It is strange how often it happens to me to change something in the audio system while experimenting and to notice an improvement. I enjoy the achieved result for some time but then I decide to restore the system to its initial state, only to realise that the so called “improvement” is nothing else but an effect that actually departs the reproduction from its authentic character.
By means of experimenting we are constantly learning and our criteria to evaluate sound qualities are evolving. With time the evaluation process become much more concerned with the overall presentation instead with single aspects of the reproduction like bass tightness, height precision, vocal clarity, soundstage dimensions, ambience detail and so on.
Putting the attention on the presentation as a whole organic and balanced entity, that brings (or not) the feeling of righteousness and believability, becomes much more important then focusing on single tonal or sonic characteristics. What I mean is that deep and full-body bass should not come on the expense of unnaturally sounding vocals, or vivid and mellow vocals should not come on the expense of unnaturally sounding strings, for example. The whole tonal balance is very fragile thing and it is easy to destroy it.
With a time I learned not to fix attention on particular features of the reproduction while evaluating components relying on my logical mind. Instead I observe how my body reacts and rely more on the intuition and feeling than on rational analysis. The only rational approach I think is to employ a dedicated measurement technique and methodology in order to analyse the performance of an audio system in a room. But than again the methodology itself opens a room for interpretation of the collected data and it is often the case that the flattest frequency response does not necessarily leads to the best reproduction.
The notch filter experiment I started few months ago is a good example of how my evaluation criteria has evolved over time so that in the end I am back at the beginning.