GENDER: Female audiophiles; an oxymoron perhaps?

Michael Vronsky writes:

Joke, truism or what?

It's a standard joke and also to some extent a truism that female classical composers are extremely rare and in quizzes, at best some people can only 'point' to two, possibly three. For myself, I can't even point to one!

This doesn’t mean that women in general are not interested in music, or indeed in classical music. Far from it. However, it’s certainly true that during the 33 years that I’ve been selling Hifi on and off and through the thousands of customers I have worked with, the total number of women who – entirely independent of men – have bought a Hifi system for themselves, as distinct from a present for somebody else, is less than ten.

Superficially it’s tempting to think that women and Hifi don't mix. However, when observing the listening habits of women in domestic situations where their husbands or partners, male partners that is, have bought Hifi and they listen, certain characteristics become apparent. First, I have rarely in a home environment come across a female who will listen at the same high pressure sound levels (volume) as their male counterpart. To me this would indicate, not that the women don't necessarily like the music, but certainly are very reluctant to be exposed to loud sounds from a domestic Hifi.

If ...

If on the other hand you see a large attendance of women at some gigs, but not necessarily rock gigs, then this doesn’t correlate with what happens in the home. It seems to me that women have an intolerance of hifi played loud – but certainly don't seem uncomfortable at rock gigs or even a gala recital at relatively high volumes. Possible this is because consciously or unconsciously they are sensitive to the sort of distortions that hifi adds.

I've also observed that there is a considerable disconnect between the music that men seem to like in a hifi system and that which women like on hifi. Of course there is an overlap – however, the overlap is in my experience slight.

Possible therefore, one of the reasons other than outright intimidation from sneering men in audiophile retail stores, the reason women don’t buy hifi is because the demonstrations are not played at a listening level that women are comfortable at, i.e. lower than their male counterparts. Possibly the music which is used in demonstrations is not to their liking either?

Finally - for now

In conclusion therefore, I cannot believe that women per-se don't like music. But I am pretty convinced that there is something seriously wrong with the reproduction music in the home for women. Whether anyone else has noticed this or indeed has stopped to think about the implications or, furthermore, looked at the marketing opportunities for this is difficult to say. If they have, then as far as I can see, they haven't put their head above the parapet.