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What is Hi-Fi ?

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davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
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Covenanter said:
This thread seem to have become sidetracked!


HiFi used to mean "high fidelity", ie a system that aimed to reproduce as closely as possible the original. For me that is what it still means.

However, for the majority of the contributors to this forum and indeed for the magazine itself I think it means something different. That something different is IMO a cross between a fashion statement and a system that sounds "good" even if that "good" isn't actually what the original sounds like.

This is why I have problems with WHiFi reviews. Putting to one side the meaningless language they use, and which they are unwilling to defend, they don't review stuff on the basis of whether it can reproduce the original accurately. I think there are two factors here. Firstly when it come to "popular" music the concept of an "original" is somewhat unclear and indeed many modern recordings are so distorted that they make that almost impossible. Secondly I think that when it comes to classical music, where the idea of "original" has some meaning, I think they generally have no idea what they are talking about. I've not auditioned masses of kit (because I have a life) but I do know what classical (and some popular) music should sound like and I wouldn't depend on WHiFi reviews at all. I'd much more depend on some of the people who post here (and my own ears).

Chris
One of the (many) reasons we are discussing 'vintage' jazz is for the 'purity', if I may use such a term, of the recording.

As you can read above many of the recordings are not great technically, but they are honest recordings made, and made well with the technology of the time.

Much of what is being played is unscripted, unrehearsed and recorded in a handful of takes. For me this gives the music an energy, a spontaniety that is captivating, capturing the 'feel' of these recordings is the essence of hi-fidelity playback.

Of course it is not just jazz, though the use of real acoustic instruments does help, but all forms of music that are performed live and for real. It may be a studio recording like those we discuss above but the music was played and recorded 'live', no multitracking, no overdubs, no post-production.

Recordings like that tell you everything you need to know about the real capabilities of a playback system, it does not matter whether it was Miles Davis (sextet) recording Kind of Blue in two afternoon sessions or Joy Division playing live at the University of London, on a good system the reality of the performance grabs hold of you and does not let go.
 

Jim-W

New member
Jul 29, 2013
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Thompson, if you like L Morgan listen to 'In Search Of The New Land' on Blue Note. Lee digs deep and Wayne Shorter is well Wayne Shorter ie lyrical and passionate. A great record. Well-recorded too. It's hard bop but edges towards free in places.

In terms of truthful reproduction well I'm not sure that it's the be all and end all of listening to music. If it sounds ok, then it's ok; you can get far too hung up on this stuff and you forget why you're listening ie to the music, not to the equipment.

As I type, I'm listening to records in a small room. I've got a little system in here with a Quad 34/306/fm4 amplifier; the quad 34 pre is often hammered for being a bit woolly and like a blanket over the music. It's not the most transparent, but in this room, wih this record player and these speakers, it sounds perfect to my ears: relaxed presentation and not bass-heavy. There's times when I want detail and bass but not in here. Horses for courses is what I'm trying to say. All systems sound different, in different rooms: there's a place for everything. Vive la diffeence.
 

busb

New member
Jun 14, 2011
58
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Thompsonuxb said:
Covenanter said:
This thread seem to have become sidetracked!

HiFi used to mean "high fidelity", ie a system that aimed to reproduce as closely as possible the original. For me that is what it still means.

However, for the majority of the contributors to this forum and indeed for the magazine itself I think it means something different. That something different is IMO a cross between a fashion statement and a system that sounds "good" even if that "good" isn't actually what the original sounds like.

This is why I have problems with WHiFi reviews. Putting to one side the meaningless language they use, and which they are unwilling to defend, they don't review stuff on the basis of whether it can reproduce the original accurately. I think there are two factors here. Firstly when it come to "popular" music the concept of an "original" is somewhat unclear and indeed many modern recordings are so distorted that they make that almost impossible. Secondly I think that when it comes to classical music, where the idea of "original" has some meaning, I think they generally have no idea what they are talking about. I've not auditioned masses of kit (because I have a life) but I do know what classical (and some popular) music should sound like and I wouldn't depend on WHiFi reviews at all. I'd much more depend on some of the people who post here (and my own ears).

Chris
Sorry thats piffle..... "can reproduce the original"....prrrft!

as someones already stated a horn in this room may not sound the same in another, so what is real.

HiFi just means defined, to be able to differentiate between a high hat & a triangle a trumpet and a trombone, a bass note and the foot drum if your system can do that then fine, some systems or combinations of equ do it better than others. Some kit adds nuances, ambience, 3dness engineered into recordings better than others - there to add to the enjoyment.

Some of you guys really need to come down to earth, honestly.

I know if yo go to a hall to listen to live music loudly - ear buds make it sound just like your stereo.
Really? The SQ at most pop/rock concerts is generally far worse than from my stereo! What you gain over listening at home is atmosphere & the tactility (bass & vibration), smell & excitement etc.

As for Chris' comments, I personally think he's spot on. Without some sort of reference like live acoustic music, the flatness or otherwise of reproduced music ends up being totally arbitory. Who's then to say that totally overblown farty bass overhanging the midrange wasn't entirely the intention of the artist or a horribly anemic papery sound likewise? I love many sorts of music from classical to Drum & Bass. It's classical & other types of acoustic music that's generally less compressed, has a realistic tonal spread & some dynamics.

Some pop music is recorded appallingly - far too bright, too little or too much bass, severe amplitude disortion caused by mistracking compression artefacts & clipping distortion. Many of these issues then get blamed on the listener's equipment. That's why its important to take both well & poorly recorded music you love to any equipment audition.

