Audio quality these days is an afterthought for the vast majority of people. The number of songs or tunes you have on your iPod is more important than the gear you play it on for many music listeners. Unless that is, you have leanings towards being an audiophile.
Audiophiles love music, of course, but what really bites them is the quality of the audio they listen to. Audiophiles seek out the best possible ways to listen to music – to ‘hear’ it just as it was meant to be heard when it was first recorded in a soundproofed, acoustically perfect studio.
However, for newcomers to the world of audiophilia, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, with this in mind, we thought we would round up some of the basics of getting started with an audiophile setup – here’s everything you will need to kickstart your new hobby.
A credit card
One thing you will quickly learn is that listening to music at its best quality will cost you a lot of money. Sure, there is the entry-level equipment that is a good starting point for newbie audiophiles but mark our words, you will soon be wanting to upgrade. There are audiophiles out there who spend five – maybe even six – figure sums on the perfect hi-fi setup. So be prepared to do some spending at some point in the near future.
New file formats
First of all, ditch the mp3s. The chances are that the mp3s you buy will have significant compression which has a severe impact on its sound, which you will start to pick up with even the most basic upgrade to your hi-fi system. Instead of mp3s, look at buying music in WAV, FLAC, or Ogg Vorbis formats – all offer a dramatic increase in sound quality than standard mp3s.
As Vinyl Vintage point out, many audiophiles like nothing better than sticking on a vinyl record and playing it through a high-quality system. Now, you can spend a lot of money on a turntable, but as a general rule, the higher price point, the better sound quality you will get. You also need to consider the cartridges and needles you use on your turntable, which can make an even bigger difference to audio quality.
A better system
Once you have sorted out the source of your sounds, it’s time to focus on the delivery. And that all starts with investing in a decent system – not a bog-standard mp3 player. Again, if you want high-end audio, you will need to have a good think about buying an amplifier and, most importantly, the right kind of speakers. It’s worth popping into your local hi-fi store to explain your needs and try out some of the gear they have on display. And if you really want to optimize the sound quality in your home, it’s worth hiring an audio specialist to come in and take a listen to your room’s acoustics.
A great set of headphones
Finally, make sure you spend some money on a decent pair of headphones. The difference between a high-end pair and the garbage earphones you get with your smartphone is incredible. And ultimately, if you want to listen to audiophile-standard music, using headphones will save you a lot of disagreements with your neighbors!