We need a new word

When I first heard the word "audiophile," I loved it. It sounded fresh and dignified. I related to it instantly. An audiophile! I loved the whole idea of it, the focus on music, on sound. That was me! I'd found myself! And people like me. Other audiophiles, who lived all over the world. To paraphrase Tom Petty, it was like a first flash of freedom.

I also, as perhaps befits an audiophile, loved the sound of the word. Au-di-o-phile. It rolled down the tongue then leaped off on a fresh blanket of air. It had the ring of perfect sense to it. Who wouldn't want to hear their favorite music in the highest fidelity possible, undefiled?

Okay, I was naãve. My exuberance was met with widespread indifference. Turned out pretty much everyone, including my clique of best friends who were music freaks like me, couldn't be bothered to do what I considered a no-brainer and upgrade to systems that made their favorite music sound better! Hello? But it didn't matter. I was happy as a clam.

My passage into audiophilia happened in the 1980s. It was a great time. The hobby was bustling like a sweaty Thai bazaar. Innovative, landmark, inexpensive products made by iconic brands like NAD, Sugden, Totem, Audiolab, and Revolver popped up at perfect times to keep a buzz going. Say what you will about CDs and their arrival, the new format mixed things up. Suddenly, we had a new source to play with, and it came from the future.

Of course, there were growing pains for many of us. We got so hung up on trying to replicate the real thing and hear every detail from our systems that we almost forgot about the music. Dark Side of the Moon's Alan Parsons said so much: "Audiophiles don't use their equipment to listen to music. Audiophiles use your music to listen to their equipment."

In the process, we developed a psychological condition debilitating enough that it was given a Latin-flavored name: audiophilia nervosa.

Okay, so it didn't make it into the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In fact, it was a joke—but it was no joke. I personally knew audiophiles who, at their wit's end from being unable to enjoy the sound of their hi-fis no matter how much detail they got them to reveal, jumped ship in order to preserve their love of music. I almost became an audiophile casualty myself, but I pulled through in a moment of rock-bottom clarity. I discovered that not everything was as it seemed.

I figured out that I didn't need the real thing or gobs of steely sparks to the face. I just needed to remember that there is a sound I want to hear. There is sound I want to hear less of, and different types of sound I want to hear more of. It's a philosophical template that keeps me on the straight and narrow.

As far as I know, in no hobby but ours is the idea of aiming for perfection—for the "real thing"—so central to the journey. There are other off-putting things, at least in the stereotype: That it's necessary to be endowed with special skills. That only a privileged few can afford it. It was all too much for the average music lover, who couldn't understand why it was so important for a stereo to reproduce as clearly as possible the rustle of sheet music between movements.

It's there, in the gulf between us and the rest of the world, that I started to sour on the word "audiophile." The very thing I loved so much about it in the beginning—that it made me feel part of something bigger than me—now felt too confining. Too many people who might otherwise be curious about what we're doing can't see past the clichés. I get the sense that they themselves are afraid of becoming a cliché.

Lately, in the present-day, in this climate that's pitting us more than ever against each other, I've started to think the time might be right for our hobby to put its best foot forward, to make an effort to ingratiate itself with everyone who loves music.

A funny thing—weird, awkwardly so, not funny–ha-ha—happened to me recently. I was listening to my vinyl rig downstairs with my son when, for the first time, he started talking about sound in parcels, as audiophiles do: "There's no bass," he pointed out. "Did you hear the keyboard in the back?" "You can really hear its skin vibrating." It almost seemed he was trying to impress me. I'm sure my face lit up, and like a proud papa, I said, "You sound like an audiophile!"

At which point my son turned to face me and, with pity-tinged concern, said, "But dad, that doesn't mean I want to be an audiophile." It fell out of his mouth with a thud.

"No, of course not," I said, averting my gaze. Then, the coup de grâce: "That stuff is more for people your age."

"Wrong," my inner audiophile shouted, in defense of great sound. "It's for everyone." Ironically, I didn't say it out loud.

