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Words of Wisdom

David Frangioni

HiFi Audio: Separating Myth from Reality

Hi-fi audio speakers in a modern living area of a Naples home.

Hi-Fi Audio is All About Great Sound Quality

What is hi-fi audio? Ask several people, and you might get different answers. It should mean, above all, great sound quality. And while great sound quality is not inexpensive, it doesn’t mean that hi-fi sound is only limited to the most stratospherically expensive equipment. Audiophiles get ready! 

If you start reading about hi-fi audio systems, you're going to get many opinions of what you need. But be careful; many are just opinions and personal preferences. Ultimately, you'll decide what constitutes hi-fi audio to your ears.  What “sounds best” is highly personal. 

To help you on your journey to better sound, we'll tackle a few myths that often come up in high-performance audio discussions. We hope this will help you narrow down what you value, and we'll be here to help put together the ideal solution for your Naples, FL, home. 

SEE ALSO: What is Two-Channel Audio, and Why Is It Superior?

Are big speakers better than smaller ones for hi-fi audio?

The simple answer? Not necessarily. A bigger speaker might accommodate more drivers and a larger woofer for more bass, but it might not be the best choice for your room. While all speakers are ideally neutral, the truth is that each hi-fi manufacturer has its own secret sauce (how they engineer their speakers) that gives them a certain sound signature. And the sound signature of a smaller speaker of one manufacturer might sound better to your ears than the larger speaker of another. It’s all about what you prefer in your space along with how large or small your room measures.

Is vinyl the only true hi-fi sound source?

Some purists out there might tell you that, but it’s a matter of preference. Vinyl records on high-end turntables will have an excellent, warm sound that might bring back the nostalgia of your record collection, but by no means is it the definition of hi-fi sound. CD-quality audio, which is lossless and has been around for 40 years, still is capable of producing stellar sound on hi-fi equipment. And today’s higher-resolution audio formats available via download and streaming services can provide an even richer audio experience.  The source and its D/A will have a huge impact on the sound playback quality. 

Is lossless the only true way to listen to hi-fi audio? 

Lossless audio refers to uncompressed audio, like the CD format and what's offered on the higher tiers of some music streaming services like Apple Music, Tidal, and QoBuz. Generally speaking, lossless will always sound better than compressed formats like MP3 and AAC often used for streaming. But here's the rub: You usually have to listen critically to hear the difference because a high bit rate lossy format will still sound quite good, especially on a hi-fi system. So you can enjoy streaming "lossy" Spotify on your hi-fi audio setup as long as you're not trying to wring the last ounce of detail from that music. 

Is High-Resolution Audio the only way to enjoy hi-fi? 

High-resolution formats started getting a lot of hype several years ago, but we’d argue that a good CD or CD-quality lossless track on the right setup might sound just as good. This isn’t to say high-resolution formats have no value; on the contrary, with the right mastering, they can add richness, detail, depth, and nuance you might never have heard in your favorite music. The good news is that so much of today's hi-fi equipment can handle these formats that you can enjoy your CD collection, streaming, or whatever you prefer and choose when a high-resolution version adds additional enjoyment to your listening.


Want help putting together a hi-fi audio system that’s music to your ears? Frangioni Media designs and installs customized high-performance audio systems in cities worldwide, from Miami to Paris. Contact our team here to discuss your project and learn more!

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