Henry Rollins: Audiophile. In a blog for the LA Weekly, Henry Rollins describes the pleasure of listening to music through his Wilson Audio Sophia 3 loudspeakers. Photo: Maura Lanahan.
It’s tough being an audiophile. Tell someone you like high-quality sound and they might look at you like you’re an alien. We forget that hi-fi used to be the coolest endeavor in town. Look at black-and-white advertisements from decades ago and you’ll see handsome men, surrounded by enormous loudspeakers, massive tube amplifiers, LPs tossed about like useless clothes and knotted bed sheets, gorgeous women wanting and waiting for more. But, somehow, over time and with changes to our priorities and lifestyles, the idea of listening to music on the hi-fi has gone from sexy to sexlessa hobby limited to the soft and balding, the smelly and unkempt, the hopelessly lonesome and woefully inept. Plus: For most people, “audiophile” is just way too close to “pedophile.”
What’s a guy to do?
We would like to destroy these negative perceptions of the audiophile. Such views are not only unfair, but horribly limited and ignorant. And would you tell Haruki Murakami that it’s not cool to be an audiophile? Lou Reed? Jim Sclavunos? Thurston Moore? Frank Sinatra? Marlon Brando? Steve McQueen? Clint Eastwood? Johnny Rotten? Syd Barrett? How about Henry Rollins? Would you tell Henry Rollins that hi-fi’s a hobby for losers? What about me? Would you tell me that hi-fi's not cool?
In an essay he calls “Reflections on the Audiophile Image,” Michael Lavorgna opens our June issue by wondering how and why hi-fi lost its cool. To complement Michael’s piece, we’ve compiled articles on our website that illuminate the elements of our shared enthusiasm for sound and music. Click on “Audiophile Essentials” to find discussion of what it really means to be an audiophile.