Modern Hi-Fi: What really happened to the high-end stereo market?

edited January 2014 in Systems
Read and, well, tell me what you think.

A few nuggets from this article:

...bitrate 320kbps, which has proven again and again to be indistinguishable from even super-hi-res 24 bit files.

All of this is without even mentioning that given a decent enough file size, the straight up line output from an iPod or Mac laptop sounds measurably closer to the source than any record player or cassette deck ever made, and many reel-to-reel machines, too.

It may rankle some audiophiles to hear it, but 320kbps Spotify stream can very well sound more accurate to the source than 180 gram vinyl, and an HD YouTube video isn’t super far off with an audio bitrate of 192kbps. (It’ll certainly sound closer to the original recording than any cassette tape.)

Speakers just don’t get that much “better” once you reach the high end of the studio market. There’s no question that at the high end of the market, both the little nearfield monitors and the big wall-mounted studio speakers of today are, objectively speaking, “better” at their jobs than the ones from the 70s.

Over to you, dearest Chewers...


  • edited January 2014
    Interesting article. I agree with Spotify 320kbps being good enough - for me it has always been about recording quality and not about whether it is redbook or high-res quality. Poorly recorded albums delivered in 24-bit quality still sound, well.....poor.

    I disagree about the answer being active monitors. This comes down to personal preference. Some prefer to hear the music exactly as it is presented on the disc. For me, having owned high quality active monitors in the past I found myself wondering where the weight, scale and emotion had gone. They're very impressive initially because they present huge amounts of detail. Over time I began to tire of the 'matter of fact' presentation.

    Undoubtedly it is possible to form a great system for little money these days, but I don't think the answer to a musically engaging system is buying a pair of near field active monitors and put a computer in front of them.

    Just my t'pence.

  • I feel annoyed by his (deliberately) broad brush strokes. Too much so to be bothered with him at the mo'. Will return in the morrow...!
  • edited January 2014
    ^ handbag smiley required ;)

  • edited January 2014
    I feel annoyed by his (deliberately) broad brush strokes. Too much so to be bothered with him at the mo'. Will return in the morrow...!
    I suspect he is a digital freak and has never heard a good system in is life, with his basic reference being a IPod with small ear plugs.
    Granted some digital signal do sound better than most i.e. the OFF switch fitted to most good TV's for Football, Dead Enders and and Pok and his false prophet show.

    Thank Pok there is two camps in the reproduction of good/adequate music reproduction, other than winning the Lotto and buying the band.

    Well I shall back to my 8 Track and enjoy the Inkspots now and "Whispering Grass"
    edited January 2014
    In response to the claims in that article....COBBLERS :))

    320kbs better than master tapes?  Pull the other one!  Most people I know, including non-audiophiles, can tell the difference between 320kbs and Red Book, with one or two exceptions.  I have played high res files from one of the Stones albums and compared directly with 320kbs versions and there is a world of difference to anyone not completely stone deaf.

    I do get fed up with constant dumbing down of standards, mostly a creation of marketing types of large companies pushing for easy sales for maximum profit.  As for the silly comments about 180g vinyl, the weight of the LP has nothing to do with it;  the difference depends on what master the vinyl was cut from and what system it was replayed on.  They conveniently forget to mention was it cut from a horribly compressed original and replayed on a cheap cartridge mounted onto a usb plastic record deck?  Idiot.

    As for "high end speakers" being no better than cheaper studio monitor types, it proves the chaps ignorance.  Most cheaper speakers are cheap because they are severely compromised for profitability, simple as.  The more you spend, the better speakers do get although diminishing returns will kick in, but not really until you're north of £10K per pair.  As for recommending powered (active) studio monitors, well that again smacks of complete ignorance.  Most monitors intended for studio are voiced for detail and would be very bright and forward in a normal listening room, especially as they dont sound that balanced unless playing very loud.  There are exceptions like Studio Opal Monitors which are pretty flat in response and in some rooms make excellent hifi speakers, but for the most part, studio monitors are NOT about accuracy, they're about stripping layers of the mix bare.

    Perhaps just another studio engineer type with an anti-hifi agenda and clearly someone with very little evidence to back up opinion.  There's a middle ground for any audio engineer to see, especially engineers with a broad knowledge base, and this chap has written off most of the high end with a single swipe claiming that studio speakers hooked up to an Ipod is all we need.  What an ill informed narrow minded person.
  • edited January 2014
    I've properly ABX tested 320k mp3 vs. WAV & can reliably identify between the two.

    Files were ripped using Exact Audio Copy, verified, and then WAV & LAME 320k files were produced.

    The difference is slightly more air and ambiance, a 'natural feel' with WAV.
  • edited January 2014
    Maybe I should do this:

    NOTE: I bet the author of the post, nor other people, have conducted such a test using something like STAX electrostatic headphones, which is what I used when I went through a file-based ABX testing stint.

    ...these days I just listen, and am happy with lossless formats.
  • edited January 2014
    Sorry, I just can't take the article seriously. Simply based on its deliberately provocative style.

    At the end it gives the following information about the author:  "Justin Colletti is an audio engineer, educator and journalist"
    I fear the article was written by Justin Colletti the journalist. Justin the audio engineer and Justin the educator should be feeling more than a little dirty.
  • Would you trust him?

    The last scientist the world trusted destroyed two cities in Japan and another gassed the Jews.

    Having many many time I have been let down by the Yanks with there inflated view of there non skills. And there view on one man one job.
    I think I will TAR him with the same sticky brush, and read his crap with the total bullshit it deserves. No I will not read it I can read the Beano instead and enjoy it knowing it is pure fiction and for fun. 

  • That's a nice double teapot he's doing in that first link.
  • I don't think he needs any help pouring himself out...

    Right that's it. I've said my bit.
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