The truth is that, whatever word we choose, I will always be an audiophile, sworn to the divine trinity of audio gear, sound reproduction, and music. I feel like an audiophile.

But words aren't benign. They elicit emotions and opinions. They bring baggage and have consequences. If calling ourselves audiophiles means that average music lovers want nothing to do with us, then maybe we should stop doing it. Maybe we can find a new word, or maybe we can get by without a word: We're just people who really like music and enjoy listening to it in the highest fidelity, on the best equipment we can afford.

Two days after that exchange with my son, I stopped him in the hallway of our house and said, "Hey, not asking as an audiophile. Want to listen to Talking Heads in great sound?"

You should have seen his smile. It was spontaneous and toothy and so full of potential it made me feel 100 pounds lighter

Poor Audiophile's picture

"We're just people who really like music and enjoy listening to it in the highest fidelity, on the best equipment we can afford." That sums up where I'm at.
It reminds me of something SM(how I miss him & "The Entry Level")wrote,"What is that thing that we do when we do that thing that we do. Listen to music. On the Hi-Fi". Not sure I've got the quote correct as I couldn't find it.

It doesn't matter to me what others think.But,hey that's me.
I do what I can with what I can afford(hence my screen name).
I'm just an average working stiff. I know there's always the "musical" vs "accurate" debate. I want my system to let me hear as much of what's on the recording as possible so I can enjoy the music.
I'm also a "car guy"(mostly American classics, though I wouldn't say no if someone gave me a classic R.R. or Bentley!) so maybe call me an "audio guy". Or not.

bsher's picture

I think any discussion of the problems with this hobby has to include financial concerns, as well. Stereophile addresses this in its Recommended Components pieces, acknowledging that a satisfying system can be built from a few hundred dollars, but the vast majority of writers, reviews, and readers focus on the high end, to the serious detriment of the hobby. I am 52, so came up in the CD era, just missing the era when the difference between a $5,000 cartridge and a $50,000 one mattered. Now, with streaming taking over, my dream system costs well below $20,000: hardly pocket change, but nothing compared to some of the products reviewed here and elsewhere.

JoeE SP9's picture

I have been bothered by the unwarranted derision that has been attached to the word. There is an entire generation of "audiophiles" who eschew calling themselves that. For some reason they think the term means the biggest gear snobs there are.

All I can say is, the only snobs I've ever met in 50+ years with this passion have been a couple of salesman. Without exception, every audiophile I've ever met has been open, friendly and eager to have someone else appreciate what they have assembled. That's not snobbish behavior by any standard.

On sites like AK there is a lot of derision for "audiophiles". IMO it's mostly perpetrated by a bunch of bottom feeders who begrudge anyone spending more than they think appropriate. They also have a tendency to be infatuated with vintage Silver faced Japanese receivers and truly horrid sounding speakers such as TRS Mach Ones or any number of Japanese "Kabuki" speakers.

They boast of how little they've spent to achieve what they think is higher end sound, NOT. Sometimes I think their problem is nothing more than a case of the green eyed monster.

tonykaz's picture

Audiophiles exhibit stereotypic behaviours.
The world knows us as Audiophiles.
Maybe you are a wanna-be outsider, as am I.
I'm unique, I'm not at all typical, I created my own unique personalities and behaviours.
Embrace it, besides, everyone already knows that you are totally unique. ( and even a sumtimes audiophile + much more )

Tony in Venice Fl.

John Atkinson's picture
Good to see you on the website again, Tony in Venice FL

And great photo, Rob.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

I wish that I'd thought to compliment Mr.Rob earlier.

Thank you for that "welcome back", the threat of a "Stereophile Vacation" has me angry. ( a once in two years experience, threats will not be tolerated! )

By the way, Steve G the Audiophiliac now has Auto Industry Advertisers. ( a First, as far as I can report ) Of course, he's not doing "Luxury Products" , VW is the one ) Congratulations Mr.Steve G. Mr.Steve G is also another loooooonnnnnggg time fan of Mr.JA1

Tony in Venice Florida

rschryer's picture

I was releasing my inner Sinead O'Connor!

