The term Hi-Fi has been about for a while – long enough that it feels like it should be old-fashioned. But the need for real Hi-Fi sound stays extraordinarily up-to-date; it’s now typically applicable to Hi-Fi audio, mobile iPods and home cinema systems – but remember the term is short for “high fidelity”.
Words evolve and lose connection with their original meanings. So , Hi-Fi came to mean a set of devices – a disk player, a receiver, some surround sound speakers – for playing music. This now extends to a greater range of option: more speaker types such as subwoofers, tweeters and headphones, more technologies like MP3, CDs DVDs, surround sound, dolby, blue ray. And let's face it, even the most modest iPods, modern disc player or perhaps radio produces “high fidelity” compared to those available 50 years ago.
Back then, “high fidelity” indicated kit capable of delivering a quality of sound performance superior to that other units, which were, well, lower fidelity. Fidelity – being truthful, being faithful to the original. The memorable old HMV symbol of the dog close to the phonograph immediately sent the message – that what he, the dog, heard was a true rendition of the real sound.
Maybe almost all real Hi-Fi sound systems available thru online or sold today are indeed high fidelity, but some are higher than others. The quest for ever-higher fidelity goes on and every year sees further refinements to systems which already are strikingly good. But then, anyone that has put on a top quality set of headphones to hear a musical performance recorded under modern audio studio conditions can testify to something which is a little bit of a Hi-Fi conundrum: namely, that the recording sounds better than any original – so it’s really not giving you high fidelity. Far from it in fact.
How can this be so? Well, it reduces down to the incontrovertible fact that life, real life, is never going to be perfect, while, the wizardry of sound creation and reproduction gets better, in the general direction of its own definition of perfection.
You sit in a concert music hall, a recital hall, and listen to a performance. The sound relationships between, say, the first violins and the trumpets varies from position to position in the concert hall, with only 1 ‘perfect ‘ spot. But then it’s not perfect for the balance between the violins and the tympani. Then there ambient noise – call it jumble or interference.
This real life musical experience isn't necessarily something we want to reproduce with great fidelity – it’s not good enough. We aren't after a faithful fax of real life, but some higher ideal.
So , relax and enjoy: put on the headphones or the surround sound speakers and switch on the CD, iPod or MP3. Hi-fi apparatus and all the associated technology can deliver to you, and quite affordably, an audio experience which can really be called divine since it exceeds what you can feel in ‘real ‘ life.