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What Is Hi-Fi?

High fidelity (or hi-fi) is the gold standard of any audio or video enthusiast. Basically, it means that the images or sound are rendered with minimal background noise or distortion. The reproduction is “pure” or “faithful to the original” (hence the term, fidelity).

Though hi-fi was first introduced in the 1950s, most people dismissed it as a marketing campaign for overpriced audio and visual components. They couldn’t readily detect the difference between the ordinary gadget and the new, improved one (except, maybe, a couple of hundred dollars). However, true music aficionados—with their sensitive ears—could detect a distinct improvement in quality. Soon, “serious” music collectors were not only obsessed with hi-fi but turned it into a catch phrase, like “Put a record on the hi-fi.”

As the home theater system grew more complex, so did hi-fi technology. Today, it is possible to get very high-quality sound and images right in your living room. Hi-fi equipment include televisions and DVD players, compact disk players, and a stereo and speaker system. Expensive, yes, but luckily hi-fi fans can build up their home theater system one unit at a time. This is not only more affordable, it is even considered to be better than buying an entire pre-packaged system. The “customized” set-up, usually made from units bought from different companies, lets them pick models that have received exceptional reviews, or units that best reflect their listening needs and preferences. It also becomes easier to upgrade equipment—taking advantage of new technological developments, which push “hi-fi” to new limits.

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