Why no MP3 Hi Fi systems ?I'm puzzled

  erkmatrix 13:53 19 Aug 2006

Just can't believe that no major hi-fi manufacturer has yet invented a good hi-fi that has a say 60 gig hard drive built in and can hook up to a pc or mp3 player even to fill up the hard drive and of course still can have a cd player. Maybe there is one of these out now and I just couldn't find it but why aren't there more. In this day and age MP3 and digital music is easy and it would be good to have a hi-fi that could have your whole cd collection on it and suffle your fav tracks and albums. The technology is definatly here so why not. I for one don't really need something like a mp3 player and walk about with headphones I'd just prefer a decent hi-fi to play MP3s from its hard drive.

  ade.h 14:17 19 Aug 2006

Ages ago, PCW had a series of articles about building an MCE style box - you can buy all sorts of suitable cases - and controlling it with an in-built LCD and a remote control. Would you consider the DIY approach?

  €dstowe 14:35 19 Aug 2006

MP3 and HiFi are mutually incompatible.

Remember that MP3 is a severely compressed format with a large proportion of the original information (analogue or digital) lost in the compression processing. This can never be replaced.

OK MP3 may be alright for modern tinny pop music but HiFi it is not. The information lost during the processing to MP may not have been consciously audible but it would have made an important contribution to the ambiance of the recording as a whole.

I recall listening to an MP3 version of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 (Symphony of a Thousand). It was reminiscent of tin whistles heard through a thick veil of cotton wool compared to a full size CDA version - which again was very poor quality compared with hearing it live (which I am very fortunate to have done).

I don't want to appear to be a HiFi snob here but I can easily appreciate why manufacturers are not keen on doing this. They are in business to make money and the small sales generated by this would be unjustifiable.

  rodriguez 14:54 19 Aug 2006

Most people who want to play MP3's on their HiFi will plug their computer into it and play it off there - click here for my setup. However dedicated units with hard disks would make sense and people would buy it. A lot of people don't really notice the quality difference unless it's played on a high end system and has a low bitrate. I use 192 Kbps for my MP3 tracks and this seems to do the job. However in theory, vinyl offers the best quality as long as the disc is perfectly clean and is being played on a sharp stylus because it's analogue and nothing is lost. CD is second because it's digital and loses some information after being converted to 0's and 1's and then MP3 is the worst because a lot more information is cut from the file.

  Stuartli 15:17 19 Aug 2006

By the very nature of the method of retriving the information on a vinyl disc some information is lost...:-)

But I agree that vinyl has a warmer sound quality; that of audio CDs depends a great deal on the reproduction equipment being used.

  GRFT 15:41 19 Aug 2006

click here The latest magazine features "More Music fom MP3!" with reviews of a USB/DAC and headphone amp.

  jimmybond 20:15 19 Aug 2006

Also, even vinyl isn't perfectly analogue - it's 'digital' to some extent, due to the nature of the material used - look at a stylus on vinyl, through a microscope, you'd see what I mean.

  wee eddie 22:49 19 Aug 2006

The reproduction is inferior.

a bit like DAB Radio, good reception, crap reproduction

  De Marcus™ 23:32 19 Aug 2006

There's a whole lotta 'mp3 is inferior' nonesense that's sprawled about the internet, it's true in theory and practice, but how many people own a system where they could genuinely say they'd notice the difference, not many, and those that do own such systems, rarely have them setup properly (my dad for one, grrr). It's mostly spouted by audiophiles, however put those audiophiles in a room, blindfolded, on their own, with an average household music system and they'd be clueless as to the difference.

As a matter of fact I came across such a system in Asda today as I was browsing the aisles, it was a cheap, no name micro system, but it did have a usb connection, and a slot for mmc/sc cards, and all for 50 squid, there's a hope in hells chance of anyone noticing the difference between mp3 and cda on that system.

I've got a Denon system and sound reproduction is superb, the only time I can hear a noticeable diference in sound quality is if I encode below 192-256kbps, otherwise, exactly the same.

I don't expect many people to agree, but if you get the chance to experiment, try and it see.

  ade.h 23:52 19 Aug 2006

No, I would agree with most of that, broadly speaking. I always use variable bit rate WMA (about 240-355Kbits) to rip albums, which creates no discernable loss at all through my Aego 2s. I use an M-Audio card on that PC.

I'm lucky enough to have inherited a Linn system (could never afford that kind of value myself) but I have never had the opportunity to play WMA files through it of course, there being no suitable equipment with which a fair test could be made.

I have considered getting something like a Roku Soundbridge one day, just for the extra convenience, but I would be realistic about the aural results.

  wee eddie 00:49 20 Aug 2006

If you are listening to Nicola Benedetti, Charlotte Church, Julian Lloyd Webber or maybe one of the earlier virtuosos.

Then it matters and that Linn System would demonstrate it beautifully.

I'm sorry but the compression used to make the files small enough to be acceptable on a IPod or similar looses so many of the nuances of tone and clarity that few audiophiles would be bothered.

Don't get me wrong. There is nothing at fault with MP3 and the other compression formats, but it's a bit like trying to print a 3 Mega-pixel photo to A3 size sheet.

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