Adventures In Audio

Do audiophiles listen on laptop and phone speakers?

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Brent LeVasseur:  I listen frequently on my iPad Pro speakers. When I want audio fidelity on my iPad, I switch from speakers to either a pair of 64Audio U12T IEMs with a THX Onyx dongle DAC, or my Hifiman Ananda BT open back planar magnetic blue tooth headphones, although the blue tooth codec and Youtube compression is the weak link here.

Tom:  What amuses me is when people demand a music sample from a loudspeaker reviewer on YT. (There is actually a channel that specialises in this, but at least they use the same recording equipment and conditions for each recording, so you can get a comparison between speakers etc.)

Audio Masterclass replies to Tom: Clearly this is going to be far, far from ideal but as long as the conditions are clear and consistent, I'd say that some tiny scrap of knowledge is better than none at all. It's probably the only way I'll ever hear a Voigt horn. DM

galiuro:  Great content, here. I subscribed last week. To answer the question I'll elaborate some. I don't listen to music on phones (I don't own a laptop.). In fact when friends insist on playing a video on their phone for me to watch/listen to, I quickly say, "Please don't make me listen to you phone. Send me a link or something and I'll listen on my system when I get home." When they ask me why I tell them it's because of the very low fidelity of the sound and I wouldn't be able to render an opinion on the music. I don't consider myself an audiophile but my stereo system isn't bad. Basically, it's a Denon receiver combined with Klipsch speakers. The computer is connected via an optical cable so all sounds from it will go through the receiver. This works for me.

Fabrizio Di Domenico:  I'm a "low budget" audiophile, watching and listening your amazing contents in a desktop setup, through a TPA3116 class D amp and a Mission pair of speakers. Well:
1) the wandering clarinet is obvious to hear but, unfortunately, today music is volountarily produced with wandering instruments; I heard orrific versions of rock classics with guitars, basses and drums flying from left to right, up and down. Headache after 30 seconds. But it seems to be the new "5D audio". Bah. People nowadays are educated to hear the opposite of the real sound.
2) Anyway, don't we forget that in the 60's and early 70's, many stereo recording were made with half the instruments totally on the left and the other half totally on the right 🙂. Today is anyway better!
3) I'm an audiophile because I can tell you that Debbie definitely needs a "de-esser". Her "esses" are freakingly pearcing!

Congratulations for your channel; I discovered it recently and i think it's an absolute gem. Kudos!

Hi from Rome, Italy

Audio Masterclass replies to Fabrizio Di Domenico: Thank you for your comment. One of my secret pleasures is the Decca Phase 4 label where the stereo is so extreme that the band or orchestra was split into two studios to get 100% separation. DM

David Perkins:  Check the early 'stereo' recording of the Fantasia (1940) soundtrack sometime!

Audio Masterclass replies to David Perkins: Fantasound, particularly in its advanced versions, is stereo in a different sense than we commonly use today. Stereo doesn't have to be two speakers, it can be any number, other than one, to provide spaciousness and directionality. DM

Charlie - UK:  For 'Audiophile', read audio snob. I constantly find myself utterly amazed by the, propensity of so called audiophiles to drop thousands of Pounds on, so called high end domestic audio equipment. I find the whole domestic audio scene frankly depressing and low quality these days. So much so, I find I have to resort to buying, Professional equipment to get the level of manual control & quality I desire. I like excellent quality audio, but frankly, Audiophiles make me want to reach for the vomit bag...

Grzegorz C.:  I evolved in my listening to vintage amplifiers of the 70s ;) I guess my love for music is all about emotions and not about the clearest sound which I cannot determin anyway. Its good to have a nice watchable equipment too - I cannot deny it.

Stevie Vaughan:  I think it's a cross between appreciation and education, I can remember hearing a stereo fm broadcast on headphones for the first time and immediately I was captivated, then my dad got a pioneer pl12d an amp and some warfdale speakers and I was just hooked to the clarity of the music, as I got older I learnt about music recording and broadcasting. When I got married my wife wasn't bothered at all about the quality of music she still complains about the speakers in the lounge but occasionally she will comment when she hears a quality recording so over the years she has learnt to discern what good sounds like but can put up with poor quality, whereas I want to improve every track I listen to...

I'm amazed that some jazz recorded in the 50's sounds so much better than stuff recorded in 2000's e.g. I'm hoping one day we'll get some remixed Amy Winehouse albums...

My point then is that without education you wouldn't realise that an instrument really shouldn't be wandering around in the stereo field...

Audio Masterclass replies to Stevie Vaughan: Judging from the very many comments I think we are in a minority regarding wandering instruments. If it's electronic music then that's fine. But for music written 200 years ago, personally I see this as a fault in this recording of some very fine clarinet playing. DM

dananskidolf:  It's an interesting one for me as it highlighted how much of the stereo image I lose in my 'sofa' listening position. I have to compromise due to space constraints so I don't have a lounge, office, dining room, listening room... just a multi-purpose room for all of this. So for the sofa area, the speakers are effectively toed in, so the right speaker is pointed more at the left ear and vice versa, which helps overall L/R volume matching across the whole sofa, but reduces the channel distinction as both channels hit both ears. The clarinet movement is pretty obvious when I'm at the desk, where the stereo image is artificially wide from the same setup. I prefer the soloist centred I think, but it's not a big deal.

Lotus cola:  I think you did mention headphones on the video.

Nic c:  I have a pair of sony MDR EX700 I use plugged into my phone or other portable device that are close to my beyer studio headphones. I recently had a flight on a pretty modern air france boeing 777 with a pretty wide (almost seat wide) screen in economy, and the sound quality was remarkable. No whine from the generators, a lot of volume, and i had my bose noise cancellers over the top of the earbuds (weird I know). While I'm untangling the cable to start listening I occasionally see a smirk from a wireless earbud user, but I know that bluetooth has already degraded their experience.

