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The Audiophile Scene in a Third World Country - FUN READ

  1. Adnan Firoze
    This will be a cathartic experience on my part since I haven’t written for a while after leaving The Huffington Post.
    A little background, I live in NYC but was brought up in Bangladesh (used as a representative third world country among many others). Those who have not heard of the place – open up a world map (do they still have those – or has Google Maps killed it already?) – and look to the right side of India. I sort of proudly say to all that I am Bangladeshi even though “officially” I’m from Wisconsin. But this article (or whatever you want to call it) is about how similar and dissimilar the head-fi or high-end audio scene is from the Western world and a third world country (where the average income – I just looked it up – is 2500 taka/month = $35/month. That math is a misrepresentation because it accounts for garment workers et al. So, for those with the hobby, it would be around $1000/month. I mention money early because, let’s face it, this is a “financially fatal” hobby.
    Add to that, we (well I do, I’m in US) don’t have an Amazon/eBay and we don’t have Paypal either. So, once you have it, you’re pretty much stuck with your gear. But things are changing – no thanks to Paypal or eBay but the HP lover community.
    The data I will show are from a particular Facebook Group – local to the scene in Bangladesh. 

    Most popular brands with some reasoning:
    • Sennheiser (!!!!!) – yes, the kids with money usually go for the 598’s that they bring on foreign trips or family living abroad. The country does not have any authorized dealer.
    • Xiaomi
    • Samson (this is huge there because they actually have dealers)
    • AT – yup M50x’s have hit the third world too. What’s ironic is, they are cheaper there.
    • Takstar (see a trend here – Chinese companies are totally killing it, it makes sense too given the price tags)
    • Beyerdynamic (770 ones) – those who can manage one
    • VE Monks ( … wait for it … there’s a story to this)
    • V-Moda (for rich kids)
    • Logitech earbuds (costs like 800 taka = $10 – I have one – and I love ‘em)
    • Dunu
    What would an audiophile from a third world country like that ask you If you met him/her?
    1. Hello, what is a good headphone under 3000 taka ($50)?
    2. I want a flat sounding earbud but my budget is constrained. Is there anything good?
    Why tell you when I can show you?

    The demographics would be like 90% male and 10% female between the ages of 12-30. Observe how it is more like a “young folks” thing? I’m sure it will gradually grow to be more of a “12-70 years” hobby.
    Struggles faced by a third world country:

    1. No Paypal
    2. No Amazon (India has though but no other South Asian countries do)
    3. No eBay
    4. No Authorized dealer for the name brands (trust me, there is demand – illustrated evidence coming up - and yes, talking to you - Germany - knock knock!)
    5. No credible marketplace
    6. Budget constraints
    What we do have:
    1. Super enthusiasm
    2. Great discussions
    3. Meetups at restaurants (ohh the food is heavenly – I never had a chance to join cause I live in the US)
    4. Carpenters who would make you real Mahogany wood headphone stands for like $10 (wood included) if you just show a sample picture
    5. Community FTW – see below (in the two pictures following this bullet point) how a subculture without any endorsement or financial backing “officially” have gotten VE Monks to come to a country few have heard of.


    Hope you guys liked bits and pieces of the similarities and contrasts. Think of it as a tour.
    More soon especially reviews of my own gears.
    And lastly, HD600’s are the best headphones existing (I just wanted to write that sentence). 
    - Adnan

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    Zan.Tiago, jarcher, Shubh0 and 2 others like this.


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  1. Mython
    More Head-Fiers should read this article, in order to adjust their perspective & realise how fortunate they really are...
      pstickne, Bern2 and Niels78 like this.
  2. starNdust
     the cool thing that whey gonna appreciate every lil thing they buy,
      Mython, klaimzlgd and PedroVazquez53 like this.
  3. Slater
    Thanks for sharing the eye opening perspective. No matter what country we live in or how much money we have, music is something that connects us together.
      Shubh0 and Rhino73 like this.
  4. roni44
    I used to travel Dhaka and Chittagong 3~4 times a year for business. There were few modified JDM cars but hifi scene is just really don't exist, glad to see Bangladesh is coming up, love the people, culture and food.
      Zan.Tiago likes this.
  5. Selfish Android
    I live in Colombia and the audiophile scene is non-existant, you can find some Sennheiser products on stores, specially portable models like the Urbanite and Momentum, Beats have a big presence and Bose too, people buy those when they want to spend money on audio, other reputable brands like Audiotechnica, Beyerdynamics, Hifiman etc have little to no presence, people that is interested in audio like me, end up buying everything from amazon or ebay using a mail forwarder in the US that sends the goods to Colombia.

    Speaking about income in Colombia is quite depressing the average minimum wage is something like 250$ so you already know that audio is something for the middle and high part of the society spectrum, for example i have the Grado SR325e, Hifiman HE400i, Hifiman HE350 and Sennheiser HD558 which might not look like expensive headphones, but in Colombian money is outrageous to spend that kind of money on headphones, as you can see i am stuck in mid-fi hell unable to climb up to the high end, i have the MrSpeakers AEON Flow open and the Hifiman Edition X v2 on my sights, but i can't simply just afford them.
      Zan.Tiago likes this.
    1. Zan.Tiago
      I know, I'm from Guatemala and same situation here. However in Colombia you can find good music studios. Here in Guatemala we don't even have professional studios. I'm migrating to Mexico to work at a mastering studio as an assistant. Money is an issue as well it took me two years to buy my LCD X.
  6. caspadan
    I live in a "3rd world country" and my biggest struggle is getting the goods here because our post office is so unreliable/slow (30 - 90 days, or just never). Courier is really the best option but very expensive + import duties and VAT must still be added. But I manage somehow. Not many (audiophile) brands available locally at all. All my goods come from eBay/Amazon/Penon.
      Zan.Tiago likes this.
    1. Zan.Tiago
      Yup, here in Guatemala we don even have post office. like literally no post office.
  7. Zan.Tiago
    This is a great thread, I'm glad you shared it this with us. Been an Audiophile is nothing but attitude.
  8. Sound One
  9. Tamirci
    Adnan A common but outdated name in Turkish

    And living nearly the same struggles here.
  10. ShreyasMax
    Good read this. Very true, and as an Indian, I do relate to your thoughts, but at least things are picking up here, what with guys like @raghavsomani from Headphone Zone starting events like Headphone Connect (which is a great initiative by the way), I'm sure things will definitely pick up in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, especially with no dearth of demand and a good number of avid music listeners.
    Here's hoping we all have a regional Head-fi meet some day soon!
    Cheers & happy listening