......you live in a trailer!!!!!!
64 responses Add your response
Anyone feel free to correct my interpretation, but I think mid-fi is those brands which used to be above the big box stores, but were not top shelf components.
A few years back one might have considered Rotel, Adcom, Vincent, some Marantz, low end Paradigm, low end B&W, low end PSB, stuff like that.
Nicer than what Best Buy sells, but not the most expensive stuff at a full fledged high end shop.
The lines are getting quite smeared though by some of the aforementioned companies coming out with spectacular sounding products at previously unattainable prices, and some of the higher end companies bringing lower cost products to the big box stores.
I don't think that Hi Fi, Mid Fi or Low Fi can be defined in a way that very many would agree, but since I've seen it referenced several times I figured I'd ask what it means to different people. I hadn't really considered that my speakers were anything but Hi Fi, but after seeing what level of gear is available they just might fit the bill.
I guess I might consider my Focal Chorus series speakers Mid Fi because they are technically a "budget" line of speakers.
Also, it might be reasonable to consider Mid Fi to be having a home theater receiver rather than a dedicated two channel amplifier.
You might own a mid fi system if all your grown kids still have thier naturally crooked teeth.
You might own a mid fi system if your house has only two rooms, and a DELUXE model outhouse. (two seats, no waiting).
You might own a mid fi system if your idea of a financial retirement plan is to bury a hundred bucks in your backyard.
You might own a mid fi system if your wife moonlights at the local greasy spoon truck stop.
You might own a mid fi system if you have never been outside the very same county you were born in.
You might own a mid fi system if your 'higher education' was in a brothel.
You might own a mid fi system if you hunt Possum for fun AND profit.
You might own a mid fi system if your family is still in Mexico and you send them money every week via Western Union.
You might own a mid fi system if your favorite sport is hittin' the spittoon and makin' it ring all per'tty.
You might own a mid fi system if your car is a Ford.
You might own a mid fi system if your car is a Chevy.
You might own a mid fi system if your car is a Buick.
You might own a mid fi system if your car is a Chrysler.
You might own a mid fi system if your car is a Toyota.
You might own a mid fi system if you get paid by the hour.
You might own a mid fi system if you live off SSI.
You might own a mid fi system if your parents are dirt poor and you are going to college.
You might own a mid fi system if you are rich and are NOT an audiophile.
A few ideas for starters there....
"Components primarily designed to meet the needs of audiophiles and music-lovers are worthy of the appellation "high-end," no matter what they cost. The much wider range of products whose genesis lies purely in the need of their manufacturer to fill a gap in their product line or attack a previously unoccupied niche in the market, or even just to flesh out their business plan, are "mid-fi" by definition. It's as simple as that. The next time you find someone equating the words "high" and "end" with "high-priced," or feeling that low-priced is automatically equivalent to "mid-fi," remind them that it ain't necessarily so."
Strange; although I agree with all of the previous descriptions, I will attempt to give one. Mid Fi is mass produced, and the top end of Mid Fi can sound very good. When you go beyond this point, the price escalates, for many reasons, and the sound becomes more refined. The law of "Diminishing returns" also kicks in. Since many people can not hear what is a much larger price differential than an audible one; they disavow the distinction.
The bottom line is, "What ever definition that floats your boat" is just fine
One of the best ways to determine if you system is mid fi or not is by counting the total number of buttons on your system. A lower number is more hi fi, and a higher number is more mid fi.
Although rare, some power amplifiers locate their power switches on the back panel, to discourage the user from ever turning them off. This is most certainly hi fi.
The presence of tone controls and remotes - particularly a "universal" or shared remote - pretty much guarantees that your system is mid fi, as does any subwoofer, regardless of cost.
Surround sound or multi channel audio is always mid fi.
The presence of any features designed for comfort or convenience are also always mid fi. For example, any turntable which is automatic or even semi automatic is certainly mid fi.
Recorded formats or devices which emphasize quantity, convenience or practicality, rather than effort no object quality, are always mid fi, if not low fi. MP3 therefore is always mid fi at best, and all CD and even SACD changers are mid fi.
Similarly, in wall or concealed speakers are always mid fi, regardless of their cost or alleged performance. And any component designed first and foremost to integrate into someone's living space is also clearly mid fi. So any product whose marketing materials use the word "lifestyle", or anything obviously designed to be small or lightweight is mid fi.
Everything ever made by Bang & Olufsen is mid fi, and Bose doesnt even reach mid fi status.
Samhar's makes an interesting point, but actually some Rolling Stones recordings are pretty good.
I hope this helps.
I think that many of the comments are on track for a reasonable distinction, but like everything else, black & white doesn't exist.