Audio Masterclass replies to Nic c: Noise cancellation headphones over earbuds? Someone had to be first to do it. DM

1974UTuber:  What I dont understand about audiphiles is their complete disregard of actual science.
If you put a microphone in front of their $10K speakers and someone elses $250 speakers and they both reproduce the same tones at the same levels. Then how is this not enough for them to understand they have been duped?
What is this magical mystical aether that their speakers reproduce that cant be picked up by a microphone during testing. And if it cant ve recorded, then how did it get onto the recordings audiophiles play back through their million dollar sound systems?

meshach turpin:  I think an audiophile is a person who tries to recreate the most uncolored sound they can. As for expense, I can try to compare it to motor vehicles. It's a dream to own a McLarren, for most of us the closest we will get is the poster on the wall... But this leads to D.I.Y. So over many years of D.I.Y. an all-conquering V8, 4x4, Fiesta Turbo is created. It may not be a McLarren but it can do everything to the same or better degree. I believe that many years ago, the first audiophiles were the people who could not afford to buy expensive equipment or go to see an orchestra or live performance but had a recording on vinyl with the intention to recreate the best sound possible at home. Is this not where most of the brand today came from, the shed or under the stairs? lol. All of what I've said is purely opinion, I know for certain I must be wrong but I thought rather than google everything I would just speak my mind.
Take care, your channel is very good indeed!
(Also, I heard it !!! and agree, it should be centered)

kaio oliveira carvalho:  I'm loving your channel, by the way, just recently discovered it, and I am subscribed now. : )

My personal answers here (just my point of view):

1 - "Can only rich people become audiophiles?"
I would say no. The goal for me is to get the best audio one can. Just because you didn't go all the way up there in quality it doesn't mean you should not be bothered at all and go for the dirtiest two dollar setup you can find. There are many audio devices that can give quite a good performance at a reasonable price (yes, I know some expensive machine can be even better, but it'll still be good).

Not to mention that there are lots of snake oils out there, like 2000 dollars speaker tower feet, so the extra money will not necessarily be translated to better audio if not used wisely.
And you also need to use your equipment properly. Merely moving your speakers around in your living room costs nothing and can make a great deal of a difference.
But in short, yeah, there might be a rich fellow with a better setup than you, but yours could still be good.

2 - "What do you need to experience an audiophile quality experience on the move?"
Headphones. With headphones, the acoustics of the environment around you will not really matter. Your current location will not change the sonority of the headphones, only their own shape. I'd say that's the basic. Then a phone, and add a small DAC/AMP if you can. Pretty convenient and portable.

As for surrounding noise, I don't know. I just take the defeat. Streets are noisy, and you'll never listen to music that well. And I don't really want to block external noise, as I like to be aware of my surroundings.

3 - "Can laptop or phone speakers ever be considered audiophile?"
If someone makes one that sounds really good, I'd say yes. And I think they are overall getting better. But yes, sure, proper speakers will always beat them, and you can always just plug good headphones to a phone, so to me it is not an issue. My phone is perfectly fine to just play loud and echoey in my bathroom as I shower.

Challenge Club:  In the future phones and laptops will have much better sound reproduction capabilities. So this is only a temporary problem. In the future the problem will be everyone will profess to being an audiophile! They might still not pass the test on the other video. However when it comes to full range 20Hz to 20kHz plus undetectable distortion, Phone and Laptop speakers are expected to offer that soon enough. Some interesting stuff being developed... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpGDrAULZ5U

Audio Masterclass replies to Challenge Club: I think that the quantity of sound that modern laptops and phones can produce is amazing, considering their size. While the quality may leave something to be desired, once again for the size of these gadgets it is surprisingly good. DM

andrew walker:  An iPhone sounds pretty good. Surprisingly I hear quite a bit of detail through my iPhone. The only thing is there’s no bass. I listen through my iPhone when I’m getting ready for bed. Sometimes while I’m in bed.

andrew walker:  I watched it and heard the problem. It was very good.

z1522:  With headphones to a USB connected Yamaha THR combo amp, it is obvious enough, but not objectionable. Moderately decent stereo equipment should have no issues reproducing this sort of thing, but I think about blind comparisons like different MP3 resolution files, where a better one resolves spatial separation, instrument identities, and loud cymbals without crumbling harshness. I have zero use for ethereal gibberish beyond actual tonal descriptors which can be demonstrated. The audio subjectivity that sells $$$ products depends on convincing a buyer that the merest hint of apparent difference, is always better, and not on which of the choices is measurably superior.

Canon Wright:  DAC. My question is, does the DAC really matter that much? I know it doesn't matter to me, but is the DAC in my computer really that bad? It (the DAC) interprets a bunch of ones and zeros, right? So I don't really understand why audiophiles keep stressing out about it. But I'm not an audiophile, so I respect their ears and what they're telling me they hear. It's just that if something is really bothering them couldn't they correct it in software or with better speakers? Anyway, that's it, so thanks for listening and i wish you a wonderful day. =].

tom g:  Is there REALLY detectable degradation at 48khz 320kbps in aac or even mp3 encoding? i know in theory the waves are compromised, but if you take a pure raw dat or wav or flac and line it up with a copy of itself at 320kbps inverted, and play the two tracks together, id there really truly any difference at 320 or even at v0 vbr?

Matt D replies to tom g: The problem for me with 320kbps mp3 is that it is a solution looking for a problem. There are newer and better lossy formats that sound great with dramatically lower bitrates and if size isn't an issue then why not store with lossless.

Antspace:  Seeing the presenter next to the ai was very creepy. I started wondering if actuallly he was the ai >_<

Brad Walker:  As a "videophile", I find your image jumping closer and farther on cuts, while the background stays the same, to be objectionable. ;-)

Audio Masterclass replies to Brad Walker: I doubt it's going to change. DM

「プラン」WarDimension:  You mentioned in the video that some people (myself included) probably watch the video out of curiosity... So I guess they will just tried it anyway regardless of their equipment... Although I think listening with laptop or phone speaker, especially in mono, is just not a good idea... But the cheap headphone/headset one (myself included) is understandable imo, because there's literally nothing they can do about it... It's just the limit of the best equipment they have at the moment, and they just want to fulfilled their curiosity...

Nate D.:  Well, that was $1000 well spent. Now I can listen to your rants in perfect audiophile fashion. All thanks to that cable!

