Who is an audiophile and what is this game about?

Audiophilia is a process of recording and later reproducing sound to the original in an as faithful way as possible. To achieve a good recording of a sound, usually music, there is a need of extremely precise equipment as well as very skillful technical work in recording and mixing. The next stage is obviously the reproduction – how good is the equipment used for playing the recording.

We will talk about recordings in the future, but right now let's take a peek at the most used reproduction systems that use speakers.

Mini stereos are compact systems, usually small and with a pretty limited performance regarding power and playback possibilities (frequency range, noise, distortion, …). OK for background listening, but nothing more.
Budget range: 200 EUR-500 EUR (per system)*.

Components-based Hi-Fi is a stereo, as the name explains, composed of various, completely autonomous, components. In this way you can assemble a stereo with components, like an amplifier, a tuner, a CD player, an equalizer, etc., of your choice. You can reach a much higher sound quality compared to compact systems, but still, depending on the quality of the selected components. The usual width standard of these devices is 42 cm, so it can look neat whatever assembling combination you choose.
Budget range: 100 EUR-700 EUR (per single component)*.

You might reach even higher with advanced components-based Hi-Fi. These components don't really match a certain visual and dimensional standard, so the aesthetic impact may be quite „colorful“. These are also components with a high performance level and with this kind of system you are already reaching into the area that we call audiophile quality.
Budget range: 400 EUR-3,000 EUR (per single component)*.

Hi-end Hi-Fi is the ultimate sound system, suitable for the ones who have very trained ears. These components are very precise, well balanced and linear. The listening experience is on the highest level, but also the highest cost of such a system.
Budget range: 25,000 EUR-1,000,000 EUR (per system)*.

You may enjoy the music on the road with a car stereo, with its basic models that may start with , like mentioned above, a mini stereo sound quality – suitable for listening to news and background low volume music.

A car stereo has some handicaps compared to the room listening:

  • a very limited space,
  • speakers can't be positioned at the height of the ear,
  • a bad channel separation because of a small space (low stereo effect),
  • the engine and outside noises,
  • the listener is not positioned in the center.

If you can afford it, you can reach for an advanced car stereo with better and additional components. Usually, this system must be set up by a professional since it requires a considerable intervention into the car's interior.

While on the go, there is a way of taking music with you with headphone-based reproduction devices. Most common are digital portable players (also known as MP3-players, although they can play other formats, too), chronologically precceeded by portable CD-players and portable cassette players. With a few exceptions, these players have a very limited playback quality since the main concern is on their physical size and battery life.

With the exception of some rare cases, for the reasons mentioned above, we cannot talk about an audiophile quality within a car and a portable stereo for either system.

Another way of room listening is by headphones, but we will cover that field in one of the next articles.

And who is an audiophile? Bad rumours say that it is someone who has two music CDs and all of the others are test CDs. No, seriously: it is someone who enjoys listening to music with good sound on an above-average reproduction equipment.

* Note that this budget range is only an approximation, just to give you an idea of how that system may impact your wallet. Don't take it as an absolute reference.

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