Hi-Fi Audio vs HD: What's The Difference?

Hi-Fi Audio vs HD: What's The Difference?

Hi-Fi is a common term among audiophiles. Audiophiles are those of us who demand only the highest sound quality possible in our home audio equipment. Many of us even spend thousands of dollars to find the perfect sound system for our home theaters. However, the audiophilia doesn't stop there. Some of us work hard to design our home theaters in such a way to get the perfect acoustics. We focus on achieving high-quality audio by buying HiFi audio products, not Hi-Def.

What is HiFi Audio

Among audiophiles, we use the term HiFi, otherwise known as "high fidelity". Think of it this way; fidelity refers to loyalty and faithfulness. Audio that is referred to as high fidelity is audio that is very loyal to the original source, thus giving us the purest, closest to perfect reproduction of sound as possible.

Why We Don't Refer to Audio as Hi-Def

High definition, otherwise known as hi-def or HD, is a much easier term to use and understand for audio, but it's not an accurate one, which is why audiophiles typically refrain from using it. HD is used to describe video quality. A video that is high definition is high quality, which is why some may use it in relation to high-quality audio. We hear this term a lot when it comes to high-end digital audio, which we hear most of the time today. It's important to note, though, that a hi-fi audio system can encompass both digital and analog audio.

The truth is that, although some people may continue to use high-definition to describe high-quality audio, it's quite difficult to do so successfully because each term includes different parameters and criteria. High definition is better reserved for high-quality video because to be HD, video has to meet a certain standard. This is why the audio industry as a whole has not committed to describing audio as HD, and instead prefers to describe it as HiFi. Audio has to meet specific criteria and standards in order to be considered high-fidelity. 

Why You Want HiFi Audio in Your Home Theater

HiFi audio, also referred to as high-end audio, is all about creating a full immersion experience. With our HiFi audio products, you will upgrade your home theater so much that you will be able to hear sounds you may not have noticed before from your favorite movies, which can enhance the picture on your big screen and bring your movies to life. If you're considering upgrading your home theater, come visit our showroom so you can see, feel, and hear the difference.

3mA Audio Presents: A Musical Event

Come join us on Thursday, September 12 as we showcase some new products in our showroom!

The party will be held from 4-8 PM. Food and drink will be provided, and we will offer special pricing during the event.

 

RSVP at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or give us a call at (832)530-4716

 

Our showroom is located on 1431 West Alabama Street, Houston, TX, 77006

 

Featured products include:

 

Vitus SIA-030

sia030

SIA-030 is Vitus Audio’s newest flagship integrated amplifier in their Signature series. Boasting magnificent build quality and design principles based on their Masterwork series, the SIA-030 amplifier is at the top of its class. Founder Hans Ole Vitus will be in attendance to demonstrate and answer any questions.

 

Audio Solutions Virtuoso Speakers

Audio Solutions Virtuoso speakers are a series designed to sit comfortably between their award winning Figaro and Vantage 5th anniversary series. These speakers employ a “box-in-a-box” design that maximizes cabinet stiffness and produces a neutral, authentic sound. The Virtuoso series also features a user-adjustable crossover with 3 separate profiles. Ozan Turan from High End by Oz will be in attendance to demonstrate and answer any questions.

 

Nordost QSOURCE & QPOINT

Nordost is the premier manufacturer of hi-fi audio cables and accessories. QSOURCE is the world’s first fanless linear power supply designed specifically for high end audio systems, providing both a clean, stable DC power and an ultra low noise floor. QPOINT is a device that acts as a master clock and synchronizes the electromechanical resonances of all the other elements in your audio system, minimizing electrical noise. Steve Greene and Amy Hansen of Nordost  will be in attendance to demonstrate and answer any questions.

 

See you there, and happy listening!

Analog vs. Digital Audio pt.1

We spent the last post discussing the common digital audio formats and their uses. While it is true that the vast majority of people listen to their music digitally, there are many people who swear by analog, and vinyl sales are actually on an upward trend. Are people just nostalgic? Or are there actual benefits to listening analog? We’ve compiled some key differences between the two, and why some prefer one over the other.

 

Analog vs Digital Recording

An analog recording is created by taking the signal from the recording engineer’s audio mixer and imprinting it directly onto the analog medium (usually vinyl or tape). In contrast, digital music is run through an analog to digital converter, which takes these analog signals and converts them into digital code for a computer to read.

 

Benefits of Analog

Clarity

Digital audio is created by taking a certain number of samples in a second. This is called the sample rate. The bit depth determines the precision of the sample. CD’s sample 44,100 times per second, each sample being 16 bits large. Analog recordings are not limited in this regard. They have an infinite sample rate, and the precision is limited only by the gear on which the audio is recorded.

Character

While some may argue that the physical nature of analog music inherently causes defects in the listening experience, many actually prefer the tiny imperfections in a vinyl record. Additionally, mastering engineers understand that for the vast majority of people are listening to physical records in a quiet, controlled environment (usually through a high end audio system), so music tends to sound warmer and less processed. Digital music is consumed on the road in the gym and everywhere in between, so digital masters trend a bit louder and harsher.

Collectability

Digital media is cheap. Buying a song from a music service simply gives the consumer access to a string of numbers for their devices to read. However, many people prefer a more tangible, concrete ownership experience. With a physical media the owner of a record can actually hold his purchase in his hands, maybe even let a friend borrow it. Plus album covers double as a decoration, a way to communicate to those around them the music they enjoy and the artists they support. Granted, this can be done with CD’s as well, but there’s something about the novelty of a large vinyl record and album art that seems that much more tangible. Statistics would agree, as the sales of vinyl have steadily grown as CD sales have dwindled.

