How It Works: Science and Technology - Vol. 8

By Wendy Horobin | Go to book overview

Hi-fi Systems

At the mixing desk of a
sound-recording studio, a
mixing engineer (center)
[designs] the sound that
will be recorded. The
mixing-desk controls
modify the strengths and
frequency profiles of input
signals and determine their
places in the stereophonic
or polyphonic sound field.
The function of a hi-fi
system is to reproduce
faithfully the sound that
a mixing engineer creates.

The term hi-fi is an abbreviation of high fidelity. Hi-fi systems are so called because they are designed to reproduce recorded or broadcast sounds with as much fidelity, or faithfulness, to the original sounds as possible within the limits of technology and acceptable cost. Since the term high fidelity was coined in the 1950s, its usage has become increasingly loose. As such, midprice music systems that provide reasonably faithful sound reproduction are often described as hi-fi systems, whereas true high-fidelity systems are now classed as reference equipment.

At the core of any hi-fi system are one or more amplifiers. An amplifier's primary function is to boost signals from input devices to such an extent that they are capable of driving loudspeakers or headphones. Potentiometers, or variable resistance devices, modify the output signal to suit the environment and mood of the listener. One such device, the volume control, varies the overall output strength for all speakers. Another, the balance control, adjusts the relative strengths of the signals fed to different speaker channels—left and right or front and rear, for example.


Input devices

The principal input devices that provide audio signals for amplifiers include compact disc (CD) players, digital audio tape (DAT) players, and digital radio tuners. Analog input devices such as record players, audio cassette players, and analog tuners continue to form part of many hi-fi systems, but the inherently poor reproduction of analog devices compared with digital input devices is eroding their popularity. In contrast, MP3 and minidisc players, which record sound as digital computer files, are growing in popularity.

Some hi-fi systems can be used in homeentertainment systems. The audio output signal of a video cassette or digital versatile disc (DVD) player provides the input signal for the soundtrack that accompanies the on-screen images.


Output devices

The principal output devices of hi-fi systems are speakers, in which the output signal passes through a coil in the back of a flexibly mounted rigid cone. Variations in the signal cause corresponding changes in the magnetic field of the

-1071-

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How It Works: Science and Technology - Vol. 8
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Gold 1013
  • Governor 1017
  • Grass-Cutting Equipment 1018
  • Gravity 1020
  • Gun 1023
  • Gyrocompass 1028
  • Gyroscope 1030
  • Hair Treatment 1032
  • Halogen 1034
  • Hang Glider 1037
  • Head-Up Display 1039
  • Hearing 1041
  • Heart 1045
  • Heart Pacemaker 1048
  • Heart Surgery 1049
  • Heat Engine 1053
  • Heat Exchanger 1054
  • Heating and Ventilation Systems 1056
  • Heat Pump 1063
  • Helicopter 1065
  • Hi-Fi Systems 1071
  • High-Speed Photography 1077
  • Holography 1080
  • Hormone 1084
  • Horticulture 1088
  • Hosiery and Knitwear Manufacture 1090
  • Hurricane and Tornado 1094
  • Hydraulics 1100
  • Hydrocarbon 1105
  • Hydrodynamics 1109
  • Hydroelectric Power 1112
  • Hydrofoil 1116
  • Hydrogen 1118
  • Hydroponics 1120
  • Hygrometer 1123
  • Ignition System, Automobile 1124
  • Image Intensifier 1128
  • Immunology 1132
  • Induction 1138
  • Inertia 1142
  • Information Technology 1147
  • Ink 1151
  • Index i
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