Audio Masterclass replies to Nate D.: And I do this all without receiving commission. DM

Joe Star:  It is sad that Audio becomes a religion for some. anyways thank you for one more great video

Paul Duggan:  Last summer I spent 13k on a new hifi system for my living room. I was pleased as punch 🎉. That was then but this is now. Well I’m now pleased as punch to report that I’ve since downgraded my pleasure from last summers “pleased as punch” to a mere “pleased and highly appreciative” which is gratifyingly more acceptable than last summers prediction that next summer (this summer) would, all being well, see me downgrade my pleasure from “pleased as punch” to “pleased”. So my ongoing appreciation of my system comes as good news indeed. That I would be “pleased” this summer was always a shoe in providing no unforeseen act of force majeure was to befall me simply due to an ongoing passion and appetite for music and all the magic it brings to an uncertain and chaotic planet. My unexpected bonus of “appreciative” is most welcome as this is my only assured evidence that my system today sounds even better due to the fact that all those inter connects, psu’s and speakers are inevitably well run in; not to mention the amp, moving coil cartridge, turntable, streamer, high end multi sockets, gain stage and cheap but adequate blu-Rey player to boot. Even to the point of dishing out for those extra special fuses for the multi sockets that would make any reasonable person ask “how much? For a fuse!!!”.

I realise that some might be confused as to why it takes this bonus of a continued appreciation to lead me to these conclusions based purely on the known quality of my purchase and that they may well ask why I just can’t hear the heavenly tear inducing sonic orgy of last summer just a single summer hence. Allow me to explain.

Contrary to what the aforementioned eye watering fiscal amount was that I happily waved goodbye to last year in exchange for said hardware I am not an audiophile. Yes you did read that correctly I am NOT and DO NOT identify as an audiophile. So what exactly does not being an audiophile mean and how can I justify my outgoings of last years big purchase? Not being an audiophile simply means that I am a realist and this enables me to know now as I did last summer when I was asked to enter my PIN number to facilitate my buying of such beautiful equipment, that it is akin to eating too much apple pie, taking excessive amounts of meth amphetamine, over indulging in lemon bonbons or refusing to place anything but my favourite guitar album, “Layla and other Assorted Love Songs”, on my expensive turntable. While I myself do not partake in all the indulgences hitherto listed, they do serve as appropriately accurate examples of a particular phenomena exhibited by hifi. I will just add that “Layla” is indeed not just my favourite guitar record but that my favoured copy of choice is my Mobile Fidelity near mint copy which many would agree to be of an “exceptionally high audiophile quality”. Many but not all, I know this to be true as I for one do not agree with any such notion of this mind blowing pressings perceived status as “audiophile quality”. I can’t agree because my belief is that such a ludicrous term is not just fanciful but conceptually impossible. You see I know that any record stated as being of “audiophile” quality is just a sales technique to justify high price and pander to the egos of a particular type of customer for whom such a pressing is so obviously right in their wheelhouse. All I know of wheelhouses is that they, like audiophiles, are real as opposed to the deluded assertion that a single inanimate object can in itself be branded as possessing “audiophile qualities”. I won’t waste further time by listing the myriad of dependencies and conditions that such a claim would require to negate such falsehood. I must however enlighten you as to whom that particular type of customer is, he is by definition of behaviour and self claim an audiophile and very proud he is too.

Nearly there! Let me just answer three simple questions to relieve your enquiring minds and enable me to take my leave in pursuit of my musical obsessions:

1 - So if I’m not an audiophile then what am I?
A: I am a passionate and obsessed music lover blessed with great hearing who harbours a preference to experience my passion in the highest fidelity afforded to me by the limits imposed by a combination of atmospherics, media quality, hardware quality, environmental acoustic compromise, bank balance and the fact that my 61 year old ears will have for some years now been subject to a subtle degradation through times passage. I am therefore quite simply a realist. I am not Spartacus, not an audiophile but a realist harmonising with those inevitabilities born of the human condition whether welcomed or not.

2 - What commonalities are in that list of bonbons, addictive substances etc that gave me the foresight to know that a short time following delivery, installation and over indulgence in audio that I would reach an optimal point beyond which my aural orgasms would somewhat fade despite the abilities of my hardware to doggedly deliver such quality?
A: Tolerance. Those same tolerances that blight us in all areas of life that steadily grow with the regretful non reversibility of an advanced cancer. Such tolerances are responsible for loss of passion that if not treated with maturity, open mindedness, open hearted honesty and thus far acquired wisdom could result in the ruination of a once cherished relationship. Such tolerances can so easily lead to ever increasing slavery to hedonistic activities that we mean to quit or even, heaven forbid, to final abstinence from the lemon bonbons we never meant to quit. Being a realist of course I know that occasional abstinence for a few days can bring an all too brief but nonetheless welcoming remission from audio normalisation. We seek the exceptional to make it our standard but with such gain comes a sacrifice of such paradoxical loss.

3 - So what logic led me to pony up the dough despite all of this?
A: My passion to continually seek and experience both new and well trodden musical journeys with an assurance of “as good as it can be” that comes with the highest price tag that one’s fortune may afford.

Piper Mitchell:  I think there is some confusion bewteen "audiophile" and people to like to listen to music.

Gerald McMullon:  Getting portable (battery powered) audiophile speakers is not too difficult. The B&O Beosound Levels give that performance. They are not cheap at over £1200 each and some of that cost is style. They do work over Airplay 2 for synchronisation(lossless but compressed) but not over DLNA/uPnP (lossless and not compressed) due to the 2 seconds lag.

Some Bluetooth speakers deploy the low latency codec but it is still lossy, compressed and not audiophile grade performance. Use the analogue 3.5mm input instead or wired headphones.

Gerald McMullon:  I listen to YouTube and any music or video from my computer speakers. My computer speakers are floor standing 20-20KHz Meridian Active speakers that have been connected to my computer since the very early days of Windows 3.0.

Most people I know seem to choose their mobile phone or tablet with a mono speaker or tinny stereo pair a hand width apart or the "smart" single speaker to listen to YouTube and internet radio even when there is a decent stereo system in the same room that they could switch to in a matter of seconds.

