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What is hi fi sound?

Does it sound real?
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A good system in a good listening room can produce quite a convincingly real sonic illusion.

How do we define hi-fi sound? Most audiophiles would say that we are trying to reproduce sound as close to the original as possible, so that if you were to close your eyes, you can imagine that you are hearing the real thing.

We are attempting to bring across the true tonal character of instruments and voices...

It is harder to do with a full orchestra as we are trying to create the illusion of a concert hall space in a modestly sized listening room. Of course, we have to assume that the recording engineer is working in harmony with this process, and this is generally the case. So, when listening to classical and acoustic music on high fidelity loudspeakers, the main question we ask ourselves is: ‘Does it sound real?’

With studio produced music such as rock and pop the situation is somewhat different.

This is music that is created in the recording studio and electronically balanced dependent on how it sounds when replayed through monitor loudspeakers in a studio control room. If the studio is well designed then a recording that sounds good in the control room ought to sound similar when replayed on a home audio system in a typical listening room.

When it comes to movie soundtracks we need to be very careful, as they are often closer to ‘effects’ than reality, and the sound quality of the voices often suffers owing to the way they are recorded and the processing that is applied to them. However, as with all genres, we collect together recordings that when used as a whole will tell us what we need to know about how the speakers are performing.