Do non audiophiles recognize great sound when they hear it?

When I was an audio salesman I played lots and lots of demos for civilians, and here’s what I learned: Most people don’t know good sound when they hear it. But when they do they get really really excited


DRTY D says:

its very heart warming to see there are still true audiophiles out there. 🙂 im 45 and I still have and use daily, my tannoy floor standers that I brought when I was 18! 🙂

João Francisco says:

Bless the people who can’t tell the diference

Brian Hatfield says:

I had a set of B&W matrix 3, series 2, amazing speakers, very little I’ve heard in the years since (sold them in 1994. VPI turntable, Hafler 220 mono amps, Hafler Pre amp, all from kits. Martin Logan speakers are good, fussy about placement. Got married so stuff got sold offf years ago Apogee acoustic speakers were over rated. If you want a great album to test your speakers out- Mobile Fidelity Poco Legend album Song is Crazy love you can clearly hear all Four voices harmonizing, and the spacial placement of those voices. Most people don’t know there were 4 voices on that song

metaleggman18 says:

I think that stems (and this is just based off observations because this was all established well before I was born) from the experiences of people trying to be able to play either low quality media or with low quality setups (I think tech moan spoke on this in the past), and how they would sound worse the louder they got. I believe one of the things with CDs that hooked people in was, no matter the volume, generally speaking, the music would sound the same. I actually believe I watched a vox video about how with most modern mixes, probably going back to the 80s and early 90s, but especially modern music from the 2000s onward, engineers and producers mix the audio “louder”, using certain techniques, because of this perceived notion of loud meaning high quality. So mentioning bose and Beats is definitely on the money. It’s even that way with car stereos; the louder and deeper it can go, the more appealing it is generally, though most luxury cars have moved away from that, for better or for worse. Hell, I’m somewhat guilty of that myself, I love having a loud, bass-y car stereo, because to have such a setup in your home would lead to noise complaints haha! But I don’t equate that to it being good (though nor would I equate the soft, quiet stereos I experience in a lot of luxury vehicles to being good either, just because they’re the opposite lol).

In fact, I’ve always tried to get my headphones, which I listen to the majority of my music on, to be fairly neutral and clean. I’ve had my work horse sennheiser HD-pro’s for 11 years with only needing to replace ear pads or headband pads, and I’ve settled on shure SE535s that have worked fabulously for 5 now (I’m the dynamic driver guy in my friend group, another is the balanced armature guy with his westones; everybody else just uses the headphones thay come with their phones lol).

Dick Trickle says:

Let’s face it, there is nothing like having a badass stereo, kicking back with some friends, my lady, hitting a doobie, and rocking the night away.

RandomTechS@#T says:


Doug Alan says:

Audiophilia is likely a disease. I know a few self-proclaimed “audiophiles”, and they are OCD and fairly damaged. Seeking the “perfect” audio system is just feeding their OCD more than liking good sound. It also is an ego thing. “My turntable cost a million dollars and has a platter made from human bones… Man! it sounds Sooooooooooooooo good!” Whatever you say, bud.

Marlonbc90 says:

Here’s a simple way to put it. To be an audiophile you first have to try to be an audiophile. It’s not that you aren’t one and you are missing a gene to be able to recognize high quality sound, it’s that if you never tried to tell the difference between sound of different quality, or if no one ever introduced you to this topic, you won’t notice the difference. And maybe you are interested and maybe you are not.
And then if you try too hard to be an audiophile you may become smug about it and feel all special, you may spend way too much money on high tech gear just so you can say that you are an audiophile, and you may placebo yourself into thinking that you can hear things that aren’t there.
It’s a slippery slope, it’s great to try to develop an interest for high quality sound, but then you need to be humble about it.

superjudgebunny says:

The problem is, you are relating normal to uneducated people. There are some uneducated people who can blindly say something sounds better, most can’t. When you get to the educated people, there are a ton of them who recognize great sound. The census is philes are obsession driven perfectionists who tend to go overboard. Instead of the dragon being opium, you chase the electrical dragon. Maybe it’s a way to make oneself unique, to be this “I know more”. I don’t know, but out of all the educated people in engineering that I have talked to, even audio engineers, they agree that there is a too far.

