High fidelity

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High fidelity—or hi-fi—reproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners and home audio enthusiasts (audiophiles) to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound [1] or images, to distinguish it from the poorer quality sound produced by inexpensive audio equipment. Ideally, high-fidelity equipment has minimal amounts of noise and distortion and an accurate frequency response.

One effort to standardize the term was the 1973 German Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) standard DIN 45500. DIN 45 500 approval was intended to provide audio equipment buyers with reassurance that their equipment was capable of good quality reproduction. In theory, only stereo equipment that met the standard could bear the words 'hi-fi'. This standard was well intentioned but only mildly successful; in practice, the term was widely misapplied to audio products that did not remotely approach the DIN basis specifications.

Contents

History

After World War II,[citation needed] several innovations created the conditions for a major improvement of home-audio quality:

  • Reel-to-reel audio tape recording, based on technology found in Germany after the war, helped musical artists such as Bing Crosby make and distribute recordings with better fidelity.
  • The advent of the 33⅓ RPM Long Play (LP) microgroove vinyl record, with low surface noise and quantitatively-specified equalization curves. Classical music fans, who were opinion leaders in the audio market, quickly adopted LPs because, unlike with older records, most classical works would fit on a single LP.
  • FM radio, with wider audio bandwidth and less susceptibility to signal interference and fading than AM radio, though AM could be heard at longer distances at night.
  • Better amplifier designs, with more attention to frequency response and much higher power output capability, allowing audio peaks to be reproduced without distortion.[2]

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