The word could recall actor Charlie Sheen's tiger-blood period when winning, $50K professional goddesses and cocaine crashed. For me it recalls meeting Alvin Lloyd of Grand Prix Audio when we still lived in Taos/NM. He'd relocated from SoCal to Colorado Springs so was just a scenic drive away which we'd not previously made. Coming from Formula One car racing, Alvin confessed to frustration that his prior occupation's undeniable definition of winning didn't translate to audio. In car races there's no argument over who won. If not the naked eye then a laser-triggered camera and slow-motion replay settles which car came first. But transition to competitions which involve judging. Suddenly ambiguity and disputes over robberies may carry the day. It's no longer about a clearly measurable achievement like speed, an archer's dead-center bull's eye or a spear thrower's distance. Suddenly the quality of execution intrudes. How cleanly did a board jumper's triple corkscrew come off, the overall routine of an iceskater? In pugilistic endeavors not ending in a KO, tap-out or thrown towel, how did the combatants balance out various judging criteria? In music competitions, it's not just about missed/wrong notes or raw technique but interpretation.

Once 'how' enters, even the experts disagree. And in hifi, everyone's an expert.

The realm of interpretation is closed to hifi's measurement brigade; if even acknowledged. To their thinking, the notion that inanimate hardware could somehow interpret i.e. influence playback's mood or expression is anathema. Meanwhile the musicality brigade believes that there's more to persuasive playback than impeccable static measurements. The friction between these viewpoints generates noise. Frame it in winning terms—being right or owning the better more correct system—and egoic hatred of losing intrudes. No wonder that things can get so messy.

I think blame falls squarely on our addiction to winning. Without it, what's left? In our sector, interactions between fellow hobbyists of varying experience, knowledge and tastes. Now those exchanges become about sharing and learning. Without winning, argumentative posturing becomes redundant. So the enemy isn't class D, DSP's mandatory conversion of analog to digital or hard dome tweeters. The real enemy is tiger blood. It's our uninspected belief that we're somehow immune to the addiction of winning. Today being the 1st of January 2023, perhaps a decent task for the year could be to stop feeding this terrible addiction? It all begins with confessing that we have it. Only then can we can begin to slowly peel back its many layers…