add arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up authorcheckmark clipboard combo comment delete discord dots drag-handle dropdown-arrow errorfacebook history inbox instagram issuelink lock markup-bbcode markup-html markup-pcpp markup-cyclingbuilder markup-plain-text markup-reddit menu pin radio-button save search settings share star-empty star-full star-half switch successtag twitch twitter user warningwattage weight youtube

What is Hi-Fi?

manirellis_fridge

42 months ago

I've been mulling this topic over for a while and just don't know the true purpose of it. What is the point in having headphones that reach up to or even above 50kHz, when this frequency range isn't audible to the human ear. Even if humans could hear at this frequency range, there isn't much content (that I have noticed, anyways) that has sound going to these frequencies. Could someone clear up Hi-Fi sound for me?

Comments

  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

Fidelity is the accuracy or faithfulness with which sound is reproduced, in this instance. Thus, high fidelity would imply a high level of accuracy in sound reproduction; accuracy as measured against the original sounds that were made during the recording process. When you think about the complexity of transmitting sound from a recording studio somewhere in LA to your desktop in Wisconsin you'll easily start to identify many areas where fidelity can be lost, starting with the microphone the vocalist was singing into and leading all the way to the tweeters on your speakers.

It's a simple thing, then, to infer that hi-fi is the pursuit of audio fidelity, the highest fidelity one can physically accomplish. Everything from higher quality source media to more accurate speakers and amplifiers fall under the umbrella of hi-fi. It's not something as simple as a claimed frequency response range, it's a holistic approach to hearing the sounds coming out of your speakers the way they were intended to be heard, or as close as technologically possible.

Of course when you deal with the vagaries of human sensation you find yourself pretty deep into subjective territory pretty quickly, and then you have the overwhelming influence of market forces and the inevitability of enthusiasts with more enthusiasm (and money) than sense. There's a lot of snake oil being piped into ears where simple good music should be going. But the seedy nature of the industry shouldn't completely negate the purer intentions of the pursuit of high fidelity music enjoyment.

Even absent the influence of completely worthless audio related products ($1000 cables and magic sound rocks spring to mind) the law of diminishing returns is quite present in the hobby. In that respect it isn't unlike what PC enthusiasts encounter. Going from a gtx960 to a 970 is a pretty huge leap in performance for a somewhat reasonable price, 970 to 980 not so much. Some of us nutters will pay much more for slightly less, and that's really why the high end market for anything exists. Most (I say most, not all, some of it is again irredeemable ********) hi-fi gear is the same. Do you need a $3000 pair of headphones to enjoy music? No, probably not. Will that 3 kilobuck set of cans sound objectively better than a pair of beats by Dre? You bet your ***. Will they sound better than something that costs half the price though? Yeah, probably, but not as drastically better. Its the pursuit of that last 5% that drives these crazy prices. That extra 10fps that gets your from "playable" to smooth as butter.

Another key parallel to draw between PC gaming and hi-fi is the common point of termination in the signal path, namely human senses. There comes a certain point of fidelity where human senses are obviated, which is to say that any further increase in quality would be wasted since we couldn't possibly perceive such subtleties with our onboard i/o (namely our eyes, ears and brains.) Human hearing is kind of ****, so it doesn't take a whole hell of lot to saturate perceivable audio quality. Claims of "golden ears" not withstanding, your average music listener probably can't tell the difference between a recording at 44.1khz and 192khz, we simply lack the hardware to pick up the majority of the frequency range. But frequency isn't the only factor in hi-fi music, and I guess that's really the point I was trying to make in the first place.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

" sound reproduction over the full range of audible frequencies with very little distortion of the original signal. " (Dictionary com, 2016)

" 1. Fidelity is the accuracy with which an electronic system reproduces the sound or image of its input signal. Therefore the expression "High Fidelity" would indicate that a system, in the case of sound, is producing slick and high quality sound through its speakers. " (Camal, 2007)

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi-fi is to sound what hi-def is to video.

[comment deleted]
  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

There are good definitions here about what is HiFi sound, so I'm going to explain this.

What is the point in having headphones that reach up to or even above 50kHz, when this frequency range isn't audible to the human ear. Even if humans could hear at this frequency range, there isn't much content (that I have noticed, anyways) that has sound going to these frequencies.

The reason that they have such extended range is because speakers generally aren't good at making sound at the upper and lower end of their "usable range". For example this relatively cheap full range driver is rated to be used between 120-20,000 hz, but if you look at the response graph here you can see that after 4,000 hz the response goes all over the place. The driver can make sounds from 120 to 20,000hz, but it is best at making sounds from 200-2,000hz.

By this we see that a driver that has a range of (insert sufficiantly low number)-20,000hz probrably isn't as good at making 20,000hz sounds as a driver that has a range of (insert sufficiantly low number)-50,000hz, but this is a general assumption.

[comment deleted]
  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

and it's quite a mess as you have subjectivity mixed with objectivity

yes, and the consumer needs to be able to make an opinion (the subjective part) so that they can know what their priorities are and either find something that has proproties that fit those priorities (the objective part) or find someone who can make that desision. Most people don't spend anywhere near that amount of time on it (unless they are an audiophile)

and most people who try to discuss this deeply have no idea what they are talking about (me included).

It's only really a problem when people can't admit when they are over their head :P

It's marketing gimecks + pseudoscience + placebo + people who want to justify their purchase

there are measurable and perceivable differences, most things do not run off of fairy dust and psycology (though I can't say that everything does't any more than you can say that everything does)

[comment deleted]
[comment deleted by staff]
  • 42 months ago
  • 2 points

High fidelity—or hi-fi or hifi—reproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners, audiophiles and home audio enthusiasts to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound[1] to distinguish it from the lower quality sound produced by inexpensive audio equipment, or the inferior quality of sound reproduction that can be heard in recordings made until the late 1940s. Ideally, high-fidelity equipment has minimal amounts of noise and distortion and an accurate frequency response.

(Wikipedia, last edited 19 days ago)

(Please reference next time)

[comment deleted]

Sort

add arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up authorcheckmark clipboard combo comment delete discord dots drag-handle dropdown-arrow errorfacebook history inbox instagram issuelink lock markup-bbcode markup-html markup-pcpp markup-cyclingbuilder markup-plain-text markup-reddit menu pin radio-button save search settings share star-empty star-full star-half switch successtag twitch twitter user warningwattage weight youtube