Whats So Better About Better Audio?

by Ron Goldberg/Electronic House

Its fine. Good enough. Nothing wrong with it. Close enough for rock and roll. Ask an average music lover (any of the billions will do) what they think of the sound quality theyre getting at home and thats what most of them will answer. And theyd be right.

Decent (and sometimes even better than decent) sound quality is now common in the marketplace, mostly thanks to how pervasive digital music has become in our daily lives. Much of this can be attributed to a small rectangular device with an i in its name that for many music lovers is the only audio system they know. For a lot of listeners, that device is, well, pretty good. But when it comes to their music, theres a lot of other people who feel that pretty good isnt a desirable end. Rather, its only a beginning.

Now were talking about high-performance audio, which bears as much resemblance to mass-commodity audio as a fine roadster does to the family sedan. The car analogy is overused but appropriate to describe the difference that high performance audio makes two makes and models might both do the same things but offer a very different experience. Both a Toyota and a Porsche will get you where you want to go. Theyll have the same essential features and work the same way. But no one would seriously argue that one is the same as the other. One is utilitarian, the other is gourmet. The differences arent subtle.

What Distinguishes High Performance Audio?

High performance audio isnt just a box of technology, its a labor of love. Manufacturers many of them small, boutique companies routinely spend thousands of man-hours tweaking and tailoring the designs and materials of these products in pursuit of just one Holy Grail