I drink tea. I drink a lot of tea. So I have a dedicated electric water boiling pot. My old one broke, and I got a new one. The problem is the new one has 4 buttons on it, and a temperature gauge. Do I need water that is 177 degrees? My old boiling pot had a single lever switch: you push it down, and when the water is boiling, it turns off automatically. The new one requires that you push several buttons before the damn thing works. So, being self-indulgent, I went back to Target and bought myself an identical replacement for the old pot. Now I’m happy: a one button solution.

This morning it struck me that this is quite analogous to audio equipment. Let’s look at the EMT 250 vs 251. The 250 is one of the most popular pieces of effects gear ever made. It sounds fantastic, and is a piece of cake to use. The 251, although very similar in physical appearance, is a far more sophisticated, more variable piece of kit, with a wider frequency response, and far more capability for variation … the problem is that engineers simply do not love the 251. Why? I think it mostly has to do with the complexity of the controls. Engineers want to be able to adjust their gear quickly, without a lot of deep thought …

As another example, let’s consider stereo microphones. The AKG C24 and the Neumann SM69 and SM2 are simply phenomenal. However, since many engineers simply cannot figure out what to do with a stereo mic, they remain considerably undervalued in comparison to their mono brethren. Compare the price of C12s and C24s or M269 and SM69s, and it becomes apparent that the demand for stereo mics is lower than mono mics.

There are numerous other examples of this same concept. For example, why is an LA2A so popular? Two knobs and a switch. And does it get much simpler than a Les Paul Junior?

So, in technical design, as well as many other aspects of life, simplicity is often superior to sophistication.

Anyone need a sophisticated boiling pot?