What I think the main failing is, most refuse to believe in their own human flaws. They don’t understand the human experience, our limitations and what we really can and can not perceive. Ideas like our brain alters our inputs, to match what it believes (core beliefs and ideas). So you can’t say normal, it’s more like the average person. On top of that, there are a lot of people who appreciate music. They just don’t appreciate Audiophiles, because of the insanity surrounding them. So the educated people who appreciate music typically do their own research, it’s easier than listening to somebody upsell a product they don’t even sell. =(

And yes, I’ve had the debate too many times that there is a lot of bs high end equipment. And the setups I’ve herd, cost more than most people seeing this post could imagine. The difference between a 1500 deck and a 500 deck is definitely there. That’s just deck 1, this isn’t including the PC, the other deck, the 4 turn tables, the audio rack that’s hooking into. The ridiculously expensive and well placed speakers, clubs where the setup is so pristine you swear the pin literally dropped on the floor. The DJ alone easily spends 20k on a rig, easily. DJ round here also has his own 30k bass wall. Were talkin MONEY.

Ugh, that’s the real reason though. There’s an insanity to phile’s that puts educated people off. It’s why conspiracy nuts don’t play well with other educated people, they want to find that conspiracy. It’s a drive, it’s not the same drive as an audiphile but it’s the same type of drive. It’s logical, when it fits, but too often audiphiles get uneasy when it doesn’t fit their determined rules.

Alec Grolimond says:

I agree with you. I like great audio but I do not understand the difference and your thinking about great wine I also agree I love great wines yet I buy good wines and speakers on my stereo are Polk good but not refined.

Shane Fage says:

I just did a test. The majority of audio fools can’t hear the difference between one violin bow to another.

Ronnie Schreiber says:

Cool that you used a photo from my friend Alex’s NoHo Sound, in Manhattan, as a thumbnail for this video. I’ve been around high end audio most of my adult life but the Focal/McIntosh system they played for me was revelatory.

DeadKoby says:

I don’t consider myself to be an Audiophile, but I’ve got an OK system. I understand many of the concepts, and I’ve experienced the “speakers that disappear”. I would rather just be considered an audio fan, who appreciates good stuff without being extreme.

Gordon Kahl says:

I like listening to a good system, don’t care for pretentious people who look down on others because they cant spend a hundred grand on a system… reminds me of wine  connoisseurs who think they know it all. Whatever you like, then have fun with it… who cares what some so called ” expert ” thinks. Great video though… thank you

topjolly says:

First thing they do at a demo, is crank up the volume up for the customer…a good sign to great audio is low level volume detail.

Luke Kelly says:

You look like the peadophiliac as well

Time.Arq I Taller RT says:

Vicinity a new word that I didn’t knew

William Chen says:

I’m 20 now and the reason I started to become an audiophile is because since I was very young my Dad plays his high-end system at home all the time. Later when I started to appreciate those music he played and started to listen to them on other average systems, I finally realized how good my Dad’s system is. I also realized how good those vintage high end audio products are that the modern ones could hardly reach that level.

John Colley says:

ah yes.i remember the japanese “crash boom” speakers

Some Things In Life says:

Lol…Most people think Beats by Dre are the best headphones because excessive bass and loudness. It’s just the volume knob and equalizer for most people.

Dj Speed says:

Come on Steve, Sonos might not sound like a pair of Joseph’s but they do sound good.

