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Are you into HiFi?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by twinjet, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I've recently begun my adventure into the world of high fidelity listening. While I don't exactly have golden ears, it appears I can differentiate recording qualities to a small extent --about 66% of the time-- according to an NPR listening test.

    A few years ago, I received a pair of open-back Sennheiser HD558 headphones. I didn't know what these were for at the time. They lacked bass and everything sounded flat. A mistake? No! It was then I read that they were meant to play music this way, without meddling with equalization. I was getting a more natural sonic experience.

    A few days back, I stumbled upon an unbelievable deal at a garage sale -- a Bose SoundDock Portable for $4. At that price, I assumed something was wrong but tried it anyway. It was perfect. The owners just wanted to free up space and already had a bunch of Bose gear.

    The SoundDock sounds very good and now I play a lot more music when I'm home. However, i have concluded that while this system is a significant upgrade from the no-name Bluetooth speaker I was using, it is a bit heavy on the bass side, even with flat EQ. Thus began my quest for a system capable of reproducing sound with less artificial and more natural flavoring.

    I'm in the process of overhauling my library. Though I won't claim to hear all the minute differences, nor do I ever really expect to be able, I am replacing the majority of my library with higher quality rips -- 128 kbps AACs/mp3s/MPEG with 300+ kbps lossless AIFFs -- and taking advantage of this 160 GB iPod I own. Reason being, a lot of the music on my phone was ripped in its most compact state: 128kbps mp3 files. I want to see how listening to lossless affects things.

    So, anyone else here doing the HiFi thing?
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  2. taught


    Jan 5, 2015
    I am kinda into HiFi thing although I try to keep it on a short leash because it can eat money just as fast as buying musical stuff :)

    First of all I would suggest you to take a look at Tidal. This is almost exactly like Spotify but it streams high quality audio (~1000-1500 kbps) and lots of albums are streamed in MQA format which is around 4000-45000 kbps if I am not mistaken. You can get all your music in superb quality while paying a lot less than buying every piece of album one by one.

    Secondly if you have good pair of headphones I would suggest you to invest into a nice DAC (digital to analog converter). Ipods, internal sound cards are just "meh". I got this Dragonfly unit a while back and I really like it:

    Audioquest DragonFly Black review

    It is small, portable, cheap and has a very good review worldwide.

    Thirdly: always try to stream the audio by giving explicit control to the audio unit to the audio player. If you just play your music - let's say on a Windows PC - then the OS affects the sound before it forwards to the DAC.
    If the audio player has explicit control to the DAC you cannot play your music and some Youtube video at the same time.
  3. tubedude


    Jan 19, 2015
    No lossless digital server here.
    The original lossless media format....Vinyl...to 2M Blue cartridge, Rega turntable, tube phono pre, tube preamp, tube poweramp, MTML speakers. All homemade except the turntable/cartridge.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    since 1966: i learned about "high fidelity" at chess studios, chicago. i'm one of those guys who compares everything to the "20hz to 20Khz" 'standard'. anything less = being cheated. i tolerate MP3's at 320kbps because of the web.

    what (why?) are you listening to if you know it isn't all there?
  5. 10cc

    10cc Inactive

    Oct 28, 2013
    I try and get FLAC files. Much better sounding I think.
  6. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I'm all about trying to get the best quality possible out of my listening experience.
    First, forget about 320 MP3s. You are still losing a third of the actual music (the compression works by literally removing every third bit from the music.) Look into an FLAC encoder like EAC or dbPoweramp. FLAC files are compressed the same way ZIP files are, meaning the bits are reorganized to crunch down into a tighter (smaller) package, but don't lose any quality. Almost all phones and PCs can play them. Unless you like Apple stuff, in which case your own poor decision making is going to limit you to their odd ball proprietary formats.
    I use Tidal for streaming instead of Spotify because of the higher bit rate streams and downloads. It is a little more money, but I like the quality and the interface of the phone app more. The Spotify app always gave me trouble. The selection is 95% the same between the two services.
    Don't buy digital music from Amazon. Their downloads are 256 to 320 MP3s, and generally sound dreadful. Use Bandcamp, CD Baby, or HDTracks when you can.
    Speaking of which, if you want to go super crazy with your audio, look into 24-bit, hi rez music on HDTracks. If you are using junk speakers or $5 ear buds, you will never hear the difference, but with a good system there is a difference. It is small, and for some may not be worth the massive file sizes, but again if you are after the best of the best, that is the way to go. I have hi rez WAV files of Crack the Sky and Where Owls Know My Name. The sound is deeper and more expansive, with more room between the instruments that allows for more details.
    A good pair of closed back headphones or quality IEMs (In Ear Monitors) make a massive difference. My Sony MDR-7506 over the ear headphones are a little bassy sometimes, but the detail is great. I also have a pair of Sennheiser HD280 headphones that have a flatter reference response. For mobile listening I use a pair of HiFi Man RE-400s that are also flat response and have tremendous detail once you find the right tip. Honestly, tips make all the difference with IEMs. I look for reviews on In-Ear Earphone Review List | The Headphone List.

