What would it take to enjoy once again your favorite music? More money? Greater technological advancements in the design of CDs, amplifiers, and loudspeakers? Still the 5-inch loudspeaker once did provide enjoyment while playing certain songs. No, the restoration of that lost enjoyment requires not more money nor even better technology, but a restoration of lost sonic control over our listening system, as only by doing so can we regain the ability to tailor and adjust the sound, to undo the stark minimalism, to exploit the technologically advanced stereo equipment available today, to adapt to the music we want to hear; in other words, to make the system conform to our demands, our pleasure, and our enjoyment.
But...wait a minute! What does our enjoyment have to do with sonic truth? Shouldn't a stereo system be like a perfectly clean window giving unto the Kingdom of Sound? Thus, do we not all seek the absolutely true sound possible, wrinkles and warts included? Far too many of us do, unfortunately. Consequently, the prevailing view today is that a stereo system should be something like an entirely objective reporter, reporting the facts, just the facts. Thus, the case of the missing sonic controls does not appear in a modern mystery novel, because we all know who did it: we all did it. When we wanted sonic controls, manufacturers sold us controls; and when we eagerly sacrificed sonic controls at the altar of purity, the same manufacturers stop selling them. In other words, sonic control was forsaken in the quest for the "absolutes."
What are these absolutes? It is as if the philosophy's old war between Realism and Idealism has been fought again between the meter readers and the golden eared and the war has ended in a truce that prohibits either side from using sonic controls. For the scientifically inclined, the absolute is the electrons themselves. As long as the scope shows no difference between incoming and outgoing signals, it does not matter how an amplifier sounds in your living room with your loudspeakers. All that matters is the easily specified voltages and currents created by the electrons. Engineering has met its conditions of satisfaction,