PumpKing says:

I would describe me as non-audiophile, because I just haven’t the money for this (at the moment).
But althoug with my small experience of non highend devices , I think I maybe could appreciate an highend sound.
I remind some moment where I tried a headset and heard a quite violin from right behind me for the first time in a song I already knew. This was very fascinating to me.
So I really would like to hear something really good.

larry lovehandle says:

I hate audio, don’t care for music, am basically tone deaf, but these videos are fascinating. My only requirement for speakers is that they shake the ground.

kim bye says:

Interesting topic, but I think that you miss the most crucial point, it`s not really that high-end audio can be a very expensive hobby, it`s the amount of concerts, dinners, movies and every other experience you could buy for the same money as a high-end system that is the sticking point for most people.
Hearing a great sounding system is great fun, but I could never justify the price. If I want to focus on the music, I always listen through headphones.

Austin Bennett says:

I would like to believe that I myself am an audiophile, and while I appreciate extremely clean and/or “”perfect”” mixes, I still love a lo-fi sound.

sacredgeometry says:

I find it really funny that audiophiles tend to be musically inept/ plebeian. It’s a specialised nuance in a shallow understanding.

Yes Im Going To Be That Guy says:

Answer to the title: No, if that happens then you simply have an audiophile that hasn’t found out they are an audiophile yet

blagdonboy11 says:

How JBL LSR 305’s. Mine sound very good

Daniel Chapiesky says:

Years ago my cousin inherited some stereo equipment from her father… I was visiting and she asked me about the kit and what it was… obviously she was attached to the kit because it was her fathers, but that attachment was enhanced later… I googled the various speakers and amps etc… and as it turns out, her father had been a closet audiophile and the family never knew…. $23k of kit was sitting there and now it all was his daughters. After I finished exclaiming to her and throwing my hands in the air she asked me to set this kit up…. we needed cables and went on a quest… we needed a cabinet to set it all up in… it was a great thing to experience with her… when the kit was setup she had a two vacuum tube amps bi-amping some glorious speakers which I can’t remember the type… I was excited to see her reaction to the sound and we played a few tunes… and her reaction was much like what steve describes around 4:30…. I was into the chemical brothers at the time and I wanted her to experience the clarity of bass and voice that her kit could produce… I said listen to this… feeeeellll this bass… notice that you can cleeeearrrllyy hear the ladies voice while your heart is rattled in your chest…. this is what your father loved…. she looked at me with wide eyes…. it was a good end to a day that had begun with sadly going through her fathers possessions…

Earl Dunbar says:

Back in the early 80s I was an audiophile with very little money. Somehow I had stumbled onto a minimal system that sounded very “nice” – not highly resolving, perhaps not “accurate” and not high end, but it was *musical*. It consisted of a Bogen (!) RP230 tube receiver, a Thorens TD160 table, Smaller Advent speakers and a pretty decent Teac cassette deck. One day an aunt and uncle from out of town were visiting and I had the system on, tuned to a local FM station, as I recall. Neither of them were even close to being audiophiles, but my aunt said “That has a really nice tone.” Compared to the mass market solid state gear that was prevalant at the time, even her “untrained” ear could hear the difference, and she liked it. I have no illusion they were going to go out and buy something better than whatever they had at home.

As an aside, I recall recording to cassette the NPR/Met broadcast of Carmen during that time. I can’t remember the brand and grade of tape I used, and to this day I don’t know where the tapes are – I really wish I could find them, because the quality was stunning. I keep the cassette deck around just in case I find the tapes! I realize that’s partly nostalgia, but to me it shows that it’s all about the music.

olaniyi570 says:

They expect to be in that Maxell tape commercial from the 80s where the guy gets literally blown away by a pair of JBL speakers.

baldeagle13 x says:

And if you have shitty taste in music, you might as well use a fucking spear and a bucket to reproduce the sound. Love of music doesn’t equate to love of audio equipment.

Daniel Beaston says:

I am non audiophile but I normally like volume be in the middle and want to hear the music better its why I buy high end like I notice cheap earbuds and headphones sound bad sometimes.

Trevor Lambert says:

I’d love to see a study of whether audiophiles can recognize “great sound” in a double-blind test. My guess is that most can’t. The mere fact that $1000 interconnect cables even exist is a pretty good indication that at least a good portion of the audiophile market is based purely on placebo effect.

Swedish Food Fanatic says:

Do audiophiles recognize that non audiophiles who listens to music has other hobbies and interests which are more important for them to spend on beside music?

Im listen to alot of music but its fucking annoying to listen to people who thinks music is the only thing in this world and ignores the existence of sport, gaming, movie, art, fishing, cooking, crafting, gardeningn, racing and others.

narmale says:

Now let me season this with saying, I have NOT heard the Devialet phantoms in person, but listening to friends talk about them, who have also heard MY system, My opinion is that they are a good speaker. Not great, not audiophile level, and not realistic.

they excel in putting out an astonishing amount of bass for their size
they LOOK very expensive
they are an audio world hot topic 
they are somewhat wireless

I have a little over 12k in my system without a high end turntable, it’s a nice low end system, but that’s the same thing they all say, “lets play some rock or metal through it”  but they have come back from hearing the Devialet’s and said they sounded just as good as mine… well, that’s trusting their ears to be the judge when none of them have perfect pitch. So probably they ARE the best sounding Bluetooth speaker… that’s not saying a lot. And your comment Steve, is probably spot-on.

Nick B says:

Do non-unicorns wish they were unicorns?

brickman409 says:

I feel like the whole idea that you need to be an enthusiast in audio equipment in order to appreciate or even just to differentiate high end audio equipment from the regular stuff kind of proves that it’s all in our heads. Simply knowing how much something costs, or knowing about some kind of fancy tech that goes into a nice speaker or amp will cause your brain to tell you “this sounds nicer” when you’re listening. I guess in the end it has always been in our heads, it’s just music and it’s going to be subjective either way, but still.

Nass Khan says:

They might recognise it but cant accept it doesn’t come cheap but they do re cars or even shoes & handbags. Everyone’s different I never understood jewellery.

Robert Hencher says:

So what your saying in this video is that all audiophiles like classical music and if you like more modern contemporary music.. you don’t or can not appreciate high quality music …well that’s just pissed me off so much what a bloody snob

Doug B says:

Like many of the finer things in life, being an audiophile an acquired skill. A newbe would not appreciate the complex nuances of a $500 bottle of wine. But drink enough of it and you start to discover the subtleties that at first alluded you. In fact, you will find yourself seeking finer and finer detail, spending $$ to remove distortions and spend countless hours tweaking things to perfection.

Phil Weitzen says:

If I could afford to enter your sound world, I would…… I have heard it and I “get” it (boy, do I ever get it) , but I just can’t afford it!!!!! When/if it ever becomes affordable, I will happily buy into it, but I’m not remortgaging the house any time soon…. my long suffering wife has put the foot down!!!! I’ll rough it with Sonos and a newly purchased Cyrus….. “nice”!!!!!!
I’ll never understand why “high end” is the perogative of just those with the dosh….. it should be available to everyone!!!!!

3DayPriest says:

I don’t consider myself an audiophile but I never equated quality with loudness. The words I used for what I wanted was clarity and real.

Carew Martin says:

2:50 Devallier? Yup, he mangled it but so did I since Devialet is almost unpronounceable, I heard the local dealer here pronounce it “Devee-elay”

blagdonboy11 says:



We live in societies where 50% of the population does not recognize REALITY, let alone quality sound reproduction.

Scott Bott says:

The Bose stereo in my suv sounds like shit. I don’t know what to do with it.

Ben Terry says:

but do audiophiles listen to the music, or try to listen out for the flaws in the music, the difference between £100 speakers and £2000 speakers may be technically a lot but in terms of what you hear is a minuscule improvement, but hell companies are very happy selling ridiculously overpriced gears to people who feel they are in a special club for owning something.

Torin Abdallah says:

I want to hear about immersive car audio experience. I’ve always had many problems trying to polish and balance between woofers and tweeters.

chip block says:

Wow! I guess I am not normal. I really enjoy good music played on good equipment. The only thing is that I can’t afford most of the great equipment.

I also believe you could learn quickly to appreciate a good wine. After a few glasses of fine wine you will taste the difference. Like you said its motivation.

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