SO DIGITAL:  Have you ever tried TIDAL and the MQA "folding" compression system? I have a dedicated MQA decoder from Rotel combined with a high-end setup and when set to Master Quality it blows my socks off. You haven't lived until you've heard high-quality digital or felt the bass in your chest while sitting in an IMAX theatre.

Audio Masterclass replies to SO DIGITAL: Comment readers interested in MQA might find this link useful https://www.google.com/search?q=is+mqa+lossless DM

Richard Cocks:  Another speaker featured weighs nearly 9,920 pounds Cessaro: Omega 1. They suggest an auditorium, not a living room. Marten Coltrane Supreme 2 MK2 Floorstanding Loudspeakers pictured are $480,000.

SO DIGITAL:  What are your thoughts on ATRAC (minidisc) vs PASC (DCC)? Did one really sound better than the other? Were audiophiles being unfair at scoffing at either? I've heard both and they both sound fine. Maybe DCC sounded better on classical. Minidisc was simpler and more robust. DCC was an overengineered masterpiece. I quickly developed mechanical problems with the DCC cassettes. Also, if you look at the technical requirements of the DCC deck and its complexity vs the Minidisc's simplicity, minidisc wins. Different target markets, different solutions. Philips and Sony missed a big opportunity by not collaborating on Minidisc. The Sony discs with Philips PASC might have been awesome. It's a shame that Philips and Sony ended up like two male cats in a p*ssing competition and then neither got the female.

Steve Kerr:  Ha ha, I love it. I listened to the clarinet piece on a 25-30 year old pair of Tannoy 603 speakers with a half-decent amp and a half-decent USB sound card, and I didn't notice the jumpy clarinet. I didn't think I was an audiophile, but now I can say this has been officially confirmed 😆

Naibaf Abdul Kobor:  Brilliant! I am an audiphile (of course 😉) and had a good laugh more than once.
Not at least because I had skipped your previous video so far. 😂

emory kearns:  We love music we listen any chance we can

Ed Dents:  Because I view YouTube content on my computer or phone, I didn't think I would notice much of anything and I was right. Even casting to my two channel stereo, I was having difficulty hearing the drifting clarinet. I've now concluded I am a audiophile wannabe, who will always be a few decibels shy from true audiophiles. This was further realized when on nature walks, my wife hears far more bird calls than I do. But, she can't hear the dull roar of the ocean all the time like I can due to my tinnitus, so ha on her! I've decided to trade in my diamond encrusted, carbon fiber speaker cable risers, for a pair of hearing aids. For audiophile wannabes, it's always about the upgrade!

Martin Cook:  I'm a relative newbie to your wonderful site. Have you covered what gear you use to listen in high quality?

Martin Cook replies to Martin Cook: @Audio Masterclass

Audio Masterclass replies to Martin Cook: I use a great big bus to take me to London to listen to music live. DM

Pablo HRRG:  Yes, your defntion is right and we shouldn't let snobs take ownership of the term.

Me being from the poor side of audiophiles, can't afford the equipment nor the house required for high end audiphilia. I listen mostly on good headphones.

Also I listen to music on my best equipment, but I watch Youtube on my TV with a soundbar. So I dindn't hear very well the problem, but there is another problem: I'm trying to play the audio on a system that is not equivalent to the recording. It was recorded as if the listener were disguised as music stand, just in front of the clarinet; but we are playing it with speakers as if I was sitting away as an audience. So with the best audiophile set, it might sound as a giant clarinet standing over the orchestra.

Douglas Blake replies to Pablo HRRG: LOL ... yep ... I also love it when they mix from the "stage perspective" instead of the "audience perspective" ... biggest hint? The drum set will be backwards... hi-hat on the left.

Stephen Wise:  Nothing sounds like live music, so it comes down to what you will except. So many of my professional musician friends have terrible systems. They don't care. They're listening to the musical performance.

Audio Masterclass replies to Stephen Wise: It’s different for musicians I think. What they hear on their Crosley or whatever triggers their memory of what music should sound like, so they ‘hear’ perfect sound whatever. DM

Zickcermacity:  Unlike the term for someone who gushes over their EQUIPMENT, there is no singular, simple term for those who LOVE THE MUSIC.

That said, I might be counted among MELOPHILES, MUSICOPHILES, or MUSICMANIACS. Because a good recording of a well-written and performed piece of music will sound good on ANYTHING.

Please ponder.

Zickcermacity replies to Zickcermacity: @Audio Masterclass I tend to notice that recordings with more of the dynamics left in(not compressed or limited to death) sound better on anything from a pocket transistor to a 500W per channel home stereo system.

Audio Masterclass replies to Zickcermacity: I don’t disagree but there’s a mirror image of this that a recording should sound good on any system, to the limits of the system’s ability. This of course is down to the engineer, producer, mix engineer, and mastering engineer. And of course whatever instructions the label boss has issued. DM

Hypurr1:  I have long ago come to realize that when I send or post a clip of something, other people don't hear what I hear with just a handful of exceptions.

Eric Berger:  The greatest irony is, hoping for Dolby Atmos in studios, manufacturer and music industry while "audiophiles" listen on laptop and phone speakers

Steve Wille:  I seems silly to define an “audiophile” in terms of system cost… we already have plenty of words for “wealthy”.

Steve Wille replies to Steve Wille: @Douglas Blake This thread, however, is about equipment cost, and it’s relevance to the vaguely defined term “Audiophile”. I was merely trying to tie your comment back to the topic without making any judgment about the motivations of you friend.

“Audiophile” is weakly defined; to strengthen communication there needs to be as many as 4 different labels: to describe combinations of the motivations toward music and toward sound. Envision a 2x2 matrix with columns for music labeled: “indifferent” and “important” and with rows for sound similarly labeled: “indifferent” and “important”. To generally understand a person’s motivation, one needs to know which one of the 4 resulting combinations apply. Motivation is what matters here, not equipment, music education, etc. I don’t presume to know which of these 4 should be declared “audiophile”; perhaps it is a general term applied to anyone who is not indifferent to both music and sound. It would be more useful, however, to have distinct labels for each.

