Am I an Audiophile?

This may seem like a subject meant only for mental calisthenics and one which has probably been addressed many times but here goes.

A couple of weeks ago a guy referred to my system as not being of audiophile quality. This didn't bother me partly because I never presumed to call myself an audiophile and, after I thought about it, I am not sure what it means anyway.

I looked up the definition and the main reference was to using "high end" equipment to accomplish high quality sound reproduction. High end, I suppose, refers to the monetary investment that one is willing/able to make putting a system together. This "wow, you spent that much? It must sound great" approach to hi fi can't be valid even though, if you know what you're doing, having a relatively unrestricted budget has to help a lot. Another judgement is that if one doesn't incorporate vacuum tubes to play vinyl recordings one can't call themselves an audiophile.

I have what would most likely be considered by most as mid fi at best. It doesn't in any way, though, restrict my enjoyment and appreciation of well recorded music. Nor does it qualify me as any kind of expert as regards the choices I've made to get to this level.

If appreciation of quality sound reproduction is the primary qualification for audiophile classification then I suppose I would qualify. In that case, one could be called one even if they owned no sound equipment themselves I suppose.

I have devoted a great deal of time and effort through the years on Hi Fi usually on a fairly tight budget. I built my first Heathkit monaural amplifier when I was 15 years old. That was over 55 years ago. For that first setup I also built a "sweet sixteen" speaker enclosure consisting of 16 modified 4" drivers that I read about in Popular Electronics. I also used my parent's attic as an infinite baffle using a cheap 12" driver.

I have put together many systems since the advent of stereo with an emphasis on panels (ribbons and ESL's) with Japanese and British amps. Currently, my system is: Shanling s-100 solid state CD player, CAL tube DAC, Rogue Audio Sphinx integrated hybrid amplifier and ML Odyssey speakers which I've owned for 14 or 15 years. Although there are some changes that I could make, to me, it sounds great and I think that is all I need to make me happy. BTW, someone should write a treatise based on Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck if....." You might be an audiophile if you spent more on your stereo than on your car (or house), etc, etc.

Anyway, I kind of look at this the same as defining someone as an intellectual in that the term doesn't necessarily imply exceptional intelligence but the devotion to studying and thinking about things in a more than passing way.

So, although I would not presume to refer to myself as an audiophile, I've at least applied my best efforts toward that imaginary goal.
Audiophile is anyone who like good/better sounding music via a device/devices he/she owns.
Period. No price tags, no high end crap needed.
The problem with the 'audiophile' tag is it is used by a few people to 'define' some more stratified group, or to denegrate some group, or cast aspersions on them.
The negativeconnotations of 'audiophile' are well known. the attept to make the group 'audiophile' inot some crazy big spenders also sucks.
So IMO audiophile is anyone who likes music, and likes to play it back with something better than MP3 via an Ipod.

I own an expensive system. I would still consider myself an audiophile if all i had was a CD changer and some better computer speakers.. (which I have used, and for the price sounds pretty good.)
Perhaps this thread would provide an answer your question :-)

You Know You're an Audiophile if

Dictionary says - An audiophile is a person enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction.

Would that be regardless of equipment cost?

I regard myself as an "Audio Enthusiast" simply because there is a limit to the lengths I will go in the pursuit of hi-fidelity music.

Does an Audiophile have such a limit - perhaps that is the distinction?
I don't know where you got that definition of "audiophile" but I think it is incorrect. Williewonka's seems more appropriate. Saying that, I am still not sure you are an audiophile despite your life long involvement of messing with HiFi. Perhaps you are just intrigued by the ins and outs of creating HiFi by building your own stuff. Most would say though that you must be an audiophile to go through all that creative effort. It's not tied to money spent, but what is your inner reason for doing these things. Because you truly care about recreating music and the sound of instruments as close as possible to the real thing? I think that is what an audiophile is. Different from a music lover, a "gear head", or an electronics tinkerer.
I re-read your system and it certainly IS of audiophile quality. Sorry, but whoever said that is showing a bit of audiophile snobbery.
It's like saying you're a christian, or a muslim, or an athiest, or a darwinist, or anything else. If you believe in something, you can describe yourself as someone who believes in something. Sure, there will always be jackasses who may want to exclude you from "their" club because you're not exactly like them -- but who cares. As someone wiser than I once said, those who matter don't mind, and those that mind don't matter.
Hifiharv, I almost responded to your initial post. I did agree with some points, Tho, I appreciate your follow-up more.
Broadstone, good for you at the age of fifteen to build such a system that I would certainly enjoy now!!!
Broadstone - Maybe there should be a grading system...

Green belt - good components, but still using stock power cords
Brown belt - good components, good power, speaker and interconnects
Blue belt - more than one system of high quality
Black belt - more than one turn table per system

Then you could get into the "Dan" ratings :-)

Maybe you are not an audiophile if you don't have an analogue stage?

Think I'll stick with the dictionary definition.

Next time someone casts doubt on the "level" of you obsession - simply ask them what constitutes an audiophile in their mind. Then ask them to update Wikipedia.

