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What Are We Looking For In Hi – Fi ?

By September 1, 2011March 10th, 2012No Comments

There is a school of thought in hi – fi that subscribes to the ideal that music played through our two channel system is supposed to sound as close to a live performance as possible. We are supposed to be acoustically positioned in the front row, live, with the artists in front of us. Two channel sound, I mean good two channel sound is supposed to recreate the original source performing live. I believe we are asking too much from our two channels and the room we are listening to it in.

There is no way to recreate the sound of a live event held in a large concert hall with current two channel playback equipment. There is no way even with home theater playback equipment. No software or digital program can recreate the sonic ambience of a live venue or the specific sonic nuances a large volume building can do for a 55′ low frequency wave. No rear channel speaker has ever convinced me that it has all the voices of the 60,000 member audience coming from its 6″ driver. None of these big room effects can be recreated in rooms with much smaller volumes. It is just not possible since the current laws of physics do not allow for it.

What we can do is emotionally connect to our playback systems. We do this by setting up our system in the best spot in our room. This will take awhile. We next find that right listening chair: the one that has a high enough back that we can support our heads without blocking the backside of our ears. Place diffusion/absorption on the front wall, rear wall, and ceiling. Middle and high frequency absorption on the side walls. Low frequency absorption throughout the 4 vertical walls; extra behind speakers.

Sit back. Listen at same level for 1 song. Increase level. Listen for 1 song. Increase level. Listen for one song. Did you find your emotion. It is there. Dancing is permitted.


I am a structural engineer as well as a master furniture maker. I design cabinets for low frequency, activated carbon absorbers. Connect with me on Google+

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