Sunday, February 17, 2008

What's an Audiophile?

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Guys have issues. They like fast cars, computers, gizmos, and having the best home theater systems. However, there comes a fine line that's deludingly ostensible between an audiophile and a man who simply wants the best of the best.

A regular man will settle with a 5.1 system that blasts enough sound to rattle his neighbor's windows. He'll buy some decent headphones from Circuit City, plug it into his iPhone, and be happy with life.

Audiophiles are different. As one of the last persevering nerds, they're mystical creatures. They aren't into listening to music, playing it, dancing to it, or any of the things you are suppose to do with it - oddly enough, they sit around and listen to music trying to hear differences between one brand of ridiculously overpriced cables and another.

One may argue, "C'mon, stereos shouldn't cost more than your house (or a small airplane for that matter)." Partly, this is true. Music naturally is subjective depending on your mood, what you've eaten, who they're with, etc. And honestly, spending $5000 on a pair of XYZ P-3500 cables for a couple of $600 speakers isn't my idea of smart either.

Now, there's a few reasons to get a good stereo. If you've been in a Honda Civic with flat radio that all sounds the same, you'll know what I'm talking about. When a stereo has a sonic signature that annoys you, that's bad. I'm talking about imaging problems, bass boom, harsh treble, and wildly unrealistic sounding violins. A good stereo should give each album its own personal signature, making it sound as good as it was when you first heard the band live, accurate to the flick of the string.

So what's accuracy? It's kind of like asking, "What the hell is juice?" You won't understand it until you've been accommodated with it. And you probably won't know what sounds good, why there's all those stupid stereo magazines, and why there's some 30,000 measurements just for sound. Honestly, most of it's crap and the lowdown is that you simply must set yourself a budget, be sure to shop around for a couple weeks, and finally take the plunge on a set you like the most.

But, if you're looking for a little more, you can always prowl the forums at Head-Fi. The "noobs" somehow always asks a question that's been answered before, so there's plenty of tips to be help you avoid the audiophile delusion of spending more than $10,000 on any type of equipment.

Although I can probably cover many more topics such as analog vs. digital production, audio system jargon, and how to set up a loud speaker system with an old school preamplifier, I'll stop now, before I scare everyone away.


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