Transparency.... why is it so difficult to design for?

Seriously, is there a common reason in electronics design that allows for transparency? Or said another way, what is the most damaging reason, or design flaw, that obscures detail?

Is it simply quality (price) of components like caps?

You wizards have been designing equipment for the longest time… it appears flat, wide frequency response is easy… or limiting THD… … but that darn transparency thing…

Bruce in Philly

It’s even worse…I heard several very transparent sounding preamps, that were either flat sounding in terms of liveliness and tonal colors…or thin sounding without enough body.

If all that was so simple to just use a certain circuit or parts there’d be more, making good equipment…I guess it’s the combination of a lifelong learning out of mistakes and collecting experience with possible options.

For me it’s far more surprising that certain car brands still have bad design or manufacturing, although the “how to make it right” is well known for decades and mostly less of a secret than making good sound :wink:

There’s no universal cause or cure for transparency or the lack of it. That’s because every circuit is so different and there are so many variables to deal with. It’s like asking why there’s pain.

Generally too much feedback can harm transparency as can improper power supply design, but then there are also ten other reasons why.

You’d have to look at what;’s going on.

@jazznut We make a lot of prototype auto parts. The funny part is that the engineers know “how to make it right” but almost never get a chance to. Automobiles at almost every level are commodity consumer items and driven purely by price points. The manufacturers are always limited to a manufacturing cost price for everything from the nuts and bolts thru the drivetrain and electronics.
The marketers are always showing off new and exciting things to help boost sales but the truth is that money drives it all. I assume it is the same with electronics at the commodity level. As the budget constraints move up there is more room to “make it right” although it is not always done.
A Bugatti Veyron or Rolls Royce gets a lot more of it right than any Chevy, Honda, or VW.

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Thanks, that’s correct and I understand. I was more referring to different products in the same price category. In audio industry such differences can be huge, in automotive industry less, I agree.

It’s still strange why brands in the same price range have such different levels of good or bad design (I don’t mean the level which is a matter of taste, but the one which is obvious for a majority) or such different levels of reliability. But again, I agree that in automotive it’s much more a matter of budget than in audio.

I misunderstood your view point. Apologies for that. I imagine that some of the audio gear is stuck on a particular (known to have its flaws) design for many reasons but I’ll bet that cost still figures into the equation.
I think the smaller companies have both more flexibility to implement change or are stuck with a design as the designer has moved on. It may also be a matter of shifting or disappearing component (IC’s transistors, caps, etc) suppliers.
I have a lot of insight to the dirty end of auto manufacturing and manufacturing in general and there are a lot more problems than any consumer needs to know about. Most either never get discussed in public or are negotiated away.