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Freako
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high-end vs hifi

I have been thinking (uh-oh) about the ever so vague terms "hifi" and "high-end". Very well aware that the border between those is floating and to a degree an individual opinion, I wonder where the border between those two goes. Has it got to do with the price tag only? Is it just a term that describes the top of the heap hifi? Does high-end comprise of the top built, top priced, top sounding gear for other reasons than the mentioned.

I am aware there may be many opinions, but I'd like to know what people think about it.

P.S. In the 60'es the Deutsche Industrie Norm (DIN) was what determined that certain gear was hifi.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: high-end vs hifi

Would it be fair to say that in the Stereophile listing of components that gear class C and below would be considered HiFi. That is not to denegrate them, just that most of that gear is made to a price point and compromises are made.

A $1,000 stereo system can sound very "good", which is a term that an audiophile would define differently than a person who spends most of their time with their IPod.

I would think that a new Sony receiver, the STR-DA 1500ES mated with a pair of Rega RS1s and a $100 DVD player would sound good (hifi) or better, but it is not what you or I would consider highend or even come close to your system.

Often it is hard to keep snobery out of the equation by quickly dismissing components because of their price. That can quickly be dispelled by pieces like the Cambridge DacMagic as reviewed by Stereophile. Certainly the performance of the BenchMark DAC is high end, but the price is affordable by most people. I would consider the $699/$799 PS Audio digital link III DAC to be highend, but not in the class of DCS for sure.

I think that most of you would think my gear is hifi and I would have to agree. Some of you have very, very nice playback systems. It is going from HiFi to High End where money does matter. The last month's of speaker reviews tell the tale.

I am amazed that with Michael Fremer's system the differences he can hear with the great gear that he reviews. That level of resolving power shows up everything to a trained ear. That does not come cheap.

First you start with a $150,000 turntable...

bertdw
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Re: high-end vs hifi

In my opinion, it's all hi-fi. As in "high fidelity reproduction" gear. The "high-end" is a subset of that, meaning the highest performing and/or most expensive gear. So, all high-end is hi-fi, but not all hi-fi is high-end. It's definitely less of a line than a shade of grey.

Editor
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Re: high-end vs hifi


Quote:
In my opinion, it's all hi-fi.

Indeed it is.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Freako
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Re: high-end vs hifi

Can't say I disagree. I was only curious as to where some of you guys think the borderline between hifi and hi-end goes, if that could even be described in general terms. I for one cannot, as it - to some degree - seems to be a question of taste, exactly like "what sounds good".

Jim Tavegia
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Re: high-end vs hifi

If I ever had the chance to walk into MF's place I could never say, "What a great HiFi"! He might have his dog come after me.

Freako
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Re: high-end vs hifi

Now don't tell me you are scared!

geoffkait
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Re: high-end vs hifi


Quote:
It is going from HiFi to High End where money does matter.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich person to enter audio Nirvana. - old audiophile saying

smejias
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Re: high-end vs hifi

Whenever my mind starts wandering in this direction, I go back to JA's article, "The High End, Mid-Fi, and the Pretend High End."

Freako
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Re: high-end vs hifi

Damn good statements! Thanks for the link. JA has a way with words, no doubt

jazzfan
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Re: high-end vs hifi

I find that the main difference between hi-fi and high end audio equipment, if there is any difference at all, is in the design goals that the manufacturer sets for a given piece of equipment and not in the price. So a small well built bookshelf costing a few hundred dollars can be more "high end" than a monstrous pair of floor standing speakers costing several times as much.

I also think that this is what sets "high end" equipment apart from most (but not all) professional audio equipment. High end gear is designed to reproduce music as faithfully as possible in one's home whereas professional audio gear is designed to other tasks, as such recording, public address systems, mastering, etc.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: high-end vs hifi

How about a shoot out between the Rega RS-1s and the Harbeth P3ESRs? Dynaudio Excite X-12? Sounds like something right up RRs alley. He loves those monitors.

Poor Audiophile
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Re: high-end vs hifi


Quote:
Whenever my mind starts wandering in this direction, I go back to JA's article, "The High End, Mid-Fi, and the Pretend High End."

Yes!!! I printed that out awhile back & still refer to it!
Excellent piece!

