Fallacy of Accuracy - Steve Guttenberg

I liked this one… talk among yourselves… hmmm…

I am interested in your perspectives… I will hold mine to later but I will say this: My opinion has changed over the many years of loving music (a hint there…)

Bruce in Philly

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In the video, Steve begins by stating there’s no such thing as accuracy in audio and then, for much of the rest of the video he’s talking about how one piece of gear is more accurate than another and that he prefers the less accurate gear. This, obviously, is nonsensical.

Of course, pursuit of accuracy in audio playback is a perfectly valid objective if you’re goal is to, as accurately as possible, reproduce (in sound) the data embedded on the disc.

I don’t agree with you. I don’t think designers work solely to measurements; that’s why BHK amps and preamps sound different than McIntosh, Aesthetix and on and on. I’m sure they design for what sounds good to them.
If we had real accuracy, wouldn’t the playback sound just like the original performance? After the designers, builders, recording, mastering engineers, your ears, my ears, etc, how can we even expect it to?
I just work to make my system sound beautiful to me.

One point that Guttenberg makes, and that I’ve seen elsewhere, is that a lot of people say they want accuracy (whatever it means), but actually prefer much more inaccurate sound in practice – be it tubes or warmer-sounding solid-state or whatever.

The problem is that frequency response, etc., are easy to measure and compare. What sounds good is much harder to pinpoint and might also be rather subjective. Either way, I think we need to take a lot of the measurements with a big grain of salt, what measures well isn’t necessarily what we’d actually consider to sound great.


Accuracy in any context requires a definitive and objective reference point. Think of a target. It has a bullseye. Either you hit it or you don’t. If you miss it, your measure of accuracy is dependent on how far away from the bullseye you are. In music reproduction, what is that objective and definitive bullseye? It does not exist.

Recorded music by nature is a representation of a live performance. Even live performances are as unique as DNA. Concerts are performed by humans which are inconsistent by nature. Every venue has its own unique sound fingerprint. Finally, the variations in the recording mechanisms/processes themselves - dependent on an infinite number of variables - makes it impossible for any recording to be that “bullseye.”

With that, I completely agree that accuracy can be nothing other than a fallacy.

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I have noted a number of times recording is artifice, albeit tasty.

However, at least with acoustic instruments, we want sufficient representation of the world that the instruments sound real to us. Thus, one is always working within this parameter.

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Well put, sir!

Yes.If the playback system can not get timbre right the rest is just stereo effect…

I remember my father’s Magnavox console stereo had a “timbre” control. Even then, when my ears were just wee little ears, I thought the scale should have read: full right= good, full left= bad.

OMG - that’s hysterical. I think we had one of those, or something similar. Though no Timbre Control AFAIK. I feel sorta ripped off ; )