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  • Audiophile


    An audiophile, from Latin audio[1] "I hear" and Greek philos[2] "loving," is a person, who typically listens to music on high-end audio electronics.

    Audiophiles try to listen to music at a quality level that is as close to the original performance as possible. They use high-fidelity components to try to attain these goals. Many are music lovers who are passionate about high-quality music reproduction. DIY audio enthusiasts build their own equipment, especially loudspeakers.

    Audiophile values may be applied at all stages of music reproduction: the initial audio recording, the production process, and the playback, which is usually in a home setting. High-end audio refers to expensive, high-quality, or esoteric products and practices used in the reproduction of music. Electronic gear used by audiophiles is typically sold at specialist shops. Prices [/B]range from not much more than mass market electronics to astronomical heights: high-end audio systems can easily cost more than a new automobile and in extreme cases can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most of this gear is produced by companies that specialize in high-end gear, although some also produce equipment used by audio professionals such as by recording studios.

    Audiophile magazines include Hi-Fi News, Hi-Fi Choice, Hi-Fi World, and What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision in the United Kingdom as well as Stereophile and The Absolute Sound in the United States. Hobbyist audio societies also exist: Stereophile's website has a list of such groups in the United States.[3]

    Audiophiles can purchase special recordings made with extra attention to sound quality; some companies specialize in re-issuing recordings for this purpose. Many audiophiles[weasel word sentence] feel that vinyl records sound better than compact discs (CDs), and audiophile records are often remastered and pressed on extra-heavy virgin vinyl – 180g or 200g. Audiophiles also collect recordings in the high-resolution formats such as Super Audio CD or DVD-Audio.

    So the question is....are audiophiles born with the golden ear or can that golden ear be developed? (or both)

    Is there equipment in audio that you just consider snake oil? (I've seen things like expensive cables, tube buffers, and ERT's as possible examples).

    Your thoughts!?!

  • #2
    I've always thought of it in a very similar way to other tastes that develop. Like excellent wine, it takes time to cultivate your pallate to truely appreciate their subtleties.

    Over the years, working in high end audio shops, and listening to excellent gear (stuff rarely my own) I find myself learning to distinguish more and more detail. Perhaps it's a process.

    I'm sure some folks have better aural aquity as a starting point, but I think it's a cultivated ability as well.
    LCR: Gedlee Abbeys for LR and Nathan for Center Surround & rear 4 x Sho10's
    Subs: 4 x 18.2
    Electronics: Marantz SR7002, Acurus 200x3 (LCR), PS3, HTPC, CDP300, Mits HC1500, Elite Peregrine 2.35 156" Acousticpro4k


    • #3
      Mine started in elementary school when the music teacher would play different music on the portable mono turntable that the school had for the music dept. After that then playing musical instruments in concert band at the end of elementary school and guitar for fun after that.

      The more exposure to live music the more you hear the nuances that you look for in reporduced music.

      Last evening was a good case in point. The local orchestra was performing at the high school that my wife attended. They featured the youth award performers that won the local competiton. The kids ranged from 11 to 16 years old and it was a three way tie for first place.
      All classical music, unamplified in a room with pretty good acoustics. WOW! The ensemble was very good indeed. The kicker was the tickets were $10/person.

      It can be learned and it is alot of fun in the journey! :)
      Better living through Audio Nirvana!


      • #4
        How about those special wooden feet... I always thought those were snake oil ;)


        • #5
          I hope the golden ear can be developed over time....but I often wonder if I think something sounds better because I paid more money for it or I want it to sound better to justify the purchase.


          • #6
            I think, unfortunately, the term Audiophile is often glued to some sort of price tag; and is often synonymous with hi-end equipment.

            I think anyone who appreciates listening to music at home, and make efforts to better the reproduction of that music, is an audiophile.

            You don't need to spend tens of thousands to be considered one (even though I already have).


            • #7
              I think there can definitely be some placebo effect on some people. I've certainly known guys who had to get the top of the line gear of a particular brand because that's what they were told to get. Did they bother to listen to any of it before hand? No. People who buy into **** marketing are like this.

              I also believe the golden ear thing is developed over time with experience. My ability to hear subtle differences and colorations to sound came with hearing a lot of different gear over many years.

              Cables made a huge impression on me when I least expected it to.

              Before I got into audio as a hobby I didn't really even know it got any better than what I heard on my crappy old fisher stereo (all in one turntable/ dual cassette deck w/ 5 band EQ!!! from the 80's)

              Over the years I tried many tweaks and while some seemed to help initially, I would eventually chuck them as a fad of the mind. Cables were a bit more consistent in my experience. I've even gone back to cheap cables to see if I could live with them. I knew based on my own listening habits that better cables brought more detail and better dynamics which made the music more enjoyable whereas listening with the cheaper cables tended to make me get distracted easier and walk away from the music. Mood was also a major factor of course.

              I'm not saying I can't enjoy the music without the awesome clarity my stereo gives me but it sure helps!

              I can't comment on tube buffers or ERTs but I can say I find a good tube preamp mated with a good high current SS amp makes for a great combination.

              I can't afford to get on the merry go round of buying new gear every year but I do still get out and listen to better gear whenever possible to remind me of what can be achieved and how close I am at it. I heard a stereo recently that was so good it made me want to completely overhaul my reference stereo. But I know my home theater is pretty damn good considering the limitations I have to deal with. I live in an apartment.

              The best advice I can give when it comes to all of the tweaks is either try them yourself with an open mind or don't and STFU. Nothing drives me crazy more than someone who makes claims against certain products without ever having tried it themselves. It's not about "believing" it works. It's about giving it a fair unbiased shot and listening for yourself. Everyone has their own favorite flavor of colorations so what works for one may or may not work for someone else.

              When it comes to the whole price issue, if you don't feel comfortable with spending the money on a piece of gear then don't do it. My perspective is I don't really consider it as a factor at all. If I find a product worth investing in then that's it for me. The key of course is to get a chance to hear it before hand and understand the context of what you're listening to. If you're going to let money get in the way of musical nirvana then that's your problem. I don't make a ton of money so I listen and think real hard about all of my audio investments. I don't consider money a factor because I've blown so much more money on bull**** over the years that it's sickening. People do it all of the time. My nephew listens to **** because that's good enough for him. Meanwhile he spends a ton more on his boat or his condo or going out all of the time. To each their own. I just think it's crappy to judge others on the whole money issue. I certainly understand when you can't afford much you have to lower your expectations. But you could get a better stereo if you save your money instead of blowing it on temporary bull**** like drinking or partying. Take your time, do your homework and it will pay you back in the long run.