How to evaluate Hi-fi
By Thomas Sillesen, founder of Densen
Choosing a new audio system is an important issue; after all, it is an investment you will have to live with for many years to come.
When people invest in a product like ours, we feel it is important that we respect the customer, and not fall into the traditional marketing “trap”, where a new “improved” product is launched each fall, where the warranty is very limited, and where the only way we care about the customer, is getting his money and getting him out of the door again.
With this in mind we take a different approach to many of the established norms in the business. You have without doubt heard the expression “it is so good it reveals the poor quality of most recordings”. But is that really a quality??!?!? Shouldn’t it reveal the music contained in the recording – and reveal as much music as possible! For us, the answer to this is very clear, and with this in mind we have made the following simple rules for evaluating audio products:
Many people take perfect recordings with them when they visit a dealer in search of a new system. Instead, you should take the music you like with you. After all, you do not play your CD’s to impress the dealer with your high musical standards, but to find a system that plays the music you like. And rest assured, when the customers are out of the door, the dealer plays the music he likes as well!
Avoid the trap of ending up with a system that can only play a few select recordings. Instead, focus on ending up with a system that can dig music out of even the poorest recordings, so you can play the music you want to hear, instead of the recordings you want to hear.
Many people have a very select musical taste, but often experience that when they end up with a High-End system it can only play one kind of music, namely the preferred musical style of the owner. However, a true High-End system should be capable of playing all kind of music, enabling the owner to discover different kinds of music, as there is so much good music in all genres. A good system is a tool for discovering this and a way of broadening musical horizons.
You are often told that products should warm up for weeks, and that you should not evaluate them before this period is over. However, the downside of this is that during a warm up period of several weeks you get used to a product, and as such partly loose your ability to evaluate it objectively. Therefore a good system should play music from the initial turn on. Obviously it will – and should – become better in time, but its musicality should be present almost from the beginning. a good system will simply provide you with even more musicality as time passes.
A product is often bought to compensate for a problem in the system, say like buying a new “soft” sounding CD player, because the system sounds bright. However this is like the classic case of the man who goes to the doctor because his toe hurts, not realising that the problem is his shoe is too small. There is often another reason for this. Our experience is that when a system does not play musically, the listener starts listening for faults, exactly like when you see a boring film and start to notice the poor quality of the picture, whereas the opposite happens when you see a good film, so that you can even forget that it is in black and white!
Many owners of audio systems are easily impressed with the largest, most powerful audio equipment, and end up with a system that looks like Launch Control at Cape Canaveral. However, if size was everything, we would all be driving trucks!
A good system is a system that not only you, but also your partner will cherish. After all, where is the fun in sitting in front of your system and knowing that your partner absolutely loathes your choice of equipment? Choose a system that everyone can live with, as this will allow all of you to share the passion of music, and will make music a natural gathering point for the family.
In real life you go to a concert to listen to music and have a musical experience. In reality the same should be the case with your audio system; the music should be what moves you. Often people end up only listening to the Hi-Fi, they place the artist on the sound-stage etc etc, but they actually end up choosing to listen to the best recordings, instead of the best music possible, even though the music was the reason why they bought an audio system.