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If there’s one thing that really gets our goat here at Newsstand, it’s poor audio quality. We think that the seasoned experts behind Hi-Fi News will agree with us when we say there is simply no excusing for exposing your ears to anything less than high-quality audio when listening to music – hearing a version of your favourite song being played on rubbishy speakers is the equivalent to us of eating a sandwich with a wonderful filling but with cardboard instead of bread. The excellence is in there somewhere, but you have to chew through a lot of mulch before you can experience it.
The main culprit, in our opinion, is compression. Have you ever noticed that the adverts on TV always seem to be louder than the programs? That’s because where the programs allow space for natural moments of loud and quiet, the ads are compressed so that everything is as loud as legally possible in order to grab your attention. This has happened to music as well in the last 20 years or so, meaning that rather than the clean and beautiful listening experience you might have once experienced, with quiet moments and loud ones conveying emotion and feeling, instead you get subjected to a ‘wall of sound’, and that, in our overly English sounding opinion, is simply not on. NB