Image credit: Flickr
Image credit: Flickr

An audiophile is a music/audio listener who is immensely critical about the sound coming out from a headphone or speaker. Audiophiles are very particular about consuming the most unadulterated, purest sound possible. They don’t listen to music to kill time, but to recreate an audio listening experience that’s akin to a music recording session or live theater performance. Any self-claimed audiophile would own better audio equipment – be it headphones, speakers, media players, or cables – than casual music lovers.

Most audiophiles appreciate vinyl records because the sound output from a vinyl record is noticeably better than digital audio files. Vinyl records capture music or sound the way the recording artist would like listeners to hear the music. Most people won’t care much and still stick to their digital music players. An audiophile would, however, go ahead and purchase a vinyl record.

Traits Defining an Audiophile

An audiophile not just likes to listen to the purest audio possible, but also loves talking about it with friends and family. Besides getting to the nitty-gritty of mainstream audio gear, an audiophile would also be extremely picky about every little audio gear or accessories being used. For example, most audiophiles would not leave their cables, which connect the speakers and amp, lying on the ground as the electrical signals travel on the wire’s outer surface, and any wire deformity would hurt the signal strength, thereby the audio quality.  

Dedicated Listening Space

Most audiophiles will have a room dedicated to facilitate their love for quality audio consumption. The speakers would be calibrated or their sounds tweaked to integrate with the room, and to test how the room reverberates speaker sound. Also, when listening to music, an audiophile would position himself in the right location in the room to benefit from the optimal audio gear arrangement.

Such testing is required because sound can reflect off a room’s corner and result in distorted audio quality. This is why even the best pair of speakers may sound rubbish if they aren’t placed correctly or are not projecting the sound in the right direction. And this explains why a speaker may not sound as good elsewhere as they sound in the stores, because the store strategically positions these speakers.  

Criticism

Audiophiles are often chastised for not appreciating the melody and emotion in music and only focusing on the sound created by audio equipment. Audiophiles are also criticized for investing way too much money on audio gear/accessories such as power cables, amplifiers, resistors, connectors, etc. that really don’t make much of a difference to the sound output. For instance, taking cue from the aforementioned example, the cable positioning really doesn’t provide any audible difference in sound, which most audiophiles claim they can decipher.   

Though top-quality audio equipment sound better, the difference is not tangible enough to justify their expensive price tags. In other words, a $200 headphone may sound substantially better than a $20 headphone. But a $2000 headphone would not necessarily offer a significantly better audio experience than a $200 headphone.