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Contest! An Audiophile By Any Other Name...

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by Josh Ray on May 09 '06

...is still just as lame. Shakespeare butchery aside, there is a very important point trying to be made here. Simply, the term "audiophile" has run its course and needs to be put out of its misery. "Audiophile" conjures images of pasty, overweight men sitting in dimly lit rooms trying to hear sonic differences that may, in fact, be all in their heads. Of course, that's exactly what audiophiles are and exactly why we need a new name to hide these facts.

So what word can replace "audiophile"? Something that says this is all about the music, not unobtainable extremes. That this is all about excitement and technology and chicks, not major sausage fests. We need to appeal to the fans of sports cars, iPods, video games and more. "Audiophile" is keeping us down. We need to be cool again. We need our mojo.

So can anyone rise to the challenge? If successful, not only will you win the admiration of "audiophiles" worldwide, forever change the nature of our industry and save hi-fi as we know it, but you will also win a spiffy SonicFlare t-shirt! That's right, folks, immortality and free clothing is only one witty word away so break out those thesauri and get cracking!

Comments

How about "audio enthusiast"? Or just "music lover"? (I'd go with the former.)
"Sound Freak" ? :D "Aural Hobbyist"? "Audio geeks"? (The web made geeks cool, so...) "He who breathes by his ears?" Failing all that, "music lover" may work even if by definition it falls beyond the strict hi-fi niche. You can be a music lover with a boombox.
hi-fi audio enthusiast
Homo Fideliacs. Audio Erectus Hmmm..single white men living alone with records. Ian
Hate to say it Josh, but after more than a decade of marketing in this industry, IMHO your original definition of "Audiophile" still stands. Very few long-standing businesses want to market to audiophiles because the return on their efforts is just not there. The industry moniker that keeps popping up is "Enthusiast". That is the market that prudent manufacturers aim for; ie., individuals who love music, appreciate quality, like gadgets, and/or think about status associated with products. This is in contrast to an audiophile who will obsess about oil filled capacitors or NOS tubes. They are considered "toxic" customers, and are best avoided by companies or retailers who want to survive. Your coverage of the latest AudioAsylum rants drive this point home.
I prefer "Hi-Fi Guy" Has a seventies ring to it.
Married-men-groveling-before-their-wives-for-permission-to-spend-money-on-least-expensive-listenable-audio-equipment enthusiasts.
I like audio enthusiast or audio hobbyist
Dan, perfectly put. Yes, there are two types of people: the "enthusiasts" and the "audiophiles." I feel we need to separate the two even more because, really, the enthusiasts are getting a bad rap. "Enthusiasts" works but it's too general and old sounding. Lol, is "hi-fi guy" a character on the Simpsons? Disco Stu or something? And, Henry, we're trying to hide the truth, not bring it into the open! "Music lover" has been thrown around a bit and it makes sense relative to the tweak-centric audiophiles, but there has got to be a perfect term that both makes sense without explanation and is perfect for the new audio generation. In addition to the individual name, we also need a new industry name. "Hi-fi" and "high-end audio" are antiquated. I've been using "high-performance audio" because it taps into that sports car mystique...
However, the hobby definitely revolves around hi-fi audio equipment, and that must be reflected in the name. In fact, the greater the technical knowledge/background - the greater the obsession. Interest in music/audio alone does not do any work. I know people who listen to music all day long (and attentively too) using $20 radios and/or Itunes radio stations.
Josh, will you give the car analogy a rest already? :) Automobiles have nothing whatsoever to do with listening to music.
Good points Josh. The catch is that by bringing the term "audio" into the mix, we are falling into the same trap; its not about the audio. Audio is part of the experience--ie., part of home theater. I think the term going forward is "Mediaphile", which could cover home theater, gaming, audio, etc.
"...Aural Enthusiast" :D Is that like relating to oral sex?
hey josh - cut the pseudo hip approach; it really doesn't wash. should gays be be excluded from the audio lovers group, based on sexual orientation. how about usuns that dont drive sport cars and just walk through the mud like most people, but just happent to love listening to music. attempt something inclusive and get real. there is a world of music listeners to win and the spectre of audio irrelevance hangs low, within eye shot. Sonic Flare, generally takes a progressive approach, so move forward in that vain. ditch the glib verbiage. turbo.
How about Audiofile
Audio Chef ? Audio Architect ? (may be sound to technical ?)
Part of me thinks we should embrace the word "audiophile" and start defending it...
Audiotaku? Many interests don't have a specific label. I don't know of one for car fans (other than tifosi for Ferrari fans or the derogatory 'petrolhead') or for serious amateur photographers. To label ourselves allows for exclusion - "you're not an audiophile, your system's a Sony" which is the last thing we want. Our common interest is a love of recorded music. Some of us have a separate interest in the hardware that allows us to better enjoy our music and some of those like to take an active part in building the hardware (either the system or the components). The mindsets and interests of the three groups can be very different and meet with widely differing responses from those outside the hobby so if we feel a new label is needed I think three might serve better than one. Jeremy
