What is Hi-Fi?
How to Define Good SoundHi-Fi is short for high fidelity, a term used to describe the aim of a stereo system when playing a record, CD or listening to the radio. Because there are different levels of quality within the various brands and models of ‘hi fi’, there has developed two other terms.
Low-Fi is a label given to mass-produced consumer electronics that are usually found in non specialist stores. True Hi-Fi, which is what you’ll find in a specialist store, is what the more dedicated listener aspires to. A high end hi-fi music system can easily top the six figure sum. Yes really!
The difference between listening to your favourite music on these systems can be startling. With a Low-Fi system you hear a bleached version of the music. You can recognise the piece that’s being played, but the complexities that make up music such as rhythm, dynamic range and resolution are missing in action as are many of the notes in the bass and treble regions. What you do get is usually a large dose of distortion, which corrupts the music signal and tends to make the sound harsh and fatiguing.
Going to an entry or mid-level system is for most listeners a revelation. Pieces of music they thought they knew well sound more lifelike and ‘in the room’. There is a greater sense of involvement with what the performer is trying to communicate and instruments sound more real. In a room with good acoustics, a carefully chosen system can punch well above it’s weight.
Hearing a well set up true ‘high end’ stereo system can be a jaw dropping experience. Every facet of the music is improved, better bass, extended clear treble, huge dynamic swings, and a reach-out-and-touch-it physical presence to the music. It can create the illusion of real musicians playing in the room. A hi-fi of this quality demands attention to the room as well as choice of equipment, for optimum results. A specialist dealer is valuable with the gear/room equation and setup at this level.