A Quick Guide to Hi-Fi Audio
Enjoy Music the Way It Was Meant to Be Heard
It’s easy to drive to the nearest electronics store in the Bellevue, Washington area and pick out some home audio speakers that look the part. But it’s even more disappointing to return home only to find that the quality of those speakers just wasn’t what you hoped for.
Consumer-grade speaker brands can easily cover up subpar audio quality with flashy finishes and bells and whistles that do nothing for the sound. Don’t be fooled by appearance and false marketing. Instead, invest in high-fidelity speakers to enjoy music the way it was meant to be heard.
Without getting into the weeds, we’ve created a quick and simple guide to high-fidelity audio. Read below to learn more about what this term means and discover a couple of hi-fi audio brands we recommend for your home audio system upgrade.
What Does High Fidelity Mean?
High fidelity, often shortened as hi-fi, is a term used by audio enthusiasts to refer to the high-quality reproduction of sound.
The journey to high-fidelity audio started in the 1930s when an American violinist named Avery Fisher began experimenting with audio design and acoustics in an attempt to create a radio that would sound like he was listening to a live orchestra. In 1948, even greater innovations brought about a revolution in high-quality audio, some of the key developments being reel-to-reel tape recording, microgroove vinyl records, and FM radio. It was in the 1950s when audio manufacturers began using the term “high-fidelity” to describe records and equipment intended to provide faithful sound reproduction.
In short, the point of high-fidelity audio is to get as close to the original recording as possible. So, what separates high-fidelity from consumer-grade audio systems? The speakers.
High-fidelity speakers are specifically designed to produce sound exactly as it was originally recorded and received by the speaker with as little alteration or coloration as possible. These speakers are generally constructed with higher-quality materials and sometimes with exotic enclosures to help reduce resonance, electrical noise, and interference. These structural differences leave less room for defects, and it also makes these speakers much more expensive to manufacture.
Is It Just About Speakers?
To experience true high-fidelity audio, you must consider the source audio, too. The quality of the music you listen to plays a huge role in the quality of the finished output—no matter how great your speakers are. Even with a consumer-grade speaker system, it’s fairly easy to tell the difference between a CD-quality lossless recording and a low-bitrate MP3 one. But hi-fi systems take that difference a step further and really bring out the detail of high-fidelity audio—namely high-resolution audio.
Though there’s no single universal standard for hi-res audio, the term is defined as “lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better-than-CD quality music sources.” Hi-res audio reproduces the full spectrum of sound from recordings, and it perfectly captures the textures and details that the artists intended for you to hear.
Hi-res music contrasts with lossy audio formats such as AAC, MP3, and WMA, which compress audio using algorithms that discard data. Essentially, lossy formats shave off parts of the music to reduce the file size to a more compact level. Though the difference in quality may be small between a lossless FLAC and a high-quality MP3, that difference will be more evident through hi-fi speakers and electronics.
To get a better quality audio experience with the convenience of streaming, consider hi-res streaming services like Tidal, Amazon Music HD, and Qobuz to play music in lossless formats. You’ll have direct access to millions of songs in studio-master quality to enjoy on your hi-fi audio system.
A Few Hi-Fi Audio Brands We Love
Since its founding in 1977, the Danish loudspeaker maker Dynaudio has focused on creating audio solutions by music lovers, for music lovers. Whether for professional or home applications, each Dynaudio speaker has the same pristine build quality and goes through the same rigorous levels of testing. Listen to your favorite songs at home with equipment on par with that used in world-leading recording studios.
Dynaudio offers a wide range of home audio solutions, including bookshelf and tower speakers, architectural speakers, wireless speakers, outdoor speakers, and subwoofers. Dynaudio is a renowned and award-winning audio brand in the hi-fi industry.
France-based Focal was founded in 1979 and has been creating benchmark acoustic equipment with one goal in mind: to open a gateway to new sensations that allow audiophiles to experience pleasure in its purest form. Focal loudspeakers push the limits of sound to offer a truly unique, hi-fi listening experience that honors the artists’ creations. Choose from Focal’s vast selection of beautiful freestanding, architectural, and wireless speakers for your dedicated listening room, home theater, or whole-home audio system. We’ve written a beginner’s guide to Focal here if you’d like to learn more about this hi-fi audio brand.
Upgrade your home audio system today with beautifully crafted hi-fi speakers that will transform the way you enjoy your favorite music. You’ll wonder why you didn’t make the switch earlier. Contact our team here or send us a live chat below to schedule a free consultation.