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Risk Taking

Galibier Design - Climbing PhotoYesterday, I was searching for words to describe my system building approach to a customer.

I started off with a description of attributes I consider to be non-negotiable – tone color, dynamics, transient speed, that sort of thing.

The idea of risk-taking occurred to me …

Taking Risks …

As I was describing it to him, I reflected on performers and performances that move me.

I’d much rather watch a risk-taking virtuoso who traverses out on a “musical tightrope” in hopes of witnessing something special than to attend a “safe”, “tidy” performance – a performance that could have been phoned in.

I hadn’t thought of the parallel to my system building approach, but in retrospect, it was obvious.

An system building example …

I’ve been a fan of high efficiency systems driven by directly heated triode amplifiers for some two decades.  My early experiments were somewhat flawed, and some might say that they bordered on being overly aggressive.

It took a bit of work to tame these first efforts, and of course, it’s all about making trade-offs no matter what your approach is.   For me, the potential for stunning dynamics, vivid tone colors, and lightning fast transients outweighed an occasional flaw. 

I listen to complex, rhythmically challenging music, whether it be 20th Century string quartets, bluegrass, gypsy jazz, or Afro-Carribean jazz, and a system that can’t follow the complex layering and rhythms of these musical forms is all but worthless to me.  Others couldn’t tolerate the choices I made, and I get that.

The good news (for me and for Galibier) is that my system configuration has reached a point of no compromise, and people with different system biases from mine, can sit down and enjoy it on its own terms.

There’s a powerful argument for building up a system conservatively, and I would not argue against it, any more than I would advocate my risk-taking  approach.

At the end of the day, there can be a convergence toward a shared vision born out of our personal aesthetics.

There’s more …

In part-2, I expand on this and how this relates to system tuning – from the perspective of setting up your turntable.

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