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What is Hi-Fi ?

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matthewpiano's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?

Electro wrote:

matthewpiano wrote:

I can sympathise with what you are saying Dave.  I have heard and disliked that overly soft and compressed sounding quality from some of the budget gear I've owned over the last few years.  It is what always, in the end, leads me to part with affordable NAD amplifiers - along with the slightly hollow quality they almost always have in the bass (I haven't heard the new D3020 so can't comment on that one).  However I have also had the same complaints about some very expensive set-ups I've heard.

Like you, I also have lots of experience of live music, both as a performer and an audience member and I work with some of the finest acoustic pianos in the world on a daily basis.  I am yet to hear any hi-fi equipment of any price that can convincingly bring the sound of a piano into the listening room, even on the rare occasions where the recording makes that a possibility.  Most hi-fi just does not have the scale or the tonal clarity and many systems don't even do enough to enable the identification of piano by maker - whereas if someone plays say a Bechstein grand followed by a Schimmel grand in real life I can easily identify which is which because of their distinctive characteristics.  The closest I've come with hi-fi was hearing a very expensive Sugden set-up which incorporated huge monoblock power amplifiers and was massively expensive.  The next best was a system put together by UKD using equipment by Unison Research and Opera, at the best part of £20k.  Most of the 'normal' higher-end stuff I've heard (particularly Naim) just doesn't come close.

I'm sure Electro's system is something very special, but again, it runs into thousands of pounds.  I don't be-grudge that because I'm quite sure it has been achieved through a lot of hard work, but that sort of equipment is way out of reach for the majority of us on this forum.

So therein lies the difficult decision, and one which I know you have had to grapple with yourself with your kit locked away overseas.  Do you continue to pursue the realism target, knowing full well that you will never be able to spend the amount needed to get close to achieving your ends, or do you accept that those ends are unachievable, stop wasting time worrying about it, and settle for enjoying music through a neat and affordable music system?

I hope my post did not appear to be me showing off   embarassed   because believe me I am not a wealthy person . ( all relative I suppose ) .

I believe if you are passionate enough about something you just find a way to do it and make sacrifices elsewhere as I have done .

The most important thing when putting a HiFi system together is to know what you want to achieve before you start , otherwise it can lead to a road of constant swapping ,dissapointment and wasted money IMHO ,

 

Not at all.  You are always a gentleman and I love your enthusiasm for your system. 

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chebby's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?

abacus wrote:

I think Peter Walker summed it up with his quote “Faithful to the original” ...

Actually it was "the closest approach to the original sound".

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davedotco's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

busb wrote:

davedotco wrote:

busb wrote:

CnoEvil wrote:

.....something for blokes to pontificate about, and then argue over......the enjoyment of music comes a distant third.  Wink

i hope you had a great Christmas CnoE! I can remember someone posting in a thread, either here or PFM: "...of course we all love music here..." - I burst out laughing. Sadly, I know a few who have a very, very narrow field of musical interest that's decidedly mainstream & never settle down with their system for long before changing something. They are usually rather vocal in stipulating their love of music. I take my hat off to those folk that really enjoy music without spending much outlay - maybe they'll discover the delights of a decent setup, maybe they won't.

I don't take issue with others' taste in music or how much of their disposable income they spend on playing it but the pretence of loving music sometimes grates. I'll start the ball rolling by admitting that the equipment is equally important to music. Having said that, I'll continue to listen to music that's poorly recorded rather than abandoning it as some suggest. Fortunately most of the music I listen to is well enough recorded.

as for defining what "Hi Fi" is, it's very simple - giving the purchaser the sound they like is far more important to most than "accuracy". Whether or not their friends agree is another matter.

That is of course completely correct in defining modern "Hi Fi".

The playback does not have to bear any relationship to the music as played and recorded as long as it is pleasing to the listener.

