Is simpler better?

I have been adding components in my audio systems and subtracting as well at times. Over some time now, I wondered if I hear better resolution, dynamics, clarity and get closer to the recorded music when I keep the path short and simple. I mean one source, one integrated amp and to the speakers. Or even a digital component to a DAC then to the integrated amp and finally to speakers. Bypassing the preamp or in some cases bypassing a separate DAC. It certainly elimates the need for redundant volume or gain, reducing wires or cables, reducing the chance for incompatible components and keeping the path short.

For those using turntable(s), does the combination of phono preamp, platter, tonearm, cartridge, motor, isolation get to be too much to manage? To get the best sound? 

Your thoughts? Your experience?


@barts  point(s) well-taken... as a long time educator it has been fun to watch methodological and ideological pendulums swing back and forth.  What is evident, though, is more programs, more tasks, more responsibilities, and more fine-grained lesson planning and administrative oversight certainly is counter-productive...  more more more rarely means better.

And, there are some simple things that have maintained exactly due to their simplicity for centuries.  The most effective martial arts fighting techniques is one example; fancy is for losers, in the ring.  A sword.  The wheel. The pendulum does not swing, for those things.  The pendulum itself is simple.

There is a universality and beauty to simplicity.  Yes, fancy-complex can have it's place, though, too... but it's more complicated and difficult to live with long-term day to day in the home, though admittedly some people just prefer to live that way.  

I have not found that I've enjoyed having more a more complex home audio system brought me more joy than a simple one.  The complex versions have been more burdensome.  

The shorter and cleaner the signal path, the cleaner and clearer the sound. If an integrated amp has the same quality preamp circuitry as separates, eliminating the cable between a preamp and amp will improve the sound. Same with a phono stage. The problem is, this is not usually the case. But sometimes it is. My system sounded better with a separate phono stage, despite the extra cable, because the phono stage was of much higher quality than that in the integrated amp, which is very good.

Same thing with features. Adding more circuitry for features like bass and treble controls and balance adds to the circuit and creates noise. I suspect adding a DAC or streamer creates noice to the amp/preamp circuitry as well.

Having a tonearm cable not directly into the cartridge adds another point of distortion. Separate headshells make changing cartridges convenient, but one cannot possibly argue that another point of signal transfer doesn't add distortion. Everything is a tradeoff.

My integrated amp has a remote for volume and mute only. I made the tradeoff when I was too lazy to get off the chair to adjust the volume. Since I only listen to vinyl, no need to be able to switch sources, which thankfully the amp's remote can't perform. And sure as heck don't turn the amp's power off with a remote. 


Einstein said it best, “everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.”


That reminded me of Colin Chapman’s memorable quote about his Lotus racing cars,

’Simplify, then add lightness.’



Gone are the days of unit and speaker swapping, budget hits and unhappiness. My hearing is at about 70%. Might be a blessing in disguise. Sit back and enjoy the music. Save your money for the finer things like Islay single malts.

It’s one of life’s real pleasures to have some surplus money to put towards other avenues of enjoyment.

It’s also very important to have things to look forward to, no matter how trivial they may seem to others.

I went through a deeply grim period of not being able to find much to look forward to.

Losing loved ones is inevitable but we can choose to mourn the dead or learn to love them and cherish their memories.

Either way, and the difficulty of making that choice cannot be overestimated, not the difficulty of climbing out of that seemingly bottomless pit, but we have to move on, that’s the nature of life.

That’s the deal we were born into.

Then I gradually remembered what it was like to be in my teens and early twenties, when there just wasn’t enough time or money to fill with all the fun that was out there.

Thankfully nowadays I find I’ve got plenty of stuff to listen to (mainly podcasts/audiobooks), stuff to read (Bill Naughton, Jordan/Pamela Rooke), things to watch (tons of stuff on YouTube - check out the Fishing Party and Shakespeare or Bust if you like 70s British dramas).

One of the better things about getting older is that your conversation skills, especially listening skills, tend to improve along with the accumulation of life’s experiences.

However, I’ve yet to try an Islay single malt but I bet it’s a far cry from most of the harsh stuff sold in supermarkets.

Something else to look forward to.

Losing loved ones is inevitable but we can choose to mourn the dead or learn to love them and cherish their memories.

I always took solace in this one:

"Don't weep because they are gone, rejoice because they were here."

Yes, it is never easy, but that is indeed the inevitability of life.

the irony is that the end goal is simple: to move air. Expensive gear is very complex and audiophiles put together a lot of complex components to achieve something pure and yet relative, judged by our ears. I would say unless you are willing to learn enough to get a PhD in audio, go with simple