The same thing happens with any high priced toys - photography springs to mind, cars is another.

I wouldn't let it bother me - I like music to sound as real as my pocket book allows and according to wife and friends I have a sickness that they do not understand.

The fact you are posting on this forum makes you one at some level!

You have not settled for mediocre electronics and have taken the time to learn what it takes to make music sound better to a degree that escapes most other motals comprehension.

Welcome to the club :-)
There's been a funny post about audiophile qualifications:

1. $30...100k rig to play few vinyls and/or few cds with excellent recordings
2. 15...20% of above price invested into cables, another 10..15% invested into tweaks.
3. Each of vinyl or CD will have a different recorded version or few/several
4. System upgrades go with frequency of Windows updates.
I've always resented being 'defined' as an audiophile. I would think my interest is more than something so narrowly defined. I love music and as it relates to me is as individual as anything else about me. If it wasn't for the music, I wouldn't care about the gear. Or even own it. But now that I do, the gear is of paramount importance. What were Bach, Mozart, and the rest? They certainly cared about the quality of the performance. What were those that attended?
You like audio and spend time thinking about sound quality. So you're an audiophile.

" Another judgement is that if one doesn't incorporate vacuum tubes to play vinyl recordings one can't call themselves an audiophile. "

Well, you can but certain key, valued audiophile privileges get withheld, such as the right to look down upon transistors and anything with the word "digital" in it.
Thanks for all of your input. I kind of suspected, though,that responses from people whose main interest is in listening instead of labels, would have the opinions expressed here.

My question was based in curiosity following the discussion that I referred to in my first post as well as one that I had with my dealer and HiFi advisor several months ago.

I've received very much help with issues that I've posted about in the last several weeks and I'm particularly impressed with how generous with their time and knowledge Audiogon participants are. Mine is a sort of parasitic relationship, though, because I have so little knowledge to give in return.

Anyway, it strikes me that this demonstrated spirit of cooperation and sharing is part of what defines anyone who is dedicated to their area of interest. It's because of this relationship that my knowledge has been enhanced at least to the extent that my familiarity with some of the terms has improved, and I can carry on a somewhat informed conversation with those helping me with some of my issues; it's provided quite a shortcut in my learning curve.
The rich and the jealous will always find an excuse or context in which to separate themselves from others.

As you've come to realize, enjoying music the way you do can have many names, many labels, but in the end, it doesn't matter what you or others call it, unless having a reference or sorts helps.

There are times when I consider myself an audiophile and times when I don't, depending on the context, my state of mind, the alignment of the universe.

All the best,
The very word 'audiophile' is suggestive of apparatus. I love the gear, but only as much as it is able to represent what it's made for,...the music. Therein lies that very fine line which separates those who care more about the gear vs. those who care more about the music. When it comes to music, caring more about the gear seems too shallow a position to aspire to. However, I'm ready to change it if and when it's found to be lacking. I suppose in the end it's irrelevant which you care more about as it relates to the formal definition. An audiophile can't have one without the other.
If you dream about equipment, Vinyl and/or Digital music purchases you are there regardless of what you own. It is a slippery slop. WELCOME
why is a term so important ?

whether one is or is not an audiophile has no relevance to the enjoyment of music, which should be of primary importance.

if one is "hung up" by the term and is concerned whether it is applicable to him/her, it seems to me to be indicative of insecurity.

terms used by so-called audiophiles are unimportant. what is important is enjoying ;istening to your stereo system.
It isn't. It's about non audiophiles getting the wrong impression; that I'm hung up on the equipment when I'm not. The first system with separate components I have experience with is a mediocre all Yamaha set-up back in '71 by my then brother-in-law that I remember saying was the best sound I've ever heard. It was with an NS series pair of speakers, the catalyst that introduced me. Okay, I see where this is going. I'm not in love!!, I'm not. Seriously:)
Taking a page from the biker community where, regardless of what you ride, you’re a biker if and only if you put miles on your bike and it’s your primary transportation; I’d like to submit that you’re an audiophile if reproduced music is a significant part of your life and you listen attentively.

Also, you must have purchased at least on insane audio related product that you would be ashamed to admit to anyone else but one of us. And if you’re ashamed to admit it, even to us, then you’re an audiophile of a higher degree.
Phaelon, I actually did purchase one (1) OVERLY expensive item (nameless) which I cannot use until I put my turntable together, which I cannot use until I move to larger digs. I do fully agree with your Biker reference! Tho, some "bikers" will not talk to another unless they ride their particular brand. "What's the difference between a Harley and a Hoover"??? Answer: The position of the dirt bag. HA
No. I have not done that. However, there are things I've done that I'm ashamed to admit to even you guys,(I have destroyed equipment). But even though, that was in the early days. Many moons have passed. See, I'm still not over it. It's all still in the closet, haunting me.
""What's the difference between a Harley and a Hoover"???..."

Isochronisn - LOL, Never heard that one before; awesome!

"... I'm ashamed to admit to even you guys,(I have destroyed equipment).”

Csontos - Thanks a load for reminding me - I can already feel the twitch coming back :-)
Who's ever learned anything the easy way.