Douglas Blake replies to Steve Wille: @Steve Wille
I'm sure they all sounded terrible both because of the player being used and the wear on the records.

But you've totally missed the point... This gal was right into her music, even co-authored a book on it and isn't this supposed to be about music?

You ignored the person... and went straight to the equipment.

Steve Wille replies to Steve Wille: @Douglas Blake … and, probably 4 out of 5 of those old recordings won’t sound that much better no matter how much spent on the playback system.

Douglas Blake replies to Steve Wille: @Audio Masterclass
Hi David ... I had a friend who would spend hours at at time listening to music, organizing her collection, sharing with friends etc. She listened on a dirt cheap record player (Like $60.00 dirt cheap) but had nearly encyclopedic knowledge of 50s 60s and 70s music.
In my opinion she was more "audiophile" than most can ever hope to be.

Audio Masterclass replies to Steve Wille: This is an important topic that I will look into in a future video. I firmly believe that one can be a true audiophile even on a very limited budget. DM

blargg:  5:21 "an audiophile on his day off" best line in the video.

Audio Masterclass replies to blargg: It was of course just a throwaway but I do believe that even the most hardened audiophile should cultivate the ability to enjoy music in less than perfect conditions. DM

Tai Dee:  I like the fight, coming on with the Assistants 🤣.

theheathster2:  I went to an audio show yesterday. You’d have loved it! 😉

theheathster2 replies to theheathster2: @Audio Masterclass Yes, spoke with a few of those guys, absolute pleasure. But there were lots of expensive wooden boxes performing cable voodoo and fairy bridge supports!

Audio Masterclass replies to theheathster2: Don’t think that I wouldn’t. Among the snake oil and chicanery there are people who are absolutely dedicated to first-class engineering. DM

Tim Spence:  Equipment set up like a shrine, check. Focal point of the room, check. Curtains and fluffy rug in place, check. Seating millimentric central, check. Congratulations, you are an audiophile and will be first to notice if one of the two speakers stops working.

RobH:  There are lots of different types of 'audiophile'. e.g. 'chequebook' - rich, expensive gear. 'supergeek' - diy gear, test equipment, and possibly a mattress on the ceiling. 'aspiring' - constantly swapping out. To give some cred; an 'Audiophile rating' usually overlaps a 'Music Lover' rating and I believe there is a healthy mix.

Audio Masterclass replies to RobH: “Chequebook audiophile” - I can see that term popping up in a future video. DM

TheFRiNgEguitars:  Any decent full range speaker can produce music well enough, to listen into the recording. But, listening in monaural is back, smart phones, blue-tooth speakers, and stereo "boom boxes" with the speakers very close together. (narrow stereo field that collapses at most listening positions) Laptops fall into that category. Off-axis listening isn't good at all (the near speaker reaches the ear before the far speaker... time smear... and fidelity loss) But, a recording should not s^ck in mono to sound great in stereo. The manufacturers should think about producing small devices with ONE driver instead of two.

ベムーBemana Pr.:  It's all subjective, but I don't think my laptop can produce the stereo sound as good as my headphone. Ever.
Also, what we listen to daily and how much decides what kind of sound we like..
So if we can't agree about what an audiophile is, at least, please don't forget to enjoy the things you hear today.

LA Voodoo:  I'm a recovering audiophile. Now I'm a muscian. You wanna hear music the way it was intended to be heard?

Learn to play an instrument. The thing is, you can't buy the skill or the love of music and dedication to your instrument it requires. You have to put in thousands of hours, and play every single day.

I recomend it highly =)

Tim:  I am a musician and audio enthusiast who also records and mixes, and have a high quality vinyl rig.
But I would never call myself an audiophile. It’s a nasty weird term, and audiophiles are largely a weird bunch who tend to know ALOT less than they claim too. Ewwww

Ken Steiger:  The funny thing is I listened on my phone horizontally in front of my face and I ABSOLUTELY heard the ping ponging clarinet right off the bat. Of course I wasn't expecting to hear any esoteric nuances on my phone. But I was astounded when you pointed out that what I heard was what you intended as the problem, lol. I've been a recording guy since the a1970s and I've always laughed at some of the people I've worked with who claimed to be "golden ears" that totally missed something I was picking up on. And I'm talking about major engineers whose names you would know. But I ain't talkin'. Sometimes you need to stop focusing so hard and just let the sound wash over you to let your subconscious take it all in. Sometimes you hear things when you aren't "trying" so hard.

fredy gump:  I think "audiophile" is a very dated term, and it has come to hold negative connotations to many people. A more acceptable term for the younger generations is 'audio enthusiast". Or home theater enthusiast. There isn't any excitement about stereo music reproduction anymore; it's been solved, so it's just a matter of how much you want to spend. The new frontier is multi channel and home theater, which is where the innovation is happening.

Mephitus Incognito:  Can only rich people become audiophiles? To a degree, yes, either that or very lucky to inherit something nice... that said the $50 Koss Porta pros are affordable if you try hard enough and sound great.. the audio is colored yes but its aimed for portable devices without eq... ... Another way -- $150 Koss Pro4s these are what I use... expensive? To me yes... also needed a Fiio A1 headphone amp to drive them anywhere ... that cost $40 on sale... then you either need a source that has an eq or eq software ... basic unimpressive eq on the app store $2 ... however you could play your media with VLC and use its built in EQ... much better ... affordable audio source but you still need the nearly $200 worth of headphones/accessory to get there... did i mention the bodies of the headphones are milled aluminum?.. they are a bit 'heavy' , 'sealed in' and get tiring after so many hours... Can laptop speakers be good? Erm... good as a boombox.. and I'm not the only one here that remembers Dells various pentium 4 'boombox' laptops.... ...however the average laptop has speakers that are already pushing as hard as they can for their size and phone speakers are even smaller so i don't see something other than a whole new type of speaker ever fixing those problems... As for those who listened on phone or laptop with no headphones ... ...um.. dunno why they did that... I was listening for something faint last time and the frog did indeed jump right over my head... but i did it with headphones...

