Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Audiophilia Geographica And The British Sound

Even though hi-fi is a rather global phenomena do folks around the world set-up their hi-fi rigs for best sound quality quite distinctively different from one another? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Speak of hi-fi enthusiasts as a global community and the term British Sound seems to loom large, but what is it? Does it have something to do with hi-fi guru Malcolm Steward and is obsession with the synergistic relationship between Linn and Naim hi-fi gear back in the 1980s with Thomas Dolby’s Flat Earth philosophy? Even though other nationalities do tend to optimize the sound quality of their hi-fi rigs endemic to their various regions and nation-states and yet all of this seems to revolve around the term “British Sound” – is this just mere “media hype” cobbled up by Madison Avenue ad men? 

Peculiar as it may seem to the uninitiated, there does appear to be a “British Sound”. The term might have come about because the British had been making hi-fi kit for longer and in greater variety than other “competing” nations. And musical imports – in the form of musicians – also play a part on the evolution of what is now known as the British Sound. Or a more likely reason is that the British have a certain size and construction of what constitutes as the average listening room – medium sized in world terms, wooden floored with plaster on brick wall construction. Either way, British hi-fi enthusiasts seems to prefer a more upbeat sound – i.e. pace, rhythm and timing - to nations outside of Europe.

Basing on my fortunate experience visiting various hi-fi shows all over the world, American hi-fi enthusiasts seem to go for firepower above all thus explaining their love of muscle amps with telephone number price tags. While the Japanese prefer a silky relaxed balanced – just like the sound of entry level Audio Note kit. The French prefer a bright, detailed sound that can be quite captivating to first-time prospective audiophiles while Germans prefer a relatively mid-forward sound that could sound very realistic when playing a recording of a horn ensemble. 

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