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Video: Is the Word “Audiophile” a Branding Fail?

Could the term “audiophile” be impeding growth of the high-end audio industry? Emiko explains why and what can be done about it.

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).

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.

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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.



  1. Scott

    May 15, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    I am an audiophile, legitimately, but I vote we rebrand ourselves as “audiofriends”.

  2. ORT

    May 15, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    Ummm…No. That reads in a most ridiculous manner. I would rather be an audio and film enthusiast than a musical version of “The Super Friends”.

    Oh wait! There already exists such beings, the “Super Best Audio Friends” group of nerds in heat. How pathetic and I dare not speak my true thoughts on such a nom de plume for it would surely cause the Social JustUS warriors to unite themselves and rally ’round whatever pathetic “cause” is currently impotent to them.

    I had posited my thoughts on this subject earlier. Did I not hid the “Post Comment” button? Mayhap I dids offend? I think not but maybe it is still under consideration or I, in my dotage, failed to hit the post it button!

    El Toado Verde


    • Ian White

      May 15, 2022 at 11:30 pm


      I didn’t get into audio/video as a young kid to make friends. None of my closest friend even care about this and they make six figures. I have loved movies and music for as long a I can remember and while I’ve been an audiophile for almost 40 years — I have never thought that the “term” helped the industry grow.

      I don’t take Emiko’s take as being woke at all or trying to create a “Super Friends” group. I think her bigger point is that the industry has never really welcomed women or people who don’t share our rather dogmatic beliefs.


      • ORT

        May 15, 2022 at 11:57 pm

        I do not think Emiko was remotely speaking about what I term JustUs Warriors. It is more directed at Scott’s term, “audiofriends”. On my original post (which I think I lost) I said that I do NOT need diversity as there is but one race and that being human.

        I want human beings to enjoy this hobby of OURS. I cringe at some of the stuff frAudiophiles wax off about. A hobby should be enjoyable! It should not tax us emotionally save in our case when a particular song has a particular memory/emotion attached to it and as such makes this old toad tear up like my aunties slicking onions.

        I have been to a few shows and I am not welcome because I politely speak my mind of I think doing so is merited. As for women joining in?

        Sure! They have two ears and a brain so why not?! My spousal unit does not like music any more and listens to Conservative Talk Radio (albeit less so since the demise of Rush… Dammit) but then we have me. And our son enjoys music too. Our daughter also enjoys it but less so that her brother and I.

        I know of a few women that are enthusiastic about home theater/audio. I have set up their modest systems my self (and many others for lots of folk) and I DO NOT charge any one. Except that they do need to make a rather large pitcher (1 gallon, please!) of properly colored (orange pekoe!) iced tea for me. That is all I ask. Oh. And I do not like being yelled at. I can get that at home. 😉

        I have a Grace Digital Radio that I regularly loan out to people I know from work and I let them keep it a week or two just to see what they are missing as far as the internet radio scene goes (Gawd but I hate the term “streaming”, LOL!). I have bought at least five radios and given them to two of my relatives and at least three people that are not related to me but that I consider friends. I want them to know what they are missing and some of them cannot afford even a radio.

        I just ordered a Denon AVR for my older brother and his wife (this will be the third time I have upgraded them!). I like HEOS and I want those two to enjoy what I enjoy, which is to say the music that is within their hears can now be heard through out their home.

        I have found that the best way for me to get people to want to have a home audio/theater is to start them off with a Grace Digital Radio and then take it form there. I do this because it gets me out of the house, gets me to know more people and makes people happy. Like I said else where, we can choose to be better or bitter.

        I choose better.

        So…I am rambling. Again. I hope to meet Emiko along with all of you at T.H.E. this June. I would gladly shake the hand in friend ship of all who put together this site but have no problem if someone deigns not to. Hey. I am nothing to look upon, believe me, LOL!


        • An Observer

          May 17, 2022 at 1:26 am

          My god, ORT, you are so pretentious. Can you not hear yourself??

          • ORT

            May 17, 2022 at 11:35 am

            Nope, but thank you all the same! LOL! It is just how I write. But you?

