Just like the system as a whole, the analogue front end is a chain of constraints. Again, some are pretty obvious. If your turntable's drive belt is worn
and the wow is intolerable, changing the cartridge will not help. Same for the worn stylus, realigning it will do no good.
But not everything is so clearly cut. The typical remedies often do not address the real constraints. We have touched on it in our FAQ on inner groove distortion
. People tend to focus on what is easy rather than on what matters.
We spent decades trying to understand and perfect analogue audio. Armed with a pair of Mk.I ears, a dB millivoltmeter and an oscilloscope, we bumped around in the darkness for quite a while. Then we understood we are not getting enough quality data. 1960s tools and methods were not giving us any real insights.
Accelerometers followed. Measurement microphones. Signal conditioners. Spectrum analyzers. FEA software. It took a sizable investment and a lot of education to get closer to what's really going on.
What follows below is our philosophy, our hard-won set of priorities we follow when we build things. It is based on gigabytes of real data, and on many thousands hours of listening.