What is HiFi – subjective explanations

What is HiFi – subjective explanations

High Fidelity derives from the Latin word fidēlis, which means „faithful or loyal“. It is about how faithful and loyal audio systems record and playback the sound. Ok, but what is HiFi?

Sound is subjective

Explaining something not standardized has to relate to own experience and as such, is always subjective. As with the colors. When talking about white we may have a distinct color in mind. However, as we all know, white is not like white, colors have many nuances.  If you go to a carpenter asking to fix a scratch on a white kitchen door, he will ask for the NCS, the RAL or any standardized number of that particular white. Luckily for the colors we have clearly defined standards.

When asked about the driving capabilities of a car, one might say they are quite good, meaning that the car is comfortable and quiet. But the person was asking for the cars sport capabilities. Ok, but how to rate the sport capabilities of a car?

Likewise, how to rate the sound quality or HiFi?

Better, we take for granted

Nowadays, we often use our mobile phones as a music alarm clock for wake-up calls. When the alarm goes off, people would listen to the music provided just by the iPhone speaker. To a certain degree, it is surprising what Apple has built into this little iPhone. However, it is still not a high quality sound reproduction. When you plug in headphones, while the music is still playing, bam, suddenly a significantly better sound. Bam? Do we really experience this as a positive shock? Or, would we need to draw our attention explicitly to this, to recognize the significant improvement in sound quality.

We usually accept changes to the positive as something expected without much attention. We might have to leave the house and still want to continue listening to the very nice new music that we have just found in the streaming service. For this, we may have to change from our good home music system or good headphones to a “less good” car audio system or even maybe just the iPhone speaker and perceive it as a much worse quality listening experience.

We experience this “better to worse” step much more extreme than from “bad to better” sound. Without any direct comparison we are not very good at matching the sound we hear with a pattern of what we would call a bad sound or a very good sound, unless it is really extreme.

TestHiFi identifies HiFi

These big jumps to  worse in sound quality usually happen between HiFi and non-HiFi systems. Jumping between diverse HiFi systems or between systems of lower quality usually would not create such big shock moments.

We developed TestHiFi and created a measurable reference, a standard. for all of us (but not only), who are not trained over decades to have the patterns in mind to match good or bad sound.

TestHiFi objectively measures the sound quality and rates whether it could be HiFi (green), close to HiFi (amber) or be far away from HiFi (red).