Hi-Fi 101 | Stereophile.com

I 1st heard about the undertaking in an e mail, one of the dozens I acquire each and every working day and scarcely look at. It reported that the editor of a German hi-fi publication was crossing the ocean to converse about hi-fi audio to students and their moms and dads at a junior/senior higher university in Westchester County, New York, just 45 minutes or so by car or truck from my Manhattan apartment. Interesting. And odd. I moved on to the subsequent e-mail.

I may possibly have overlooked it entirely if not for Keith Pray, Stereophile‘s normal manager. Keith lives in Westchester County, not significantly from the school in problem, and has kids in a neighboring school. I forwarded the e-mail. Keith liked the concept. I was as well busy to get concerned in any meaningful way, but on the appointed working day, I bought in my auto and drove to Edgemont Junior-Senior Significant University. I located the auditorium, stated howdy to the organizers, took a seat in the eighth or ninth row, and waited for the youngsters to come.

Here is the backstory: Benjamin Rehberg, an audiophile and a German nationwide, subscribes to German hi-fi magazine STEREO and lives in Westchester County. His son attends the Edgemont school there. In March 2020 he study, in STEREO, about hello-fi events place together and offered by Matthias Böde, STEREO‘s editor, at German faculties. Rehberg bought in contact with Böde and asked if he’d be eager to travel to the US to set on a identical celebration at his son’s university. Böde stated yes. Edgemont Faculty Principal Kyle Hosier and tunes teacher John Catoliato also signed on. Then the pandemic strike, and the party was pushed again two years.

You cannot do a presentation on hello-fi without having a hello-fi procedure, so the organizers approached T+A, the German hi-fi firm, about giving some gear. T+A despatched together a PA 3100 HV built-in amplifier ($24,500), a MP 3100 HV Multi Resource Participant ($22,000)—both from the company’s flagship HV series—and a pair of Criterion S2200 CTL a few-way transmission-line speakers ($12,300/pair). They also despatched along Jim Shannon, T+A’s head of export sales—or somewhat, he sent himself along.

This was a really serious process, however the organizers feared, as I would have, that its seem would be swallowed up in that massive auditorium. They needn’t have apprehensive. Relocating about a bit, sitting in unique seats, I located that where ever I sat, as long as it was in the middle area of the auditorium’s entrance fifty percent, the seem was incredibly fantastic.

STEREO printed an posting about the occasion, in German of program (footnote 1) like how the system’s seem was explained in that post by using Google’s amusing English translation: “Maria Pihl’s plump ‘Malvina,’ from which Böde is aware precisely how to audio, showed no sallowness, alternatively presented a loaded rolling bass, crystal clear Mids, light highs without the need of nerve variable and even a actually a few-dimensional one place mapping. Difficult to consider, but genuine!”

It was accurate: The audio was distinctly un-sallow, with zero nerve element. Thank you, Google.

Böde spent most of his presentation concentrating on concerns acquainted to audiophiles but largely unidentified to laypeople, like these schoolkids: the dynamic compression and the “loudness wars” that other sort of compression, the lossy form the sonic rewards of greater-rez recordings.

“What do you do when you happen to be in a noisy team and you want to get observed?” Böde asked, capturing the loudness-war controversy with a uncomplicated, obvious metaphor. “You scream. Which is precisely what occurs in quite a few pop productions.” With Jim Shannon’s support, Böde played examples, comparing, for case in point, Katelijne van Otterloo’s nicely-recorded “Satin Doll,” which has a huge dynamic array, with “Dani California,” the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ terribly crushed scream. When Böde shown waveforms from the two tracks side by aspect projected on a display, I read gasps from some of the students.

Assume that seems esoteric for a initial hi-fi lesson? I believed so, way too. I had other concerns. The gulf in between our generations—our massive techniques their smartphones and earbuds—was absolutely way too wide to be so effortlessly bridged. Additionally, I assumed a bunch of significant college young children would be far too cynical to enjoy a presentation about our peculiar hobby by a bunch of old folks.

I was incorrect on all counts. Sitting among the the kids, I detected minor cynicism. The pupils were intrigued and engaged. They got it. They listened to it. Their ears may be untrained, but their ears and minds are open, and their hearing is substantially greater than our listening to.

In the previous part of the presentation, college students ended up invited to hook up their smartphones to the T+A player through Bluetooth and perform their very own songs, listening along with their friends.

Some of the tracks the kids selected ended up dynamically crunched, and none of them were being truly hello-fi, but I assumed quite a few of them sounded amazing on the T+A system. An interesting moment came when Böde, listening to serious bass distortion in one particular of the university student-picked tracks, assumed one thing was improper with the process and swiftly decreased the quantity. It took him only a couple of seconds to notice that the distortion he was listening to was baked into the tunes transparency, evidently, requires a lot of varieties. When he realized his mistake and
turned it back again up, I discovered that baked-in distortion convincingly performed and musically helpful. I will not know what the observe was, but I thought it sounded good.

Soon after the presentation, I asked a collected team of college students if they’d at any time before listened to songs with their buddies. A single answered, “Certainly, at live shows.” But what about sitting down down to hear to data collectively? Not a one student answered of course.


Footnote 1: An English translation must he on the internet at some point—perhaps by the time you read this.

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