Audio Test: True or False


True: If an audio system can eliminate most distortions the resulting sound will approximate the originally recording's intent.


False:  An audio system can never achieve transparent levels of reproduction.

There are different levels of audio system improvements:

                             From bad to middle of the road

                             From middle of the road to above average

                             From above average to performance transparent

              Audiophiles universally seek the last of the above three and the reason is clear.  Without performance transparency one is listening to a representative but veiled perception of the performance.  The veil is subtractive of the pleasure and enjoyment which the original performance offers.

              The right equipment can  reproduce performance transparency.  That is found with equipment makers and dealers possessing knowledge in the art and engineering of audio componentry, authentic musicality and the sound of real instruments, and the audio components which can provide this performance transparency.

              Many (online) will claim that such and such product is the best, but the most experienced and competent reviewers and dealers offer the most reliable information.  The listener should audition such recommended products and make his conclusions.  The best dealer will put the right products in audition before the audiophile, sometimes in home audition.


False: Balancing the distortions of various audio components provides proper system symmetry.

              Distortion in any part of an audio system is detrimental to the listening experience.  The “advantages” of second harmonic distortion being added in for example to provide richness is therefore suspect, unless the improvement under analysis is actually not distortion, but greater signal accuracy.  Also, electronics with glare or excessive upper frequency edge are not best dealt with by inserting speakers will rolled off high frequencies.  Exacerbating a problem obviously makes the end result worse, in this case layering distortions and increasing the veil upon the performance.


False: A performance transparent audio system makes lesser recordings sound worse.

              You may have expected the above statement to be true, but here is why it is usually false.  Recordings are all best represented by an audio system which reveals real and natural tones and timbres. A transparent system does that.  Does a transparent system reveal the deficiencies of a particular recording?  Yes, but harshness and thinness attributed to a recording is often the harshness and thinness of the audio system.  A transparent system with minimal distortion makes recordings sound better.


False: Many are the transparent audio components to be found and easy is the task.

              The task is easy if you look for gold in the right mine.  Remember the qualifications of the best equipment provider:  knowledge in the areas of the science and engineering of audio componentry, the art of musicality and the sound of real instruments, and particular audio components which provide this performance transparency.  Here at At Home Theatre Designs/At Home Stereo our audiophile customers are building their systems into some of the best available and for less cost than such systems usually cost.

              Upgrading to new equipment is always fun, but it is better to upgrade to something with long term satisfaction included.  Then upgrades don’t arise from the frustration of poor listening experiences but from genuine advancements which will add to listening pleasure.  Sideways changes in a system don’t really make much improvement, mediocre stays mediocre, above average stays above average.  Upgrading, as the word implies, moves a system toward performance transparency.


False:  Not all parts of a system are as important to performance transparency.

              Preconceived notions, for example, about the lack of efficacy of our recommended Clarus Crimson power cables and interconnects have universally fallen to the floor when audition is actually performed.  Required though is an otherwise transparent system because other distortions in place muddy and distort the analysis.  A transparent system will easily reveal the advantages of good cables.  Also the DAC, preamp, amp, and line conditioner should provide performance transparency.

              A good illustration is from Robert Harley of The Absolute Sound in his book The Complete Guide to High-End Audio:



What we provide:

              We guide you to products like Revel, KEF, Monitor Audio, and Audio Physic speakers, Mark Levinson, Hegel, and Marantz Reference electronics, Clarus Crimson cabling, and Audience line conditioners.  This is the way to performance transparency.


David Wilbanks COO


Lake St. Louis, MO