Friday, February 12, 2010

Again: Specifications or Music?

I note that famed amplifier designer Nelson Pass says:

"There has been a failure in the attempt to use specifications to charaterize the subtleties of sonic performance. Amplifiers with similar measurements are not equal, and products with higher power, wider bandwidth, and lower distortion do not necessarily sound better. Historically, that amplifier offering the most power, or the lowest IM distortion, or the lowest THD, or the highest slew rate, or the lowest noise, has not become a classic or even been more than a modest success.

For a long time there has been faith in the technical community that eventually some objective analysis would reconcile critical listener's subjective experience with laboratory measurement. Perhaps this will occur, but in the meantime, audiophiles largely reject bench specifications as an indicator of audio quality. This is appropriate. Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we would let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgement."

And another quote on art:

"...this is what art is supposed to do-- shake you up, make you think differently. Make you sweat. Doing its job. God, yes." -Gregory Frost, "Madonna of the Maquiladora"