Let's examine my system:
(1) Focal Chorus 836v speakers. Not a "Big Box" store item, but is considered to be the flagship of the "budget" series of speakers. - Vote Hi Fi
(2) Integra 50.1. Not a "Big Box" store item, but is a multi-channel unit. - Vote Upper Mid Fi
(3) Martin Logan Dynamo 700 subwoofer. Is a "Big Box" store item and has wireless capability. - Lower Mid Fi
(4) Pioneer Elite SACD player. - I don't think it is a "Big Box" store item. Is definitely design for pure audio listening with minimal features and buttons (the main unit has three), but is designed to interface with a matching reciever. - Vote Hi Fi
(5) Integra 6-disk CD player. - Not a "Big Box" store item, but is certainly designed for convience and cannot complete with the Pioneer Elite for sound quality. - Lower Mid Fi
Overall I think my system average is Mid Fi, but having compared their sound to much more expensive products I believe I'm fairly high on the cost/return curve.
Overall I think my system average is Mid Fi, but having compared their sound to much more expensive products I believe I'm fairly high on the cost/return curve.Whatever you believe is what counts. It's your money.
Why do you have the need to define your gear in some nebulous ranking system?
In fairness to this debate, "hi fi" may indeed be hi fi, but that is not alwyays a good thing.
So it should also be said that if your system sounds really good only with weirdo audiophile recordings, it is definitely hi fi.
If you find yourself not necessarily enjoying music, but sitting in your chair with a strained, contemplative look, while worrying about the cost benefit ratio of your latest upgrade, your system is definitely hi fi.
If you find yourself marveling at "inner detail", "resolution" or "transparency" in certain recordings, your system is probably hi fi.
If you think double blind tests are not relevant or fair, your system is surely hi fi.
If during normal operation a component has failed on several occasions, or created smoke or fire by itself, in a speaker or in your house, that is also definitely hi fi.
HiFi - Is the music you enjoy along with whatever the basic sources are that allow enjoyment of the music regardless of cost.
MidFi and LowFi - Whatever you have in excess of what was necessary to enjoy the music regardless of cost.
The more in excess the more it classifies as LowFi in that you didn't need the excess after realizing that nothing or very little was gained.
...it cost less than your car.
...you wife doesn't ask why it has to cost so much and take up so much room.
...mp3's sound just fine.
...playing it has no noticeable effect on your electric bill
...you feel no need to upgrade anything.
...the speaker wires came with the equipment, and work fine.
...you wonder why these people on Audiogon argue about tubes, power cords, room treatments, sampling rates, and whether their systems are "mid" or "hi".
"Why do you have the need to define your gear in some nebulous ranking system?" - Tvad
I honestly don't care where my equipment ranks in the Low/Mid/Hi Fi world, I'm happy with it. Being an engineer I like to understand/explain things using concrete examples because it increases the chances of people understanding the point. While I know that this is a nebulous subject with no real answer, it's interesting to see how different peoples ideas about Hi Fi work when applied. Having read several references to Mid Fi it seems reasonable to have a general understanding of what that might mean.
I'm likely Mid Fi simply by the way I purchased my equipment. I visited the store to "kill some time" and ended up being impressed with the sound of some bookshelf speakers. I listened to several speakers in that store, but really never looked anywhere else before making my final choice. My reasoning was that I couldn't imagine being happier with another speakers looks or sound so why waste the time listening to very different systems in very different rooms to try and compare apples and oranges.
I listened to speakers ranging in cost from $650 a pair to $180,000 a pair and several level in between. I knew I was happy with the ones I purchased when I could listen to the most expensive speakers and not feel like mine sounded "bad" in comparison. After visiting the store I would avoid listening to my previous speakers for a few days to let the comparison ability to wear off. Now I can visit the store and listen to the high end and come home still being happy.
My father is an engineer. Exactly why I'm not, but may still eventually be. I like a certain mystery to life and the things that surround me. Otherwise everything is just too predictable and boring. And you know what? I can't imagine being much happier with my stereo than I am now.
And if one of the above comments regarding how many buttons and switches you have on your equipment is a good level to judge by then I'm most certainly hi-fi. Not only do I have one piece with a power switch in the back but overall I only have seven switches and buttons dealing with mute, select, volume, and power between three pieces of gear. I MUST be hi-fi! ;-) Not bad for almost $7k now. (retail, of course. I'm not stupid) Or am I? Maybe a little. LOL!
Basicaslly, if you can drop a Pass mono on another amp from 10' and the other amp explodes like a watermellon it is mid fi.
A manufacture that has more than 5 dealers nation wide.
A product that comes with a warranty card or extend warrenty coverage.
A brand you set up on the front lawn for a college beer party.
A brand that has "authorized service".
A brand that is "designed in the USA" but made in third world country.
A brand your mom has heard of.
A brand that your high school friend's dad owns, and is really cool.
A brand your dad owns and will kick your *** if you touch it.
An amp that that uses push-clip speaker connections and a two prong attached power cord.
Anything that doesn't use silver litz wire for the transformer and hand made capacitors and mill spec parts.
Anything THX certified.
