I recorded an album with my band a few months ago, which is nothing new if not for the fact we recorded it in the most professional recording studio any of us has ever set foot in.
Listening sessions were frequent, and for weeks I had the opportunity to enjoy our recordings through the high-fidelity audio system on the premises. Regardless of the stage of the recording, be it raw material or a mastered track, I was mesmerised by the grandeur and clarity of the music I was listening to. I've worked in the music industry for over a decade, but the thrill of listening to audio at its absolute best quality will always be priceless to me.
To feel enveloped by audio frequencies is an experience unlike any other. The details of the soundscape, the sonic clarity that allows you to close your eyes and feel the energy of each musical instrument, are empowering if you’re a musician and addictive if you’re an audiophile.
High-fidelity audio uncovers the depth and richness of the original recordings, allowing the listeners to experience the music they love in a completely different way.
Although a casual music listener might think they’re satisfied with the quality of average audio speakers and headphones, hearing music through a HiFi system for the first time might be a revelation that’ll change the way they consume music once and for all.
Today, high-fidelity audio affects the world beyond the doors of a recording studio, giving a chance to audio listeners to truly appreciate the clarity and transparency of the original recordings and experience music in a completely different way.
BUT WHAT IS HIFI?
HiFi is humanity’s quest in the search for the perfect audio reproduction. Starting almost a century ago, the development of tools and techniques to perfectly reproduce recorded audio led to relentless research in recording practices and studies of the human auditory system.
Many factors affect the realism of high-fidelity audio: spatial realism, transparency, and clarity across all frequencies are some of the characteristics that define a HiFi sound system that can truly bring audio to life.
Music accompanies us in every moment of our lives more than ever before – it’s available everywhere, for free, and the vast majority of the world population can access an infinite music library in mere seconds. With this endless abundance came a need for a better sonic experience. Now, even the casual listener can appreciate the enveloping sensation of the best audio quality reproduction through speakers and headphones that use the latest technology to recreate the spatial realism and authenticity of live music.
Regardless of whether we listen to music on a vinyl, CD or via a streaming platform, an authentic high-fidelity audio experience depends on our environment's acoustics and, most of all, the quality of our HiFi system.
THE JOURNEY TO HIGH-FIDELITY AUDIO
The quest for authentic sonic reproduction started in the 1930s, when Bell Laboratories began experimenting with new recording techniques and sound-on-film technology became the movie industry standard.
The thrilling rapid technological expansion and experimentation that defined the music industry from the 1950s to the 1970s led to an increasing level of sophistication and authenticity in music reproduction – this finally resulted in the introduction of domestic HiFi systems that could magnify the audio quality of the recorded music.
In the mid-1970s, when digital sound recording took over, the industry was once again taken by storm. Shortly after, the digital compact disc – or CD – was introduced by Sony. Compared to vinyl, CDs were portable, had a larger storage capacity, and were less prone to wear; it quickly became the new standard for audio consumers worldwide.
The sonic clarity throughout the entire audible sound spectrum, without distortion or loss of fidelity over time, made the CD the most widely used medium until the 2000s, when digital audio files and digital signal compression algorithms made it possible to separate music from its physical medium.
As the technology to record and store audio developed through the decades, so did the technology to reproduce audio authentically. Turntables, amplifiers, and speakers evolved to reproduce the sounds perceived by the human audible spectrum more accurately. As the technology became more accessible, music listeners really began to notice the differences in audio quality between a HiFi and standard audio system.
HIGH-FIDELITY FOR EVERYONE
High-quality audio is not just for audiophiles – it’s something that can truly enrich the lives of anyone who loves music and wants to experience it in the most authentic way.
The thrill of listening to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here on a hi-res audio system is not unlike listening to this incredible album for the first time. The enveloping sound, its depth and spatial clarity bring music to life in a way you really haven’t heard before.
If you’re a classical or jazz music fan, listening to your favourite music on a HiFi system for the first time will change your life. The feeling of “being there” – hearing the soft breath of a trumpet player as the poignant solo commences, the fingers of a cello player playing a pizzicato, the rich and articulate voices of a classical choir, and the captivating aura of an orchestra playing Bach. It’s a matter of feeling rather than actually hearing the difference, and once you experience this new way of listening to music, there’s no way back.
