This letter was submitted by a reader of TAS:
Gentlemen, you have me at a loss. The August issue has a well written and informative segment about digital servers by Steven Stone. I read it but was left with a few questions and comments. Earlier in the magazine the in the letters section there was considerable indignation about letter writers who defended the mass media's idea that absurdly expensive audio gear was not simply a scam. RH noted that his use of MIT Oracle cables was both 'extraordinarily expensive' and 'indispensible' in his first rate system. $40K, $60K and $100K components are not scams because they are built like fine watches using top flight and costly components and are well worth the price because of the audio results they produce. It is a 'good value'. OK, buying into that argument, really good gear needs really good build quality, engineering, components, and really good systems wiring. Mass market circuit boards, cheesy low budget internal wiring cannot compete with silver point to point construction, exotic capacitors and resistors, and simple elegance. Why, if they could produce quality sound, the entire premise of high end mega buck audio would be that mass media sham. I agree with all that. So, how does a mass market computer, cobbled together with the cheapest parts the computer company can find, a $1 fan, all connected with wire no audiophile would consider for his IPOD much less his primary audio driver, compare? How can cheap computer junk be an audiophile system without all the primo parts and exotic wires we expect in our systems? Why is such a God awful collection of scrap metal and plastic considered to rival Krell, or BAT, or Prima Luna components? There is simply no way anything built around my crappy computer can rival a dedicated, quality component. I understand the purpose of the response to the letters was to note that it is possible to build a decent system around more mundane components, but even those have a pretty hefty cost and can be greatly improved by the infusion of ever more cash. How can a system built around mass market junk, as ALL computers essentially are, compare in sound quality. The answer is, they cannot, for if they could, the high end would be a canard for fools. As I can hear the differences as I step up the audio food chain, taking a giant step backwards in build quality cannot result in really good sound. When Apple builds a computer of the quality of a Wilson speaker, then talk to me about server based systems. Come on folks...give us a break. Server based systems are convenient and trendy, not audiophile.