Are we judging sound quality wrong because setup and room vary so much?

Getting back to the original question: are we judging components wrongly because rooms override any setup? The answer is yes. There is no point in really "comparing" components via reports or even recordings by different people with different preferences in different rooms with different systems. Any attempt to "rank" components on a universal scale is pointless. In the correct room and in the correct system for a given listener, there will indeed be differences that matter. But it takes an enormous amount of effort to get to the point of comparing two components in that way, so the chances of truly finding the single "best" component from the myriad of available options is impossible. The point I'm making is that each listener's report is a very limited data point. If you keep an open mind about all those data points, you can reach some very broad conclusions about different components that may or may not work in your system. Then you make your best efforts to insert different components in your system and you choose what you like. This is why we have such a staggering variety of high end components that are truly excellent, but will only be "the best" from the limited experience each person has to hear it in their system. That is what keeps the high end market thriving. They really are ALL the best to someone, somewhere. The vintage market proves that. The "best" is dead, long live the "best!"
Hi - I see you used Rives. I have been in houses with their work. How did you come to choose them?

Rives and I recently visited Western Electric’s two facilities outside of Chattanooga. An interview video with Charles White is coming soon.

Rives is a brilliant person and very nice guy as well. I am very happy that he writes for The Absolute Sound.
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