start to use the filters for the “hi-fi” purposes, told me during one of my visits to their facility, that he came up with the original barrier acoustic filter for the “ER-4S” after he observed a sharp peak on the earphones’ Frequency Response curve. Removing that peak was the only reason behind using such an acoustic “band-aid”, and obviously, without any second thoughts about its obvious detrimental effect on the “ER-4S” overall sound quality. Due to the latter reason, choosing between two evils – listening to “the peak” or listening to music through such a dense curtain - I would always remove the filters in my own samples of the “ER-4S”. As, in my humble opinion, they do sound significantly better overall without them (even with all the FR peaks present, and contrary to Mead’s absolute “measurements rule” position on this matter).



Thus, in full accordance with the list of the most significant IEMs design principles above, the results of the last auditioning of “ER-4P” confirmed with all the certainty that replacing its stock cable with some “fancy” aftermarket silver one was completely incapable of resolving the most significant construction flaws of these earphones. Namely, the aftermarket cable was obviously not capable to resolve the issues of coupling of these earphones’ sound radiations to our main hearing mechanisms (with all the respect to this venerable and fully respected product).

By the way, despite all the earphones’ discussed deficiencies, in terms of the coupling, the “ER-4s” still represents one of the best, if not the best, very rare examples of mass-produced earphones that do that more-or-less right. Now I know that this particular “ER-4” feature made me originally so attracted to this product (and for so many years).

As a side note, in mid-nighties I was the first distributor for the Etymotic Research in Russia. In two years, I sold two pairs of “ER-4S”. Both of them were later returned to me. One was returned because “it’s too shabby looking for “an earbud” which costs so much money”. The other pair was later returned to me because “these things have no bass”. It does look like a full circle: now, our own StereoPravda SPearphone ear monitors are sometimes still accused of exactly the same “offences”; and that’s why it’s such a case of déjà vu for me. However, when I remember those times in the context of the smashing success for the “ER-4” just a few years after my desperate attempts to sale them in Russia, I can’t help but to think about my permanent curse of always “arriving too early”.


In the context of the “ER-4P” aftermarket cable cost – and its cost was close to the cost of the earphones themselves – its elevated promises and its rave reviews vs its real effect on the basic “ER-4”’s sound quality can be best described by that famous proverb regarding “making a mountain out of a molehill”.

Even more so, during that cable-upgraded “ER-4P” auditioning, I still preferred the sound of the “ER-4S” stock version of the earphone I’ve had there at my disposal (i.e. via connecting their primitive 100+Ohm “S”-version stock cable to the earphones’ capsules) over the “fancy” 50+Ohm “P”-version aftermarket cable-equipped “ER-4P” one. Which is another reminder to some lured souls to avoid “to put the carts before the horses”. The most gullible of those should be reminded again and again that compared to some superficial remedies (/“buttons” from the Soviet joke above) to correct the earphones’ sonic tuning (/”suit fit”), some changes in BA-drivers’ basic loading characteristics – which directly influence the IEMs’ sound coupling to our hearing mechanisms – will result in much more significant changes in the perceived overall sound quality compared to some dubious and relatively insignificant sonic variations provided by “the cable rolling”.


Speaking of which, for the vast majority of the portable audio equipment “modifications”, I’ve had a chance to audition, their respective sound quality yields fall into the same “relatively insignificant” group. One of the most drastic example of the latter can be a case of various “official” and “unofficial” “mods” for the exceptional “HiFiMan-801” Digital Audio Player, which, nevertheless, always demonstrated the best overall sound quality completely unmodified and with the original stock headphone amplifier card inside (why it is usually so - it’s another story).

Considering that we all should be fully aware that the most critical significant sonic returns to the investments should happen in the domain of acoustic transducers (earphones, headphones or loudspeakers), I would personally refrain from even thinking about spending a significant amount of my overall budget on some particular amps or source components, let alone some dubious auxiliary equipment, like “fancy” aftermarket cables or some “mods”, up until that very moment when I would reach an uppermost plateau in terms of having at my disposal “the best it can be” transducers. Only after this to happen, I would start to even consider the upgrades of the rest of the equipment (and according to the descending priority list – from amplifiers on top, down to source components, and then down the list to various auxiliary pieces at the very end of it).

However, as I mentioned at the very beginning of this piece, dedicated portable audio industry, cultivating an overt neurotic obsession over insignificant sonic details within its potential customers, prompts them to be constantly engaged in an endless chain of superficial serial purchases. And my detailed description of the “fancy” cable-modified “ER-4P” above, as I see it, should clearly demonstrate a fundamental futility of such an approach to reach a truly “the best it can be” sound quality.

Even if I would leave some common sense ways to deal with the gear purchases’ practical and financial issues in orderly and planned ways aside for another consideration, the following can still sound like a tautology, especially, to outsiders. However, for neurotics infested audiophile community, which “can never see the forests for the trees”, it would not hurt to repeat the following over and over again.

Namely, that a customer’s choice for a solution to truly advance the level of his/her audiophile capabilities will be efficient only when it is dictated by some very obvious, dramatic and significant sonic differences, and not by some relatively insignificant flavor-type fluctuations in, basically, an insipid homogeneity of a multitude of barely distinguishable products and all sorts of their even less distinguishable among themselves modifications.


In each success story we can usually see the same pattern: it’s a powerful combination of a creative imagination, a lot of experience, a well-developed common sense, and then, a hard determination.

The creative imagination would allow you to apply your resources of time, efforts and money in the most productive direction, that is, in the direction of the most original, unique and significant products “with best intentions” (and to warn you against wasting your time and resources on some hopeless and insignificant imitations of those).

The gained experience would allow you - despite all the social hype - to clearly see a very distinguishable and significant difference between, let’s say, a good suit “fit” and a bad one, or, in other words, to hear a very discernible and significant difference between an exceptionally sounding product and a mediocre sounding one. This experience would allow you “to separate the grain from the chaff” and to develop an idea of what constitutes the biggest value of the most important concepts in a particular field.

Then you can mobilize all your common sense to properly evaluate, in the full context of all the quality levels, a relative significance of “a suit cut” vs “the buttons sewn to it”. Or, in terms of ear monitors’ overall construction, to see a meaning and the corresponding relative significance behind all of the design patterns applied for its construction.

Eventually, if you would be able to entirely mobilize all the above, then your deliberate and hard determination would allow you to clearly see the whole relevance behind the “no pain – no gain” dictum, and in the appropriate context.

Such a determination would help you to avoid constant waddling around some latest craze relatively insignificant “sound changer” molehills and to wisely spend all your concentrated resources for a relentless climb on some truly significant sonic mountain.


By that time, you would be completely aware that the latter process can be accomplished only in some big, deliberate and decisive strides.






14.08.2019 // Author:  (Bigmisha) // Number of views:  387

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