The audiophile hobby brings passion, excitement and enjoyment to tens of thousands of people all over the world. Since the 1970s, the hobby has grown with mostly Baby Boomer men who collect, grow and tweak their collection of audio gear and make themselves a fixture at their local audiophile dealer dealer – especially on Saturday afternoons.
With all of the positives, there are a number of traditions, opinions that many mainstream, non-audiophile people find off-putting. These need to change for a new generation of audiophiles to find the technological and lifestyle benefits of the hobby.
Here’s a list of some of the worst offending issues…
Topic No. 1: Listening All By Yourself
Audiophiles, over the years, have made the hobby about finding their “own personal Jesus” meaning they often haphazardly mix and match gear, jamming it in racks to listen in a spare bedroom “listening room” that is designed JUST for them. These rooms can have cables propped up on little saw horses or messy equipment racks or stacks of LPs or Compact Discs all over the place. Rarely, is a listening room used to host guests or as an entertaining room. This needs to change.
Invite guests over and make music part of the entertaining experience. Audiophile grade systems can play nicely in the background. Buy furniture so that there is more than one seat where people can enjoy the music. Don’t be an audiophile recluse. Share music with your friends even if on quietly in the background.
Topic No. 2: Stop Calling Vinyl Hi-Resolution
I get it if you want to play LPs. I want to drive a 300 SL Gullwing Mercedes to my country club but I NEVER pull up to a 2022 SL65 AMG Black and rev the engine looking for a race (unless I am joking).
Vinyl has its place in the audiophile world. It is analog. It is not attached to anything with a blue screen. It is fun to read the liner notes. It can be better to listen to a record (think: Sgt. Peppers, The Wall, Electric Ladyland) in the order that the artists, producers and engineers wanted you to listen to them in.
Just don’t tell me that vinyl is close to the master tape. Even with Mobile Fidelity’s scandalous lies about making LPs as one-offs from the master tape – these simple facts ring true…1) the maximum dynamic range of a vinyl record is about 65 dB when analog (2-inch like most big classic rock records were made on) and digital tape/hard-drives have about 130 dB dynamic range. A hard-hit snare drum might reach 115 dB. Vinyl can’t come close. And next that “warmth” that OK Boomers lament – is second degree harmonic distortion. What does that mean? It means that the it is the physical stylus vibrating in the groove of the record thus causing distortion. Why the HELL would you invest in a $10,000 stereo preamp that has basically zero distortion to feed it an audiophile source with lots of distortion? That’s bat-shit insane stupid. Stop.
Topic No. 3: There Is No Rule That More Expensive or More Esoteric Gear Is Somehow Better
This audiophile bullshit is at the core of why the hobby is 99 percent male and only appeals to old people, at this date.
There is NO RULE that says that more esoteric gear is better. There is NO RULE that says that components that are more expensive are automatically better.
Wine gets more expensive because of scarcity and demand. Audio can have the same effect. For example: Sassicaia is a world famous maker of “Super Tuscan” blended red wine. The bottles sell for $150 plus BEFORE they are set to go in your cellar. Bottles ready to drink can cost $300 to $3,000 plus in a restaurant after being aged and depending on the vintage and scarcity. An uncle of the family has a winery right down the road, on the same hill, with the same weather with the same minerals in the soil and the same mix of the same splices of grapes and they sell it as Guidalberto which can be purchased for $35 to $60 per bottle. It has everything that Sasacia has except for the name. Smart wine enthusiasts know which wine to buy. They know where the value is. Traditional audiophiles wouldn’t always believe the value. Somehow the more expensive option MUST be better right? Wrong.
And the idea that mainstream brands can’t make a good product because they aren’t tweaky-small audiophile companies is another bad argument. Here’s a fact: in the world of wireless over-the-ear headphones… Sony and audiophile nemesis brand Bose actually make the best ANC (noise cancelation). I dare you to start a sentence to an old-school audiophile with “Bose makes the best…” as they will tune you out and-or argue with you until the death. The reality is: they are wrong and that more esoteric brands could have never come up with the multi-mic, high processing power ANC technology that Sony and Bose have. Are others catching up with them? Yes. But Bose is actually the best. Sorry, snobs.
What Is The Future of The Audiophile Hobby?
With characters on Billions owning an audiophile system – the hobby is getting more mainstream appeal. While there are issues with vinyl, it’s unlikely comeback has made listening to music popular with Millennials and that is a good thing as there are 66,000,000 of them in the United States alone. Recently, Architectural Digest Magazine has a gorgeous home featured recently that has a huge audiophile system in a stunning grate room. Yes, there were two-stories of glass behind the speakers that overlooked striking gardens thus it wasn’t the most perfect listening room in terms of acoustics but if AD 100 designers start to see music rooms as a trend like home theaters were 25 years ago – they will integrate them into homes.
Younger people like experiences. Some argue that they like them more than assets. An audiophile system is an “experience machine” and if priced right and not presented in an off-putting way – an audiophile system can help reduce stress and anxiety while providing nearly endless and affordable entertainment. That is the future of the audiophile hobby as we see it.