Robin Landseadel's picture

But you were so pretty back then!

I'm Discordian, possibly the ultimate Audiophile heretic or antithesis.

AJ's picture

Apologies to Huey Lewis.


Audiophiles exhibit stereotypic behaviours

Indeed, "Stereophile" is far more reality

cheers and Happy New Year
Soundfield Audio

audiolab1962's picture

One of my most hated questions, what do I answer Audiophile, Hi-Fi enthusiast, Sound reproduction, or at its lowest level 'Stereos'. If I answer audiophile or sound reproduction it requires explanation/clarification. Should I answer Hi-Fi enthusiast, it is usually a blank stare the Phrase Hi-Fi seems to have died in normal circles. If I say stereos, the instant reply is usually I've got a Bose system, its amazing...you are then left with the problem of politely explaining they have nothing more than a medium/low grade audio system and that it could not be further from my interest.

So what am I....an interesting question indeed. I like and enjoy listening to music, it is a pass time I indulge in whenever possible. However I also enjoy the equipment/technology involved in meeting these ends and try to keep myself abreast of what's going on. Which one drives the need for the other (if at all). For me they are separate, I can no longer afford to dabble in the real world/upgrade to a higher level of whatever we are deciding this passion of ours is called but continue to follow it the best way i can through the numerous media available to us.

This supposed drive for perfection for me is pointless, it does not exist. If you were to go to live concert on consecutive nights at the same venue etc etc. It would be different each time, which is correct or indeed neither it was actually better at a different venue OR shock horror you prefer the studio album because that is what you heard first and how you expect it to sound. None of us will ever really know and does it actually matter. Do you enjoy what you are listening to...yes...then great.

Many years ago this was my trade as a salesman (late 70s early 80s), it was a mad time an explosion of music centres, stack systems, separates, the birth of CD etc etc. If i could return to it I would, but what is left is mainstream junk and elitist snobbery. Even those that rank as real Hi-Fi stores can usually be seen to be steered towards Cinema/surround sound (because the general public think it is better...right!). This gapping hole that is present does our industry/passion no favours. This from a UK perspective.

As that ex salesman (and in my own humble opinion a damned good one, an educator, guider, fellow enthusiast. Not just sale sale sale). I was always disappointed at what people were initially impressed by. For me it is more what a system does not get wrong as opposed to getting it right, that determines its acceptance e.g. excessive sibilance on a soprano voice is unacceptable period, what presentation you prefer beyond that is very much your choice).

So what is my hobby... I say I like listening to Music, cooking, crosswords....and should the conversation grow and steer from that....then great.

Sorry to ramble, but this just confirms my boring old fart status !

David (Kent,UK)

Archimago's picture

Do oenophiles, videophiles, logophiles, bibliophiles, retrophiles, astrophiles, cynophiles, autophiles... show this apparent crisis of identity as to need rebranding?

Of course not. "Audiophile" is fine; it's just a word to describe what we "love". For "hardware audiophiles", what's wrong with being drawn to such objects of passion? Given the multitude of things we can spend our time and money enjoying, why should audio hardware even be anything more than just a small hobby anyone might want to engage in?

The elephant in the room IMO is not the word itself or that the younger generations don't like high quality audio reproduction.

I think what's more disturbing is the other stuff that tends to be associated with the hobby - the nonsensical price tags, the elitism, the pseudoscience, the claims of sonic differences when the emperor has no clothes. In combination, the worst of these traits come together in the term high-end audio which has become nothing more than a combination of expensive stuff and crazy stuff IMO.