Gert Sterner
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I agree. Over time, people

I agree. Over time, people tend to look for new names for the same thing. In my opinion High End is a new phrase for Hi-Fi.

Old Audiophile
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Interesting Question(s)!

I don't see this as a versus question or issue. IMHO, to keep this simple, "high-end" is definitely higher priced equipment. I think most people think of it this way. However, this is relative to one's financial means and doesn't necessarily mean that higher-priced equipment will always sound better than lower-priced equipment. High Fidelity, is definitely in the ears of the beholder and that, too, is relative. Many moons ago, after listening to 45 records on a breadbox-size portable record player, going to an equivalently-sized machine with external speakers to play 8 track tapes, I thought, was high fidelity... and it certainly was! Definitely better sounding than that little portable record player! Of course, if the love of music captures you and the audiophile bug bites, it's only a question of time before one is compelled to pursue the holy grail (i.e. sound reproduction as accurate or faithful to the original source, as possible) and, generally speaking, this invariably results in spending more money.

geoffkait
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If the system has $20,000 tube

If the system has $20,000 tube amps, $120,000 turntable and $5,000 power cords chances are good it’s a high end system. If that system has cable lifters, Schumann frequency generators and tiny little acoustic bowls then you’re talking beyond high end. :-)

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica
Not too chicken to change

Old Audiophile
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Good Point!

Good point, Geof! What you are describing is what I like to call Audiophile Esoterica.

geoffkait
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My system cost $5 but tweaks

My system cost $5 but tweaks cost $5000. Is that high end?

Old Audiophile
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No.

No. That is what I call absurd. Have you been reading a little too much Kierkegaard?

geoffkait
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My system is better than your

My system is better than your system. I mostly read Freud.

Old Audiophile
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Lost Cause!

You're a lost cause, Geoff! Go ahead! Get the last word! I dare you! You know you want to! Just can't help yourself. Too severe potty-training as a child?

Tim Link
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To me, high fidelity seems

To me, high fidelity seems reasonably clearly defined in terms of electrical signals maintaining fidelity. When it comes to the speaker's actual output it is not so clear exactly what the dispersion characteristic and power response of the speaker should be. So there's some room for taste, and it seems high end might get you into unusual tastes, or tastes that are hard to achieve at lower expense. There was a coffee video where this guy who claimed to be a coffee expert was given samples of coffee and had to guess the price. Up to a certain point he was valuing on the overall quality - up to about $25 a pound, if I recall. Beyond that he could tell the cost by the unusualness of the flavor. It wasn't higher quality anymore, just rarity or difficulty in production that keyed him in to the higher cost. So maybe the high end could be the point where quality is already top notch but price is going beyond now to suit specific tastes. In the case of high end sources, preamps, and amps, there seems to be a departure from the purest measured fidelity on some of the equipment, which is I guess also a matter of taste.

Kal Rubinson
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Interesting. Audio is a meta

Interesting. Audio is a meta-experience in that it is attempting to recreate the real thing. Problem is that some people want as accurate a recreation as possible judged by objective standards while others want as convincing a recreation as possible judged by their recollections/impressions of the original. The former is a task in convergence but the latter is open-ended.

Drinking coffee is a primary experience and, imho, that is open-ended. There's always more to experience.

geoffkait
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No problemo, I’m used to

No problemo, I’m used to people flipping out on audio forums. Sometimes it helps if you try to develop a sense of humor.

Glotz
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Audio is a meta..

Why can't we as audiophile pursue both convergence and open-ended audio playback pursuits?

The most brave of audiophiles have no problem trying a tube preamp that may only adhere to the convergence model partially, but otherwise allow them to take their accuracy-convergent system to a more open ended model approach (again based on their listening and personal preferences vs. specs).

Theses hobbyists tend to be the least conflicted types of listeners, as they allow themselves to see both sides without diverging too much from either school of thought, or at least allowing experimentation in a controlled fashion.

I am going to try my Benchmark HPA-4 with tube amps and hear where it takes my Magneplanar 1.7i's... and compare that to the Parasound, Benchmark and SPL solid-state amplifiers thereafter.

Thankfully these days, either side of the meta converges more than diverges in audio.

Kal Rubinson
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Clearly, you are embracing

Clearly, you are embracing divergence. ;-)

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