Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran of the audiophile lifestyle, there are some common traps and pitfalls that are easy to fall into. These are our top five most unique and essential tips to avoid, and they cut across all levels of experience.
1. When you’re a beginner, don’t always choose quality over quantity
You may think I just misspoke there, but this is actually what I meant to say. I know this may seem counterintuitive, but when you are just starting out, the most important thing you can do is get a wide basis of knowledge.
Many times, people who want to make the leap into hifi full on will save and save their money until they have enough to get one of the premiere products - the Focals or Sennheisers of the world if you will - and they will spend all of their hard earned savings on that one unit.
Now, if there’s a product that is your holy grail where that’s all you want and you’ll be satisfied with that, then ignore this - go get that and be happy. However, if you want to build more audiophile knowledge, it might be better behoove you to spread the wealth a bit and pick up different kinds of headphones, IEMS, brands etc. This will help broaden your palette of knowledge and really aid in determining on a more detailed level what it is you prefer in your gear, be it different sound signatures, builds, driver types etc.
2. Don’t forget that your equipment is a means to an end.
For some people out there, it is entirely true that one of the reasons they love hifi and general audiophilia is that they can’t get enough of the notes and bolts tech, and genuinely love all the science behind they’re favorite audio products.
But for many others, they became audiophiles because they are true lovers of music, and want to do anything they can to make their music sound the best and be the most enjoyable to them. If this is why you got into this hobby, then don’t forget not to get caught up in gear just for gear’s sake, even if it doesn't make your music sound better.
If you have a system that’s great for ultra wide stage ambient electronica, but less than ideal for the hip hop music you love, it may be a case of the tails wagging the dog. As one internet commenter I came across put it, don’t use your music to listen to your system, use your system to listen to your music,.
3. Don’t believe in perfect sound - it doesn't exist
This is the goal that many lesser experienced audiophiles will claim to seek, while those who have been in the game a while will silently shake their heads.
That’s because they know the quest for “perfect sound” is futile because...perfect sound doesn’t exist. There’s plenty of gear that utilizes very sophisticated hi fi technology, but even headphones that use this technology are going to sound different from one another due to variations like build, drivers, output impedance etc
Instead of trying to find perfection, you have to find what works best for you. Something that sounds the clearest and purest to you may be unideal to another audiophile’s ear - therefore the most important thing is to become discerning about the qualities that are important to you, and maximizing those in anything you buy.
4. Don’t believe your better than other people
Many of us love being audiophiles, not just because of the joy we get from hifi, but because of the great community that exists in places like youtube and on forums. However, I also have no doubt that each and every one of you out there who enjoys this hobby has also come across some snobbishness in audiophile circles.
It’s an unfortunate fact that sometimes people in this community can be condescending or just outright rude. Please don’t be this person. A lot of this stems from the fact that they are more advanced or at a higher level than someone else. This is a hobby that requires good amounts of independent research and amassing different types of gear and technologies. We all love advice and often seek it on these topics, but just because you’ve spent time deep diving into a little known subject or can hear the details of cryogenically frozen cable does not mean you are above anyone. So don’t act like it!
5. Don’t believe hype over your own ears
If there’s one thing audiophiles love, it's consulting different websites, publications and youtube videos like this to see the latest news about different gear and technology. Naturally, the marketplace and the internet ecosystem creates lots of hype around certain products. However, I’m sure we’ve all had the universal experience of trying out something touted as the next great piece of gear, only to be somewhat disappointed when we try it out. The thing everyone is raving about just...doesn’t really do it for us. You think, “am I missing something?”
In short, the answer is no. It doesn’t matter how many five star reviews or endorsements something gets, it is you and your ears who will be listening to it, so it has to feel good to you. Everyone is different, and sometimes things just don’t work for us, even if they do for lots of other people.
To share a brief anecdote, one time a bit ago, a reviewer did not want to tackle a certain product because they thought they’d have nothing nice to say about it and that it wasn’t worth doing. Not 5 minutes later, a very serious self professed audiophile customer came in and purchased the same item, thrilled with its performance. It goes to show that you can trust only you, and you alone.
Feel free to check out our video as well. Watch it below.