Am I a Psychopathic Audiophile? Are You?
What Is An Audiophile?
The word was a bit creepy the first time I heard it. Most likely you’ve done research and learned what it means to be an audiophile to figure out if you qualify for the category or not. After learning what an audiophile truly is, you might be curious whether it’s a blessing or a curse. As with most things in life, there are different levels of audiophile status. Here are a few questions to determine if you already are, or possibly well on your way to becoming an audiophile…
Do I insist that every guest in my home sit and listen to a demonstration of my audio system? Would I turn up the volume knob without actually playing any music just to show off the absence of noise? Did I invest as much in my connective cabling as I did my speakers? Is the performance of my system measured using instruments capable of registering sounds not audible to the human ear? Do I consider the benefits of harmonics a valid discussion to demonstrate the quality of my system? Maybe I subscribe to Tone Magazine?
The Process of Becoming
An audiophile does not suddenly convert overnight. It takes time, mostly invested in critical listening and hearing sound in various environments. An audiophile studies the speaker design and questions the physics and mechanics of how the drivers work. They’ll also study acoustic theory and then apply that to the room and speaker design. They can also spend hours analyzing their room acoustics by standing in different positions and clapping while listening to the reflections and dead spots. Once those concepts are grasped you can dive into the crossover topology and how it affects the sound being produced. Ultimately, knowing these things will help you recognize what to listen for.
You may look at some speaker designs and wonder why the engineer chose such a strange design. Or sometimes the design is internal which is not completely obvious on the surface level. For example, our patented Axially Stabilized Radiator silk dome tweeter in our Verus Grand family uses an anchored center point to better control break up modes. The design refinements coupled with the new “wishbone” waveguide has resulted in better output with a more uniform frequency response and dispersion across its operating range. You can read more details about tweeter design in Todd’s article What Everybody Ought to Know About Tweeters.
Digital vs Vinyl
I purchased a moderately priced turntable a few weeks ago and was quite captivated. Sure, I’ve heard vinyl before at my parents’ house, but it was the all-in-one turntable with speaker in a box. You could still pick out the slight nuances, however there is nothing like experiencing vinyl through great processors and the Verus Grand towers. Of course, there was a showdown between my digital tunes and vinyl tunes and I was shocked over the contrasting sound quality. I know, I know… I’ve been missing out.
For the digital side, I immediately noticed the low-end bass was heavily accentuated and punchy, to the point that it separated itself from the low-mid bass. The overall volume spectrum was constantly up to 100, or as they say in the mixing world, “brick wall limiting”. I quickly recognized the difference between a Pink Floyd record and a modern CD. During my recording engineering school years, my college professors would explain the digital sound as being “gritty” and at that time I didn’t have much experience with true analog. As I’ve become more of a sophisticated listener over the years, I realize how the digital signals cause the upper-mids and treble to sound and feel grainy. Just throw on some decent headphones and listen to any music streaming service. Odds are you’ll also sense the harshness of digital streaming.
Adversely, vinyl comfortably bridges the gap between your sub-sonic frequencies and low-mid bass. And if you don’t find yourself lost in the complexity of the music you’re listening to, you’ll likely notice a pleasantly warm feeling to the naturalized bass tones. If you didn’t grow up on vinyl, the aura of upper-mids and high frequencies feel authentically organic compared to digitized sound. Sure you get hiss from the needle scratching. But for all of the other sonic qualities provided, it becomes easy to let that go. I suppose I never realized how digital I’ve been living since my teen years… For us youngsters who didn’t grow up with vinyl, I suggest giving it a go with some of your favorite albums.
Do you know what to listen for while engaging in critical listening? You’ve found your way to our blogs so I’d say you’re on the right track! Exposing yourself to contrasting listening scenarios and various speakers is a great starting point. Maybe head over to a friend’s recording studio to hear the raw tracks before the mixing process. Or hang with your buddies while they rock out to feel the naturalness of each instrument. In my experience as a drummer, people are truly surprised with the sound of live drums. The impact and volume tend to be the most shocking element. Most people are accustomed to the pristinely edited and mixed drums that they hear on a record. Once you hear instruments live, in action, you can really decipher how heavily an album was produced to obtain the pop sound that everybody is familiar with.
Whether or not you can afford those “audiophile” speakers and components, we feel at Aperion that we’ve come pretty darn close to achieving that at an affordable price. While you may be all about the Bugatti’s and Tesla’s, you may own a Toyota. Well, we know this and it has helped us to choose the space that we occupy as a brand. You’re essentially get an Audi for the price of a Honda, which I would then knight you as a smart shopper. Still, the best has yet to come… We’re working on that Bugatti that you desire and wish for!