Low Fidelity

John Duncan

Well-known member
A comment on another thread has got me thinking - is the fixation with finding a system that you "like the sound of" indicative of the fact that hifi nowadays isn't hifi at all?

The point of high fidelity should be just that - faithful reproduction of the original source material, no? Now I know that not many people have access to master tape recordings, but I do for a couple of things that I've done myself, and I always take the CDs mastered from those when I'm auditioning stuff, and can say that my hifi therefore sounds pretty much like the real thing as it sounded in the studio. The upshot of this is that some material that might have sounded ok on my grungy old setup now sounds a little flat or shrill or whatever - but I now regard that as the fault of the source material, not the kit.

Does this suggest that even high end kit adds its own colouration to music to make it sound a way it shouldn't really? Or should it be the case that basically, by the time you get to a grand or more per component (high end in my book, and presumably that expensive as it's been built with the aim of getting closer to "high fidelity" the more money you spend) they should all sound the same? If that's the case, shouldn't it be simple to buy components because they're just "accurate"? And why bother system matching at all?

(dons flameproof suit)


New member
Jan 2, 2008
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Isn't that what studio monitors are meant to do? ie play it the way its meant to be and its therefore up to the people in the studio to make it sound "nice".

Aren't speakers meant to make things sound "nice" (up to a point).

A good point though.


I think High Fidelity in the way you are describing it there is called "Reference" kit nowadays and costs vast amounts of money. (Although I'm sure you can get some pretty neutral kit?)

Almost everything else nowadays has very distinctive characteristics. For example when I auditioned some Cambridge audio kit it was very in-your-face and pacy, but my Marantz/Focal-JM Lab setup was really smooth, laid back and refined sounding which suited me (and my music) better.

I totally agree with the difference in source material though; it's something you don't really notice until you have more revealing kit.

Cheers, Marco.


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