Bruce Ruston:  The "cheapest" way to get really great Pro Audio on a PC/Laptop is something like a Sound blaster G6 external Sound card or a DAC/Headphone amp at 24bit 96khz along with headphones Like the Hifiman Sundara or similar in class. Doesn't break the Bank. No idea which headphone have spec's to go over 96kz Hi-Res, so I would think it is diminishing returns over that. I am told that any headphone with a 20hz to 20kz range is useless for Hi-Res and only headphones that can go up to 40khz get certificated.

fredy gump:  In live sound, there are tricks to create stereo image without panning. (If you pan to the left, then people on the far right don't hear it very well...) One such trick is to use EQ so the higher frequencies are more prominent in one channel than the other. I think this is what is going on in your example! I don't think it actually works, atleast not in a hifi environment. There have been times I thought my speakers were broken due to ill advised implementation of this technique....and it always seems to be on Spotify.

Audio Masterclass replies to fredy gump: People on the left not hearing what’s coming out of the right speaker is definitely a thing. In cinema too. Your point on frequency balance is interesting and I might look into that for a future video. DM

nic mcv:  Love your videos. So cheeky :)

Paul Riley:  I had to adjust my receiver processing to hear the movement a little bit , I turned off center speaker, my receiver was sending the clarinet to center speaker with no movement in sound of clarinet.

Ivan Pedrero:  LOL!! The end was pure gold!!
Let the battle of the editorial assistants begin!!
Thank you very much for sharing your wisdom.
Best regards from Chile.

Robert Beaman:  Yes we do

chrlz904:  Being cheap like me should not stop you... Just google up cheapest Sennheiser. The over ear ones, not buds.. I have the bottom of the range and they still rock at well under AU$100.

Steve Mawer replies to chrlz904: I use their HDR120 wireless 'phones so I'm not tied by a bit of wire. Sound great to my (ancient) ears.

G.o.r:  Not an idiot. Stumbled over the clarinet video while scrolling on YouTube. Watched it to see what you had to say, eventually I’ll listen with headphones. Probably not good enough headphones for you though.

I’m not an audiophile but I like good music. I’ve only heard a couple setups that I would have called “audiophile “ and it was very nice equipment. But this reminds me of a customer who said he was an audiophile in college. He wondered if silver interconnects would make a difference in the sound. He said with enough beer you could almost hear it.

Jeff Ward:  That Debbie has a significant audio problem herself, what with the wobbly-sounds-like-a-swarm-of-drunken-bees-distortion on her voice🤣 Have a word David, she's letting the side down.

Daniel Porto:  I watched the clarinet video on my desktop computer with a lowly PCI sound card with my amplifier with the sta540 chip I made myself and with my little three-way cabinets made by myself too. And even though my hearing wasn't 100% due to something called de meniere's disease, I could clearly hear the clarinet going back and forth all the time.

Josh Swinden:  Could you explain what streaming service/s you use (if you use one/them)

The Eyles:  I watch most youtube on the phone using the phone speakers (which are stereo in my case, though tinny due to being tiny). I normally at least upgrade to headphones for listening to music, but not normally for someone talking about music, with just a few snippets of music. When I couldn't hear the issue I did switch to headphones.

A lot of phones have ditched the headphone jack, meaning that many people will hear music going through two types of lossy compression (One standard codec for the audio file or youtube video and one low-latency codec for the headphones). Mine still has one, which seems more reliable than bluetooth, which has a tendency to disconnect randomly, though sadly I can't say I can hear the difference when it works (though perhaps that's because Sony's proprietary LDAC coded is super-highes-audiophile, not because I don't have golden ears).

Roger Muggleton:  In the 1960's I used to listen to what is now Radio 3 on medium wave rather than FM. Living near Heathrow Airport meant the latter suffered severe aircraft flutter, plus a fair bit of hiss on quiet stereo music. Today, living 250 miles further north, FM is still poor but DAB is relatively wonderful. Or it was until the Bilsdale mast caught fire. The new Bilsdale mast is now transmitting TV so hopefully the radio will be broadcast from it soon.
But in July I will be spending some time standing at the front of the Royal Albert Hall listening to the Proms. If I stand in the middle of the arena the balance will be different and everything a bit muffled as I'm a short old guy. If I go up in the gallery it will sound different again. If the music is very loud my hearing system starts clipping. If I were 60 years younger most instruments would sound different. So what is right?
Having old ears means it's a waste of time trying to improve my system. Being old means I still listen to CDs, and feel it's a pity that media that plays for over 74 minutes never really caught on.

Russell Harland:  Another think coming.

Anders Hansgaard:  Aw, those comments really were revealing. What an embarrassment!

Evan McDonnal:  I see you're not willing to acknowledge the elephant was definitely those clarinet valves banging away due to improper micing :)
Though the movement of the clarinet in the stereo field was actually a byproduct of the same thing. I don't know why there are so many mics used on large classical ensembles. It's the performers job to balance their dynamics and blend the sounds of various instruments, not a producer/mixer's.

KoshK replies to Evan McDonnal: This! I had to switch off radio 3 a couple of months ago because there were some young engineers talking about close micing an orchestra and balancing it all later.. it made my head hurt.. extra work for worse results

ra s.:  Audiophiles are full of drama. Music is just never good enough for them until they find their holy grail. Audiophile snobs, though, are a different class - those who also tend to be condescending or dismissive of people who do not share their passion or who do not have the same level of knowledge or equipment.

Stuart Russell:  I just worked out what I find visually disturbing about your virtual assitant, the one thing missing is there is no chest movement (breath movement) when she talks.....

Steve Mawer replies to Stuart Russell: You're supposed to look at her face! 🙂

DAbanjo:  I was one of those that couldn't find a problem with the clarinet recording. When you said it was the movement of the clarinet, I was like "That was the cool part!".

Chaotic System:  The question is, do they stream or do they have audio files?
It does not apply to videos. You only get it from the music site.

Abdul Azeez:  I have a pretty decent (definitely not audiophile level!) amplifier and set of speakers but I still crave for the sound of the 80's, especially the sound of the large Sharp and Panasonic boomboxes of that time. Most probably because I had better ears then and I simply don't hear the frequencies now that I could hear before.

