Oils ain’t oils and neither are amps – or speakers for that matter. Audio components of every kind have their own personalities. Some amps sound warm, some speakers sound bright. Some components sound nuetural or forward or sluggish. But the point being, sometimes – and we’ve all had this experience – personalities clash.
Take for example a forward-sounding amp. This is likely to display an energetic, detailed and crisp audio signature. And that sounds great. But what if you pair it with equally forward speakers? You might get too much of a good thing, leaving certain recordings to sound bright or harsh even. And that’s likely to create listener fatigue. Listener fatigue is the battering of one's lobes with ongoing and painful sonic frequencies. This'll cut your sessions short and nobody wants that.
Alternatively, some amps will create softer, more relaxed audio signatures. You know the type. They’re often described as velvety, warm or gooey even. And, again, this sounds great to some folk. But such an amp paired with an equally relaxed pair of loudspeakers could sound lacklustre, removed of all life and energy. Not so terrible if you’re up for a snooze, but most of us want to listen to music not meditate. So, again, not a great pairing.
This is where research comes into play and for most folks that’ll come in two forms: audio reviews or listening auditions. Not everybody is keen to step foot into a store these days. And that’s cool. Because there are a ton of high quality review sites and YouTubers that’ll all detail a components audio signature. But when you’re spending several thousand dollars, it’s not such a bad idea to have a listen yourself.
For those of you heading in-store to have a listen, bear in mind that you’re in a room treated to perfect the listening experience. Room acoustics are the invisible component of any system. They play a huge role in your overall sound quality. So what you hear in store isn’t necessarily what you’ll get at home – not exactly. But an in-store session is the perfect place to test and match audio components. So, if you’re up for it, have a play.