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The Audio Critic | Electronic Personality?
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Electronic Personality?

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26 April, 2007 10:26

Electronic Signal Paths Do Not Have a Personality! 

I keep forgetting that my newer readers outnumber the old-timers and that some of the basic truths about audio that are old hat to me and to the regulars are new and fresh to the recent arrivals. Here is something, therefore, worth repeating for the nth time.

Every low-distortion electronic signal path sounds like every other. The equipment reviewers who hear differences in soundstaging, front-to-back depth, image height, separation of instruments, etc., etc., between this and that preamplifier, CD player, or power amplifier are totally delusional. Such differences belong strictly to the domain of loudspeakers. Depending on the wave-launch characteristics, polar pattern, or power response of the loudspeaker (those are overlapping concepts), the stereo presentation of the program material can vary greatly. It cannot vary as a result of the properties of a normal (i.e., low-distortion) electronic signal path. The only exception I can think of would be totally inadequate channel separation (less than, say, 30 dB) between the left and right channels of a stereo device, which is hardly ever the case—and certainly not when high-end components are being discussed by said reviewers.

Beware, therefore, of electronic audio components with a personality. If they have a personality, they are either defective or the brainchild of a reviewer without accountability.