Invisibility

July 4, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

Audiophiles are a rare breed.

Whenever I am asked what I do for a living there’s a common pattern of questioning that follows.

“My family owns a small company that makes HiFi equipment.”

“Oh, like Sony?”

“No. Our customers are audiophiles.”

What follows is the inevitable eyebrow raise as the second half of the word audio-phile leaves my mouth.

“An audiophile is a good thing,” I explain. “Not the kind of phile you might think of in a bad way.”

They nod their heads as if they understand and go about their business.

Clueless.

It should come as no surprise we as lovers of HiFi are for the most part invisible. The world doesn’t know we exist.

Fortunately, our members are welcoming and encouraging.

I’ve never met anyone that wasn’t open to sharing the joys of what we are so fond of.

We may be invisible but not because we are hiding.

Share the joy.

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53 comments on “Invisibility”

  1. Labels and terms sometimes need to happen to clarify what camp you kind of come from. I know this is done more often than not, however if I call myself an audio enthusiast most people will still be clueless. Lol I’ve even got one time “ oh so you’re a DJ?”

    Anyhow. I love what we all are. Audiophiles. It is the truth and I think the world should know more about us. I think we account for 1% of the population.

  2. I’m not surprised they raise their eyebrows. They’ve probably heard about some of the strange rituals we practice or the more recent requirement to convert to DSD…..and they’re quite happy as they are 😉

  3. Yes, well spoken!

    But unfortunately we can’t share the immense amount of emotional experience and involvement as well as understanding of the music we get out of listening to it in a much higher sound quality. It’s there or it’s not. We’ll never catch those who don’t care deeply about music or who don’t perceive a big difference for themselves when they hear it in better quality.

    The interest in better sound quality starts with the deep interest in music. Very few only aside musicians have deep interest in music in a way to be interested to listen to it, except as background, for dancing or in a concert. Not even some unfortunate audiophiles.

  4. I received a wonderful baseball cap (somewhat unusual here in the UK) with my Preamp order. As I was unpacking the preamp I wore my new cap – all good. My wife snatched the cap off my head and disappeared for a while. Later as I was testing my new BHK Pre she presented me with the cap with the Audio intact but the Phile picked off.

    1. Gee Brian. You got a cap. All I got was a sticker 😀

      -phile ​
      used for making nouns and adjectives describing someone who loves or likes something…

      technophile (=someone who likes new technology such as computers)
      USophile (= the scourge of modern society)

  5. In life , we are constantly defining ourselves for a multitude of reasons.
    Ones Acceptance and safety among the masses is most crucial for survival.

    One of the most painful aspects of human existence is to be accepted.

    People always paying dues to survive.

  6. Audiophile = “A rare breed” – unique – different – abnormal – obsessed – opinionated – judgmental – never fully satisfied – always looking around – cult like behavior –

    (◔_◔) (◔_◔) (◔_◔)

    …… When they share the joy, get ready for an ear full ….

    ✌️ 😀 😎

  7. It simply doesn’t come up in conversations. It doesn’t have anything to do with my job, it’s not something readily visible as it is in our finished basement and is integrated into my home theater.

    After a recent movie watch with a friend, I played some 2 channel stuff. He made an interesting comment about it being cool to listen to “vintage 2 channel”. It’s a somewhat prophetic comment. To the layman, it’s what we did 30-40-50 years ago.

    One thing I think could help bridge the gap is more 4K Atmos live performances. If the goal is to recreate a live environment, why remove one of your major senses and limit to 2 channels? The 4K Atmos disc of the John Williams conducted performance in Vienna is awesome. I would like to see audiophile industry embrace and polish the experience. The following is from an article I read on the disc…

    “When played on a home theater system equipped with Dolby Atmos, the album helps listeners get a better sense of what it would have been like to be sitting among the audience.”

    “There are so many wonderful details and spatial effects in classical music that are lost in the standard stereo mix,” Deutsche Grammophon President Clemens Trautmann said in a press release. He points out that these effects are made audible through Dolby Atmos, “adding another dimension to the listening experience.”

  8. My neighbor is enthusiastic and has thousands of spent over the years and loves it loud…doesn’t understand. Other friend retro thousands of dollars…doesn’t get it. My chiropractor who recommended mono blocks probably gets it. My friend down the road (as cheap as me) he gets it. The few people that i could get to sit in THE chair don’t get it. I’m entry level ($4000) and maybe swap speakers sometime but I’m done. But i enjoy listening to you guys.

  9. I have one of the PS Audio “Audiophile” caps. Since I am bald I wear one of several caps almost every time I leave the house. In pre-pandemic days we were going to see a movie at the our local artsy fartsy theater. I was wearing my Audiophile cap. Our tickets were at the Will Call window. I walked up to it to get the tickets and before I could say my last name the young lady at the window exclaimed that her husband was an audiophile and asked me what turntable I had. I was so shocked that I could barely manage to say “VPI”. To my surprise and further shock she responded that her husband had a Pro-Ject TT and that VPI’s are really good TT’s. I spent the rest of the evening in almost speechless shock.

  10. Sometimes I’ll show non audiophile clients pictures of me setting up a $250K turntable and the usual response is “to play old records?” Sometimes the less well off give the “My Timex keeps better time than a Patek Philippe” that kind of thing. As crazy as it all is, it’s fun to get chances to play with SOTA components I’ll never afford.

