By Andrew Levine
I’ve been thinking about the so-called “audiophile” crowd lately and come to the conclusion that they are a composite of many different predilections, some of which are listed here in alphabetical order:
Do you buy only 24k gold CD’s and use the most esoteric of digital interconnects? Assuming you employ a jitter-immune DAC the digital source / medium & connecting cables are of no importance. Please test double-blind if in doubt.
Do you believe that vinyl records sound better than digitally encoded music converted back into the analog domain?Assuming a high-quality, very accurately clocked ADC is used and the high-quality, accurately clocked DAC employed is jitter-immune, an exact digital “copy” of an analog source, fed to the sameamplifier stage, is indistinguishable from the analog source. Please test double-blind if in doubt.
Do you feel that the technical specs of gear are all that counts? The well tuned ear is the ultimate judge. Technical specs are obviously also very important, but, besides recommendations from people (with ears) you trust they should primarily help deciding what gear to audition.
Do you believe in “you get what you pay for” beyond what most people –or even audio professionals– would consider a reasonable price, enjoy the look & feel of extra heavy gear with a thick metal frontplate, wooden sidepieces and custom made knobs? It is true that good sounding gear takes a lot of R&D, which must be payed for, and that high quality components don’t come cheap, but, as a music enthusiast, please use the resolution of what your own ears can discern as the landmark and give the money you save to a charity.
Do you love to listen? Do you enjoy the vibe of a live performance, the sound of a “real” space, the incredible span of real-life dynamics, the tinyest details that may still be discerned? A true sonophile is in love with things that can be enjoyed when listening to, no matter which genre. Great musicians, performing extraordinarily well in a nice sounding space, recorded optimally and presented (mixed and mastered) in the best possibly way, retaining the excitement of “being in the moment”.
So, what kind are you?
I confess to find myself reflected to varying degree in several of the above categories. I am no audio fetishist and do trust in a completely digital work flow, but there surely is great analog gear about and there are people who can use it to achieve optimal results. To some degree it’s a question of what environment you are comfortable with. I do like to browse gear by looking at it’s specs, and I often feel tempted by numbers, but due to budget constraints I don’t run amok ;-) The same goes for the looks of some equipment. Nice…
But in the end I am a sonophile. I just _love_ to listen. And I hope there are many others around, because even though I don’t know how to explain this I believe it will help make this world a better place. Listen closely, listen well, enjoy!
From radio.blumlein, with permission.