Slaying Dragons #4 – Is High Fidelity a Goal?

John Watkinson wonders if accuracy in audio actually matters.

I would have to begin by defining what I mean by high fidelity. What I have in mind is a system of sound reproduction that is so realistic that it is indistinguishable from being there. However, the more I think about such a system the less likely it seems to be a useful goal. Instead it seems to be a hypothetical case that serves as the basis for some thought experiments.

Let us take hi-fi, for example. It has become clear over the years that hi-fi has absolutely nothing to do with sound reproduction or the enjoyment of music. Most musicians seem to have pretty lousy audio systems because the sound is in their heads and the audio system just acts as a reminder, in the same way that tacky holiday souvenirs remind one of being at the holiday destination. The corollary is that hi-fi enthusiasts are more interested in tinkering with their systems than in actually sitting back and enjoying some music.

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