What is High Fidelity?-Defining quality audio reproduction.

Hi Fi is short for high fidelity, a term used to describe the aim of a stereo system when playing a record, cd, radio or listening to streamed music. Because there are different levels of playback quality within the various brands and models of 'hi fi', there has developed two other terms, Lo Fi and Mid Fi. Below is a simple way of exlaining the difference between the three quality levels.

Lo-Fi

Lo Fi is a label given to mass produced consumer electronics which are usually found in non-specialist stores. They are often laden with flashing lights, lots of dials (bells & whistles), and have exaggerated wattage and distortion ratings.

Mid-Fi

Mid Fi is what most people end up buying from a specialist store. Great sound can be had from this category as the products often benefit from 'trickle down' technology from the 'High End'.

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HI-Fi

Hi Fi or 'High End' is what the more dedicated listener aspires to. The components are often leading edge technology that push the replay envelope of listening to recorded music to new heights.

The difference between listening to music on these three types of components/systems can be startling. With a Lo Fi system you get a bleached version of the music. You can recognise the piece being played, but many of the complexities that make up music such as rhythm, scale and dynamics are missing in action. Resolution of bass notes is poor, often smothering the mid range. The treble tends to sound like sausages frying in the pan rather than cymbals shimmering. The high distortion that is prevalent in Lo Fi gear corrupts the music signal making the sound harsh and fatiguing.

For most listeners, going from a Lo Fi to Mid Fi system is a revelation. Pieces of music they thought they knew well sound more lifelike and 'in the room'. There is a greater sense of involvement with what the performer is trying to communicate, and instruments sound more like the real thing. In a room with good acoustics, a carefully chosen and set up Mid Fi system can punch well above it's weight.

Hearing a well set up true 'high end' Hi Fi system can be an unsettling experience. Jaw dropping is another way of putting it. Every facet of the music is improved. Deep extended bass, sparkling clear treble, huge dynamic swings, and a reach out and touch it physical presence to the music. The illusion of real musicians singing and playing in the room is almost palpable. A Hi Fi of this quality demands a well thought out room with good acoustics to perform at it's best. A specialist dealer is invaluable with the gear/room equation and setup at this level.

These 3 steps below will ensure you get the right system for your situation.

Advice

Whether you are an audio novice or hard-core audiophile, I will relate to your level of understanding. I offer honest advice that best suits your audio needs and budget. Knowledge will ensure you make the right choices.

Road Map

The best systems I've heard and sold are those where the owner has had a road map or end-goal. Keeping focused to get the desired system, even if it takes a few years, always results in the best sound. Patience is the key.

Installation

Proper installation, whether it's a multi-room system or high-end hi fi is paramount. I have good installers and techs that I use for cabling and multi-room installs. I install high-end hi fi systems personally.

Why should I buy my new sound system from a specialist audio store?

The reasons are plain and simple. Purchasing a stereo or home theatre is not like buying an electric jug or toaster. Music is a form of soul food, and if it's important in your life, deserves quality reproduction in your home. Choosing the  correct components to achieve this requires the guidance of an experienced specialist retailer.

Buying a new hi fi should be exciting and fun, but keeping in mind a considered approach is always best. This requires good information explained properly by a true specialist. Finding a dealer you can trust to give you that advice, one who has a wealth of experience is paramount to getting a system that is right for you.

At Living Sound I take the time to find out what your specific requirements are. I will listen and I will inform. Only then will I recommend a system that best suits your listening habits, room layout and decor. This process is important because I want my customers to experience long-term satisfaction from their purchase. This approach is the complete opposite to rushing in and buying what’s on offer at a general appliance store just because it's the latest deal.

A quality hi fi system will enrich your life, so it's really important to make sure you get the best quality for your budget, whether it's $1,000 or $10,000 plus.