Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Five Percent Solution

I’ve found the perfect pair of chinos. The fit and cut are flawless. They’re sold at J. Crew for $60. Target sells chinos with a similar fit and cut. The main discernible difference is the waist sits slightly higher than the J. Crew chinos, i.e., slightly higher than to my liking. The Target chinos sells for $20 and possesses 95% of what I’m looking for in a pair of chinos. I gladly pay the difference to get the extra 5% for an item that I’m completely happy with.

There are few things in life that one finds perfect. An extra forty dollars seems a pittance to get something that brings one complete satisfaction. Perfection in a product, if attainable, tends to be expensive. Usually one can get a comparable product, slightly less than one’s idea of perfection, for a lot less. It’s that last 5% where things get so damn expensive.

So it is for records. The benchmark for records now are the 45 rpm pressings issued by audiophile record labels. They sell for $50 to $60. One can buy a 33 rpm audiophile pressing of the same album for $30 and get about 95% of the sound quality of the 45 rpm pressing. One can also buy a non-audiophile pressing of the same album for $12 and get 85% of the sound quality of the 45 rpm pressing.

Chinos and records are two things I can afford to buy what I consider the very best. My stereo system, modest in the eyes of audiophiles, but probably ridiculously expensive in the eyes of everyone else, can deliver 90 to 95% of the sound quality of a reference quality stereo system. I would probably have to spend six figures to get that last 5 to 10% of sonic perfection. A reference quality stereo system and a Porsche 911 are not in my future. But that’s okay. I can listen to my 45 rpm pressing of Blue Train in my J. Crew chinos while drinking a glass of Balvenie whisky. That level of perfection is good enough for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment