And if so, is he absolutely wrong or relatively wrong? And if his preferences are wrong, is he, indeed, morally wrong for holding them? In fact, do his preferences even have to be logically consistent? For example, I once knew a woman who, when given the choice between cream and half-and-half for her tea, always choose cream; and when given a choice between half-and-half and milk, always choose half-and-half; but when given a choice between cream and milk, she choose milk. Was she wrong? If so, how?
So I am saying that we should abandon all absolutes and logic? No, both absolutes and logic have place, but that place is not where they have been misplaced in audio practice. Consider this: is not the obsession with an imagined absolute sound, ultimately, at its core, philistine --as philistine as the meter-reader's obsession with 0.0003% distortion. For such an obsession with an absolute sound exalts sound over music, although the actual music is not the same as the sound. What? Doesn't sound equal music?
When deaf, Beethoven not only created great music, but he also more profoundly and absolutely experienced that music than those who could hear his music only by sound waves. For sound is really only the usual medium by which the playing of instruments is brought to our ears, but the essential aspect of music is experienced in between our ears, just as poetry is not found in the splattering of ink on paper or electrons flowing through an amplifier or even in the flapping of a loudspeaker's cone.
Thus, a more honest and informed absolute is found not in the electrons and the sound, but the music itself. Thus we should judge a sound not by some imaginarily perfect sound, but by how true it is to the music. Many of the usually disparaging audio attributes, such as "strident, brittle, and glaring," might be perfectly appropriate and true to a certain Shostakovich composition, just as "sweet, fluid, and warm" would be equally inappropriate and untrue. In this sense, all un-adjustable stereo systems are like broken watches: only occasionally are they accurate. Like the fixed-magnification telescope of the earlier example, what our systems need is a means of easy adjustment.