Glad we got that straight, it is something I have suspected for many years....... banging head against wall

 

I consider myself fortunate is having being brought up listening to classical music. I went to concerts in the Festival Hall, Albert Hall etc listening to music conducted by the likes of Barbirolli, Klemperer & more recently, Rattle & the CBSO. It certainly highlighted how far even a good stereo system falls short - brass instruments generally lack the most in my own experience. My view is that equipment has got better in the intervening years at reproducing classical. My experience of listening to live acoustic music does give me some idea how it should sound at home so I do want a degree of "accuracy".

This means that some recordings sound poor. Classical music is generally adequately recorded but much pop is nothing short of appalling - usually the overuse of compression is to blame but I'm particularly sensitive to harmonic distortion where say a vocal clips to the point it sounds slightly buzzy. Some people have told that it's supposed to sound like it does - I don't buy that argument, I do know what deliberate distortion sounds like - I built a fussbox as a teenager. Intended distortion sounds like intended distortion. I take a lot of photos, I dislike slightly sloping horizons so correct them during post-processing. I also take many pictures at angles at times - they don't look like I've not corrected them, the angles are too extreme. The same applies to deliberate distortion - it's obvious.

The another area of reproduction that I pay great attention to is bass. It should never be so much as to "overhang" the midrange. This usually means a compromise in speaker placement that means some recording sound bass-light where others still have too much of it. I'm not alone in paying attention to the bass but I don't blame my equipment for recording variations. To my ears, bass should sound taught - quality over quantity. Trying telling many teenagers that!

To my mind, the choices we make regarding the sound we want is partly determined by the sort of music we generally listen to. If purely classical where the recordings are from indifferent to excellent, faithful reproproduction & capturing the essence is going to be very different to someone who listens to reggae at high volumes where power handling is paramount. For those of us with wide tastes requires a system compromised between detail & warmth. Who wants a system so accurate that most of their recordings are revealed in all their highly compressed glory or a system that's never going to move the listener out of a stupor?

Interesting. I find that most people who have a decent appreciation of what real music/instruments sound like are far more likely to understand the limitations of most 'hi-fi' systems. 

Alsp choosing a system that favours the music 'we generally listen to' is, in my experience, very common, such choices vary from the modestly subtle, good PRaT for 'rock' music for example, to the ludicrous, Beats headphones say.

I do not generally agree that a system can be too accurate, if a recording is that bad, don't buy it, there is so much good music that is well (enough) recorded to listen to, why listen to trash?

__________________

We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

Vladimir's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

This trash would also include some of the best music ever made. Will howling hissy tapes stop me enjoying Miles Davis - Kind of Blue? Never.  Wink

 

..and this verification captcha is sooo annoying!

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John Duncan's picture
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Posts: 22547
RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

For you, my friend, the captcha is over.

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busb's picture
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Posts: 920
RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

davedotco wrote:

busb wrote:

davedotco wrote:

busb wrote:

CnoEvil wrote:

.....something for blokes to pontificate about, and then argue over......the enjoyment of music comes a distant third.  Wink

i hope you had a great Christmas CnoE! I can remember someone posting in a thread, either here or PFM: "...of course we all love music here..." - I burst out laughing. Sadly, I know a few who have a very, very narrow field of musical interest that's decidedly mainstream & never settle down with their system for long before changing something. They are usually rather vocal in stipulating their love of music. I take my hat off to those folk that really enjoy music without spending much outlay - maybe they'll discover the delights of a decent setup, maybe they won't.

I don't take issue with others' taste in music or how much of their disposable income they spend on playing it but the pretence of loving music sometimes grates. I'll start the ball rolling by admitting that the equipment is equally important to music. Having said that, I'll continue to listen to music that's poorly recorded rather than abandoning it as some suggest. Fortunately most of the music I listen to is well enough recorded.

as for defining what "Hi Fi" is, it's very simple - giving the purchaser the sound they like is far more important to most than "accuracy". Whether or not their friends agree is another matter.

