What skills do audiophile’s require?

March 25, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

18 comments on “What skills do audiophile’s require?”

  1. I think that audiophiles acquire skills over time through trial and error, such as speaker setup/placement, component matching, and so on. A true audiophile has this desire to have the sound just right, like would be heard at the live recording, and to that end will invest the necessary time to select components and properly set them up the way that is necessary to achieve this goal. It is like a passion.

    1. In between yesterday and today, I made a cupple of phone calls looking for equipment that will let me record directly in to DSD.
      Perhaps I should have looked outside of Lake City Florida.
      Sad, but true.
      I and my wife are the only ones that lives here in Lake City that knows about DSD, and what it could really sound like.
      Making it sound live as Paul said in his video, that’s what I’m after.
      But if your loco pro audio stores don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about, it makes you wonder, how long have they been living under that rock?
      I did find and download the free audio editor that was put together by Tascam, but it is not blind user friendly.
      Sure I could take a PCM file and convert it to DSD using DB Power Amp, but that leaves room for some things to be desired.
      The online music stores don’t have any ideas of what I’m talking about either.
      What I’m trying to tell everybody in the hifi family, is I need your help.
      Can someone stare me in the right direction of both the hardware and software I have to have in order to be able to record directly in to DSD please?
      But just one other thing.
      The software has to be JAWS user friendly.
      I’m telling you all this because, I can’t see at all.
      And so, I have to do all of this on a Windows 10 computer, with screen reading software like JAWS.
      Thank you all in advance!

      1. Hello John,

        I can’t help you with JAWS enabled software but I can tell you about the DSD recording system that I’ve put together as a ‘end of life’ small but expensive fantasy. I’m an old school cassette and reel-to-reel recordist. You need an analog-to-digital converter and proper recording software to DSD record. You might also want to explore the WAVEPAC DSD file compression system due to the size of DSD files. That is, you also need a load of storage.

        I transitioned from the PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter which is both a phono pre-amp and an analog-to-digital converter using the recommended “Vinyl Studio” (British?) software. The “Vinyl Studio” software does have a limit in the DSD sampling rate that my new ADC can support. I got a RME “ADI-2 Pro FS” combination DAC and ADC.

        Using the Japanese “Sound it! Pro” software with the ADI ADC allows for x512 DSD recording (at least that is what I remember now. The Vinyl Studio software is limited to x128 DSD recording (if I remember correctly).

        High bitrate DSD recording produces huge file sizes. Hence, a potential need for lossless encoding via WAVEPAC to reduce their storage size. Got a new PS Audio Stellar phono pre-amp to input into the ADC. A new Degritter ultrasonic LP cleaner arrived earlier this week.

        John, with your profound blindness it is possible that your DSD recording ‘fantasy’ is out-of-reach. I say this with deep compassion, but a reality of recording – without an ‘automatic gain control’ feature seems to require being able to see the virtual recording meters that the software use to provide information about setting the recording level. Setting the recording level is critical in a digital system due to an absolute input limit of the analog-to-digital converter.

        I wish you the best, but maybe your wish is a bridge too far? I know of no JAWS DSD recording software either.

        I don’t have any grandchildren, but I’m spending their money anyway – at age 74 one wonders how much recording there will be in the future?


  2. A philosopher is a friend of wisdom. A philatelist loves collecting stamps. A discophile collects records. An audiophile invests his hobby-budget in collecting and routinely exchanging audio equipment while a normal music lover only exchanges his Bose-like stereo system when it is broken and cannot be repaired. A high-ender primarily invests in luxury audio – cost no object. When I started my journey in stereophony the big global players from Japan were not labeled “audiophile”. Audiophile was the label for small boutique audio manufacturers primarily designing old fashioned vacuum tube gear and exotic horn loudspeakers. As seen in the automobile business mass market brands have created a luxury brand (see Honda and Acura, Toyota and Lexus, Nissan and Infinity, Citroen and DS, GM and Oldsmobile, BMW and Rolls Royce, etc) so did Pioneer creating TAD. Is audiophile today synonymous with luxury? Or as Paul explained the label for a company which voices its product in a dedicated listening room? I still have no clue. And are there audiophile pro audio products???