"High fidelityor hi-fireproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners and home audio enthusiasts (audiophiles) to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound  or images, to distinguish it from the poorer quality sound produced by inexpensive audio equipment. Ideally, high-fidelity equipment has minimal amounts of noise and distortion and an accurate frequency response."
"One effort to standardize the term was the 1973 German Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) standard DIN 45500. DIN 45 500 approval was intended to provide audio equipment buyers with reassurance that their equipment was capable of good quality reproduction. In theory, only stereo equipment that met the standard could bear the words 'hi-fi'. This standard was well intentioned but only mildly successful; in practice, the term was widely misapplied to audio products that did not remotely approach the DIN basis specifications."
"In general, "lo-fi" audio is any process that fails to achieve the accuracy and "transparency" that is the goal of hi-fi audio. The meaning of the term "lo-fi" has changed over time; in the 1970s vacuum tube equipment was considered the lower fidelity alternative to the new semiconductor solid state equipment, although some still consider valves the only "pure" way of listening to music. Low fidelity is often associated with cassette tape, although in reality many people simply do not notice the difference between this and CD quality, particularly with the advent of low-quality (lower quality than cassette) mp3 files. Some lower-budget recordings from the 1970s and 1980s have a "lo-fi" sound despite the best efforts of the musicians and the producers, due to the limitations of the analog recording and processing techniques, which introduced unwanted artifacts such as distortion and phase problems. In some recordings, high fidelity recording is avoided, or the artifacts are deliberately retained or added to all or part of the recording for artistic reasons. This decision is usually made by the record producer, but in some cases, band members are advocates of the "lo-fi" sound."
Valves = "Lo Fi"? LOL
"Mid-Fi is an independent record label formed by the American rock and roll band The Supersuckers in 2001."
"The label's motto is "It's not hi-fi, it's not lo-fi, it's mid-fi. And it's pretty good." This is often abbreviated to "It's pretty good." The label logo is a depiction of three bars of a graphic equalizer in such a way as to insinuate an extended middle finger. As of May of 2005, the label has only released albums, singles, and one DVD by The Supersuckers."
So the definition of "Mid Fi" is "It's pretty good". I buy that.
My Sonos player doesn't have a power switch either! That means Sonos is hi-fi too!
But I bought it from a big-box store. :-o
AH! I'm so confused! LoL!
Better start re-writing the book on what classifies mid/hi-fi or better yet, axe them from the English language and I might sleep better tonight. ;-)
As with most things in life, let money be the defining guide. Value in US dollars, and in the future, price will be given in ounces of gold given the inevitable devaluation of our beloved US dollars... :-)
Uber-fi - > US$200,000
Hi-fi - bet US$100,000 and US$200,000
Mid-fi - bet US$50,000 and US$100,000
Junk-fi - bet US$25,000 and US$50,000
Total garbage - < US$25,000
Oh, oh, my...., now i see what I have been listening to all along.... :-o
I just watched a tv commercial where they were selling a new "high-def" paint...so, what is mid-fi paint then? but I digress...
Let me get...real simple like. This question...it's mid-fi. Har-har-har, just kidding!? No. Seriously.
For the OP and other lost travelers, I'll go ahead and make things most basic to understand. This hobby is about listening to music...for OUR enjoyment.
Hi-fi...mid-fi, these are only words.
Music...this is art.
for our intent and purpose, words are only useful for marketing and advertising...understanding that gem should put a stop to about 33.333% of all questions on ALL audio replay related forums.
furthermore, we need to consider the oh so not carefully hidden knowledge that ALL replay components are system/room/source material dependant...and well, that should end almost all other honest questions.
and btw, and obviously for everyone's benefit...sadly, we cannot let you in on what Art is useful for as we have better things to do...for instance, spend our time enjoying it!
Ok..now all them dirty hippy's should be satisfied and off to smoking their hemp sneakers...enough already with all the BS....that's right, lets get down to brass tacks as there is Major Money at stake here! easily everyone involved here (who is not in this game to make any sort of money) should understand that the crux of the apostrophy is this; listening to music at home is as simple as keeping up with the fremer's...or conversely, as complex as turning down the lights and hitting the "play" button on your cdp.
Or perhaps this will help to explain things better for the OP's engineering mind....."talking about music, is like dancing about architecture" That's courtesy of musician Frank Zappa.
So in conlusion and to answer directly the OP's original question, you might own a mid-fi system if...you spend any amount of your free time posting ass-backwards questions on online audio forums instead of on EnJoying listening to music on your stereo.
Also, everything is relative. Except hi-fi, which is absolute.
This forum is AUDIOgon, not MUSICgon or ARTgon so I think its OK to talk about audio.
How we value or appreciate audio vs. music is a well worn debate in other threads.
Since you mentioned money, I might add that yes, there is money at stake here, but usually only when people are willing to shamelessly market mid fi or low fi, as hi fi.
So mid fi is not an expression which is "useful for marketing purposes" it is a pejorative expression invented by audiophiles who know better and seek to educate others about our hobby.
This is yet another reason it is important to define and discuss "mid fi".