The Cultural Side of Audio Design


It's always struck me as odd, the similarities that seem to exist among designers from certain countries.
By that, I mean--Itallian speakers tend to have a sound that we seem to apply to the population of that country, romantic, sexy (look) lush sounding.
The German speakers, seem to be more spartan, with (think BMW) a cooler, less romantic, but very accurate sound.
British, not aloof and standoffish, as some describe the Brits, but very articulate and warm in the midrange--certainly a 'sound' of it's own in the market.
The United States, an amalgam of all of these, the 'melting pot' of designs, oddly, like the population of the country.
France...very rich and romantic, somewhat like the Itallian, with beautiful cosmetics.
Denmark, (think Gryphon), not much to work with with regard to the population as I personally can't ascribe traits to the Danes that to me are as obvious as these above mentioned. German like in the cosmetic arena, yet solid state that has an almost tube character, rich, musical and about as good for MY taste, as it gets.
Austrian, German like in prescision, rich and romantic sounding, Itallian beauty in design, sort of a European mixture of all the best qualities.
Japanese, very stark sounding, very little warmth, even strident sounding for many years, especially in the receiver lines. I remember HK coming along and basically, for my taste, killing their Japanese counterparts.

I suppose this is a delusion or hallucination on my part, but I've wondered about this...
Am I simply projecting my own feelings and tastes here, or does anyone else see any of these similarities?

Good listening,
Larry
lrsky
Am I simply projecting my own feelings and tastes here, or does anyone else see any of these similarities?

I think you are, as you seem to be making these general statements for all sectors of audio design, (equipment, speakers, etc), and to a limited extent your opinions seem to be fairly correct, but there are several glaring exceptions to your views, such as:

Koetsu cartridges (Japanese) - Very few cartridges are as lush in the mid-range as they are, (so in no way can the be considered:
"very stark sounding, very little warmth, even strident sounding for many years"

(In much the same way, Wavac amplifiers, also from Japan, could hardly be called the stark sounding either, IMHO anyway.)

Another example is that I have never considered Focal speakers (from France) to sound very romantic sounding either, (at least not like the Sonus Faber speakers do, (which is one instance that I do happen to agree with your opinion).

My opinion is that in a general sort of way you are somewhat correct, but to make sweeping generalities of this kind is not really on the mark, IMHO.

My two cents worth anyway.
It's so funny how audiophiles relate everything to gear. In fact, you will find musical differences that are regional that define the bias inherent in the gear. Italian opera houses hue to the warm and diffuse, with the emphasis on tone. The German opera houses focused, on well focus and line. The music came first, the gear is just a mirror of musical cultural bias.
Years ago an interesting write up of how British vs. Americans differences occur in their hearing, it appeared in FI Magazine, long gone. So, their is a scientific basis for cultural differences in audio design, especially speakers. We all know about the 'British Sound', and it is true.