Nelson Pass

Nelson Pass Interview

Stereophile has interviewed Nelson Pass, the famous amplifier designer. As well as for speakers, some people use his amps to drive headphones such as HiFiMan’s HE6. Being relatively low power (20-25W) and low output impedance, they are also good candidates for HiFiMan’s Susvara. His comments on measurements are quite telling.

Measurements and listening go hand in hand. There is a correlation between objective and subjective, but they’re not strictly causal relationships. Clearly, there are some amplifiers that measure great with “standard” measurements but don’t sound so good, and there are examples of good-sounding/bad-measuring as well. The discrepancies are interesting because they point to either things that have not been measured—more likely, misinterpreted—or aspects of perception and taste that don’t correlate to measured flaws. Or both.

In the end, the subjective experience is what our customer is looking for. Our taste in sound may not appeal to everyone, but it’s what we have to work with, and we only need a small segment of the market to be successful. I don’t neglect the measurements; I put them to work.