“Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.” -Claude Debussy
When we enjoy music, we are a participant. We tap a foot, we hum along, we nod our head, we dance, we scream at the top of our lungs. This emotional interaction is what artists intend to share with their audience. The notes and their sequence–like words in a sentence–are an expression, but the feelings that they conjure are an artist’s idea. The thrill of discovering (or rediscovering) ideas through music, and our emotional interaction with these ideas, is what brings us aesthetic enjoyment.
Enjoyment is an experience and accuracy is a measurement. They are not the same. Because enjoyment is subjective, and by nature we as humans strive for objective answers, we judge based on measurement because measurement is easily compared and certified. This is not at all to say that accuracy does not improve the listening experience, but accuracy is a measurement of a playback system’s expression, not the music’s idea. Accurate systems, and the pursuit of them, bring us rational pleasure.
Your brain processes emotional and rational information in different ways and in different places. In enjoying music and your playback system, both the subjective experience and the objective accuracy play a role in determining your satisfaction. To completely ignore one at the expense of the other is to betray your very nature as a human audience.
I try to design amplifiers that serve both artistic (emotional) and engineering (rational) goals. I love tubes for their aesthetic qualities, but I do not shy away from solid state where it offers improvements. I design with what I believe to be the right balance of playfulness and scientific rigor.
“I have a dream that one day amplifiers will be judged based not on the type of active device that they use, but on the context of their usage.” -WTF Amps
Trust your ears. Enjoy the music.