Friends and family know I love audio and they will reach out when they need advice or clarify questions. Some will look at owning the expensive stuff, others won't. As audiophiles, isn't our role in society just to be the folks who can appreciate what high-fidelity is and be knowledgeable enough to direct people who may have questions honestly? At the same time, be aware of the true "value" of these products and appreciative that not everyone will care for a dCS DAC or Focal floor stander speakers. Folks will respect that when they see it.

JHL's picture

...the fourth paragraph is audio justice warrioring (AJW). Please don't.

JHL's picture


"But words aren't benign. They elicit emotions and opinions. They bring baggage and have consequences. If calling ourselves audiophiles means that average music lovers want nothing to do with us, then maybe we should stop doing it."

Postmodern folly. We bear precisely zero responsibility for what the use of a perfectly useful, normal word may elicit in another party.

Lately the audio high end seems hell-bent on capitulating to the mob. If it does that's where it'll end up.

As throughout history, the thought police be damned.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

'Nuf said.


Tom Gibbs's picture

My personal journey in audio started as something of a hardware geek, but about twenty-five years ago, I actually stopped obsessing on the equipment side and started listening to the music. And while I am just as obsessed as ever in getting closer to the music by whatever means necessary, my current system -- which, at under $40K is relatively meager by audiophile standards -- offers a level of realism in my home listening environment that continually astounds me with its goodness. And that package contains amps, preamps, loudspeakers, analog and digital sources, cables, tweaks, etc. -- many audiophile systems contain single components that sell for more than $40K. And there are those out there who would probably complain that my system cost is excessive, although I fully understand how beneficial in the pursuit of audio excellence it is to have access to relatively unlimited cash flow. Great sound can be had at virtually all price points; and to insure the survival of our obsession, it's imperative that Stereophile attempts to engage an audience of readers that includes demographics other than deep-pocketed old white guys.

Robin Landseadel's picture

This is something I posted at Audio Science Review [ASR]. There are ways of being involved in this hobby in a non-neurotic manner. However, if one is a touch OCD to begin with, this hobby can become a trap. For me, it was necessary on multiple levels to cease having/playing LPs. It also has become easier to use streaming, easier to accept that there are things I cannot change, like the fidelity of LPs. In any case:

Ten Signs that you may be suffering from Audiophilus Nervosa, the neurotic behavior of the self-described "Audiophile":

#1: You have a box full of line level interconnects but can only use two pair at any given time.
#2: You have multiple LP copies of the same title, being wrapped up in the search for "The Perfect Copy".
#3: You have, at one time or another, used a green marker on your CDs or attached "rings" to said CDs, and can hear the difference.
#4: You have adjusted VTA on your tonearm so many times, you have worn out the screws.
#5: You are "into" swapping tubes.
#6: You have "Upgraded" your electronic gear with "High-End" passive parts.
#7: You have a re-clocking device between your digital source and your DAC, and the DAC set you back $10,000.00
#8: There are scratch marks all over your floor from constantly re-positioning your heavy floorstanding speakers.
#9: You KNOW LPs sound better.
#10: You get into a pointless argument on ASR and then get blocked.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Interesting list but, it seems, I am guilty only of the first one. OTOH, I can use 6-8 (or more) cables at the same time :-)

Robin Landseadel's picture

Right, it's that box of excess wires I'm pointing to. I'm guilty of 8 out of ten on the list. "Ten signs" was written in a moment of self-reflection. As far as I can tell, you are not a case study in Audiophilus Nervosa.

Tom Gibbs's picture

1) "Box" seems rather compact. "Storage Locker" is probably more accurate.
2) I have multiple copies of the same LP, but mostly because I zone out during LP searches, arriving back home with another copy of the same LP.
3) I've had the green marker for ten years. I've never used it.
4) I do adjust VTA, but not to that extreme.
5) Tube Rolling is a God-given right of man.
6) I have upgraded crossover caps on a number of loudspeakers.
7) You got me on this one.
8) My listening room floors are carpeted. That said, they're covered with adhesive dot position markers.
9) LPs are much more organic and immediate than digital.
10) ASR is without a doubt the most pointless forum on the internet.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Vive les différences (except for the cable closets)!!

