• Boenicke W11SE+ 
  • Boenicke W8
  • Stereophile and Michael Fremer honours Computer Audio Design

  • Boenicke W22
  • The babies arrive!

  • Azzolina Audio Hadron Loudspeaker

  • Piolet Swing
  • Munich 2019 High-End Audio Show

  • Living Voice
  • Computer Audio Design
  • Boenicke Audio
  • Boenicke Speakers
  • Kiso Acoustic
  • New  Studio
  • Vox Olympian is now in Hong Kong
  • CAD Review
  • Boenicke Audio
  • Hong Kong 2016 High End Audio Show
  • CAD Ground Control Review
  • Living Voice - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • The Listening Experience
  • CAD Ground Control - HiFi+Review
  • Audio Technique features Living Voice and CAD
  • Audio Technique Article Sept 2016
  • Hong Kong Show 2013
  • Easter 2015, Audio Evidence meets Audio Note Japan!
  • Kondo Factory Visit
  • The Digital Domain
  • Garrard
  • Red Wine Audio

Say No to Hi Fi!


When I was asked to write an article, by Jimmy, I gave some thoughts to the theme. As it is possible that I shall be asked to write this article monthly for a while, I thought I had better start by explaining my overall philosophy on this hobby of ours, which involves enjoying music and enjoying audio equipment as well.

First of all, let me get off my chest one or two pet hates! I really dislike the expressions "audiophiles" and "Hi Fi" and I will only use these terms in a pejorative way. I know they are used frequently in "our hobby" but I dislike the expressions, and I will explain why :

I believe that music is really important, and I believe that in the last 20 years or so the way in which music is reproduced in the home has been responsible for a lot of people being "turned off". Of course, there is a lot of competition from all sorts of other home entertainment nowadays, computers, play stations, surround sound DVDs, etc., and have taken their toll on two channel audio. However, some of the awful "Hi Fi" equipment available coupled with the mostly American "visual" approach to music has created "audiophiles". Instead of music lovers, and the very meaning of Hi Fi spells trouble to my mind. Hi Fi is created by manufacturers who are more interested in "effect" than the music and audiophiles are the users of such equipment. Again, there are people more interested in "effect" than the music, epitomized by an exaggerated appreciations and endless discussions of the highs, base response sound staging etc.

Let me elaborate, I do believe that there is a North American philosophy which is not shared universally, and I think the way in which the American audio (Hi Fi) magazines talk about the reproduction of music can create a problem and a kind of audio neurosis in the readers' mind. It was these magazines that created the idea of "visual images" when talking about music. The awful "sound stage" concept has become paramount; if you can create a sound stage, the battle is won! I beg to disagree! Now I am not suggesting that some sort of visual impression of a performer on stage or in the studio is not quite fun; however, to make it the big deal that some magazines have made it, has been a disservice to the cause of better music. Sound staging has outstripped the importance of correct tonal balance, and timber reproduction, and a sense of energy and life which is what is surely to essence of good music. Hi Fi equipment, salesmen and magazines have become responsible for engendering a sterile exercise in trying to pinpoint musicians' position, to recreate them visually, even to the point where, I understand incredibly, some listeners are concerned about the size of a musician, or the size of the singer's mouth!!

Frankly, I think most systems were more fun (I will avoid the word "better") in the 1950's. This was at the time before some magazines had pushed the idea of "visual audio" and valve equipment still ruled the roost, little cold transistors were still not utilized for the reproduction of music. In the old days, people used to turn on a piece of music, enjoy the performance and enjoy a nice big rich juicy sound.

So what I believe magazines (like this one) should be trying to engender is a sense of enjoying the equipment yes, enjoying the music certainly, and getting away from the concept of "Hi Fi" and "audiophiles", and looking instead to encourage a quality in audio equipment which speaks of delivering the music in a more enjoyable, rich and vibrant way. The music should have a flow and emotional impact, and "imaging" can be relegated to and relatively distant position. After all, at a concert how much time do you spend considering imaging, highs and lows of the performance!?
So that is my overview of how I see this hobby. In the next issue I would like to suggest how old fashioned horn speakers, may succeed in the sort of musical reproduction I appreciate better than most box speakers. In fact, I am going to suggest that a 30,000 spent on a horn speaker can "out play" (in the way I have outlined above) a $1 million pair of box re-flex speakers. New there is a thought.

Finally, I would be delighted to have your feedback about ideas that I express, because I recognize that your ideas are just as valuable as mine, and I would be delighted to get a debate going, so do write in if you want to be heard!

Sugden Bijou


Sugden Bijou - Nice to see Sugden is receiving some really good reviews in the U.K. Click here to download the review in PDF format.

Also you can see on the right Sugden Bijou series in its own elegant stand.

Superbrands Kondo


Superbrands Kondo Audio Note Japan, DPS and Schroeder tonearms with Wilson Sophia speakers were the source of Jazz and Classical music provided at the opening party at Jia Boutique Hotel on 6 March 2004. The Philippe Starck designed new boutique hotel, located in the heart of Causeway Bay, saw the rich and famous attend by invitation only, to enjoy the sort of party that Hong Kong used to regularly host, but nowadays is more rare! In the picture is the new KSL-Ongaku 211 amplifier, the new Kondo KSL-M77 pre-amplifier and (partially hidden by a well placed notice!) the DPS turntable with an Ikeda arm.

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