  11. I quit even mentioning music, audio equipment etc to my friends. I think its a universal rule that the better the equipment the less impressive it is to you friends/relatives. Sony or Yamaha maybe but PS Audio…they have never heard of it. I might get their attention with my FR-30s (Sept???) just because of their size. As far as listening to music on ANY stereo its a lost cause. When was the last time you sat and listened to a CD/record etc with a friend and they didn’t want to start talking over the music? Home entertainment is now just background.

    I have my stereo in the living room so everyone who visits sees it. No one ever asks to hear it. The most I get in response is an impression that I have terrible taste in living room decore. I call it early Capt Nemo. Being a Classical/jazz music lover visitors have never heard of my music either. Doubly invisible.

    1. Hi Ken. I’m the same way. I’ve accepted many years ago that special interests of mine in audio don’t interest many. I’m just thankful to have what I have and know what I know just like the many on here.
      Anyhow. You nailed it. I get where you are coming from.

    2. Hi Ken,
      Fellow master of the invisibility cloak. Are you my long lost doppelgänger?
      Hold on to the faith as long as you can – I’m with you always- in spirit!!

  12. If we lived in glass houses, we’d be more visible. Outsiders would see us dancing, playing our air guitars and conducting invisible orchestras.

  13. Definition of -phile:
    a combining form meaning “lover of,” “enthusiast for” that specified by the initial element:
    Anglophile;
    bibliophile;
    demophile.

    So who the “H” “E” double toothpicks decided to combine it with pedo-??? Huh??
    It just ruined the term -phile for EVERYTHING.

    I’ll stick with audio-geek.
    You’ll still get the eye rolls but at least they won’t visualize you dropping your Mordaunt Shorts and fondling a twelve year old Linn’s midrange….

    Oh my, I’ve likely committed some crime against wokeness and offended someone here….

    I’d best formally apologize:
    Please forgive me for my causational misjudgment for it may be triggering that my narrative of our eco-warrior abolitionism biased society suffering from intellectual disability has inflicted trauma towards the racial and nonconforming xenogender BiPOCs’ sensitivity way beyond marginalized complicit microaggressions resulting in irresponsiblized hegemony, internalized dominance and privilege within the identity politics of our race culture that has causation for long term internalized oppression requiring reconciliation and the radical responsibilizational accountability towards the great restoration reset of the critical consciousness of diversity within our social construct.

    Or in Canadian,
    I’m sorry eh.

  14. “Audiophile”

    I know what it means, thus don’t need to use it in everyday conversation.
    Audio – sound
    File – attracted to or attracting something.

    Some terms are better left unsaid – terms like audiophile or god…
    Some terms carry too much baggage in a culture.

  15. Eyebrows raise and jaws drop if we ever reveal to people how much we pay for just a power plug. They think we are nuts, and arguably rightfully so. 🙂

    1. You know something I don’t think it is rightfully so. If people think copper is just copper and you can hook up an entire system using just lamp wire, then they are the ones who are arguably nuts, especially since most have no understanding of metal purity, cable geometry and shielding. 😉

      I defend the fellow audiophile! Lol.

      1. The operative word is “arguably.” It is, of course, a matter of degree and circumstance. I was thinking more in the extreme.

        Speaking for myself, I confess I am full-fledged nuts for having spent what I have on cables. Even you might think me nuts. The small degree of audible improvement I hear from my most expensive cables probably does not justify the expenditure. Yes, I hear the difference, but at what cost?

        I am definitely nuts. LOL

        1. Joseph, Here is what is the opposite of what you think is nuts ( what you spend on cables ) and what is truly nuts. I live in Westchester county in NY. Westchester has the highest ( or maybe one of the highest ) property taxes in the USA. My property taxes are higher than most people’s mortgages. Most of this is due to what our school taxes are. Every year the school district sends out a newsletter stating that 96% of the graduates got into college. You would think that Pleasantville, NY ( the school district where I live and pay taxes ) has the best teachers in the world. That same newsletter says which colleges the kids got into. Every year I scan the newsletter and practically every year none of the students get into a college that is as good as the one I went to ( my parents lived in one of the poorest neighborhoods in St. Louis ). What is truly nuts is spending what I spend on school taxes every year and getting the dismal results the we get year after year. Your cables are a bargain.

  16. Before its final draft.. Shakespeare originally had Romeo wearing a hat wherever he went that had stitched on letters saying… “Juliet-phile.”

    1. Pretty much my response also. It goes like ”of course an audiophile loves music, but listens on something a wee bit better that something bought at Best Buy”.

  17. I’ve never liked the term ‘audiophile’ and don’t know where it came from. When asked, I reply that in my spare time I’m a music nut and hi-fi enthusiast in order to get the best from it at home. I’m also a big gig goer…Rammstein last week, Roger Daltrey next week.

  18. One last thought on the subject. Being invisible kinda makes me sad. Not because I’m lonely or my expensive stuff is under appreciated but mostly that so many people don’t share my joy for the music. I think we share a gift for good music appreciation not experienced by the vast majority. Paul is one of the few evangalists for the hobby that turns into a way of life for some of us. Been listening to high end stuff since the mid 60s with great delight. It was the one “requirement” for a wife. She must appreciate music. I got my wish and married a classical pianist. 51 years of married bliss.

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