What would you class as mid-fi?

what is your definition of mid-fi? everyone uses the term hi-fi now that it’s almost become a meaningless term…the lines have blurred as you can get excellent audio quality under $200 now that was previously unimagined.

share price points and feel free to give specific examples of items you think fit the definition of mid-fi rather than what hi-fi should mean…used to mean.

This is only regarding full size over the ear headphones, since iem’s have their own price brackets

So I would classify mid fi into 2 categories. Upper mid fi and lower mid fi. I think that stuff under $150 USD would actually fall into consumer gear. Around the $200 mark up to the $350 mark would be lower mid fi. People who have graduated from more consumer oriented gear like the hd5 series (excluding the 58x), mx0s, sony’s, stuff like that which have a more “mainstream” tuning. Lower mid fi headphones usually are great bang for buck performance and cover what most average people would want out of a headphone, (headphone novice’s “endgame”). This is also the range that lots of experimenting happens to figure out what the person likes, and owning multiple headphones can make sense, since imo at this price range alot of headphones like to emphasize a certain aspect about them to attract new buyers interesting in a different sound, hence “mid fi hell.”

The $350 to $650 range is more upper mid fi, as it typically has a higher tier of performance, and gets closer to the luxury item territory, as the build quality usually reaches its peak ignoring the high end segment, and sound starts to get balanced and more usable for multiple purposes, and because of the price, most average people tend to stop here with one or two pairs. People usually experience this performance segment, and start to question their more lower mid fi cans, and sell them off for one or two upper mid fi cans. Diminishing returns really starts to show here, and thats why most do not decide to take the step into the higher end.

I think the term hi-fi is very convoluted and differs depending on the person, so I really can’t answer that (I actually wrote a categorization essay on this very topic, but can’t find what I named it unfortunately)

Edit: also, I do understand the leaps and bounds in the under $100 market, but I don’t feel that it would go into a category called mid fi, simply because of the idea that it should be in the middle. I also don’t think that the “consumer” level gear is bad at all, or should not be considered high end audio.


it’s interesting that a fellow made several other categories, being hi-fi has gotten so convoluted.

Rather than cost, I prefer the idea being a loose blanket of items that are capable of neutral, uncolored, and natural sound production as HiFi. I think headphones like the Shure 1540 would be an example of affordable but definitely playing to this idea where as Zeos’ review of the Abyss Diana and ADH-ADX5000 would be in the same vein but capable of more fidelity.

I would propose MidFi perhaps should be thought of as more a general category of sound and voicing that audiophiles and otherwise music enthusiasts want that isn’t particularly high fidelity but above consumer wants. So thing like Ether CX or even C Flows 1.1 or Grado SR60e would in my mind be MidFi.

Part of why I think the above may be useful is that there are many people with different ideas of price points. Zeos even poked fun at it a few times (thinking of the LCD-X joker sequence), but price points really depend on things you’ve heard and how much you are willing to spend (e.g. i’d say mid-tier cost would be between $300 and $1200, high-tier cost $1200 to $2400, and luxury items from $750 onwards…which probably doesn’t help anyone).

But I am more likely to side with the sound than the cost in calling something HiFi or MidFi.


I can agree with this as well. There are alot of valid ways to categorically define the term whatever-fi, since it’s used so often

The only concern I have with this idea is that you would end up with more technically capable headphones that some may see as better then others where some will see it as worse, because some sonic characteristics can be entirely subjective. I just think this method would vary from person to person too much and not have something objective to latch onto.

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I fully agree with you JV…however as I have mentioned in other conversations, items get classifications that the majority of society agree to. there are more items that people agree on than against in audio. what you are speaking of is just how subject sound is. so in general speak, a rule of thumb as it were, from the brands known to produce quality audio gear, I think for this exercise we could assign dollar value’s for tiers that would indicate quality. we’re not talking about Beats introducing a $500 headphone and putting it up against Sennheiser or HiFiMan or Audeze. Beats would be an outlier and exception to the rule. hee hee!

At a population scale survey, I think you could come up with what could be objectively normal, per say; however, this wouldn’t necessarily be ‘normal’ to any one individual. It is as you suggest subjective.

The problem with sound is that our ear doesn’t do absolute and like much of our bodies, we haven’t evolved with any of our concerns for things like hearing audio fidelity in mind or the very large scale or the very small scale.

If the exercise was to name examples of headphone, sound, and cost, then I think we’d end up with a scatter plot of sound versus cost with a general trend line that flattens out quickly to separate subjectively better sounding things for the price… But I’d think we’d need to have a uniform concept of HiFi and MidFi with some qualifiers to generate good quality anecdotes.


True, it would all rely on finding a balance between subjective and objective that one could reliably quantify. Ah, the joys of this hobby lol


Can’t we just go back to measuring whose D’s are the biggest? Those were simpler times…


what, minimum 20 characters? no LoL only posts?

shucks… :frowning:

Lol ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

that’s a lot of spaces. or was that extended pause for emphasis? LoL!

