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Thread: What happened to the High Fidelity oath?

  1. #1
    Join Date: Aug 2010

    Location: Montseny National Park, Catalonia

    Posts: 3,255
    I'm John.

    Default What happened to the High Fidelity oath?

    Using a file based system the oath goes like this.
    (For other media insert as appropriate.)

    I swear to reproduce the file, the whole file and nothing but the file so help me listener.

    Some recent comments regarding full range drivers and many of the posts Iíve read over the time Iíve been at AoS have finally prompted me to ask the above question. I canít help get the impression that High Fidelity in its strictest sense is no longer the goal for many audiophiles.

    There are literally thousands of examples of why I think audiophiles may be straying away from seeking the truth and becoming more interested in what makes for a comfortable listening experience.
    I read occasionally a description of the ideal amplifier for example as a straight wire with gain. The ideal Dac should be completely neutral. The ideal speaker give a completely flat response over the audible frequency band etc etc.
    Any deviation from the above criteria cannot be the truth and therefore not High Fidelity by definition.

    Yet, we have posts praising equipment tuned by ear, or descriptions of equipment that sound radically different from each other, speakers that canít reproduce whatís on the media, cables change the sound of the system for better or worse; I wonít go on, Iím sure youíve got the idea.

    Obviously if an audible change is detectable then one or the other, or maybe both, canít be the truth.

    So, are todayís audiophiles still interested in High Fidelity or have they come to accept that this is unobtainable and settle for what pleases them most?
    Single spur balanced Mains. Self built music server with 3 seperate linear PSU, Intel i5, 16 GB RAM no hard drive (various Linux OS). Benchmark Dac2 HGC, single ended XLR interconnects/Belkin cable. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp. Hand built Monitors with external crossovers , Volt 250 bass & ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621 Mid & Scanspeak D2905/9300 Hi. HD595 & Beyer 880 (600 ohm) cans.

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    John.

  2. #2
    Join Date: May 2011

    Location: Glasgow

    Posts: 6,959
    I'm Brian.

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    I've got to ask John , why would you want an uncomfortable listening experience . Don't get me wrong , I've heard this in my own and other peoples systems . I've been doing this hifi thing for over 30 years now and , within my bubget certainly , true ' high fidelity ' is indeed unobtainable IMO . So now I tailor my system to suit my own particular tastes . I tend to think that music is something to relax to , so I lean towards a warmer more relaxed type of sound . I've tried all sorts of gear and still default back to this type of sound .
    Even though my sources are digital they have been 'modified ' to produce a gentler , less fatiguing SQ. Guess I can't describe myself as an audiophile any more then

  3. #3
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Cheshire, UK

    Posts: 2,660
    I'm Clive.

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    Hi John,

    I hope it's not to cool in Spain while you wait for the Spring.

    My take on high fidelity has changed as technology has improved. Way back, ie the 50s and 60s there was a greater departure from fidelity than we have today. Some of the kit from that era stacks up really well today but some doesn't. Even kit today which you may regard as not being high fidelity enough will be very high fidelity when compared with the norms when the term was coined.

    My view is that the term hifi is outdated and might as well be consigned to scrapheap as what hifi means to most people (eg Bose) is not what we believe it means.
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  4. #4
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 23,599
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    it is possible to be an audiophile and not be interested in hi-fidelity, the two are not mutually exclusive. For me, with digital I aim for hi-fidelity, with vinyl I aim for somethign I like the sound of. Not everyone wants that straight from the desk sound, I can appreciate that. But that is 'hi-fidelity' in the strictest meaning of the words.
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SLP1200 CD Player * Nelson Pass DCB1 Pre amp / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *


    'You fool! To think that your ape-brain could contain the full knowledge of the Krell!'

  5. #5
    Join Date: Nov 2013

    Location: Powys

    Posts: 891
    I'm David.

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    I have to say I'm more interested in music than hi fi, other than as a means to an end - an enjoyable listening experience, and I don't remember signing any pledge or swearing any oath. How do we know what is "truth" anyway? What we're listening to is a reproduction, not an actual performance. Mostly, unless it's a warts and all live recording the notion of a performance is illusory anyway. On many modern multitrack recordings not all the musicians recorded their parts at the same time and not necessarily in the same studio or even the same continent. Add in studio effect, reverb and so on and you have the illusion of a performance and a possibly convincing soundstage. And even classical recordings are made in a number of 'takes' and the best are edited together. What you're describing as the ideal 'a straight wire with gain', etc is an aspiration rather than a reality, even if a loudspeaker with a totally flat frequency response was possible that makes no allowance for the contribution made by the room

  6. #6
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 23,599
    I'm Martin.

    Default

    The 'truth' is the recording on the disc or the file. How it was made is irrelevant.

    if i play that recording back and a add a bit of bass boost with my graphic equaliser (cause i like bass) then that is not pursuing 'hi-fidelity'. if I do my best to play it back ensuring all equipment is as accurate and colour free as possible then that is the 'pursuit of hi-fidelity'.

    However there was no oath taken so we are all free to float our own boats
    Martin



    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SLP1200 CD Player * Nelson Pass DCB1 Pre amp / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *


    'You fool! To think that your ape-brain could contain the full knowledge of the Krell!'

  7. #7
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: east yorkshire

    Posts: 518
    I'm steve.

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    As an ex full range user and a high efficiency mulitiway user now, i think its all about what we hear..

    Not many people are able to listen to a system and explian why and what is not quite as it should be.