    1. Well paulsquarrl, there are two companies that I can tell you about right off the top of my head.
      If you’re looking for speakers, then you mite want to check out the Avantone Pro CLA-10 and CLA-10A studio monitors.
      The CLA-100 and CLA-200 power amps aren’t bad at all.
      But if you want to add a little more bottom end to the CLA-10 and CLA-10A monitors, then you’ll want to check out the JBL LRS-310S powered subwoofer.
      I just ordered myself a pare of those, I can’t wate to try them out!

  3. I think there are two kinds of audiophiles; One who loves music and wants to hear it in the best possible way they can afford; and the 2nd is the one who is willing and can spend as much money to get the best gear possible.

    The one who does not get on the gear carousel may end up being the happiest as he is not always chasing the next, best thing. The one thing that PS Audio does is have the ability to upgrade their existing gear like the Direct Stream DAC that comes with updates on occasion. A great idea.

    The sad part is spending more money does not always equate to better audible performance. The speakers are usually the weakest link and Paul is working on that.

    The other issue is that don’t discount the music format and think that you are hearing it all when listening to MP3s. An audiophile will always choose the highest resolution format they can find for the music they love. If you want to hear more, it starts with the music and the format.

  4. It’s not really a skill. It’s being serious about how something sounds and knowing that there are systems that when properly set up reveal music in a way that allows you to enjoy listening for hours and hearing music at a level you never thought was possible. It can become very seductive. It makes you want to listen to your entire music collection again because it’s as if you are hearing those CD’s or records for the first time. It’s knowing that there are major differences in amplifier sound and that to hear those differences you need great speakers. It’s knowing that interconnects, speaker wire and tweaks do matter.

    1. No, no. Gus is a valued asset and a gem.

      He’s a mastering engineer first, and one of the best in the world. He’s good at mixing but it’s an art that Gus will himself tell you others are better than he. The recording arts require skill and experience that few have. It’s learnable and exciting. I am having fun.

  5. Paul, aren’t those monitors pictures screen left ATC’s? The big dome mid looks like their signature driver.

    When you note ‘that we will soon get proper speakers(meaning monitors)’ it would imply that ATC’s are not proper monitors?

    I bet a lot of engineers who rely on those would be surprised to learn that they are improper.

    just sayin….

    1. Oh, I am certain you’re right. I can’t stand the ATCs myself. Gus is in love with them as are half or more of the engineers in the business. They are so analytical as to be uncomfortable with music. I put on my Audeze headphones instead.

      1. If the ATC sound is unacceptable for your ears, Paul, how can it happen that recordings being mixed and optimized using ATC monitor can please your ears when played via IRSV tower speakers? Maybe a similar problem have aficionados of horn loudspeakers having been accustomed to the effortless dynamic horn sound and cannot Stand the sound of ordinary boxes. Could it be that the “essence” of music is a most individual and subjective affair?

        1. Thanks, Paul. I have to compensate. For example, if on the ATC it sounds “just right” it will sound dull and lifeless on the reference system. So we have to learn to make the ATC sound overly bright to get it right. For me, I just don’t use it for anything other than general monitoring. When I need to set tonal balance and or imaging, I put on the Audeze headphones which sound very much like the reference system.

          In the new studio we will have the FR30 for monitoring and much of this trouble will go away.

  6. My personal definition of audiophile in order:
    1. LOVE & RESPECT for music as art.
    2. AWARENESS of and CARE for sound quality.
    3. FASCINATION and CURIOSITY in the science, the gear and how it works.
    4. DESIRE to be active and engaged via study, experimentation, tweaking, etc.

    None of the BOLD print characteristics of the mind and heart above require prerequisite skills. Knowledge and skills grow as ROI – returns on investment of time, study and active engagement. And none of this should involve some arrogant exclusivity with some minimum price of entry. IMHO

  7. Serious Listening and concentration for the love of music i think is the biggest skill. Once that is done acclamation towards the tech comes front and center. Knowing the science that got you that great sound is a definite skill. 😉

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