Great thoughts! It seems that it boils down to "music lover" in the sense that "audio" is negative in all forms since it implies, well, dorks. Dan may be right -- anything with "audio" in the name is ultimately negative. A strategy may simply be to use "audiophile" as a pejorative with statements like "oh, we're not audiophiles" or "this is for music lovers, not audiophiles." Jeremy brought up a good point -- many other hobbies don't have fan identities except when used negatively. So maybe the right term is no term at all and to simply try to turn "audiophile" into something we're not. "Audiophiles" are soooo 1999. We're totally 200X. That said, do people like the term "high-performance audio" instead of "high-end" or "hi-fi"?
I prefer high-quality audio to high-performance. To me it could be argued that certain products provide high performance eg Class D amplifiers putting out 1000W with no heat for $100 and the general public would understand that as high performance, too. But quality is a different issue and (to drag out that old auiophile favourite topic) is not reflected in the specifications. Jeremy
how 'bout HD audio... tapping into the general HD craze...
The definition of Audiophile is Hi-Fi enthusiast so that's not so bad, except that extremists have co-opted the title in many peoples minds and extremism does not equate with general acceptance. The best moniker for people who are into Hi-Fi and all it entails has been a quest for years! This reminds me of the campaign for real Hi-Fi that was adopted in the UK a few years ago in an attempt to mirror the success of the campaign for real ale ( CAMRA was a movement that brought the good stuff back into pubs that had "sold-out" by stocking mass produced gas-pressurized beer that did not require special storage). The idea in both campaigns was that quality would win the day if people had access, and that anyone can appreciate quality without necessarily belonging to a sect. To be inclusive we need to show that it's cool to have an appreciation for high quality audio equipment as a means to an end...heightened musical satisfaction. Then people of all persuasions can aspire to be a " " without feeling strange about it because music is good for your soul right? So what is that most fitting moniker...
Audio Eclectic?
... i-Fi intelligent Fidelity ;-) A combination of precision electronics, mechanics, and software designed by music and film enthusiasts in the vanguard of the audio/video industry... with build quality and consistency at the forefront of production.
Spent my lunch hour thinking about this today… Audiophile: “A person having an ardent interest in stereo or high-fidelity sound reproduction” (Dictionary.com) Audio = “Of or relating to humanly audible sound” (Dictionary.com) Phile = “One that loves or has a strong affinity or preference for” (Dictionary.com) Who we are (stereotype… no pun intended): White, male, over 40, not fit, opinionated, particular, expert, and obsessive Who do we want to be? Current, hip, diplomatic, open-minded, multi-interest Current interests: Stereo, high quality (live-like) sound, recorded music (many time periods and styles) available in physical formats, electronics, technology, materials, product design (Additional/differing) Future interests: More than stereo, any quality sound, recorded music available in virtual formats, style, brand, image Friendly, welcoming terms: Music, tunes, harmony, melody, sense, aural, enthusiast, fan It’s hip to be a: Geek, technologist, stylist, Grup: see New York Metro article: http://newyorkmetro.com/news/features/16529/ Suggested new nicknames (to market and replace Audiophile ;-) Muthusiast Tunethusiast Harmoniphile Melodiphile Aural Enthusiast Musicfan or Music Fan Audiofan or Audio Fan Audiogeek or Audio Geek Audoligist Harmonogist Melodist Audio Stylist OK, time to go back to being a Procrastophile ;-)
Deep Listener Audio Serialist Sound Lunatic Extreme Ears Future Audio Shocker
If we must label ourselves in some way, how about simply saying "hardcore music lovers" or HMLs? First, because as Jeremy pointed above, that's the main reason we do all this - music. We just love it to a point we can't imagine ourselves living without it. As many other people from all walks of life do. Only perhaps with more commitment. However, the main difference between your typical music lover and an HML is the degree of dedication and financial commitment s/he's willing to make in order to make his/her relation with recorded music something more involving, more intimate, more REAL. And therefore more enjoyable. The HML does lots of research online and off, does not have gobs of cash yet buys the best equipment that gives the best possible bang for the buck s/he can afford, and conceives audio nirvana as a journey, not as a destination. Should describe most of us on the under 40 crowd, don't you think?
"Extreme music lovers" or EMLs might work too.
Hardcore is already taken as a label for (sub) genre of rock and several genres of dance music. If HML catches on will Wilson start voicing their speakers to best reproduce Henry Rollins? If EML catches on will audio equipment come in chunky waterproof rubber cases to match the extreme phones, cameras and torches? Will we also have the term Hardcore Tube Music Lover and spell extreme without the first E? HTML and XML will definitely make us look like geeks. Ahem. I think we're on the right track with this but that these two choices are too easy to make us more of a laughing stock - not that that bothers me, I have no problem with the label 'audiophool' either. Tongue out of cheek and back to work Jeremy
Crazy Bastard
Hardcore Tube Music Lover = HTML ... LOL :D How didn't I think of that. Easier said than done, this naming business eh?
Dolores?
Wired for Sound... guy?
How 'bout:
  • Audiorati
  • Aurinerds (from Latin auris, ear)
  • Audirilists (rom Latin audire, to hear)
  • Hertzheads
  • Sonicrats
  • Aurocracy
As a reformed audiophile, now home theater fanatic, I'd say it's all about reproduction, that is reproducing an experience at home that is as close as possible to the original recording, or to a live performance, be that movies or music. So how about Reproductionists?
sonic connoisseur sonic devotee sonic addict
stereophile. :)
So the question Josh is... who gets the t-shirt?
Good question...and no answer. Lots of great ideas, one's I think I'll start working into rotation, but nothing that fits perfectly. In fact, it seems there should be NO new name. Rather, let "audiophiles" become a dirty word. "I'm not an audiophile, I'm a music lover!" Separate the new generation from the $1000 power cord people.