JoeE SP9's picture

ASR is IMO completely worthless. Miniscule and inaudible measured differences between gear is simply not relevant. Also, how can you rate anything if you don't listen to it?

JHL's picture

...is a miasm of severe measurement bias, cheap gear, technical inadequacy, and missing the point of ears-centric audio. It's the defunct Audio Critic but with vastly less reviewing and vastly more graph bias.

Fine audio essentially needs objective listening and reporting, which is why articles like this one - and some of the comments following it - are questionable. Capitulating to a perception of a social defect doesn't help the cause any more than capitulating to a *perception* of a technical condition (ASR); it plays into the same disease, which is a *bias* that diminishes experience.

They're both audio justice warrioring.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Better not tell John Atkinson and Kal Rubinson, they regularly [and helpfully] post at ASR.

Robin Landseadel's picture

See your psychotherapist immediately.

Tom Gibbs's picture

But I still love LPs!

Robin Landseadel's picture

I had a disc to digital business for a decade. IGD drives me up the walls. It's built into all LPs and there's nothing that can be done about it.

Tom Gibbs's picture

There's quite the lively discussion surrounding the premise of this thread over on the Audio Asylum forum. Jus' sayin'!

tnargs's picture

Hi Robert,

my audiophile friends are quite wary about outing themselves to general society, workmates, and even to their social mix of friends and acquaintances. They have learned that it is more than just a funny look that they get: it is as if the person that you are telling is realising that you have lost a few of your marbles. In effect, my audiophile friends are choosing to make it something of a secret society.

I quite often come across audiophiles, and audio journalists, making the comment that “it’s all about the music”. I find this kind of ironic because, in truth, that is the perspective of the NON-audiophile! "I listen on mp3 and earbuds and love it; after all, it's all about the music". At some point the audiophile perspective includes an interest in, and appreciation of, the excellence of the sonic qualities of the music as presented. Audio engineers -- good ones -- go to enormous lengths to create a fantastic sonic experience. Audiophiles are people who 'want that'.


H. Scheerooren's picture

I recognize the feeling.....

chimrhu's picture

At age 66, I've been an audiophile for 50 years easy. I won't admit this in public though, as it's embarrassing to be associated with a hobby so out of control. I cringe when I read reviewers discussing major sonic changes when swapping power cords, or forum members having their "jaws drop" when they insert an after market fuse. It's just embarrassing.

rschryer's picture

...being embarrassed about who we are. That's a terrible thought.

It's about vacuous exaggeration and being unwelcoming. It's about welcoming people who love music, but don't necessarily obsess over gear, yet they can still get into the sonic zone.

That's beautiful potential.

chimrhu's picture

Then I scrolled to the top of the page and see an ad for Synergistic Research Orange fuses. These are selling for $159 each! A $159 fuse. How much does Synergistic Research have in their fuses? Ten cents?

Some audiophile will replace his A/C mains fuse with one of these, flip the switch, and will have his "jaw drop." It's embarrassing.

ChrisS's picture

...a family member might be driving a Ford.

Or shop at a Dollar store.

chimrhu's picture

...a family member believes Bill Gates is using the Covid vaccine to "chip" the human race.

Or 5g is causing Covid.

ChrisS's picture

...but we're talking consumer products here.

chimrhu's picture

...I'm talking about the term "audiophile," and what the word implies.

ChrisS's picture

...gear and how others might perceive our relationship with our equipment. It's all consumer products, no different from expensive wine or cars.

JHL's picture

...or what it means?

Tom Gibbs's picture

In February last year, I was in a room at the Florida Audio Expo, where a potential purchaser was listening to a huge pair of big-ticket loudspeakers. As a final request in his decision making, he asked to hear a specific track by Billie Eilish. The two "old white guys" running the room fumbled about for several minutes with a tablet, in an attempt to get the track playing, unsuccessfully. A fourteen-year-old girl in the gallery walked forward, snatched the tablet from one of the guys, and had the track going in a matter of seconds.