    Once you get everything right, it is like p0rn for your ears.

    PS: If you want to get super nerdy, pinky out, snooty with your audio, don't use wireless or Bluetooth. Technically they compress your sound a little to broadcast it through the air. An old fashioned analog 1/8" cable is the way to go if you are using your phone. YMMV.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
    ExaltBass likes this.
  7. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I actually didn't know the differences until I took the NPR test. Then I told myself, wow, let's change how I listen to music.
    JRA likes this.
  8. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I like to think of myself as a discerning listener, but over half a century of loud rock music has taken its toll. That said, I did fairly well on the NPR test, missing only one. We have a decent stereo - JBL towers, Yamaha receiver, and a Sony CD player. I also have a SACD Sony CD player, but only one disc in SACD - Close to the Edge by Yes. I believe I can hear a difference, and its fairly significant.

    On the other hand, I'm pretty happy listening to my iPhone with my earbuds - it sounds fairly good. But I do prefer the stereo at a reasonable volume.

    I typically buy CD's when I purchase music, but of course load everything into my iPhone for listening on the go, like in the car. I no longer have a CD player in the car. The better sound quality was typically lost in the road noise anyway.
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    yep: it makes a difference you can hear!
  10. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    A lot faster, actually, if you're going for real high fidelity gear.

    I started getting into it in the early 1970s when a guy I knew back then took us to a shop that carried high end gear.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
    taught likes this.
  11. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Yeaaaah, you could say this is right up in my realm. I have a few thousand in headphones (open back and closed), and at least a few hundred in my current Amp/DAC setup. It certainly is fun, and I'm enjoying it while I have the ears to :D
  12. To a certain point sure, I mean I don’t want tolisten to something that sounds like it’s 40 years old, but not super picky about it. I work in the operating room of a hospital. Several of the surgeons have the little bose Bluetooth speakers and those little things rock. Shocking amount of deep bass and nice sizzling high end. I’m mostly a headphone guy at home though and I tend to buy headphones that are decent but aren’t super expensive
  13. rufus.K

    rufus.K Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2015
    not me.
    I consume copious amounts of music in every format and tolerate it all.
    I'm not saying I cant hear a difference, but it doesn't bother me.
    I'm the same way with video, CAM copies of movies are watchable to me.

    incidentally, I work in the sound dept. of a major international movie and television studio, millions and millions in top quality equipment all day, and I'm happy with 160k mp3s streaming to my bluetooth earbuds.
  14. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
  15. Nope, only use them when mixing. In all other applications, they sound like crap. But Bose speakers, are amazing. They bring out the best in almost all music. They do get heavey on the bass, but nothing is left out, or distorted. On most of they're products at least. I've never heard one of those units though.
  16. wmhill


    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    I bought my wife a lossless system ( Fii0 x2) for X-mas as her MP3 was maxed out. She loves it and it does have a much richer & fuller sound. I have never put it through the stereo or PA system, but I would imagine it would be the same vast improvement as it was with her earphones.
  17. dindinbre


    Aug 2, 2017
    I am a fan of nice sound. Got a nice sound card and a pair of Superlux HD681 EVO headphones. They sound great together for flac and 320kbs MP3, as that is what I listen to most of the time. I am a fan of heavy bass, so I use EQ to add some punch, as headphones handle it well. I dont have any speakers or records (I do actually have a few vinyls but turntable is broken so yeah) and instead of speakers I use my bass amp. Sacrificing stereo for some heavy duty house rumble? Yep, that works well and it sounds good for what it is.
  18. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    For a few years in the 90s I was an audiophile with a decent system (Quad 606 amp, FM4 tuner, 34 Preamp in a Quad rack, Denon DP-45F turntable [I think a Shure SMV cartridge or something], Revox B126 CD player, Quad ESL-63 US monitors on Quad stands - black on black). I sold it when I moved to a smaller place and could no longer really enjoy it.

    Since then I'm an audiophile with no system. Maybe one day.
  19. bumperbass


    Jun 19, 2012
    I've been into quality audio since I was old enough to discover it. I actually think it's one of the reasons I play bass, because I have always had good equipment and good speakers which let me hear the lows very well. I love listening to music through a pair of good headphones.
    Sadly, the good old days are gone....me in a chair at the sweet spot in my livingroom with my favorite tunes playing from a turntable, cranked to the level they were meant to be listened to.
    My headphones make it so that my family and my music can co-exist.
    ExaltBass and MrLenny1 like this.
  20. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    My buddy is into HiFi bigtime.
    Tube amp, etc... about $30,000 into the system.
    Incredible system and sound. I noticed he has no
    EQ in the system, he told me not needed for true listening.
    Rumbledore and twinjet like this.

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