Friday, May 13, 2016

Quality Sound and the Decline of Hi Fi

Music and record Albums drove my original interest in electronics and it was all about Amplifiers and Loudspeakers, their design and technology.   And believe it or not, Hi-Fi magazines had stuff you could learn from.  Electronics magazines also covered the latest trends in sound reproduction.

It isn't like that now, and looking at the two issues of Hi-Fi News I have, one from 1984 and the latest 2016 issue shows up why. Hi-Fi really isn't a thing now, or at least it isn't really about good sound. Seems to be more some status thing for the 1%.  $6000 for an Amplifier and CD player is #$%^@%$!!! 

Hi-Fi News 1984 vs 2016
Real engineering in the 1984 issue.
It isn't that I'm not interested in sound and album playback.  It is just the Studio Sound perspective is at great odds with the Woo that has taken over Hi-Fi.

The 2016 issues talks about $3000 CD players and $900 USB cables, and that this is some how justified.  The standard in studios is set by the likes of Genelec with their active crossover powered monitors, and nothing like that is in the Hi-Fi rag.... they have diamond dust coated tweeters instead.

In 1984 there  was real engineering on architecture supported by measurements. In 2016 that is very dumbed down, probably as many of their advertisers don't have real scientific evidence justifying their claims and equipment..

I must say the 2016 issue was quite entertaining to me, even if the authors didn't intend it that way.

I was surprised to read the Vinyl album reviews of  Bowie's Low and Numan's Replicas.   Mostly as  the Numan article was written by an ex Melody Maker editor, and went on at length how this electronic music pioneer, and coming Moogfest hero was "uncool"! Really?!!!    Have always followed bands and music, but that never involved the lowest common denominator celebrity gossip in the likes of Melody Maker, and found it strange this HiFi mag would taint itself with the type of journalist that does stories on the likes of Kardashians...

I'm sure the new equipment does not hurt the enjoyment of music at all, and for the intended audience, works for them.

And what is old is new again.  The gold colored amplifier on the 2016 cover, which must be wonderful, with the numbers to prove it, is an update to the QUAD Current Dumping Amplifier of 1975.  That technology used a very small, high quality Class A amplifier, coupled with a high power Class B design to produce a good designs that's performance was "mostly" that of the small Class A amplifier.  The QUAD 405  100W per channel amplifier was the product that introduced this.
The 2016 version replaces the Class B amp with a Class D amp, to make a 650W per channel amplifier.

It was nostalgic for me to look at what is HiFi today, but see that I'm better off without it.... studio gear is "better" than "HiFi" and MUCH cheaper!

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