THIS is the future of audio!

Robin Landseadel's picture

Pretty close Tom. Scrolling for a stream is the present of audio, not the future. Self-described "Audiophiles" are now preterite.

JHL's picture

...are hundreds of pursuits while nobody has yet spelled out the attraction and advantage of turning all audio into Alxea because because.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Back in 1977 I was working at Ray Avery's Rare Records. The store's stock went all the way back to the birth of recorded audio, including Edison cylinders. Consider this: we are now further away in time from the Beatles than the Beatles were to commercially produced Edison cylinders.

JHL's picture

...listen to the Living Stereo and Living Presence catalogs and all the better recordings going forward toward the 80's on a true high end system than anything recorded today through ear budz and 4" talking speakers and television sound bars.

The name of the publication has been Stereophile*. The name of the publication is not The Sound of Gadgets.

Let's let gadget sound and $200 sound and all that go do their thing because in no reality are they the aforementioned sound of the real thing sufficient enough to suspend disbelief, even somewhat.

There's no expiration date on that, thankfully, and sniping at it is artless bad form, counterproductive, and degrading in a world with too much of that.

*likewise the late great Sound Practices, Positive feedback, et al. There is consumer drek and then there is art. It has always been so.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Streaming's not gadget sound. "Living Stereo" is better on a high quality digital transfer than on a Shaded Dog. Better sound doesn't necessarily come from more expensive gear. More expensive gear does not necessarily perform better. There is cheap gear available now that approaches state of the art. My concern is more about sound quality than status.

JHL's picture

Premise: "Streaming's not gadget sound."

Not disagreed, with caveats.

Premise; "'Living Stereo' is better on a high quality digital transfer than on a Shaded Dog."

Incorrect. SOTA record transcription is part of the *audiophile* experience and as such is deeply noteworthy, even essential. It is an assertion that digital transfers are "better".

Premise: "Better sound doesn't necessarily come from more expensive gear."

Of course the best sound always comes from more expensive gear. Not all expensive gear makes better sound as a linear function of cost, however. That is simple logic. Cheap gear, like anything else, on balance delivers cheap sound.

Premise: "There is cheap gear available now that approaches state of the art."

There is cheap gear today that is *said* to approach state of the art. Measurement bias is a huge problem and if not moderated by the reliable ear, a problem destructive of genuinely great audio. The vast majority of audio consumers have never experienced truly great sound, which makes naysayers of the true state of the art for reasons of cost, simply wrong.

"My concern is more about sound quality than status."

Mine too; mine too.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Reality; "'Living Stereo' is better on a high quality digital transfer than on a Shaded Dog." LPs have a number of inherent flaws that prevent them from being SOTA in 2021. Most important, the velocity of the groove slows as the stylus approaches the deadwax. This is built in, audible, the primary cause of IGD. While there are means to reduce the audible effects of this distortion, there is no way to eliminate it to the point of being inaudible. And throwing two more transducers into the mix, the cutting head and the phono cartridge, increases audible distortion. Some find it euphonic, I don't. Distortion is distortion.

Reality: "Better sound doesn't necessarily come from more expensive gear."
A Topping L30 has less distortion, less noise that any other headphone amp.

Reality: "There is cheap gear available now that approaches state of the art."
The Topping L30 goes for $150 these days. There are other audio bargains with similar performance for similar prices. There is also a lot of audio gear that costs a lot more and performs much worse. Double Blind testing is required to determine sound quality. Double Blind testing confirms that gear that measures better sounds better.

"My concern is more about sound quality than status."

So why defend the myth of high-end gear when empirical reality indicates that it's performance that counts, totally independent of cost? Bragging rights over expensive gear is all about status, has nothing to do with sound quality.