That is of course completely correct in defining modern "Hi Fi".

The playback does not have to bear any relationship to the music as played and recorded as long as it is pleasing to the listener.

Glad we got that straight, it is something I have suspected for many years....... banging head against wall

 

I consider myself fortunate is having being brought up listening to classical music. I went to concerts in the Festival Hall, Albert Hall etc listening to music conducted by the likes of Barbirolli, Klemperer & more recently, Rattle & the CBSO. It certainly highlighted how far even a good stereo system falls short - brass instruments generally lack the most in my own experience. My view is that equipment has got better in the intervening years at reproducing classical. My experience of listening to live acoustic music does give me some idea how it should sound at home so I do want a degree of "accuracy".

This means that some recordings sound poor. Classical music is generally adequately recorded but much pop is nothing short of appalling - usually the overuse of compression is to blame but I'm particularly sensitive to harmonic distortion where say a vocal clips to the point it sounds slightly buzzy. Some people have told that it's supposed to sound like it does - I don't buy that argument, I do know what deliberate distortion sounds like - I built a fussbox as a teenager. Intended distortion sounds like intended distortion. I take a lot of photos, I dislike slightly sloping horizons so correct them during post-processing. I also take many pictures at angles at times - they don't look like I've not corrected them, the angles are too extreme. The same applies to deliberate distortion - it's obvious.

The another area of reproduction that I pay great attention to is bass. It should never be so much as to "overhang" the midrange. This usually means a compromise in speaker placement that means some recording sound bass-light where others still have too much of it. I'm not alone in paying attention to the bass but I don't blame my equipment for recording variations. To my ears, bass should sound taught - quality over quantity. Trying telling many teenagers that!

To my mind, the choices we make regarding the sound we want is partly determined by the sort of music we generally listen to. If purely classical where the recordings are from indifferent to excellent, faithful reproproduction & capturing the essence is going to be very different to someone who listens to reggae at high volumes where power handling is paramount. For those of us with wide tastes requires a system compromised between detail & warmth. Who wants a system so accurate that most of their recordings are revealed in all their highly compressed glory or a system that's never going to move the listener out of a stupor?

Interesting. I find that most people who have a decent appreciation of what real music/instruments sound like are far more likely to understand the limitations of most 'hi-fi' systems. 

Alsp choosing a system that favours the music 'we generally listen to' is, in my experience, very common, such choices vary from the modestly subtle, good PRaT for 'rock' music for example, to the ludicrous, Beats headphones say.

I do not generally agree that a system can be too accurate, if a recording is that bad, don't buy it, there is so much good music that is well (enough) recorded to listen to, why listen to trash?

I've never heard an "accurate" system that sounds dull but I have heard many that fed with bright recordings sound fatiging. Although I don't seek out poorly recorded music, I don't avoid them either. I'd sooner have a system that's generally "accurate" & put up with a minority of poor recordings than one that smoothed over rough edges (warm, dullish, dark?)

On a different subject: how are you getting on with your Kubik Free, Dave?

__________________

"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds - the pessimist fears this is true."

James Branch Cabell

 

_________________________________________________________

MAIN: Apple TV2, Mac Mini (controlled from various iThings using Remote), CA Azur 751BD & Panasonic P42V20B into audiolab M-DAC, feeding a Primare A34.2 class D power amp via XLRs, 2x 5m of Atlas Ascent 2 firing up Totem Arros. DALI Kubik Free in my kitchen

ON THE HOOF: iPhone 5S/Sennheiser MM450.

John Duncan's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

davedotco wrote:

if a recording is that bad, don't buy it, there is so much good music that is well (enough) recorded to listen to, why listen to trash?

Words fail me.

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simonlewis's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

I don't know what is hifi, but i do know what is love.   Smile

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davedotco's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

Vladimir wrote:

This trash would also include some of the best music ever made. Will howling hissy tapes stop me enjoying Miles Davis - Kind of Blue? Never.  Wink

 

..and this verification captcha is sooo annoying!