            “You have a wonderful economy with words, Observer. I look forward to your next syllable with great eagerness”…

            From the film, “Arthur” (albeit, most likelyparaphrased from a poor memory). It is also true that I have a sense of humor about my self. How ever, if setting up stereo and Home Theatre (note the cool European spelling!) equipment, including hanging TVs of up to 85″ for senior citizens as well as young folks and NOT charging them a penny is “pretentious”, then I shall be “pretentious”, LOL!

            That I find many in this “community” (at times more a CoC, i.e.,a “coven of cretins”, LOL!) to be contentiously pretentious is evidenced by your excellent rebuttal of my thoughts here. You my young friend, are in dire need of what I have termed, “The Sixth Sense” HUMOR. 😉 You might consider changing your nom de plume to some thing more descriptive of lack of humor. “Tim The Enchanter” comes easily to the mind. 🙂

            What is that olde saying? Brevity is the soul of twit. 😉 Nah. Be well, oh “Tim The Enchanter”.

            Having to work instead of going to the show might well be a blessing! I do not get paid to go to the show,LOL!

            “Lighten up Francis”. Look it up. 🙂


  3. ORT

    May 17, 2022 at 1:44 am

    I do not think I shall attend but that will depend upon my work schedule and other matters. My friend and co-worker is going to go and I think that is great! He is a true enthusiast!

    I just do not fit in nor do I desire to. I almost joined that Orange County/LA audio club a couple of years ago but decided against it. I do not want to sit around and listen to static…”SIGH”… I was not made for these times.

    I do NOT listen to “cables” nor do I use green markers on my CDs and worse. FTN.


  4. Methadras

    May 17, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    The industry doesn’t care about women or men, they just care about your money by branding mediocre offerings as audiophile quality while charging outrageous sums of money for them. Not to mention the reviews for such products are just as ridiculous on the level of wine snobbery. Exalting attributes no one can hear or experience and telling us how wonderful these audiophile products are and why we should spend that much money for them.

    How about a big fat no. I’m an audiophile because I know what works without spending a ton of money and still getting the sound I want that other knuckleheads wills spend tens of thousands for.

  5. J Welk

    May 17, 2022 at 5:31 pm

    I have a friend who is one. I, on the other hand can hear the difference between his equipment, (the same amp as Harry Bosch) of which I got one channel working and my Visio sound bar. I was most disappointed in paying a dollar or so for Danish National Symphony rendition of Good Bad and Ugly in MP3 format.
    FWIW he exhibits none of the symptoms you profess to observe. Once upon a time I lived next door to Russel Simmons summer cottage. He too, had a great system, and also fit none of your stereotypes.

  6. Tim

    June 3, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for another thoughtful piece, Emiko. Imo, the word is just fine–it’s accurate and efficient language.

    A lot of what you bring up is what others have projected onto the word. Personally I’m not worried about what Amazon Associate shills posing as YouTube “reviewers” think about the word, because every piece of cheap, bad-sounding gear they pimp online just happens to be available at one of their affiliate link$$$. Isn’t it ironic that the “men of the people” reviewers who decry “audiofools” are some of the most dishonest frauds in the audio world? Does anybody else want to call out this fake, for-profit populism?

    Likewise the pseudo-scientists who have gamified measurements, weaponizing and largely ruining the value of real expertise. Google results are festering with half-informed armchair experts opining and giving the most absurd reactionary responses, yet they call themselves “objectivists.” Anybody else see the absurd lie of that misused word? “Measurement Subjectivists” is accurate, but that kinda ruins their superiority complex, doesn’t it?

    I’m an audiophile, period. I love good sound, good recordings, good gear, good systems. I’m willing to sink my disposable income into marginal, sometimes illusory, updates to my system. There have been enough great new technologies of the past decade to launch us into a new golden age of audio gear–and NONE of that was funded by, supported by, or advanced by Affiliate shills or Cargo Cults of Personality. Those people frankly don’t matter. If audiophiles hadn’t made Class D economically viable, we wouldn’t have the advances we have today. If audiophiles hadn’t gone big into early CD tech, or streaming, or networked audio, or DACs, those same smug hangers-on wouldn’t be gloating about their crappy communist DAC that is, again ironically, a far worse value than some of the DACs costing multiples higher.

    They are not worth the breath, and they certainly aren’t worth allowing to define the contours of the discussion. For the most part they are opportunists and frauds, and without the doubt the biggest snobs in the hobby today.

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