News & Opinion

What They Mean When They Say, “I’m Not an Audiophile”

There are some trigger phrases or words in every hobby that will make enthusiasts cringe. In home audio, it is the infamous, “I’m not an audiophile…but,” phrase. I can’t tell you how many questions contain this phrase. And, honestly, it has to stop. For the most part, people don’t really realize what we hear when they start a question with, “I’m not an audiophile…but…” Or do they? Begin rant!

“Don’t Use Big Words”

This is about the only meaning that is acceptable. This person is saying that they are not an audiophile so they don’t know the jargon. They are saying that they need things spelled out. Fair enough. We all start somewhere and groups use language (and jargon) to both show expertise and to make others feel excluded. Identifying that you need a little handholding is a great way to start. Unfortunately, that phrase is often taken (and used) in much less desirable ways.

“I’m Not One of Those Audio Weirdos…Like You”

While this is not always the case, the word “audiophile” is sometimes used as an insult. I have used it as such many times. But I’m an insider. I’ve been in the audio world for longer than many enthusiasts have been alive. If you were to ask an outsider to define an audiophile, that definition would probably look a lot like me.

When outsiders use the term, they just mean it as a general insult to anyone that cares about audio “too much.” And what is too much? More than them! And that’s what is really insulting here. They are lumping people into a stereotype that is only identified as, “Not them.” And then they ask for their help while trying to separate themselves from those “audiophiles?” By lumping audiophiles together and making sure not to identify as one of them, they are attempting to both push those audiophiles away while suggesting that they are somehow better because they aren’t one. But they want our help? Yeah…no.

“I Don’t Care About Audio That Much”

Yes, you do Chad or you wouldn’t be here asking about Atmos speakers.

See, that’s the thing. They think they don’t care about audio, but they are asking about complicated audio systems. So which is it? Do they want surround sound or do they want to continue to use their TV’s speakers? Because people that don’t care about audio? They don’t ask about audio…because they don’t care. These people care. So they need to stop pretending they don’t.

“I Don’t Want Something Complicated”

I hear this all the time. “I’m not an audiophile so I don’t need…” fill in the blank. But when you recommend something more basic (and usually less expensive), they balk. What about HDMI 2.1 and those fancy gaming features? What about voice control? What about HDMI eARC? Suddenly, all those features become deadly important. Why? Because it isn’t about how complicated something is. It is about…

“Don’t Recommend Something Expensive”

This is what people most often think they are saying when they claim they are “not an audiophile.” They are trying to insulate themselves from recommendations that are “too expensive.” And what is too expensive? None of us can know! They have a price in mind, but they don’t want to say what it is because they’re afraid it’s too high. For some inexplicable reason, they think us “audiophiles” can’t help but recommend speakers the size of refrigerators and the price of houses.

This from the people that have no problems spending five figures on a TV.

Just admit that you are an audiophile (as you’d define it, not me) and care about audio enough to try to improve yours. Admit that you have a budget in mind and that you might not know all the jargon. Admit that you might not have reasonable expectations of how much time, money, and effort you will really be willing to commit to your new audio obsession. Admit that, deep down, you are one of those audio weirdos.

Admit it all. And ask your question.

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