The Rebirth of High-Fidelity
We all know that things move in cycles and the world of home entertainment is no different. I remember the first time my older brother played Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for me on his hi-fi, that’s what we called our music systems back then. His was the latest version which implemented full stereo sound, a big upgrade from our dad’s mono system. Man, to see those big 10” reel to reels turn round and round while you heard sound like the band was right in front of you, what an experience it was!
Somewhere along the way we started a
trend to give up some performance for convenience with the compact cassette and the Sony Walkman but that was nothing compared to the departure our kids took with the mp3 and the digitization of music. Of course our generation didn’t have cell phones, internet, heck we just barely got three channels of TV and a lot of us got that in black and white. Our kids on the other hand could load their whole music collection and three of their friend’s libraries on an iPod and sort their music by genre or recall a playlist. What a convenience that was. But there was a huge trade off in performance and those of us who loved high-fidelity knew it.
I thought the world of great sound had disappeared for ever, especially when SACD and DVD Audio failed to rejuvenate the industry. I was sure the mainstream world would never again experience high performance audio. Then one day my eldest son who was twenty-four at the time asked me for a turntable for Christmas. I didn’t think he knew what a record was. When I asked him why, he said “well vinyl just sounds better”. So the kid who years before told me that an iPod and ear-buds would be all he ever needed for listening to music had done a complete about-face.
Okay so does that mean that you can’t have great sound and convenience too? Not at all! Just like high definition TV, great sound is all about the resolution of the process. It’s taken a while but the digitization of sound which left a lot to be desired when the CD first came out has matured immensely over the last thirty years. The speed of the processors and the advanced technology utilized in compressing and decompressing the data has made all the difference.
Of course there is still a hierarchy to the process if you want to achieve the ultimate in sound from the digital realm. Streaming music from the outside world will sound really good compared to a few years back but the best performance is obtained by downloading high resolution files. How those files are played back is crucial to the process as one would expect. So using your laptop or your phone via Blue Tooth to play music through your stereo won’t be the best choice. A quality music server is a much better way to go.
Just like forty years ago, the quality of the hi-fi componentry is just as important, if not more so, today. In fact, a high resolution digital music playback can require more attention to details than ever before. Especially if you want to experience the ultimate in music reproduction. But we have, at our fingertips, better performance now than we ever had before. It has come back around and is better than ever. Go out and get a demonstration, you won’t believe your ears!