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Definition: audiophile


An audiophile is a person who loves listening to high-quality sound from a stereo or home theater. Audiophile-grade recordings and equipment are designed to reproduce music without distortion or coloration. When hi-fi took off in the 1950s, the first audiophiles were also "stereophiles." See high-resolution audio, DSD, stereophile and phonophile.

Quite often, audiophiles are as passionate about the equipment they use as the music they listen to, and the gear can be very costly. An entry-level system typically costs around USD $10,000, while top-end systems are reach the stratosphere (see images below). Contrast with videophile. See imaging, preamp, Laser Turntable, Burwen Bobcat and audiophile DAC.

Home Theater Sound
Starting in the late 1980s, the sale of high-end audio equipment was given a boost by the home theater market. The more realistic the sound, the more realistic the video experience, especially for action movies. The audio equipment in home theaters is often many times the cost of the TV. See home theater.

Sound Is Not Easily Remembered
Only people with exceptional auditory capability can listen to sound systems in different stores and compare sound quality. The only way for most people to test audio fidelity is to switch back and forth between two systems in the same store playing the same music. Also, what sounds good in the showroom will sound different at home.




High-End Amplifiers
Many audiophiles swear that only tubes faithfully reproduce music. These Model One amplifiers were designed by renowned audio engineer Mark Levinson and weigh more than 100 pounds each. See vacuum tube.






High-Performance Audio Expo
Hosted at CES in Las Vegas, vendors showcase the most exotic audio equipment in separate hotel suites. Held in the Venetian Hotel in 2010, there were numerous USD $100,000+ stereos. In fact, there were three $500,000 systems, a turntable for $96,000 (not including tonearm and cartridge) and cables for $1,000 per foot. See CES.