    Im still learning that art and still regularly manage to discover new to me aspects of reproduction

    Full range speakers are very wide band speakers, they tend in general to be better at producing transients (Higher acceleration factors) and can sound more lifelike.
    They are generally more efficient and as a result of being wide band, generally have more peaks, but there are, in my opinion, much more serious issues than peaks with sound reproduction.
    And as far as peaks go there are electrical and mechanical ways of overcoming these, well implemented full ranger drivers can result in a lifelike reproduction, and generally have the advantage of the extra efficiency.
    in use most are 'mechanical' 3 way speakers with a single voice coil.

    You sort of give the impression you are living with accuracy and full range users are not..which i find a little surprising (especially after reading your signature), when in effect we are all listerning to what is our systems version of accuracy,
    Last edited by SPS; 23-01-2014 at 13:22.
    collector and DIY user of old british triode valves

    Open baffles / single ended diy px4 and px25 valve amps

  8. #8
    Join Date: Mar 2012

    Location: Gloucestershire

    Posts: 3,951
    I'm Paul.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    The 'truth' is the recording on the disc or the file. How it was made is irrelevant.

    if i play that recording back and a add a bit of bass boost with my graphic equaliser (cause i like bass) then that is not pursuing 'hi-fidelity'. if I do my best to play it back ensuring all equipment is as accurate and colour free as possible then that is the 'pursuit of hi-fidelity'.

    However there was no oath taken so we are all free to float our own boats
    +1

    the aim of all good hifi should be to produce exactly what is on the file or disc, no more, no less, with good resolution. If we then wish to add colouration to account for poor recordings or in room response issues, then we are free to do that to our heart's content as it wont affect the hifi credentials of the kit we use. I cannot understand the logic behind any argument which places colouration by design as an acceptable goal. That's not "high fidelity" and in some cases, it's not "fidelity" at all. There are manufacturers (no names) who openly boast about how their kit is designed to have a "house sound" (other than faithful to the recording) or is deliberately coloured because in certain circumstances, it can sound great (mostly it may not though...). That's not High Fidelity.

    Whether someone likes deliberate colouration is another matter entirely. As Martin says, we're all free to "float our own boats" and no-one can tell us what to like sound-wise. They can only suggest what might or might not be accurate. To some, that doesn't matter.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 83,133
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Hi John,

    I can see where this one is heading (and we've been here before)....!

    There are literally thousands of examples of why I think audiophiles may be straying away from seeking the truth and becoming more interested in what makes for a comfortable listening experience.
    Well, first of all, as others have said, obtaining enjoyment from the experience of listening to one's favourite music is, first and foremost, the most important goal for any music lover, who happens to own a decent 'stereo' (note that such an individual may have rather different desires and goals from that of an 'audiophile')...

    At the end of the day, however, if the experience of listening to music doesn't provide pleasure to the listener (due to him or her hearing a sound that isn't enjoyable), then what is the point of the exercise?

    The above becomes even more relevant when you embrace the fact that no hi-fi system is perfect, and often what we consider as 'high-fidelity sound' is no more than a combination of distortions which appeases our preferences. The notion of any genuine 'truth' is but a pipedream.

    I read occasionally a description of the ideal amplifier for example as a straight wire with gain. The ideal Dac should be completely neutral. The ideal speaker give a completely flat response over the audible frequency band etc etc.
    Any deviation from the above criteria cannot be the truth and therefore not High Fidelity by definition.
    Such goals are admirable, providing that the end results are enjoyable to listen to. Listening to music, after all, should be a pleasurable exercise, unless one bizarrely derives more satisfaction from anally analysing 'sound'...

    Furthermore, those goals are also based on the premise that such sonically 'transparent'/unfailingly accurate equipment exists. Experience suggests that it currently doesn't, and that all equipment (due to its inherent distortion characteristics) imparts its own 'sonic signature', to some degree, on the music signal. Therefore, until such truly transparent equipment exists, all we're left with is the ability to choose our own 'favoured flavour' of distortion.

    Yet, we have posts praising equipment tuned by ear, or descriptions of equipment that sound radically different from each other, speakers that can’t reproduce what’s on the media, cables change the sound of the system for better or worse; I won’t go on, I’m sure you’ve got the idea.
    Well, when you accept the fact that no piece of equipment, speaker or cable is currently capable of 100% faithfully reproducing the input signal (and that what we are listening to on our systems, with recorded music, is essentially an illusion, although certain illusions created are more convincing than others), then the reality is that we assemble our systems based on achieving a sound that most accurately replicates what we consider as 'real'.

    That is also where 'voicing by ear' comes in...

    This is simply because if an equipment designer, through having an acute and innate sense of how real voices and instruments sound, can 'tune' his or her equipment (through judiciously selecting the correct combination of circuit topology and components), and create a convincing illusion of that sound (thus suspending disbelief in the listener), then said equipment stands a good chance of being appreciated by others with similar ideas of what sounds 'real' - and in a way, IME, that can often escape equipment produced solely (or mainly) via measurement, simply because I don't consider that everything that we can genuinely hear, in relation to audio, can currently be measured.

    Therefore, often the most 'musical' sounding equipment is created when the designer concerned has a more passionate love and intrinsic understanding of what makes music 'tick', and can produce that in a circuit, than his or her use of their test equipment!

    Now cue the usual 'objectivist vs. subjectivist'/vinyl vs. digital circular debate (which is essentially what this thread is about)....

    Marco.
    http://www.thestainedglasscompany.com

    "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do" -- Milan Kundera.

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  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2009

    Location: Bristol

    Posts: 4,152

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    I don't remember taking any oath. Is this some sort of Masonic thing?

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