The Hi-Fi experience

The modern age is complete with a multitude of ways to listen to music – both easily and conveniently.Thanks to the iPod, the smartphone, and music stored on a hard drive, your favorite music is often so easily accessible that it is just one button away. While all these technical marvels exist to simplify our lives, we slowly find that in many cases all this useful progress doesn't come for free. It comes at a cost and that cost is the privilege of enjoying your music in all the passion and glory, subtlety and refinement that were transferred to the recording tapes. 

The era of the “traditional” audiophile, who emphasized a critical aspect of musical enjoyment – the fidelity of the playback chain -  is slowly giving way to the innumerable conveniences afforded by technology that is aimed to provide just that: convenience. 

Ultimate fidelity? Well, that is another matter, and quite sadly, not necessarily a priority with these technological marvels. Yet this is quite surprising, giving the fact, that most people would for instance prefer a flat HD TV or a camera with a 'high picture quality'.

Here are just 5 basic facts that will enlighten you to what a true high fidelity music system can bring you.

Listening pleasure really improves your well being

Music played and listened to through a high-fidelity system can, and will, provide an emotional experience that is at once unquantifiable, moving, and memorable.  For many, music brings forth emotions that originate deep within the spiritual being. Sometimes a particular musical passage brings forth fond memories. In fact, scientific research has proven that when one listens to music, under certain optimal conditions for that particular listener, it can stimulate to such an extent that the “high” experienced is not unlike that which results from an addiction (without the dangerous side effects, of course!). Therefore, the enjoyment derived from listening to your music has exclusively positive effects on one’s well-being.  It can reduce stress and increase satisfaction. The latest discoveries in neuroscience confirm without doubt that music indeed has therapeutic properties, especially classical music.  You can therefore conclude that MUSIC is GOOD for YOUR HEALTH!

 Absence of fatigue

Listening fatigue is often caused by a music system of poor fidelity. After prolonged listening, a music system that does not properly demonstrate the qualities of music that give it its "life" will increase the likelihood of listening fatigue. In extreme cases, prolonged listening to badly reproduced music can even cause headaches. The human ear is a highly sensitive instrument, and one that is naturally accustomed to "comfortably" perceiving sounds in as close to their natural state as possible. Any deviation from this veers away from the original fidelity, thereby causing the onset of listening fatigue.It must also be said that certain sounds in a recording may have a natural aggressiveness to them.When reproduced, distortion caused by the electronics in the playback chain is considerably more harmful to listening enjoyment than the natural state of such unpleasant sounds.Once again, a quality high-fidelity system goes a long way to not only providing the listener with an enjoyable listening experience, but equally so reduces any listening fatigue that may result.

the music's soundstage

The concept of the soundstage is well understood amongst audiophiles, but unfortunately poorly interpreted elsewhere.It is one of the many elements of a listening experience, that add to the sensation and emotional impact of music.  Put simply, the soundstage is the panoramic soundfield of music, in which all the components of the musical piece are defined and positioned.In the best case scenarios, a top-grade music system can give the listener an almost surreal experience, making it virtually believable that the music is actually live in your environment.Much like properly focusing the lens of a camera, a properly defined soundstage will clearly position every instrument, and the vocalist will be sharply centered in the performance.The loudspeakers will appear to vanish as they will be impossible to localize, as the field of sound will even extend beyond the space between the two loudspeakers.As one can see, listening and enjoying to music is greatly enhanced when a soundstage can be created for the listener, thereby immersing oneself in the experience.

The musician's intention

All artists and musicians intend their music to be heard the way they wanted it recorded.By doing so, elements recorded in the music that depict the relationships between the various sounds, are transmitted to the listener.Of course the accuracy of the recording plays a vital role in making this possible.Equally so, a quality high-fidelity system that is properly configured and set up will help retrieve and communicate this accurately, which can manifest itself in may ways:  it can be subtle cues in the music, or a particular tone to an instrument or group of instruments, or it can even be the carefully tailored transitions from soft to loud passages and vice-versa.Many more ways exist as vehicles to transmit the subtleties of what the musician wants the listener to hear, and a high-quality music system is a must to retrieve and reproduce this information accurately. 

the emotional content

No doubt you have noticed, whether live or broadcast, a musician such as a violinist, guitarist, pianist, singer or other, being fully immersed emotionally in their music.  The visual cues are obvious:  facial expressions, or other subtle physical movements that clearly say that the musician is "really into their music".  Music is an auditory form of communication, so how do we perceive these emotions when we are listening to music, as opposed to watching a concert?  The answer lies in the expression of music, the subtle tones of instruments, all which, when properly understood, speak a language of their own.  Musicians know this, and want you to "feel"the emotion of their music just as they "feel" it when playing it.  The intensity of an emotional rise can result from the way a piano note decays, from the underlying tone of a female's voice (even her breathing), from striking a single guitar note in a particular way at a particular moment, etc...  Therefore the tonal accuracy, the ability to portray the accurate timing and tonality of music are all critical ingredients that must be precisely rendered to the listener, to communicate an emotion that is intended as part of the musical message.  Once again the quality of the components in the music system, as well as properly matching them, all play a vital role to achieve the synergy necessary to convey these "abstract", yet very real, qualities embedded in music.  Here's a tip:  if you listen to your favorite music and it can bring a tear to your eye, you know you are on the right path towards the ideal music system for your needs and wants.