What is the biggest thing you've learned during your audiophile journey?

WARNING rant ahead…

Mine… I’ll admit, I’ve been sucked into this whole audiophile thing. I consider it a hobby/addiction. I am not a casual listener. I have amassed a large number of headphones, IEMs, dacs, amps and all sorts of HiFi sources.

I’ve gotten sucked into wanting to hear what “better” and “better” gear sounds like and I’ve invested lots of my own money into the hobby. Because I have experience with lots of products, I enjoy sharing my opinions of the gear with others interested in what I have to say.

I’m coming to the conclusion that a lot of this “stuff” really doesn’t matter all that much. I’m talking about soundstage, imaging, detail retrieval, dynamic slam, even tuning.

Just yesterday, someone was discussing the Blon BL03 and how much they appreciated it after hearing an IEM many consider “better”. There really is no such thing as “better” in this hobby, there is only different. Money will not always get you “better”, but it might. It all depends on your personal preferences.

Trying to help individuals with gear recommendations is difficult because we all value different things. We all have different ideas of how the “ideal” gear will make music sound in our head. Self confession - us audiophiles get way too far into the details.

The point I’m trying to make is that as long as the music is getting to your ears through some decent means (which might even be as inexpensive as ear buds that come with your phone), you’re going to be able to hear and enjoy music.

Here’s the best advise I can give anyone concerning IEMs. If you’re on-the-go, if you’re jogging or exercising, You do not need anything more than a 26 dollar Blon BL03 in your ears. Better yet, the convenience of going wireless for-on-the-go far outweighs sound quality when running around. Apple Ear pods would be a fantastic choice.

Anyone wanting to spend more money to get something “more” out of their listening experience should be using IEMs while not on-the-go. It blows my mind to be discussing an expensive IEM rec comparing soundstage and imaging to someone who is wearing foam tips while running around! Anyone wanting to get more from their IEMs should be in a critical listening situation where music is your focus.

Probably my biggest slap to the face/wake up call through this whole audiophile experience has been spending a lot of money on a product, only to compare it to something much less expensive I already own and realize, there isn’t that much of a difference between them. This hobby has serious diminishing returns when it comes to the cost of some gear. It can also be real painful to buy an item in hope you’re going to fall in love with it, only to find out you prefer the sound of your old beat up cheapo IEM.

This is where we get into the territory of things not actually being “better” or “worse” than others but different. That difference that I am trying to describe is also 100% subjective to the individual. This makes making recommendations almost impossible. Add in the fact that honestly, most people really don’t even know what their preferences are and are chasing a dream. A dream that is very well completely different from everyone else out there and ultimately unattainable through any one piece of gear. Don’t even get me started when discussing an IEM around $1000,00 and the individual doesn’t understand what a good tip seal should sound and feel like. ARGH!

In your audiophile chase, you should be trying to define your personal expectations/find what YOU prefer. Understand the difference between what makes bass sound good to you… Do you just want bass to be elevated or do you want it to be detailed, fast and textured? I know many of you don’t understand the difference but think you do. I also get that everyone just wants “the best” but “the best” is subjective for everyone.

Your journey is just that. YOUR journey. We can’t help you if you don’t really know what you even want. Don’t feel bad though. We’re all on that journey too and have made mistakes, but have hopefully learned from them and have become “better” audiophiles for it.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned during your audiophile journey?

Feel free to disagree with me and voice your opinions about anything I’ve siad. I’d love to have a debate about any of this.

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My takeaways that I wish I knew from the start (some I did, but I wish that I took them more to heart):

  • Your enjoyment is all that matters. Peoples’ opinions can and should hold some weight as you learn what you prefer (and don’t), but no one else will 100% hear what you hear and feel what you feel. That, and you don’t have to impress anyone else or change your mind to suit what they say.
  • Cost has absolutely no bearing on how much you can enjoy something. Sure, there is something to be gained with greater investment in terms of fit, finish, materials, etc. but diminishing returns are VERY real and VERY steep, and IMO tuning > all and money doesn’t change that. Everything else is secondary.
  • Get what YOU want out of the hobby, if you even consider this a hobby at all. Some people are OCD about technicalities and performance. Some hold the music above all else. Others just love shiny new toys and advancement in tech. Some people just enjoy variety and the hobby AS a hobby. There is no right answer, save for the one you decide is right for YOU. Don’t lose sleep over this, don’t be afraid to walk away or take a break if need be.
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I bought so much “stuff” from Linsoul in 2020, they contacted me at the end of the year because they wanted to send me a special gift for my business. It was at that point when I asked myself… What the hell am I doing?