Conclusion

Analog records are far from dead. In fact, there has been a substantial uptick in vinyl sales in recent years as consumers have realized the advantages of analog over digital audio. If you’ve never listened to an analog record, come by our showroom and experience it for yourself!

File Formats, Audio Compression, and Why it Matters

Ever since the invention of the phonograph, engineers have been searching for the highest quality, robust, convenient, and easily reproducible solutions for recording, storing, and reproducing audio. From wax cylinders and vinyl records to the online streaming services of today, the way music is distributed and consumed has evolved rapidly over the last century and a half. Though the most die-hard audiophiles may lament the passing of the truly analog era, the robustness and convenience of digital music files makes it impossible to argue that they will be the primary medium for music consumption for the foreseeable future.

 

So what file type should you be listening to? And why do so many different types exist? Let’s go over a few of the most common audio file types and their intended purpose.

 

Uncompressed Audio

What it is:

Uncompressed audio is simply raw, uncompressed audio data. Common uncompressed formats are WAV and AIFF. Even completely uncompressed audio can differ in quality, depending on sample rate (number of samples/second) and bit depth (number of bits used per sample). Standard CD quality is 16 bit 44.1kHz.

 

What it’s used for:

Uncompressed audio is primarily used for audio production. The huge file sizes make it unsuitable for use in personal music libraries and streaming services, as large file sizes take up so much memory. However, the uncompressed nature of these files allow for easier manipulation, as the computer does not have to uncompress the data first. This reduces the workload on a CPU when manipulating audio or playing multiple audio streams simultaneously.

 

Lossless Compression

What it is:

Lossless compression reduces the size of an audio file with no loss in quality. Common lossless formats include FLAC and ALAC. Running raw audio through a lossless codec preserves all of the original data in the file, but rewrites it in a more efficient manner. For example, a string of “AAAAAYYYYAAA” might be rewritten as Ax5 Yx4 Ax3.

 

What it’s used for:

Lossless format is the format choice for consumers who do not want to compromise on audio quality. The smaller file sizes allow for more reasonably sized music libraries. FLAC and ALAC are also capable of storing metadata, allowing users to sort and filter their files by artist, album, genre, etc.

 

Lossy Compression

What it is:

Lossy compression allows for extremely small file sizes with minimal loss in quality. Common lossy file formats include MP3, WMA, and AAC.  The goal of lossy compression is to reduce file size by throwing away non-critical data. This includes removing frequencies outside the range of human hearing as well as removing masked or inaudible elements of a track.

 

What it’s used for:

Lossy compression, specifically mp3, is the most widespread of the file formats. They can be around half the size of lossless and up to 15x the size of uncompressed. This is critical for music streaming or for those who want to cram as much music as possible into their devices. Though it certainly exists, it takes a critical ear to perceive the drop in quality, which is perfectly acceptable to most listeners who are jamming to their workout playlist or listening to lo-fi tracks during their study sessions.

 

So which format should you use? That depends entirely on context. You’re going to get odd looks if you send an MP3 of your new track to a professional mastering engineer, just as you would filling up your 16GB portable music player with a handful of songs in WAV format. Use the right tool for the job and enjoy the music, whatever format it comes in.

 

Happy listening!

5 Reasons Why A Great Home Theater Is Worth Your Investment

Many of us have dreamt of having a home theater system, but doubted whether it’ll be worth the cost. Are you willing to finally let go of that worn-out stereo and dated TV? Well, we're here to make that decision much easier. While home theaters can be somewhat of an initial investment, they can also end up paying for themselves in many different ways! In this article, we break 5 reasons why home theaters are certainly worth your investment:

 

The Audio And Video Quality Is Top Notch

Yes, you may already have a nice big screen in your living room.  But have you considered how much better your experience could be to have it connected to a high-quality speaker system?  Pair it with a larger screen and higher resolution, and you now have a truly cinematic experience. The difference in video and audio quality is massive with quality home theater systems.  If you're looking to actually immerse yourself in whatever you're watching, a home theater system is what you need.

 

It Will Substantially Increase Your Home Value

Home theaters have been in high demand ever since modern streaming technology took off. This is an added luxury that many want but won't have the patience to build themselves. Having it ready-made for potential buyers will massively boost the appeal of your house. Even if you aren't planning to sell your property anytime soon, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have this valuable addition to your home.

 

It'll Save You Money On Theater Related Costs

Watching movies at the theater can be expensive. If you're regular cinema-goer, you'll know exactly how much it costs to buy those Dolby digital movie tickets, snacks and transportation to get to a theater… and if you're looking to treat your family members to the movie theater, these expenses can shoot up even higher.  A home theater system will eliminate all of these costs. Snuggle up in your favorite chair, choose your favorite movie, and enjoy an evening of entertainment with your loved ones without spending anything!

 

You Control The Show

This is a given, but it’s still worth reiterating. With a home theater system, everything is under your control. What you want to watch, how you want to watch it, how often you want to pause or rewind - it's all literally in your hands.  The availability of cinema-quality entertainment at the touch of your fingertip is not something you'll regret investing in.

 

It Makes For Great Entertainment!

Looking to have guests over without indulging in extravagant party expenses? Home theaters are the perfect way to host a luxurious watch party without having to invest money or time. This is a fun and cost-effective way to entertain your friends and family - toss some popcorn in the microwave and pop in your favorite movie, and you’ve got yourself a party.

 

If you’re ready to make the jump and invest in a high-end home theater, contact the home theater experts at 3mA Audio today!