JHL's picture

The answer to your question - why defend the myth of high-end gear when empirical reality indicates... - lies in how it includes two unbalanced assertions, assertions I already more or less addressed. In fact, empirical reality in your formulation is as subjective as it is logically contradictory.

Calling a thing reality does not make it so. It makes that thing your belief about reality. You're certainly free to argue on the internet all you like but without me because you're arguing an abstract, both in sound and in your perception, which isn't an argument (and strictly, therefore can't contain that "empirical reality").

You are asserting. You are not describing a reality.

If it were relative to the audiophile experience, the point of all this and thus the reality of all this, then you might get some interest. Instead you're just showing how you've been missing the point.

Robin Landseadel's picture

Either you accept that DBT is real or you don't. Either you accept that research on hearing and the limits on what we can hear are valid or you don't. Otherwise, you're depending on magic.

This is the sort of thing that gives the word "Audiophile" a bad name. I just want to hear Talking Heads in real good sound. The rest is pointless to me.

JHL's picture

...and otherwise". Why, you've reduced the whole of reproduced sound to a few dozen words, all of them abstract but absolute nonetheless.

And that's not magic?

Not to be pedantic, but it's *that* that gives audiophile a bad name, RL.

David Harper's picture

"you are asserting. you are not describing a reality".

as are you.

you have fallen victim to the definitive fallacy of "high end" audiophiles; price dictates sound quality. You believe it therefore you hear it.

JHL's picture

...specificity or are you just making a claim?

ChrisS's picture

...It is testing.

Under test conditions.

My living room, my stereo, my music, my ears is reality.

JHL's picture

It is not reality; it is an artificial stimulus that misses the point of setting up a good system and refining it into a great sound. Put another way, dbt is very successful: there's no better way to make everything sound stressed and similar than expecting audio to conform to dbt methodology.

Dbt is a self-fulfilling impediment.

Listening to great sound is reality, which in my living room, on my stereo, using my music, to my ears is the product of concerted work conducted methodically and naturally over very long periods.

And it has never, in 40 years, included cheap "state of the art" gear. Not once. Everyone appreciates value but to call cheap audio completely unique in human experience at achieving the effect of the best in the field is a flawed and problematic formulation.

ChrisS's picture

...R & D. Not shopping.

For many, good enough is the reality.

Then there are those who pursue the extraordinary.

Thank goodness!

David Harper's picture

Again, you are asserting. You are not describing reality. In fact, precisely the opposite is the case.

Or are blind placebo controlled clinical drug trials also a "self-fulfilling impediment"?

ChrisS's picture

...about DBT.

Excellent research tool, but not for listening to your stereo in your basement.

Nor for shopping.

tnargs's picture

Yes, IMO you nailed it. I wonder whether Stereophile are sitting back, reading these comments, and thinking they haven’t been part of the problem.

avanti1960's picture

I personally do not mind the term and have never been met with any sort of disdain because of it.
However the beliefs, activities and investments associated with this semi-obsessive hobby do raise the occasional eyebrow.
Sometimes I think we need a diagnosis, not a new word.....

VRH's picture

This column reminded me of one HP's stories in the mid 80's, on a more ludicrous note. There was a man who was so obsessed with the NYAL Futterman amp (something like $75,000 each channel) that he put a mortgage on his house to obtain it. Poor bloke, he should taken the $150k and buried it into Microsoft and imagine where he would be today........

