At what price is one considered an Audiophile.

Audiophilia, what is is it?

Is it the love of music or the equipment that presents the music.

Or is it both? 

What is the cost of admission?

How much does one have to spend on equipment to be considered an Audiophile, if it is truly the later than the music.

What has membership to this perceived exclusive club cost you?




I could put a junior enthusiast into a system that would let them cut their teeth for $1.5 to $2k.  Hard to get by much below that.


Enthusiasm and a commitment to striving for excellence. That’s the cost of admission.

It would depend on who is doing the 'considering'. I wouldn't worry about it too much and just enjoy yer tunes.... 

Cost may be irrelevant, in a sense, because it's a state of mind, but if you want a good sound, even if it is the first step, it will cost. $10k perhaps, one source, used equipment except cartridge. If your room is big it will be more. If you listen to large scale music it will be more. Well, for $5k it could be possible to find something listenable, but it would be below audiophile level.

Money spent means nothing. I have heard systems that carry a price of many times what I’ve spent and I wasn’t impressed. As with life there will always be someone with more than you have. It’s easy to determine how far you can go or how much you can comfortably afford. The real key is focusing on the basics first- speaker placement, listening position and room treatments. Then work your way forward with the gear as your experience and budget allows. Anyone who thinks they are an “Audiophile” because they’ve spent a certain level of money is an “Audiophool”.

In the current reality $10k is not much at all, so good sound is not very expensive.

Excellent sound is expensive. 

Yeah it’s about the sound. It can be bare speakers hung in trees powered by a car deck. If you say, "wow, that sounds cool", that’s it.  That's audiophilia.  Some people don't notice or care as much or at all. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we do.  

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It’s not about’s about passion, enthusiasm, and commitment for great audio gear and reproducing great sounding music in your living space.

There is two kind of audiophiles...

The one who focus on gear measures ( objectivist) and those (subjectivist) who "taste" different brand names and dream about the highest price tag... The two group focus on gear components as tastes or as tools...In the first group, the objectivist hate to be called "audiophiles" and be confused with the subjectivists... 😁

The other kind  or second group as myself who focus on the best ratio highest sound quality / lowest price and the various ways of embeddings controls mechanically, electrically and acoustically and look for the  optimization of any component even using , what the objectivist   will call in a despising way as "tweaks"  or illusions or deceptive placebos, and the subjectivists will call in a despising way too  cheap stop-gaps...

Acoustics experiments matter more for me  than the price level qualified as high end, mid-fi, or low fi INDEPENDANTLY of any acoustic embedding optimization ...

The serious audiophile is able to solve the sound problem at low cost and begin to listen music without being bothered by sound anymore as i am  ...

The superficial audiophile never solve the sound problem as an acoustic problem to be faced , not only a problem about components synergy ,  but call his constant unsatisfaction a desire for "perfection" and enter in a race to the pit of expansive purchases, he  called them  "upgrades", without learning nor music genres and styles nor acoustics... Using his limited well recorded few albums collection as test ...

i Invested way more in music than in my very good system who cost me 700 bucks ,  modified headphones+ modified speakers... And trust me it is more than good... i dont need more...

While people are idealistically saying cost doesn't matter, it is hard to be an audiophile with a $12 pair of Amazon Basics computer speakers.

My actual modified active speakers ( 200 bucks of actual value ) are amazing but i optimized them, they were well reviewed but it was not enough for me at all right out of the box...

i disliked them for 12 years and never used them for music...😊😁

But having no other choices after selling my big house i used acoustics basic science to embed and modify them ... They are so good now i dont need a subwoofer even...

Upgrading them will be difficult around 1000 bucks...

And i dont want more anyway so good they became...

Then between 12 bucks and these there is a margin...

Cost matter less than basic knowledge...


While people are idealistically saying cost doesn’t matter, it is hard to be an audiophile with a $12 pair of Amazon Basics computer speakers.

I know of this site, starts with an A where this subject has been debated so many times....

It's a mindset. I was fiddling with a suitcase record player jacked into a musical instrument amp and PA speaker when I was a teen. I have progressed since then. 

There's a darker view of self-professed audiophiles for whom "source material" is meant to demonstrate the virtues of the system. That, to me, has nothing to do with music. 

I don't view this hobby as an exclusive club. The boundaries are limitless in terms of accumulated knowledge and know how. 

How long is a piece of string?

It's all relative.  Some gear out there I dream of owning, some Audiophile gatekeepers, call it "midfi."  While my humble system would be an audiophile system to regular folks or those that are just entering the hobby.  


