How good must your ear-genes be to call yourself an audiophile?

Dear forum,

because I question my senses, I will refrain from using any brand names in this topic. But I am genuinely wondering if there’s something wrong with me. For the past few years, I have been using cheapish speakers at my desk (UK brand but produced in the land of the sleeping giant for £150 the pair). I have recently upgraded to speakers made in my country for 1500 €. The speakers are nicer to look at, they´re heavier and the build just evokes quality, but I can´t hear a difference between them.

I would worry if I got ripped off if the new ones didn’t sound better. But it´s like I can´t hear a difference at all. Am I audiophile-deaf or something? What should I try to listen for when evaluating speakers?

Listening to the Audio test (HD music) playlist on Spotify on high quality, using the soundcard on the motherboard of my PC and a cheap amplifier. Even though that´s not a state of the art system, I was expecting my new speakers to sound different from the others. For reference, I have no trouble discerning between my headphones.

I mean, what speakers are they? That’s kinda pretty important information lol

This sounds like a massive bottleneck to me, I think it would really be worthwhile grabbing a nicer budget dac and a solid amplifier and see if you still can’t tell the difference. While higher end gear can sound better, it’s also more picky about the source gear, so if you handicap yourself there, you handicap the rest of the system. If you find that you get a noticeable improvement, you could go with higher end electronics, and if still nothing, not too much harm done (if you go with quality budget gear)

What headphones do you have btw? Also what source gear are you using for them? Did you end up getting the heresy and still have your AKG?

Regarding the fact that your using spotify, even though it’s not the highest quality streaming platform, if configured correctly it still should be plenty good enough to tell the difference between the speakers you have

Another question, how long have you had them, and are they positioned properly on your desktop?



Please don’t lol

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I don’t think there is any requirement for how good your ears must be to be considered an audiophile. It’s just a word to describe an audio enthusiast. As long as you are passionate about audio and you enjoy learning about the subject then that’s all that matters imo.

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I agree with @M0N that’s likely an issue.
There are a lot more factors in how speakers sound than headphones, the room and placement can have a huge impact, to the point I wouldn’t buy mid to high prices speakers without being able to try them in the room I intended to use.

But you can usually pick out differences in how frequencies are presented, how fast they are etc.

What amp and what speakers are you comparing.


Pretty much, it can make or break a speaker. Using them nearfield on a desk can sometimes mitigate some of the issues, but it’s not going to avoid the room altogether

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hey M0N…your attitude and experience are actually so good that you do well as a reference point as to how an audiophile should be. you appreciate everything from low to high end, have no hesitation to speak highly of budget equipment, aren’t arrogant / snobbish to those who can’t buy $100K speakers like you can and will do your best to help in whatever way you can.

as much as we joke about this stuff (/me starts a new community chant), these are why you’re so popular and well respected by the community here. I know you have your flaws, like not buying me anything cause I can’t afford it, or use the phrase ‘imo’ waaay to much, but you are of excellent and outstanding character. you also have proven yourself to have an ear and can provide descriptions of how a product works / sounds so that it’s easy to understand and relate to, which is what’s very important. being able to relate to something. really, you’re just so helpful in spades, it’s hard to not love you. kinda like how I’m hated cause I’'m the forum clown. :smiley:

I knew a post like this would follow up mine, cause you’d protest, but it would let me explain why I said it and help the OP get up to speed. :smiley:


The answer to your thread title question really is “just have reasonably healthy human hearing.” From a physiological acquity standpoint, it really is that simple. Once your auditory system hits a minimum threshold of raw physical ability - and that threshold is actually lower than “normal” human hearing but still assumes reasonably good ear health - it then depends on your brain’s ability to recognize and distinguish between sound patterns. That is a learned skill. It’s easier to learn how to do this as a child because the brain forms connections rapidly in our childhood years, but it’s far from impossible to learn how to do this as an adult. With practice and realizing what to listen for, you will begin to notice differences.

That said I agree with @M0N and @Polygonhell that your soundcard and cheap amp front end is probably a contributing factor. I’ll add that you’re listening at a desk, right? It’s also possible that the speakers you bought are not designed for near-field (meaning sitting close to the speaker) listening and are better suited to more “in-room” listening. So yeah, we really need to know what speakers you’re using so we can help you figure that out.

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Also, what’s the placement of your old and new speakers? Maybe you have some room mode that overwhelms everything else so both speakers sound the same.

I’ve had this happen to me. A bad reflection that caused everything to sound nasal and made it hard to differentiate between speakers.

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I would not refrain from using brand names. It is actually encouraged here.

Hello! Many thanks for all the replies. I had another go after dinner and it turns out I was being too considerate a neighbour the past few nights. Once I cranked the volume up a bit the situation resolved itself very quickly. And while reclining on my gaming chair is nice, sitting 2m away from the desk sounds even better with the new speakers (thanks for the suggestion!). With the Wharfedales the sound was in the same plane as my screen. With my new speakers it was like Ozzy Osbourne was floating right in front of me while the band was behind him.

I´m still not going to name the brand. It´s a small company from my home town and I don´t want them to know what an idiot I am.


If your speakers are sitting on the desk with a screen between them, you’re getting a lot of reflection off that screen and likely from the wall behind them. The sound will suffer unless they are designed specifically with this in mind (Wharfdales are not). This is obviously your use case and that’s fine but if you want to hear what speakers are capable of and what they really sound like, pull them out into the room so they’re at least a couple of feet away from the walls and the computer screen. You can just do that temporarily and put them back.

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What if i put a blanket over the moniter.
Would it matter if the speakers are 8ft apart ?

A blanket would help. The thicker, the better. What are the dimensions of your room? Also, what are the upstream electronics (pre amp and amplifier)?

Iregular L shaped about 16x16 which opens to like 20x8. Computer-50in through a AVR. I got a gap in the back of the tv should i push the tv back close to the wall as possible ?

Also, going from 150$ to 1500$ speakers might mean you hear more detail. Which, with motherboard sound and a cheap amplifier, can be a BAD thing.

I feel like everything could sound way fuller just with a 100$ DAC.
Even my 30$ Behringer UCA-202 sounds better than my motherboard.
My headphone amplifier, plugged into a motherboard, just amplified the “thinness” of it.
You can crank the volume up and enjoy, you get loud noise but… all the information isn’t there.

Inexpensive-but-good DAC:

Inexpensive-but-good AMP:

Still, for a bit more I’d go with that amp. Inexpensive-but-great Class A goodness:
(Warning: gets hot.)

If you can push the tv back that would help a lot. The basics are pretty simple: get the speakers away from reflective surfaces as much as you can. If you can have the symmetrically between the side walls, that’s better. You can play around with how far away from them you listen but a general rule of thumb is an equilateral triangle where the speakers are 2 of the points and you are the 3rd.

The above should get you in the ballpark and if you want you can research speaker positioning and tweak further. The best thing about speaker positioning is that it makes a huge difference and it’s free.

A trick regularly used is to find the position and put tape on the floor to mark the speaker locations. That allows you to pull them out into the room when you want and then put them back and out of the way.

If you have the budget, a separate DAC and amplification will give you even more gains. But do the speaker positioning first, it will get you the most benefit.

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If one source is Spotify.
Good option would be a good amplifier that has Spotify / network streaming available.
Then no computer audio output or extra DAC and none-sense would be needed.
If you play music files from PC, no problem. Network streaming works also.

It somehow hurts my soul if ~1500 grade speakers get few 100 dac’s and china amps are behind them… Stay in path of good gear.


Any recievers with good sound quality that can preout to a amp for 2 channel listening?