The immersive audio experience we can enjoy today is the result of relentless evolution and research that affected recording studios and home HiFi systems alike. The research for perfection pushed forward by artists, audio engineers, and innovative sound labs allows us to fully appreciate music in the most authentic way.
What the future holds for us is another evolution in how we experience audio.
THE FUTURE OF HIFI: KEF LS60 WIRELESS & LSX II
KEF is a brand that’s been at the forefront of high-fidelity for the past 60 years. With a range of speakers designed to deliver music and sound exactly as the creator intended, it’s been leading with technological innovations at every release.
The next in KEF’s mission to democratise HiFi sound comes in the form of LS60 Wireless and LSX II.
These new speaker systems redefine the audio experience: a celebration of the innovative acoustic engineering that’s defined KEF’s technology since 1961. With innovations that aim at delivering the most natural and accurate sound, the LS60 Wireless pushes the boundaries of high-fidelity thanks to a pure sonic reproduction and a brand-new approach to spatial audio clarity.
The LSX II is an elevated second rendition of KEF’s award-winning LSX – the full convenience of wireless listening, all the emotion and detail of true high-fidelity stereo, in a size that sits comfortably anywhere from your desk to bedside table.
LS60 WIRELESS: PURE AUDIO REPRODUCTION
LS60 Wireless celebrates 60 years of acoustic innovation by presenting a vision of what high-fidelity sound will look and sound like in the future.
The future of high-fidelity is devices that can seamlessly blend with and adapt to their environment, with an innovative design that can enhance audio while looking magnificent. This all-in-one, high-performance speaker system features KEF’s signature Single Apparent Source and Uni-Q® technology, responsible for delivering its pristine audio quality by radiating all frequencies from one single point and dispersing sound evenly throughout any room.
The timeless slim profile of the LS60 was designed by Michael Young and the KEF product design team to make this wireless HiFi speaker a perfect combination of authentic class and pure HiFi performance.
LSX II WELCOMES YOU TO HIGH-FIDELITY
If LS60 Wireless is the epitome of HiFi sound, LSX II was created for the listener starting to dip their toes in this pure, rich sound.
Balancing design and function, KEF’s Uni-Q® driver array and Music Integrity Engine houses high-fidelity sound in a form surprisingly compact and connected to the rest of your home décor. It’s designed to bring the home music, film and gaming experience to life – songs more nuanced, scenes more emotive, games more immersive.
Even if you’re not a fully-fledged audiophile (yet), anyone who turns to music or entertainment at the end of their day should give high-fidelity a chance: you won’t regret it.
What is High Fidelity Audio?
High fidelity audio is audio that has been designed to create the highest quality listening experience. Sound is clear and accurate, with minimal distortion or noise. High-fidelity audio can be used for music, movies, television shows, and other types of home entertainment.
What is High Fidelity vs. High Definition?
High-definition audio has a more defined sound quality with crisper and cleaner tones, while high fidelity has a warmer and more natural sound. High-definition audio usually means that the signal has been compressed to a much smaller size so that it can be streamed or downloaded quickly. High-fidelity audio, on the other hand, is uncompressed, retaining all the detail and nuance of the original recording.
What are the Benefits of High-Fidelity Audio?
Benefits of high-fidelity audio for your listening experience include:
- Improved sound quality
- Greater immersion and realism
- Better ability to appreciate subtle details in your favourite songs or movies
- More accurate sound reproduction due to wider frequency range
What is the Future of High-Fidelity Audio?
With advances in technology, we’re now able to create ever-more realistic and immersive listening experiences. High-fidelity audio is also becoming more and more accessible, as it can be streamed or downloaded quickly and easily. We’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of what high-fidelity audio can do, and the democratisation of this technology is bound to be great news for anyone who enjoys music, film, or gaming.
All Images: KEF
Writer | Marco Sebastiano Alessi
Marco is an Italian music producer, composer and writer. He’s the founder of Naviar Records, a music community and record label exploring the connection between experimental electronic music and traditional Japanese poetry.