Should people who can't solder, build or test their speakers be considered audiophiles?
So, if you bought that Porsche but can only drive it and not fix it do you really understand and appreciate what it is? I say no. The guy who can get in there and make it better, faster or prettier with his own hands has a superior ability to understand the final result and can appreciate what he has from a knowledge base and not just a look at what I bought base. I mean sure you can appreciate that car when you drive it but if all you do is take it back to the dealership for maintenance and repairs you just like the shape with no real understanding of what makes it the mechanical marvel it is.
I find that is true with the audio world too. There are those who spend a ton of money on things and then spend a lot of time seeking peer approval and assurance their purchase was the right one and that people are suitably impressed. Of course those who are most impressed are those who also do not design, build, test or experiment.
I propose that an audiophile must have more than a superficial knowledge about what he listens to and must technically understand what he is listening to. He knows why things work and what his end goal is and often makes his own components to achieve this. He knows how to use design software to make speakers that you can't buy and analyze the room they are in and set up the amplification with digital crossovers and DSP. He can take a plain jane system and tweak it and balance it to best suit the room it is in. He can make it sound far better than the guy who constantly buys new components based on his superficial knowledge who does not understand why what he keeps buying in vain never quite gets there.
A true audiophile can define his goal and with hands on ability achieve what a mere buyer of shiny parts never will. So out comes the Diana Krall music and the buyer says see how good my system is? The audiophile says I have taken a great voice and played it through a system where all was matched and tweaked or even purposely built and sits right down next to Diana as she sings. The buyer wants prestigious signature sound and the audiophile will work to achieve an end result that is faithful true to life audio as though you were in the room with Diana as she sings. The true audiophile wants true to life and not tonally pure according to someones artificial standard.
So are you a buyer or an audiophile and what do you think should make a person an audiophile?