Mid-fi is hi-fi for under 250$, aka endgame stuff for me. Most music has been recorded/mastered on 200$ speakers or headphones (things like Yamaha HS5 and even Ath-M50Xs) anyway.

  • Pricier than that and, chances are you’ll hear more than the actual musicians and producers in the studios. Interesting? Yes. Mandatory to enjoy the music? Absolutely not.
  • It can also be detrimental. Because you’ll also hear all the errors and compression and a ton of the music you used to enjoy before can now just make you say “well, this sounds like crap”.
  • This is especially detrimental if you use your headphones for anything other than music. Youtube videos recorded with cellphones, old youtube videos, streaming videos… Suddenly everything becomes dull, sounds thin, you hear an annoying cat in the background, or fan sounds, etc. Because everything is too detailed. If you listen to youtube/facebook videos half of the time with pricier headphones, you might be unhappy half of the time. For what? “Oh, yes, this song sounds glorious on these headphones… but just this one.” (Okay, I’m overexaggerating. But still, there’s truth in that).
  • Also, pricier than that, and you pay for what? There’s not more than 200$ in parts in headphones.
  • So, pricier than that, and the quote “everything in audio is subtle and not worth it” makes more sense than ever. :stuck_out_tongue:

Especially now, because more and more, there are a ton of things punching way above their price range. Not only headphones. 100$ for a headphone amp with distortion/noise starting at like 120dB (yes, the Atom), 100$ for Topping DACs with distortion/noise starting at higher than 100dB, when CDs have a 96dB range… And I’m pretty sure most people here put this in mid-fi. But nobody were measuring anything 10 years ago, they were just happy paying 1000$ to 2500$ for their “this is the best-ever” Marantz or Denon (etc) DAC/AMP combo with noise/distortion starting at 80dB or less, and enjoying the music, not even knowing what a DAC chip was. Lol. Dick measuring contest indeed.

We’re spoiled for choice. Zeos used to say “there’s no point in buying an expensive DAC”. Then he bought a THX 789 (well… three actually). But, most people don’t need, don’t even want that. Same thing for higher than 200-250$ headphones.

Mid-fi, for me, is the “everything sounds great” category. From youtube videos to 192khz+ files or whatever. So, yeah, “mid-fi” is a made-up word (…imagine HD58Xs or the Topping D30 with a yellow mid-fi logo…) and for me, it’s better than “hi-fi”.


I have to disagree with you LD. there are significant upgrades in audio quality as you scale the equipment up. I am no more than an untrained neophyte and I heard a distinct difference between the Senn HD800’s and the HE-1000 v2’s that left the Senn’s wanting. and it was at that point that I realized I had just had an experience that made me see the rationale of buying $4000 (CAD) headphones whereas moments before, I thought it was pure lunacy. of course, I was already primed for this as my first hi-fi headphone was the Stax SR-207’s and that was a gobsmacking experience. surreal even!

I do think your comments scale well with the concept of lo-fi and mid-fi and the value they hold compared to days of yore. what used to be hi-fi has been supplanted by the new summit-fi and ultra-fi. and I’m 100% certain I would never spend $60,000 on a pair of headphones. evar.

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I know I would hear way more detail with a THX 788 and Focal Elegias, but my point is, it can also be detrimental. All music is meant to be enjoyed, but not all music is well recorded. It’s made to sound well on everything. Including JVC stereos and cars. On everything from lo-fi to mid-fi.

I agree with both points. There is definitely upgrade higher up the ladder. But I think the higher up you go the more you are forcing yourself to enjoy the sounds (justifying to keep yourself sane) rather than just sitting back and enjoying the music.

Some people like that though…

But I think all of us eventually reach this conclusion of “enough is enough” and I think what ultimately determines that is a monetary value at the end of day.

true, source material is important, but that’s not what we’re talking about. most people have good sources, so let’s take it as a given that isn’t going to be a problem.

that could be for the experienced ear, but not for those being introduced to high quality audio. I’m a perfect example. my first experience was with the Stax SR-207…it was more than enlightening. I was thrilled and joyful. and then double downed when I listened to the HD800’s and the HE-1000 v2’s. I was honestly struck that a difference could be heard and that it wasn’t snake oil as I had thought.
that said, I have no intention of ever owning $4000 headphones, my wife would kill me. however I am content with my SRS-2100’s (though I have thought of grabbing the L700’s and see if my 232S can do them justice) and only have the intentions of getting myself the LCD-2 Classics or something comparable from HFM. and perhaps…just perhaps, something with dynamic drivers. perhaps.

I’ve honestly thought of starting a collection of $500 and lower equipment and do reviews for real world users :wink:

I’m also going to comment that realistically in my case, I love the gear, but also love music at the same time equally. I get just as much enjoyment out of the gear as I do the music. I wouldn’t have bought the abyss if that wasn’t the case for example

Edit: or the other stupid things I own

indeed, my end goal is enjoyment of sound, not boasting rights. granted, that doesn’t hurt either :wink:

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