High Quality Sound and the Perfect System
Audio-lovers constantly search for the best audio quality. Many, for this reason, don’t focus on media and equipment. Some design entire room architectures to maximize a system’s acoustical abilities. For some, a sound might be dark, bright, warm or dry. Others might use the word ambiance to describe an acoustical environment. For this reason, it’s difficult to determine what’s “high quality” and what isn’t.
The term HiFi, or High fidelity, is an adjective used to describe a highly effective sound reproduction system. A high fidelity system can play back sounds which resemble the sounds’ original sources. High fidelity can also describe the endless pursuit of great sound reproduction systems.
High Fidelity and History
High fidelity began as a 1950s term, used to describe equipment and records capable of providing faithful sound reproductions. Some audio-lovers might consider high fidelity equipment to merely be expensive. For most, however, it describes the technical characteristics of individual components.
The components which contribute to an instrument’s HiFi are numerous. We’re talking about radio tuners, separate turntables, preamplifiers, loudspeakers and power amplifiers. Some music enthusiasts even construct their own HiFi systems; these systems are made with the sole purpose of perfecting home-audio sounds.
HiFi and the Modern Musical World
HiFi isn’t limited to analog components. In fact, it’s been adapted to modern streaming services like Deezer and Tidal. These services compete against companies like Apple, Google, Spotify and Amazon—each of which offers standard sound quality.
Because a number of factors determine the quality of music, it can be difficult to secure a truly HiFi experience via streamed music. Internet strength, headphones and the way the music was created all contribute to its perceived quality. For this reason, it can be difficult to determine whether a piece is HiFi or not.
HiFi and HD
High fidelity shouldn’t be confused with high-definition, or HD. HD refers to video quality, whereas HiFi refers to sound quality. High-definition can refer to audio, though its terminology use isn’t well-defined. It also only refers to digital audio, whereas HiFi refers to the combination of analog and digital components.
As a result, HiFi is a far better term to use when describing sound quality. It simply follows more established standards. While a lot of companies attempt to pin down HD audio via computers, the music industry still upholds HiFi as a better indicator of quality.
So, there you have it! No, HiFi isn’t the ultimate determining factor of good musical reproduction. It is, however, a “prestige classification” of sorts. If you don’t care about HiFi—that’s alright. If you do, however, you’ll enter a new bracket of musical appreciation.