Joel, I think it started around 1877 when Thomas Edison listened to his latest invention (phonograph) and thought, "I wounder how I can make the recorded version sound more like live?"
don't wanna' quarrel with albert, but i think the first audiophile was noah. he loaded onto the ark not just all of god's creatures, two-by-two, but a pair of very early altec-lansing's. and thus did he beget stereo, tho he had not software to appreciate it; indeed, he was bereft of knowledge as to what software was comprised 'til he touched land just south of what's now san francisco. least that's the way i heard it. -kelly
Why stop with the emergence of the word as if what it signified did not exist before the word's appearance in our language? Everything was silent in the Garden of Paradise until the voice of Eve "appeared," where, in the sound of this voice, like in a mirror, Adam heard the sound of his own voice, and from henceforth, in this first "disc," all of the human voices of the future were successively registered. --Leaping from Biblical to mythical audiophilia (from Jerusalem to Athens): for Ovid, perhaps prolonging a tradition, the first "audiophile" was born the day that Echo appeared to Narcissus, loving him by staying out of sight, so that he encountered only a void without body, a voice condemned always to repeat the last word and nothing else. Such is the fate of the audiophile who thinks he is repeating the performance recorded on the disc when in fact he belongs to the rustling which is not language (logos), but enchantment. And such is the fate of forum participants who touch each other with words, whose contact with each other is made of words, and who can thus repeat themselves without end, marvelling at what they say, because this speech is not a language, but an idiom they share wth each other, and because each writes to himself in the other's writing in a redoubling which goes from mirage to admiration. ...to admiration. ...to admiration.