DGGBL:  Please correct me if I’m wrong but I understood that the loudness war was started by record companies wanting to have their latest singles to stand out on radio. Could it be said that this is still going strong and maybe even getting worse trying to get tracks to sound “good” on tiny phone speakers so that the youngsters can annoy people on the bus? Audiophile = never fully satisfied:)

Douglas Blake replies to DGGBL: Not wrong ... and now it's creeping into movies.

Lorin Pino:  Trying to pin people down on what an audiophile actually is? Man, you really do want to pick a fight don't you!
Speaking of which, I hope your 2 assistants can resolve their differences somewhat peacefully. 🤖🤖

Philip Chudy:  Mostly it is really simple. The definition of an audiophile is a person - who others have decided slur/abuse/insult - referring to them as audiophile.

Douglas Blake replies to Philip Chudy: More accurately .... a group of people who've brought that down on themselves.

laika25:  Obviously I listened to it on stereo, OBVIOUSLY ("in" stereo, do amend my writing if necessary)

laika25:  On the clarinet issue... I really didn't.... It really didn't bother me, not as dramatically as you put it anyway ☺️

sides up:  People who are old with old ears and who don't even have to hear what they are putting down, because of the overriding theories in their head are from Pluto. What used to be our farthest out planet; before they dis-classified it as a planet. I am not referring to the guy in this video. He seems to have at least a glimmer of an open mind. I would say "audiophile" is a broad category. At the one end could be a teenager without much money, looking for used gear in thrift shops, because he thinks a clearer more extended sound is so cool, having heard his father or friends system many times. He is willing to spend an inordinate amount of the money he does have on audio equipment and accessories. Maybe even an audiophile lp or cd pressing every now and then. At the other end of the audiophile spectrum, could be a rich well to do person who spends tens of thousands of dollars on audio in any given year, trying to reach higher and higher heights of sound quality. Although it's not possible to achieve 100% realism, the rich guy will likely get closer to it unless the teenager makes some whale of a find at a thrift store. They both want good sound badly; maybe even the teenager spends a higher % of his money on audio than the rich guy who is loaded. I wonder how many of the people who poke fun at audiophiles have actually even once in their life, heard a truly synergistic, well set up and chosen audiophile system. Most of them are talking about something they've never experienced. Which is a joke. Many of them think their system is at the mountains peak, sound quality wise. They self amusedly picture audiophiles pawing at air, trying to get higher and higher, when there is no more mountain left to climb, from at the top. They picture audiophiles being taken in by advertising and foolishly spending more than they have to.

Not all dumb things start off dumb; but I think in this case it does. A good starting point would have been for these people to have first experienced music played through an amazing high end system. You don't have to be able to afford a $50,000 system to go in and hear one. Finding a demo that is well set up with good synergy in an environment with good acoustics is hard. Of the maybe 50 different high end stores I've been into; I've only been really impressed with the sound maybe 8 times. But that 8 times showed me the light. The level of reproduction it is possible to get. Something I will never forget. Those people that think they are pretty much at or near the top of the mountain; if they ever hear a setup like that, they will realize they are still at base camp with the peak so far above them that it's barely visible. They will realize that THEY are the fools. Thinking that all of high priced audio is snake oil, just because there is some going around. Overgeneralization and believing something without actual experience; is always dumb. Audiophiles who have truly reached the heights of sound reproduction would take one listen to one of these people's systems and near instantly hear all the ways that it lacks. It's almost always a "Weird" sound with peaks and electronic character galore. Not much in the way of spaciousness and expansiveness. Timbres that lack purity, naturalness and believability. Sound whose clarity is clouded and lacks immediacy. Attributable to their bad hearing, their bad theories, which deter trying things out, and their limited finances. Usually the more expensive things do sound better; but not always. But finding those less expensive gems requires effort, work and an open mind, which they don't have.

Rodrigo Castellanos:  Put that way, you might arrive to dumb conclusions such as there is monetary threshold to be an audiophile or that someone is "more" audiophile than other depending on the value of their listening set.

As for laptop use, you can get amazing results with an 80-120 dollar dac, such as Audioquest, Schiit, FIIO and IFI, and 50-100 dollar chinese (yes, chinese) in ears such as those produced by Tin and KZ, not to mention 400-700 dollar speakers as ELAC, Triangle and Klipsch, to mention a few.

Howard Skeivys:  I have heard multiple definitions of an audiophile, some rather dismissive, detrimental even. My preferred definition and certainly the one most applicable to me is:- ‘someone who listens to music attentively and cares about the quality of reproduction’. You do not need costly components to achieve that goal, though it can, sometimes, help. Unfortunately, the ratio between price and performance is not always linear, as your £1000 1 meter cable nicely demonstrates.

I used to co-manage and rodeo for a semi-professional rock band. I’m well versed in setting up pro-audio equipment for best, or at least good soundstage. I once watched a YouTube hifi reviewer explain that with the speakers he was reviewing; he could hear the female vocalist swaying and moving around the stage. Excuse me but, B0LL0X! A vocalist sings into a microphone connected to static speakers. Any concept of movement, is created by the studio audio production team playing around with the ratio between the left and right channels.

When you attend a live musical performance, you rarely get a centre seat in the front 3 rows. You are likely much further back and off to one side. Yet, audiophiles? Will strive, in their own listening environment to recreate the perfect soundstage, focus and imaging, not wholly representative of the actual venue.

The way we listen to music. The way we prefer to hear music, is down to personal taste. There is no right or wrong. Just different.

I’m looking forward to you producing a video on room acoustics and treatments. I’ve a feeling that may put a few noses out of joint.

Most of all, enjoy the music.

Paul Duggan replies to Howard Skeivys: I’m no audiophile but I would point out that at the very beginning of the opening track of Tastes “Live Taste”, the song is “Sugar Mama”, I can taste the timber in Rory’s stack though I do concede this is nothing more than illusion born out of metaphor induced by a capturing of timbre facilitated by a tracking engineer who knew his onions.

