There are times when I either don't really have anything to do, or conversely, don't really want to do anything. In those times of inaction I sometimes listen to music, sometimes fool around on the Internet, or sometimes just sit and do nothing. While such events do not occur often, they do occur occasionally. On one such occurrence, for fun, I did an Internet search for the word "audiophile." Of course, the most frequent result was basically a definition.
I decided to refine my search and subsequently entered "how to be an audiophile." I spent the next couple of hours reading some interesting articles and comments on what our hobby means to both informed and uninformed writers.
Listed first was an article all about being an audiophile on the cheap. Despite my skepticism about whatever this piece was going to claim, I was curious enough to read it. When I read that a separate amp and preamp gains nothing - that only a receiver was necessary my warning light went red. I reminded myself this was about being and audiophile "on the cheap." But when I got to the part about speaker cables from Home Depot being just fine, and that most "fancy" cables were a waste of money, I stopped reading. I realize there are those who completely support both of these positions but I'm not one of them and immediately decided this particular article was not for me.
Then I saw another article titled "Discover A Hobby: Audiophile" that I found interesting. It was a basic guide for someone not familiar with the hobby about being an audiophile. It covered things like the difference between MP3s and CDs, high-end equipment, listening practices, and other functions audiophiles employ and understand. For someone interested in learning the basics about the practice of finely reproduced recorded music, this article was a pretty good start.
Skimming through several articles about being an audiophile enabled me to read a fair number of comments. Let's face it, most of us enjoy reading comments on web sites, particularly if they are by or about someone else! Here, I found a lot of interesting things people had to say. A lot of people claimed they were not audiophiles but still loved music. They wrote that they certainly didn't need an expensive system to enjoy music and an MP3 player was just fine by them. With that position, I was curious what they were doing on an audiophile web site to begin with. But that's probably better left for another day.
Others commenters, not surprisingly, had a positive endorsement of our obsession and detailed why they were audiophiles, when they became audiophiles, and what it meant to them. Quite a few gave detailed descriptions their systems, what they liked about them, and sometimes how they wanted to improve their current sonics. These comments were enjoyable to read. They gave me hope that our hobby will live to fight another day.
Being identified as an audiophile is sometimes confusing. If you tell someone to bring you a pair of pliers and you are not specific, you may be brought any number of different tools - all of which may technically be pliers, but none of which were the tool you wanted. Saying "I'm an audiophile" has just as many varied meanings. Defining the audiophile hobby can be based on a whole host of different parameters - not the least of which would be how people view an audio system based on varying price and performance levels.
In the end, as the cliche goes, "it's all about the music," and as long as that part of the equation is satisfied, I suppose the level of enjoyment is the ultimate barometer of how any one individual defines the audiophile hobby. Whether or not you have an inexpensive system or one valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, how someone sees the audiophile hobby is a matter of personal opinion. Thankfully Home Depot cables are optional.