We Need a New Definition of “Audiophile”

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Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth writes:

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition defines audiophile as “a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction.” The word first appeared in print in 1951, in an era in which audio gear bore little resemblance to what we use today. Since then, the working definition of audiophile also seems to have changed. Look on any online audio forum, or in the comments section of an audio blog, and you’ll see that the word is now commonly used to mean “a person who believes certain things about audio.”

Some of those things would be: Vinyl sounds better than CD, DSD sounds better than PCM, simpler audio gear and circuitry are always better than more complex gear and circuits, blind testing is invalid, lab measurements are useless, stereo is better than surround sound, subwoofers are bad, sound processing is bad, etc. Of course, not every audiophile agrees with every one of these statements -- but if you check the sorts of sources mentioned above, or any high-end audio magazine, you’ll see that such opinions are prevalent.

But don’t get riled just yet -- I’m not here to argue with any of those opinions.

Many online commenters have questioned my status as an audiophile. Some have insisted that I’m not an audiophile. Their reasons have varied, depending on which article of mine they were responding to, but here are a few:

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