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What the heck does "audiophile" mean anyway?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

Just a thought, because it seems like when the term is used, it always means one particular style of listening, but aren't we all audiophiles in a sense here? The bass-heads, the neutrality-obsessed, everyone? We're all seeking to maximize our listening experience through our equipment, whatever that may mean.

 

I get kind of annoyed at the notion that one can't be an "audiophile" without listening to music in a particular way. If you're willing to drop a few hundred dollars on a pair of headphones, buy an amp, and rip all of your music high quality, but also like to EQ it in a certain way... you're still an audiophile in my eyes. You're a lover of sound.

 

Like, you could say there are two kinds: those who strive to hear an exact recreation of what was done in the studio, and those who strive to tune and tweak the experience to their preference. Seems to me like both are perfectly valid.

 

Yay? Nay?

post #2 of 36
I like Merriam-Webster's definition:
Quote:
a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction.

Anyone that says you have to spend a certain amount of money, or use certain types of gear, or listen to a certain type of music is, quite frankly, full of schitt. Being an audiophile is a state of mind, not a state of your pocketbook. You can be an audiophile if you listen to polka on an AM radio.

smily_headphones1.gif
post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 

Exactly. It kinda bugs me that bassheads and audiophiles can't meet and shake hands and say that they both consider the aural experience to be paramount, just that they arrive at it differently. 

post #4 of 36
High fidelity is the key word, boosting regions of bass is coloring the recording and acting against high fidelity. Appreciation of the bass region solely is different but more often than not basshead is a boosting of the bass region.
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KamijoIsMyHero View Post

High fidelity is the key word, boosting regions of bass is coloring the recording and acting against high fidelity. Appreciation of the bass region solely is different but more often than not basshead is a boosting of the bass region.

Fidelity refers to how clean the sound is, not its frequency curve. High fidelity means there's no distortion, artifacts, or noise. In other words, a loss in fidelity. And why "lo fi" recording in metal refers to intentionally fuzzy and distorted production.

It has nothing to do with preferences along the frequency spectrum. Unless you're honestly suggesting audiophiles cannot own equalizers.
post #6 of 36
In 1953, Life Magazine ran an article about the "hi-fi" hobby.
http://www.audioheritage.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?13795-Origins-of-high-Fidelity-in-first-Life-Magazine-article-on-the-subject-from-1953

There is a great section in that article:
Quote:
Do you [when listening to your radio or phonograph] hear cymbals as a crashing sound followed by a sustained shimmering? Do you hear the triangle as a clear ringing sound? Can you actually feel the vibrations of the tom-tom? ... Can you always differentiate between the violin and the violincello? Can you tell the difference between string bass and brass bass?

If you can't - and you care - you are ready for high fidelity. Once you have heard some of it you will probably never again be satisfied with whatever radio-phonograph equipment you now have.
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

In 1953, Life Magazine ran an article about the "hi-fi" hobby.
http://www.audioheritage.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?13795-Origins-of-high-Fidelity-in-first-Life-Magazine-article-on-the-subject-from-1953

There is a great section in that article:

 

Hah, I like that. And I can follow it, definitely. In fact, it's almost a curse at times. When you listen to music with bad headphones, then album production isn't terribly critical because it all comes out pretty much the same. Now I have a hard time listening to albums I used to love because the production is weak and the better drivers shine a light on it.

post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude View Post


Fidelity refers to how clean the sound is, not its frequency curve. High fidelity means there's no distortion, artifacts, or noise. In other words, a loss in fidelity. And why "lo fi" recording in metal refers to intentionally fuzzy and distorted production.

It has nothing to do with preferences along the frequency spectrum. Unless you're honestly suggesting audiophiles cannot own equalizers.

A boosted/reduced region IMO is not natural in respect to the recording. Once you understand this take in high fidelity, your assumption of what I think of EQing is irrelevant.

post #9 of 36

i understand both points of view, someguydude and kamijolsmyhero. I personally define it more like someguydude's definition but I can understand both of your opinions. however, I don't use eq when I listen to music, if I want more bass, I would just change my gears to a more bassy setup (mostly the headphone since its likely to show more change), etc. I guess im a purist?

post #10 of 36
If it sounds good, it is good - as long as you recognize that any individual's ears and brain can be fooled. The HRTF does exist.
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post
 

i understand both points of view, someguydude and kamijolsmyhero. I personally define it more like someguydude's definition but I can understand both of your opinions. however, I don't use eq when I listen to music, if I want more bass, I would just change my gears to a more bassy setup (mostly the headphone since its likely to show more change), etc. I guess im a purist?