James Carter:  I just thought 'audiophile' meant somebody who wants to hear good sound. Is there a word for that anymore, or are we just all supposed to ironically pretend like 'somebody else is a snob' when we're judging them for their gear and imagining what we've got is 'the best' but it still doesn't make us that awful 'audiophile' thing? It's so fucking convoluted, I just want good information about sound but the subject keeps getting turned into this silly playground-fight thing, and it just looks like two children with the same radio arguing "no, MY radio is the good one but YOURS is a snob-radio and you're using it to look down on everybody!"

Douglas Blake replies to James Carter: " I just want good information about sound but the subject keeps getting turned into this silly playground-fight thing,"

Yep, it happens all the time. There certainly is an element of snobbery and elitism in this hobby. And, FWIW, actual information about good/bad sound is rare as a rooster's dentures.

Your best bet is to study up a little on electronics and audio from a credible source (not advertising from the manufacturers, that's where the lies are told). Do a search for "All About Circuits Textbook" and just start reading.
I'm not saying you need to be a technician, that's a 2 year study, but it would help if you had the basics of Ohm's Law, frequency, phase and a general idea how amplification works. That's enough to let you spot the bad information when you find it.

Most electronics is so close to zero distortion, perfect frequency response, etc. these days that in truth it all sounds pretty much the same.
The big variable is speakers, they're still all over the place, sound wise. If possible arrange to hear before buying or at least make sure you have a return window.

Don't get caught up in the "cables matter" snake oil bullshit. Down that road lies continual disappointment that will ruin the whole thing for you. Bottom line, lots of people have proven these pricy accessories don't matter... nobody has even gotten close to proving they do.

My best advice is that when shopping, you should stick to median pricing... There's a reason why the top makers all cost about the same, they're competing. So, when shopping try to establish an average price for products on your list... Too far below that average and you know they're cutting corners, too far above it you can be sure you're being ripped off.

Hope this helps.

Ryan Smith:  I really like the videos where we get to listen for “the problem”. I would listen/play daily if I could. Like the crossword in the paper.

Jon Holstein:  As not only someone who has enjoyed going to hifi-stores and even a show, to see the cool stuff out there, but also is in to music production, I'm more concerned by many high profile studio engineers fall for similar and sometimes even the same myths. But perhaps even worse. High profile studio engineers somehow thinks and have for decades that a well treated studio room with nearfield monitors, somehow gives them an idea of what music will sound like in a home...They make mixes and masters for other studio engineers, but they don't realize that is what they are actually doing. But it is even worse today, with headphones, the difference is smaller than it ever has been, between what a studio engineer could have in their studio to mix on, and what listeners typically would listen to, even if they care about audio. They still think their nearfield monitors is relevant, having no clue about crosstalk (how it impacts stereo field and balance of the mix) and our inability to tell direction of low end sound (thus not caring about panned low end), so their mixes simply don't translate. And the unfortunate for people who may want to get in to hifi, headphones would significantly lower the price of entry, but when most music is mixed for nearfield monitors in a treated room, people will not be able to experience hifi sound, as the mix they listen to is not meant for listening on headphones.


Regarding the previous video, I was listening on headphones and at first thought, well I heard that pan issue since I put on my headphones to listen to that part, but thought, it could be something else that is referred to as the issue, but did not care to try to listen for any other issue, as I don't quite describe myself as an audiophile.

Abel Magwich:  A tip for all "audiophiles" out there have your ears syringed regularly....it makes my Amazon ear buds sound as good as my hd800s. !

WalyB01:  You clearly understand the medium you are using to communicate. Its youtube, everybody's on their phone or laptop. see the video and thinks "hey that's interesting" and then forgos the getting their head phone as the lazy mfos we are.

K. Gergő:  These are the people who demand demo videos of high tier sound equipment which they can listen to on their own systems.

K. Gergő:  Aww, don't put stupid youtube comments in the lady's mouth, that's not fair to her.

J.T. Cooper:  My laptop speakers are blown from too much "critical" listening. 🙉

Paul Homchick:  An iphone playing through a good pair of IEMs is a perfectly good audiophile rig, and the wandering clarinet is easily heard.

Point Vector:  Going to add a bit of sarcasm here for the grins. I'm sorry, I really couldn't tell if the special effects in your movie were any good, as you didn't list eyesight as a prerequisite. Totally your fault.

NathanOakley1980:  Yes, I often use my iPad speakers to check sound quality for my live show, so I can hear how it sounds on crappy speakers 😆 😊

Jeff Brooke:  I watched your previous video however I didn't catch it. I heard it but didn't catch it. And that's because I've listened to a number of other recordings that have the same problem. And instrument seems to move about the sound stage. However, not being a professional in this biz I never knew if that was something done intentionally or if it was an artifacts of bad recording techniques. And I can't speak to that.

TES Productions:  no.

douglasfilm:  A person at 20 years old can hear a much wider range of frequencies compared to an 80 year old.

Audio Masterclass replies to douglasfilm: 20 Hz to 20 kHz is 10 octaves. So an older person who can only hear up to 10 kHz still has 9 octaves left. DM

Manolis Kiagias:  I don't listen on the phone or laptop usually as the sound is tiny. But a small pocketable BT speaker is usually enough for me to enjoy music if nothing better is available. And an average setup of computer speakers is where I listen most of the time. I do have a decent USB sound card though (mainly for recording stuff)

DigitalDiggo:  Back in the heyday of audiophiles in the 70s, they all bought the same albums because they'd been told "these are audiophile albums". Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker was one. Loads of "Direct To Disc" albums.The style of music was almost irrelevant to these people. They are never, ever satisfied, because there's always "better" or more expensive gear to buy & brag about. Their systems are typically an ever-changing hodge podge & their listening rooms are usually terrible. They also often have no idea at all how sound & the human auditory system actually function.

James Carter replies to DigitalDiggo: Another whiner angry at the word 'audiophile' like they beat you up in high school and you haven't gotten over it for 45 years. Funny how there's hundreds of whiny snobs who love screeching about 'audiophiles' but there aren't hundreds of audiophiles doing the stuff they're being accused of.

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Saturday June 17, 2023

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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