Apart from a couple of instances of mic overload the original recording of Kind of Blue is exceptional, very realistic for such an early stereo recording.

Your interpetation of 'trash' is curious though. 1959 produced three of the greatest albums of all time, Ornette Coleman's 'The shape of jazz.....' Charlie Mingus 'Ah Hum' and of course 'kind of Blue'.

All perfectly good recordings, despite the limited equipment available at the time and makes my point perfectly, why bother with all the 'real' (moderm) trash when such wonderful performances are available, often for pennies....... doh!

__________________

We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

davedotco's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

John Duncan wrote:
davedotco wrote:
if a recording is that bad, don't buy it, there is so much good music that is well (enough) recorded to listen to, why listen to trash?
Words fail me.

Perhaps an english course in the new year?

Or are you partial to 'trash'.......?

__________________

We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

Vladimir's picture
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Posts: 270
RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

John Duncan wrote:
For you, my friend, the captcha is over.

 

Thanks!  Wink

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Vladimir's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

@Dave

 

I see you got a flamethrower for xmas.

Neat!

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davedotco's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

busb wrote:

davedotco wrote:

Interesting. I find that most people who have a decent appreciation of what real music/instruments sound like are far more likely to understand the limitations of most 'hi-fi' systems. 

Alsp choosing a system that favours the music 'we generally listen to' is, in my experience, very common, such choices vary from the modestly subtle, good PRaT for 'rock' music for example, to the ludicrous, Beats headphones say.

I do not generally agree that a system can be too accurate, if a recording is that bad, don't buy it, there is so much good music that is well (enough) recorded to listen to, why listen to trash?

I've never heard an "accurate" system that sounds dull but I have heard many that fed with bright recordings sound fatiging. Although I don't seek out poorly recorded music, I don't avoid them either. I'd sooner have a system that's generally "accurate" & put up with a minority of poor recordings than one that smoothed over rough edges (warm, dullish, dark?)

On a different subject: how are you getting on with your Kubik Free, Dave?

Recordings that are bright and fatiguing fall into the 'trash' category as far as I am concerned, though to be fair I find few recordings too bright to listen to, I mostly have other issues and the worse modern recordings have no interest to me, musically speaking.

Regarding the Kubik, unused at this time.

__________________

We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

busb's picture
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Posts: 920
RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

Vladimir wrote:

@Dave

 

I see you got a flamethrower for xmas.

Neat!

Nah - I've met him. He's really a pussycat!

__________________

"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds - the pessimist fears this is true."

James Branch Cabell

 

_________________________________________________________

MAIN: Apple TV2, Mac Mini (controlled from various iThings using Remote), CA Azur 751BD & Panasonic P42V20B into audiolab M-DAC, feeding a Primare A34.2 class D power amp via XLRs, 2x 5m of Atlas Ascent 2 firing up Totem Arros. DALI Kubik Free in my kitchen

ON THE HOOF: iPhone 5S/Sennheiser MM450.

davedotco's picture
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RE: What is Hi-Fi ?....

Vladimir wrote:

@Dave

I see you got a flamethrower for xmas.

Neat!

Actually you should wait a few more days.

My New Year's resolution is "No more Mr Nice guy".

 

Actually I was kind of disturbed by you suggestion that I might think 'Kind of Blue' to be trash. Overplayed and (maybe) overhyped perhaps but a fine performance none the less.

Age is irrelevant in terms of recording quality, sure there are limitations with early equipment but that is fundamentaly different from the awful recordings that have been produced in this century for example. Real 'trash' in other words.

To see what I mean by this, and sticking to the Miles theme, you should try some of the 'Birth of the Cool' recordings, short pieces recorded to be released on 78s, mono of course but perfectly listenable despite being recorded in the late 40s.

__________________

We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne