What are the major issues in audio? What matters the most?

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I often get the feeling that audio forums are made for obsessing about the minor issues of audio. It gets me thinking about what are the major issues. So I've put down my thoughts here, with 12 areas that I think the the big ones:

Red Spade Audio: What really matters in audio

For me some of the key areas are issues like speaker directivity, dynamics, reducing early reflections and acoustic damping in the bass range.

What's your take on this? Which aspects of performance do you think matter most?
I think one major issue in Audio is that we all have a reductionist tendency to simplify things. We like to believe that we understand things when in fact our view and understanding is limited and we find it difficult to acknowledge that to ourselves. Its very human to do so.

The capture, storage, reproduction, perception chain is incredibly complex, maybe even beyond knowing. But we love to kid ourselves we know about it.

Take early reflections. On a simplistic level you say they are bad. Floyd E Toole says they are good. Simplistic analysis just doesn't do this one tiny part of the whole justice. This is a good thing, that way our hobby will never get boring!

The major issue with audio is that it is the sum of all the minor issues.
Music. Musicians.

Beyond doubt the most important things in audio and often the most ignored are the program material, and the people who produce it.

You can have audio without turntables, CDs, amplifiers or speakers.

If we're talking recorded, if the material is good, you'll ignore the shortcomings in turntables, CDs, amplifiers and speakers, just to hear an imperfect likeness of the music.

1 Corinthians 7:9 said:
'It is better to marry than to burn.'

Music came before amplifiers.

It is better to play than to play records.

Yes, music comes first. Some of us have no ability to play, so we rely on musicians to do it for us and hope the record producers don't muck about with it too much.

I'm not quite sure about the relevance of the biblical quote, which is basically saying that marriage is preferable to lust and its consequences!

Wow...and I thought marriage was one of the consequences of lust!:cool:
Ugh. Saturday night, I visited a friend of mine who has a collection of guitars, including some classic Gibsons (1958 ES225!) and Guilds. One thing led to another and... well, let me just say that I didn't get home until close to dawn and my fingertips are shredded. Hifi is looking pretty good.

My problem is that I spend time with too many truly gifted musicians and that's very, very discouraging to a hack player like me.
In my experience it's the most gifted musicians who have the most time for encouraging others. Music doesn't happen in a vacuum.

I heard a short clip from Bon Jovi talking about this recently on the radio. His comment was that the really big stars who have made it were in his experience, friendly and helpful people. It was the ones who had enough success for it to get to their head, yet they were still climbing the ladder that were the worst to deal with.

I should mention that I'm talking about audio reproduction here. Reproducing it accurately. What are the most important things towards that goal.

Am I right in assuming that you get excited about speakers, but assume that most amps etc. are now good enough?

Do I get excited about speakers? Definitely.
Do I think they are a thousand times more critical than electronics? Slight exaggeration but yes.
Do I think that all amps sound the same? No - but with good specs and reasonable compatibility, I don't expect an amp to make or break a system.

Plans are underway to blind test some amps next year. From time to time I like to test beliefs, although this time it wasn't my idea.

Ah, well the power supply, since the input and influence of it is so much bigger than almost anything else. Its at least as important as the speaker.
You're easy to please!

Why do you say dead end?
BTW have you heard ambiophonics? I'm quite curious about it.

I think the reductivist tendency relates to where you sit in terms of the two polarities of objectivist and subjectivist as well as how you tend to view things in terms of simplicity vs sophistication.

So if you have a simplistic objectivist, he says "measure these 3 things and they will tell you all you need to know." A subjectivist will say "you can't do that - the measurements don't tell all - you have to audition everything together in your room."

I say if you can hear it you can measure it, even if we haven't yet worked out all the things to measure, and how to interpret them fully.
Hearing, or the retention of it, and perception of sound difference, or the reduction in it.

In a world where the majority of us are being subjected to subtly (and not so subtly) increasing levels and periods of noise across all frequencies, it is inevidible that two things will happen:

Everything will sound less everything
Some things will not sound anything.
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