You might think you are an audiophile, but in reality very few music lovers tick all of the necessary boxes. Are you really an audiophile? Or are you just a great pretender?
Just because you have the complete back catalog of Britney Spears in your iTunes library doesn’t qualify you – it’s all about what equipment you use and your understanding of music technology.
If you want to find out whether or not you’re a true audiophile, you can take our
made up on the spot 100 percent scientific quiz below. Answer each question with a “Yes” or a “No”, keep a running tally in your head, and we’ll reveal the results at the end. That’s right, you’re about to find out if you’re an audiophile.
What Is an Audiophile?
Before we begin, it’s important to qualify exactly what we mean when we say “audiophile”.
According to Dictionary.com, an audiophile is someone who is “especially interested in high-fidelity sound reproduction”.
Wikipedia expands on this further, stating:
“Audiophile values may be applied at all stages of music reproduction: the initial audio recording, the production process, and the playback, which is usually in a home setting. A key goal of audiophiles is to capture the experience of a live musical performance in a room with good acoustics, and reproduce it at home.”
For the purposes of this quiz, it is the home listening aspect that we are interested in. So, without further ado, let’s begin!
1. Do you own a pair of headphones worth more than $200?
Sorry, but using those outrageously uncomfortable free iPod/iPhone headphones just because they are “hip” doesn’t qualify you as an audiophile. Instead, you need a pair of headphones that have exceptional build quality, high levels of comfort for extended wearing, and, most importantly, stunning sound.
These don’t come cheap. For example, the Sennheiser HD 800 S headphones will set you back a mind-boggling $1,699. Reportedly, it’s like listening to real speakers.
We don’t expect even the most ardent audiophile to shell out that much, but it’s reasonable to expect a true advocate to spend more than $200. Without that level of investment, the high-end quality just isn’t there.
2. Do you subscribe to Tidal for the high-fidelity sound?
Tidal has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent months – from Kanye West’s botched album release to Jay Z’s somewhat confusing marketing campaign.
However, there is one thing that sets Tidal apart from the likes of Spotify et al… lossless music.
Lossless music retains every single bit of detail from the original song recording; it makes file sizes much larger (almost ten times the size of MP3s), but the quality is greatly increased.
It means that true audiophiles would choose to subscribe to Tidal’s $20 per month lossless service rather than settling for a lower-quality alternative.
3. Do you believe expensive cables actually make a difference?
Let’s get one thing clear – scientifically speaking, the cable quality does make a difference to the sound of your speakers. The speaker, receiver/amplifier, and cable create an electrical circuit, so using a cable with higher quality components will affect the resistance and capacitance of the circuit and change the output accordingly.
The catch? The difference is negligible. Which means it requires a highly-trained ear to notice the change in sound. If you can hear the difference, there is a good chance you’re an audiophile.
4. Do you still buy vinyl?
We’ve already looked at why vinyl is better than digital. There are lots of reasons, but arguably the biggest difference is sound quality.
Vinyl is often how the artist intended his music to be heard: it has not been digitally enhanced, not had its volume artificially bumped up, and not been saved, ripped, and converted a thousand times before hitting your ears.
Most people don’t care enough about the sound difference to head to a bricks-and-mortar store and buy a vinyl record. Except audiophiles, who care a little too much.
5. Do you pay attention to the acoustics of a room?
I went to school in Manchester, England. During my time there we had a large new indoor sports hall built.
Not long after it was completed, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was looking for a place to record their new album. The conductor of the orchestra walked into the hall, clapped his hands once, and immediately knew that was the place for the recording to take place.
He was clearly an audiophile. If you also have an ear for such things, you probably are too.
6. Do you care more about the audio quality than the actual music?
Would you choose to listen to an old Cliff Richard recording of “Congratulations” on vinyl in favour of a modern band’s digital release?
Would you avoid your favorite artist’s new release just because it was only released on CD?
If you answered either of these with a “Yes”, then you’re a) crazy (!) and b) an audiophile.
7. Do your speakers have pride of place in your living room?
Poorly-located speakers can make a quality recording sound like fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. Similarly, if you have spent several thousand dollars on an expensive setup, why would you want to hide them away on a shelf under your TV?
If your speakers take centre stage in your living room at the expense of sofas, tables, and televisions, you’ll need to mark this question with a “Yes”.
8. Do you know the definition of “slew rate”?
If you know the definition of slew rate, you can move on to question nine.
For the uninitiated, a slew rate is the “rate of change of voltage per unit of time”. In musical terms, it refers to amplifiers – specifically, the amp’s ability to maintain output in higher frequencies (i.e., the rate of how quickly an amplifier can respond to a rapid change of input level).
No, we don’t really understand it either. Which is why knowledge of slew rates is a determining factor in this quiz!
9. Do you spend hours discussing bitrates with your friends?
Back in the days of illegal file-sharing, before we had Spotify and Tidal, we’d use programs such as Kazaa and Limewire to grab music files off other users. The key to getting a good copy was downloading a version with the highest possible bitrate.
In short, bitrate means the amount of data that is processed over a certain amount of time. In the music world, this is normally measured in kilobits per second. The higher the bitrate, the bigger the file and the higher the quality.
On iTunes, music is offered at 256 kilobits per second, while music you hear on the radio is normally broadcast at around 128 kilobits per second. A lossless file, such as those on Tidal, will run at 1,400+ kilobits per second.
To the average user, theses differences are barely noticeable. However, if you’ve got expensive headphones or a really good set of speakers, you’ll be able to pick up the differences more easily. And discuss them with your friends. Ad nauseam.
10. Do you own any import albums only released in another country?
Have you been trawling online stores trying to find a new album by that breakout Cuban conga band? Have you flown to Nigeria to sample the latest African folk music? If you love music from other cultures and in other languages, you could well be an audiophile.
Alternatively, you may have spent a small fortune acquiring import albums of your favorite artists just because they have one rare track on them. Or are destined to be a collector’s item in the future. Again, this could mark you out as an audiophile for whom no effort or expense is too great when it comes to music.
How Many Questions Did You Answer “Yes” To?
So, how many questions did you answer in the affirmative? Keep that number in mind, as here is our official breakdown of the scores designed to determine whether or not you’re an audiophile:
0: You’re the opposite of an audiophile – an audio philistine, if you will. Your music collection probably consists of Avicii remixes of Justin Bieber hits.
1-4: You’re a typical music lover. You enjoy spending money on occasional big-ticket music items and are happy to make a few sacrifices to maximize your enjoyment, but you’re not willing to take it to extremes. Justin Bieber doesn’t feature in your library, although Avicii might.
5-7: You’re an audiophile. You’ve built up an impressive library of songs and are always on the lookout for the best equipment through which to enjoy it. You think Justin Bieber is a singer, but you’re not 100 percent certain.
8-10: You’re the embodiment of an audiophile. Music producers call you up for your opinion and you get free hardware samples from the industry’s finest manufacturers dropping through your letterbox on a weekly basis. You have never heard of Justin Bieber… you lucky so-and-so.
Did you enjoy this quiz? What was your score out of 10? Are there any other questions you think could be useful in sorting true audiophiles out from the wannabees? Please let us know in the comments below.
Image Credits:musical concept by Lucky Business via Shutterstock