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The first step is admitting that you have a problem lol.
I probably would have done the same were I not “fiscally responsible”*

  • responsible in the sense that I still burn waaay more money on this hobby than I should, that is.
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Always read up multiple reviews by multiple people and also if you can, read real customers (maybe not the amazon/aliexpress kind lol) reviews before you decide to buy something.

I have gotten burned so many times and wasted a ton of money because of that…

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So avoid reviewers? :wink:
You should have told me long ago!

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Read as much as possible, from both reviewers and customers (that know what they are talking about) would be ideal.

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This. There is a lot to be gleaned from the experience of others, and part of the journey is learning to read between the lines and figure out who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t. Also, who has similar tastes and preferences to you (one man’s basshead is another’s lean and cold or neutral).

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Reading real customer reviews can also let you know if the reviewers are just shilling…

Like on the Periodic Audio BE lol. Tons of shills for that one. :joy:

I do and I think that’s what gets me in trouble. I get interested in something by reading all about it and then I get fixated on it and have to have it. Right now I’m pondering the KBear BElieve since I’m a big believer in beryllium drivers. But do I really need another IEM?

I actually don’t feel I’ve ever been burnt. I really enjoy all the stuff I have. I’ve never bought anything and hated it. I have bought stuff with big expectations and said… I’m not hearing an improvement worthy of my investment. Again… “different” but not necessarily “better”.

ok, let me fix it.

Read as much as possible on stuff you are actually interested in and not the other way lol, from both reviewers and customers

biggest thing? I’ll never be able to afford what I really want.

that’s tongue in cheek and sorta kidding. in reality, I’ve learned how much I enjoy listening to music…not criticizing the music or finding faults with the equipment.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. when I’m listening to something, in that very moment, it is my endgame. I’m listening / enjoying my music, not wishing I had something better. I only wish I had someting better when I’m not listening to music and reading others posts on HFG who just got the stuff I’d love to have. :smiley:

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That’s kinda my point though. Just today, I changed the pads on my Bose noise cancelling headphones and threw them on while laying on the bed. They sounded great and they don’t cost a fortune. Yeah, they might not have the best tuning/soundstage/imaging/sound isolation whatever… who cares… it doesn’t matter… I was able to listen to audio through them and they sound fine. The sound isolation is fantastic. I wouldn’t rec them to anyone though as being the best of anything.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get music/audio into your ears. All this audiophile stuff we pay serious cash for is such a small piece of the pie when you really think about it.

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At some point it’s like water. If it’s not disgusting or dirty, it’s fucking water. Yeah, you can pay out for bottled water, or fancy shit. But it’s fucking water. WATER.

Total props to audiophiles who want to chase the fairies into perfection. But I just want to hear the music I love in the way I prefer. I don’t care about perfect graphs, or spending a bunch, or whatever.

Like recently I was in a thread talking about DIY foam speakers and people started hammering away at cabinet materials… my speakers sound fantastic, and I loved creating them. They’re fun, the creation of them were fun, the music sounds great. Period.

My modded T50RPs have sibilant treble and BLOATED bass. And they always make me cry. Love them.

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well…see, I have demo’d high end equipment and I know how good it sounds. when I was listening to the Dark Night Rises theme on the Stellia via the ifi Pro iDSD, I was literally at the point of tears and euphoria. it literally sounded like I was in the middle of the orchestra and they were playing just for me.

so I have sampled the drug and while not exactly addicted, I am in want… :wink:

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All great points. I need to read this every time I’m thinking about increasing my collection. I already have the “fancy” shit. lol

I guess learning to be somewhat content is important if you don’t have tons of disposable income.
At the end this headphone stuffs could be compared to cars.
Sure, you might never get a Bugatti Centodieci, but that BMW drives damn nice and get’s you to your destination fast. The destination is the enjoyment of your music in this case.

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I disagree with the water illustration. water is more like the quality of music you listen to as water quickly tops out in quality. headphones / speakers are more like jewel stones or optics where they get better and better and better, and while the jumps in quality start to slow down, the prices go up exponentially for the quality increase.

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This proves it, it all boils down to preference. The technicalities of the gear might even suck and people may still love them or even prefer them to “better” more expensive gear. “better” doesn’t exist in a subjective category.

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yup…so resist the temptation to demo high end hardware cause if you have self control, you will live in torment…and if you don’t have self control, you’ll always be poor. :wink:

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