As for being nostalgic, I don't buy that with either recordings or equipment. Take loudspeakers - they are vastly better than 30yrs ago. The same applies to other equipment. That doesn't mean you can't pick up old stuff that sounds fantastic, you can. The same applies to recordings - I have some classical recorded in the fifties - the string section usually has a particularly artificial tone, not upleasent as such but not realistic. Many pop recordings recorded 20 or so years ago have ill-defined bass where many contempory ones it's tight & tuneful. As, always there are exceptions that defy the norm.
 

Jim-W

New member
Jul 29, 2013
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'As for being nostalgic, I don't buy that with either recordings or equipment. Take loudspeakers - they are vastly better than 30yrs ago. The same applies to other equipment. That doesn't mean you can't pick up old stuff that sounds fantastic, you can. The same applies to recordings - I have some classical recorded in the fifties - the string section usually has a particularly artificial tone, not upleasent as such but not realistic. Many pop recordings recorded 20 or so years ago have ill-defined bass where many contempory ones it's tight & tuneful. As, always there are exceptions that defy the norm.'

[/quote]

One example of well-recorded stuff from the 50's and 60's is the Blue Note label; the recordings are not without fault as others have pointed out but they capture the essence of a band playing and, essential to jazz, responding to each other very well. These original recordings are weighty, meaty slabs of vinyl with very-well recorded sax and trumpet;piano less so, but the ambience of live music is there. These records, the mono first issues in excellent condition, regularly fetch between £300 up to £1,000 +. What are collectors paying for? Nostalgia? Pride of ownership? Sound quality? The fact that these original 50's recordings sound much better than represses? Probably a combination of all of these factors, but it isn't primarily nostalgia imo.

As for all modern equipment being an advance on the achievements of the past, well, it may be, but there are those of us who would argue that much of it is different in presentation, but not necessarily better. The trend towards a more forward, in your face, presentation, ie the Ortofon 2M red type of sound is not universally loved.
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
220
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I recently discovered David Philips (and English expat living in Holland) who records his music on a vintage Tascam 4 channel tape recorder because he prefers the tape sound.

However!

Here is a clean digital recording decently miked, with no processing and no effects or dubbing or anything we are used listening to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1YAp_465Kk

Even through youtube the amount of detail retained is staggering to me. You can hear it on the cheapest mono 0.5 inch laptop speaker. It just makes you wonder how much detail and ambience we are deprived due to producing and mastering.

One more. :dance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev519Wnk22c
 

Jim-W

New member
Jul 29, 2013
2
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0
Vladimir said:
I recently discovered David Philips (and English expat living in Holland) who records his music on a vintage Tascam 4 channel tape recorder because he prefers the tape sound.
Interesting point. Enjoyed these. He's pretty damn good!
 

Covenanter

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2012
63
0
18,540
Thompsonuxb said:
Covenanter said:
This thread seem to have become sidetracked!


HiFi used to mean "high fidelity", ie a system that aimed to reproduce as closely as possible the original. For me that is what it still means.

However, for the majority of the contributors to this forum and indeed for the magazine itself I think it means something different. That something different is IMO a cross between a fashion statement and a system that sounds "good" even if that "good" isn't actually what the original sounds like.

This is why I have problems with WHiFi reviews. Putting to one side the meaningless language they use, and which they are unwilling to defend, they don't review stuff on the basis of whether it can reproduce the original accurately. I think there are two factors here. Firstly when it come to "popular" music the concept of an "original" is somewhat unclear and indeed many modern recordings are so distorted that they make that almost impossible. Secondly I think that when it comes to classical music, where the idea of "original" has some meaning, I think they generally have no idea what they are talking about. I've not auditioned masses of kit (because I have a life) but I do know what classical (and some popular) music should sound like and I wouldn't depend on WHiFi reviews at all. I'd much more depend on some of the people who post here (and my own ears).

Chris
Sorry thats piffle..... "can reproduce the original"....prrrft!

as someones already stated a horn in this room may not sound the same in another, so what is real.

HiFi just means defined, to be able to differentiate between a high hat & a triangle a trumpet and a trombone, a bass note and the foot drum if your system can do that then fine, some systems or combinations of equ do it better than others. Some kit adds nuances, ambience, 3dness engineered into recordings better than others - there to add to the enjoyment.

Some of you guys really need to come down to earth, honestly.

I know if yo go to a hall to listen to live music loudly - ear buds make it sound just like your stereo.
I think you missed, or ignored, my "as closely as possible". What I am looking for in "hi fi" is something that reproduces the concert hall experience as closely as possible within my budget. I'm not interested in kit that "adds" or indeed "subtracts".

Two weeks ago I heard Kissin play the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1 at Symphony Hall here in Birmingham and the next day I listened to my Argerich live recording. Of course they weren't identical but the latter was close enough to a concert hall performance to satisfy me. The piano sounded like Kissin's piano. When I joined this forum people took the michael when I said I wanted to hear a piano that sounded like a piano and when I bad-mouthed speakers highly rated by WHiFi which failed this test.

So I want neutral "hi fi" kit. I don't like vinyl because by definition it distorts the signal. (CDs are great for classical and you need the booklets as well so streaming doesn't cut the mustard.) I don't like amps with "colour" for the same reason. I also want accurate speakers that are as neutral as possible.

That is hi-fi for me.

Chris
 

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