If one’s goal is to reproduce the sound of live music, logic suggests that at some point the designer must listen to his creation in order to understand how much (or how little) it sounds like the live event. Some designers in the industry maintain that making judgments on the success of one’s design through listening is subjective and unscientific. They believe that only through the application of the right theories, or the strict adherence to a certain set of measurements can one reliably approach the ideal.
Yet the history of high-end audio is littered with electronics and loudspeakers that achieve sterling performance on the test bench, and yet, to the ears of even the average listener, fail to produce life-like sound. They lack the ineffable sense of rightness that momentarily suspends disbelief.
Dave Wilson is unapologetic about using his ears as a design tool because while fidelity of the live event may be difficult to measure, it is not difficult for even the casual listener to hear. But when listening becomes rigorous and disciplined—that is to say, empirical—it can bear even greater benefits.