High End Immunity

Hey, I just realised something: I think I am now completely immune to the hi-fi High End, and to ‘prestige branding’, whether it’s cables, amplifiers or turntables. I just saw an advertising sidebar on an audiophile blog, for a particular ‘cult’ brand of amplifier, and it occurred to me that it leaves me utterly cold. If you handed me such a ‘high end’ piece of kit, there wouldn’t secretly be a part of me thinking “I tell everyone that hi-fi is about basic design not exotic hardware, but deep down I’ll bet this impressive beast coupled to some fine passive speakers will conjure up some real magic”. In fact it’s worse than that: knowing very little about the company beyond a few snippets on the web that I think I once read, I view this brand as nothing more than hobbyist-level fantasies that have somehow found their way out of a garage. I simply have no ‘faith’. I view the amplification problem as fairly mundane, so any amplifier that comes along that is much bigger, heavier and more expensive than it needs to be has the opposite effect on me than was intended: I can’t help but think that it’s probably a bit rubbish.

If you gave me some £10,000 cables I would not feel one iota of curiosity or expectation on how they were going to sound because I would know that they were going to sound exactly the same as all other cables. For me to think anything else would be to deny everything I think I know about how electronics works, and to cast doubt on real engineers’ abilities to do what they claim to do – how could I drive a car or fly on a plane again? For me to believe that those cables were going to add magic to the sound, I would have to believe that cable ‘designers’ are in receipt of secret knowledge that has never, ever, been published, nor taught publicly. Where did they gain this special knowledge? By Occam’s Razor, I have to conclude that, basically, while their delusions may be sincere, they are making it all up.

Which is not to say I can’t admire some nice design. My Quad 306 power amplifier is a thing of beauty. Form follows function, and it only cost £170.

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