According to Etymology Online, the word “audiophile” only dates back to 1951.
MEANING: noun: One who has a keen interest in high-fidelity sound reproduction.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin audio- (sound) + -phile (love, lover of). wordsmith.org
Are you an audiophile? Do you aspire to be an audiophile? Do you love music more than gear, or vice versa? Can anyone be one? Is there a test?
If you’ve been an “audiophile” or worked in the high-end audio industry for as long as we have, we know that nobody becomes an audiophile to gain some form of social status or because the 99% of the human beings who occupy this universe think it’s cool.
It’s both a hobby and lifestyle; there are worse things than having an intense love for art and the ways to best appreciate it.
High-end audio is also a business and one that we’re a part of; we put countless hours into this publication and it’s a huge part of our identity as people. Many of us have made lifelong friends from being part of this and that’s probably its greatest reward. We’ve also made lifelong enemies along the way because this industry isn’t always cordial or free of people with rather self-serving agendas.
Audiophiles probably get a bad rap but we hear it from colleagues in other industries and even family and friends.
The stereotypes are hard to ignore. The most vocal of audiophiles tend to be older, caucasian, stubborn, and a few of the ‘-ists’ best tabled for another time. Not only do they know more than the engineer that built the product, they can’t help but to proclaim it as gospel truth. And, if you can’t hear what they hear, then it must be your ears that are broken.
The audiophile community has a problem. Headphone Editor, W. Jennings previously documented it in a 3-part series, decrying audiophiles as arrogant, narcissistic, and generally hostile.
Has “audiophile” become a branding fail?
Do we need a new way to describe ourselves to broaden the base?
Why not build a new community around it that signifies inclusion, civility, open-mindedness, aspiration and fun to complement the pursuit of musical listening nirvana?
Any suggestions? Speak up.