Ivan Lietaert's picture

Having a professional 'linguistic' background, it strikes me that the OP introduces a definition of 'audiophile' that is too constricting: [an audiophile is one who wants] "to replicate the real thing and hear every detail from our systems".
That ain't right, etymologically 'audiophile' means 'one who loves sound'. So there are many ways of loving sounds (and musical instruments, and audio gear): one can go for the finest detail and resolution, for the warmth of memories that come with music, for the visual at attracitiveness of the design, for the social aspect, for the social status, for vintage escapism/purism, for modification... the list goes on and on.
Stereophile.com does, as an excuse, shine its light on all these aspects, e.g. from time to time they review a vintage system, but mostly, they review new (and often really expensive) gear. So here, 'audiophile' means 'to love expensive audio GEAR'.
And there is the rub: from journalists, we expect objective reports, covering all aspects and even more important, we expect the journalists to be independant and uninfluenced by the advertising department. If you turn off your adblocker, it will become apparent that this not the case here.
Just for the fun of it, I used stereophile's own search box with the lemma 'affordable'. The result is an eyeopener: in Stereophile's dictionary, affordable can mean anything between $299 and $5000, and it becomes linguistically interesting when the journalist adds adverbs: 'more affordable' and 'relatively affordable'. At that point, prices are skyrocketing!

Ivan Lietaert's picture

I must agree with you on this.

Paul W. Klipsch, the eccentric founder of the Klipsch Speaker company, used to call a (vinyl) recording a 'caricature of music': All recordings are 'caricatures' of the original sound... No matter if the carrier is a vinyl record, magnetic tape, or a digital file. The miracle is that an amp together with the speakers can fool the brain in believing it hears the sound of, PWK's example, a 16 foot long organ pipe sound wave.

teched58's picture

It really is telling, in a sad way, that the world's premier consumer-facing audio publication constantly posts essays (two in the last month alone) debating the "correct" way to approach being an audiophile.

It's all a lot of hot air, because all of us readers see right in front of us what your single most important criteria is, on which all products are judged. I don't even have to mention what it is, since we all know what I'm talking about $$$$$. (And then to double justify that viewpoint, we're constantly told that pointing this out means we're "jealous.")

In conclusion, I would be more impressed if you guys ditched these "why we write" essays and instead actual wrote some tech stories (i.e., beyond product reviews). I know John can do this, since he has. Let's get some interesting stuff, say write about the Class D revolution.

Glotz's picture

And it costs a lot of money for cottage industries to create and produce these hyper-expensive components for very small audiences.

Whatever sound I think is great from my $15,000 system is sincerely garbage compared to a reputable company's $30K system. It's when it gets to over that stratospheric level that the real shootouts for value become clear. Not to you and me, lol, but it is there.

Jealously means you have heard these expensive systems. Most have not even when audio shows were around. Not trying to be a jerk, but after hearing several, it can be a bummer for a day or so after hearing them and going back to mine, no matter one's investment level. Not disparaging my system in any way, but it is truly a huge leap when investment level has doubled.

More tech reports in the style of John Atkinson's previous dives would be great as well.

thekellers1's picture

I will take a cliche which boaters frequently use with no disgrace....We are just people who love to pour money thru the hole in the floor in our listening rooms.

Ok, for what ever that is worth...and weird for a first post from a manna be Audiophile...but I often said what pops into my head. It not always good. But I'll leave that for others to decide

Robin Landseadel's picture

Just wondering why my post disappeared. Guess I should do all my editing before posting. Sorting out "its" and "it's" can be quite a bother.

Jim Austin's picture

Robin, sometimes our spam-detection system is hyperactive--but in this case, I'm not seeing anything. If a post is detected as spam and unpublished, it still appears in the admin system in pink--but there are no pink posts in this thread. There's also a separate list of all comments that are unpublished, for whatever reason, and there's nothing on that list that was written by you.

So: A mystery.

Jim Austin, Editor

Robin Landseadel's picture

For what it's worth, the post was up about a week ago. There were two responses to it. I edited the post to correct errors, then the post disappeared.

Jim Austin's picture
No sign of it, going back months (well before the article was posted). No idea. Sorry. Jim Austin, Editor Stereophile
Glotz's picture

And if we abbreviate the phrase to 'HiPer' (or HyPer), I think it could work as a meme!

Robert?? Whaddya think? Anyone else? (A bit late, but...)

directdriver's picture

"Hey, not asking as an audiophile. Want to listen to Talking Heads in great sound?"

Too bad that you still ended up using the A word in your sentence! I think the second sentence is suffice.