Perhaps there is no other technical field or hobby where we can encounter so many miscon­ceptions and where irrational thinking have such a cult. However, the love of music and rational thinking are not mutually exclusive. This is just a made-up ideology created by audiophile magazines and some high end audio companies.

One of the most widespread myth is that we have to spend a huge amount of money to enjoy music in high fidelity. The general 'audiophile logic' is that the more money you spend on your system the better the sound will be. This is not true, especially nowadays, when even low-cost audio players and amplifiers have near-perfect audio fidelity (have no audible distortion). However, there is even more important than money: the more you know, the less you worry about cables, amplifiers, DACs, audio formats...

Many audiophiles believe that the human ear is a precision instrument and measu­rements are unnecessary or have little importance. The human hearing has some remarkable features such as its huge dynamic range and directional capabilities (mainly in the horizontal plane), but the ear is not a precision instrument. The problem lies not in the ear, but inside our head: the auditory memory is unreliable and short. Because auditory memory is short, the samples have to be short, and because it is unreliable, tests have to be blind. Fortunately, there is a better way than doing only listening tests: thanks to psychoacoustics, we know how hearing works and what are the important parameters that determine audio quality.

In my opinion, if one learns the basics well, audio technology is not really harder than other hobbies (Video lectures about audio measurements, audio myths, PCM encoding). However, it's not possible to understand audio systems by following old hi-fi stereotypes. One such misconception is that the engineering approach is flawed or there is something in amplifiers, cables, DACs and audio formats that science cannot explain. Interestingly, poor engineering solutions are found primarily in extreme high-end / audiophile products, where the primary goal is astronomical price and exclusive appearance.

Csaba H.

Csaba Horváth is the creator and designer of this website. He is interested in loudspeaker design, room acoustics, psychoacoustics, headphone equalization, guitar amplifiers & amp modeling and audio compression.

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