I consider myself to be an audiophile. But what does that even mean? Does that automatically make me an elitist and intolerant consumer who laughs and ridicules every audio product that „casuals“ know? I certainly hope not.
High-fidelity audio is a hobby. It is striving to reproduce music for private consumption as realistically as possible. The aim is to create a life-like experience from any medium, like a vinyl LP or downloaded digital file. There are a lot of elements involved and perfecting each one can become quite expensive. (This is a niche market, after all.) The value we receive in return is highly subjective. For us audiophiles, it’s disproportionately high.
Actually, audio gear is a hobby that is no different from any other. Whether it’s practicing the piano, playing video games, or collecting rocks (“Jesus Christ, Marie! They’re minerals!”). I spare you the link to clickbait articles about „the weirdest hobbies“, but you can quickly tell that many people spend a lot on anything if they extensively deal with a subject and develop an interest.
The reason why we compare audio products in such detail is the few moments we can get completely lost in the music. If the timing is right and the equipment is up to the task, we zone out. The music expands in size and surrounds us, completely trapping us in a different world. I am sure everyone has experienced this before. But the audiophile, he is chasing this moment day after day. And when he has it, he loses it again, eventually. The search continues and better equipment makes it easier to find that temporary satisfaction. That perfect synergy of mood, music, and audio pairing. It’s what we often refer to as „eargasm“ – that should give an idea about the extent of the thrill. The sickness to keep investing in more expensive gear is called „upgradetitis“. Once diagnosed, you are usually welcomed in the community with the phrase: „sorry about your wallet.“
Often, this interest in sonic qualities is accompanied by a general interest in technology and also aesthetic product design. Watches, cars, and cameras are other hobbies that many community members share. So this does not mean that audiophiles cannot appreciate a more consumer-oriented product, like the Bose ANC headphones or Apple wireless earphones. These are just usually not taken as seriously for listening to music the way I described earlier. But that is okay and they are still suited for playing music.
This is just a very short article justifying why I have a weird hobby. If I made anyone understand a bit better, you’re welcome. And thank you for reading!