 

I think you're like me: you want as little to mess with as possible. Different gear sounds better on that song, swap that out rather than sitting there fiddling with the EQ. It's actually one reason I'm kinda hesitant to use an amp with a lot of settings. I'd rather just be able to plug in, hit play, and relax.

post #12 of 36

I agree with you. I think there isn't, or shouldn't, be a set definition of audiophile. I think it's about about enjoying sound, music or what have you. And all that's dependant on the particular listener and what they like and what makes them happy.

 

And yeah I'm with you too on the plug and play thing. I'm the same way, I do not want to mess with a bunch of different things. No EQ, no different headphones for different genres or something. I just want to be able to pick a pair of my headphones and put them on and enjoy music the way they bring it to my ears.

post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
 

I agree with you. I think there isn't, or shouldn't, be a set definition of audiophile. I think it's about about enjoying sound, music or what have you. And all that's dependant on the particular listener and what they like and what makes them happy.

 

And yeah I'm with you too on the plug and play thing. I'm the same way, I do not want to mess with a bunch of different things. No EQ, no different headphones for different genres or something. I just want to be able to pick a pair of my headphones and put them on and enjoy music the way they bring it to my ears.

 

This is why I got the M100s. If my music was only bass-heavy rap, I probably would have kept my Beats Mixrs. If it was acoustic work, maybe my old SRH840's. Rock and metal? The DT770 Pros. But the M100s can make all of it gorgeous, even if it's not QUITE as specialized at any one genre as others. I don't want to be sitting here and go "oh yeah, time for this other album, gotta swap gear around" or "augh this is on my EDM setting, I need it on my Norwegian black metal setting!"

post #14 of 36

I'm not too keen on the term 'audiophile' and everything that goes with it. It's a problematic one, and depending on definition, assumes a lot of you.

 

Personally, I prefer to call myself a headphone enthusiast, as it opens up for an enthusiasm for everything that headphones are and transfers, and excludes things that headphones aren't or does not transfer; in my mind a headphone enthusiast likes headphones no matter coloration or fidelity. Also, there's this group of people who wants to pursue "what the artist intended". I'm not one of them. I've said in another thread: I'm not overly convinced that the artist had all that much to say when it comes to the mastering of their records. So, the term is more akin to "what the producer intended" or even "what the audio engineer intended". That's also why I'm a little hesitant towards headphone/speaker manufacturers marketing their gear with such claims.

 

If you want to call me an audiophile, feel free to do so, but I don't call myself an audiophile (and prefer not to be called such) and some audiophiles would not agree with you about me being one. At the end of the day, I just want to enjoy my music, no matter what anyone else intended, how true my music is to the recording or how much gear costs me. It's my ears, my taste and ultimately my money.


Edited by Coq de Combat - 2/24/14 at 1:56am
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coq de Combat View Post
So, the term is more akin to "what the producer intended" or even "what the audio engineer intended". That's also why I'm a little hesitant towards headphone/speaker manufacturers marketing their gear with such claims.

Heh, can I go a step further? "What the studio told them to do" or "what the producers were capable of". Nirvana famously HATED the production on Nevermind. 

 

I'm a metalhead, and I can't even count how many albums I've heard where the production ruined the experience. I think the people who talk about listening to it exactly as it was recorded are making a few fatal assumptions, namely that the equipment used to record was accurate, that it was set up properly, and that the producer knew what the hell they were doing. We talk about headphones and speakers accurately recreating the sound of the instruments, but that's only valid when all the instruments were purely analogue and when the producer had all of his levels right. It's a nonexistent ideal. You put two dudes at the board for the same recording and you'll get two different products. 

 

I often wonder what these "hear exactly what the producer intended" people think when a remastered version of an album comes out...

 

Besides, have you ever heard a drum kit completely mic-free versus recorded? There are tons of studio videos out there of rock and metal bands where they show you the recording process and switch between the tracked drums and the live drums and ho-lee crap. They really tweak the kit to make sure you hear more than just the cymbals shattering your eardrums. So again, it's not a question of accuracy. It's a question of taste, and always will be. Perfectly flat just means you got what someone ELSE thought was good, doesn't mean you're beholden to agreeing with them.

 

And I agree with you 100%. Maybe audiophile isn't the right word. Is there a more accurate term than "musicophile"? Because that's what I think I am.

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