You could have a $10k pair of speakers and someone with a $50k+ pair of speakers might call those speakers beginner or midfi.  


It all depends on the quality of musical reproduction and enjoyment an owner gets from their system.  Other people don't matter.  Dealers don't matter.  Reviewers don't matter.  It's all about personal enjoyment and satisfaction.  

Don't try to get satisfaction from others.  Get satisfaction for yourself from the music.

OP, I suggest you not spend much or your system will sound better than any of ours, and we won't like that.

That's why you get so many nonsense responses. They are poor people with mid-fi stereos and questionable hearing. They are also idealistic and detached from reality.

$10k, no less. And if you want Bill to envy you that would be half a million or so.


Oh, and forget about music, it's all noise. Listen to the sounds. That's audiophile.

I think it is more of an awareness of sound, equipment, market and a conversational interest in sound quality.  Cost is just what you think you can afford to spend.  An audiophile is aware of brands and those products that standout in their budget range without the fear of researching,  buying used with the idea of trading up if when a target product becomes available.  I guess that is the addition of the hobby.  Hopefully we all retain that this is about music and not equipment.  I hope this makes since! 

It’s not a $$$’s spent thing.


It’s the pursuit of accurately reproducing music with sound equipment.


That accuracy, can be empirically based, or, emotionally based. Meaning, one can try to reproduce the sound of an acoustic guitar as it would sound in your room, or, try to reproduce that sound based on how you feel a guitar should sound, or perhaps how a guitar sounds in some important memory you have of a guitar.


Whatever the case, it’s about achieving a specific quality of music reproduction. If you want your music to sound a certain way, you need equipment for that.


Some listen to equipment, most listen to music. Everyone listening to recorded music, listen through equipment. 



You either like how your system sound to your EARS or you find aspects of how it impacts the signal path that you would like to correct by changing out certain components, tubes, streaming service/software, etc. in your system. How big your budget is you have to work with and what you are trying to achieve is important. For some, however, it is truly about impressing other people with how it looks or costs, but don’t confuse that sort of person with an audiophile. Those sorts of people are truly confused and misguided from an audiophile’s perspective.

whart is Bill, he's got a great system, especially the turntable and power amps.

That's good, thank you, for being over $10k. But, yeah, it's very much about involvement. If I wasn't poor too...I don't want to think about it. But certainly, I could spend thousands of dollars on tube rolling only

Perkri summed it up for me.     I have two systems,  both modest compared to many here.   My second system gets me about 75 % "there"  compared to my main cost a lot less , zero fuss ,  sounds great.   I get a lot of enjoyment from it.    I listen to it a lot more than I thought I would 

I love music and I have been thinking about what to play,  not what I'm playing it on lately 

I think audiophile is primarily a passion and frame of mind. When you are truly passionate to get the best possible sound achievable… and people think you are crazy.

Often the test is monetary. Because the percentage you are willing to commit to your passion is a legitimate gauge. So the idea that an audiophile is someone who’s system cost more than his automobile(s). This has been true for all of my life… even when my car was a used cheap Datsun 1200 and now with a contemporary 4Runner and Lexus in the garage.

It is about passion and commitment.


On the other hand there are audiophile components. These are built to exacting requirements where component costs are unimportant… sound quality is the only objective. These tend to start around $10K to $20K. So every aspect is optimized… the best… not cheapest subcomponents are used.

So, budding audiophiles seek out off brands, used audiophile equipment and off beat techniques to get the best sound they can.

IMO cost has very little to do with being an audiophile. You can be an audiophile with your phone and a good pair of wireless earbuds, or an dongle DAC and a pair of cheap but good wired earbuds. So it really isn’t about the gear. It is about the intent of the listener to elevate their listening experience from just casual listening to one where there is an appreciation of the quality of the sound and/or the detail. As a matter of fact, if you never listened to recorded music and often attended live musical performances where the house system or performance gear was good, and you appreciated the sound and detail in the music and the performance, I would consider you an audiophile.

I helped a friend curate one of the best sounding systems I’ve heard in real life (ie in a home not in a show room or audio show) for $3k.  It absolutely spanks some $20k systems I’ve heard.. 


I think it’s about sitting back and being transported to the venue.. It’s possible ina very affordable way with some research and patience.

personally I’ve rejected that label when applied to me.. I take it as a pejorative term.

Today I took two old amps,a Classe Ca 100  and a old AMC 30 watt tube model into the little local shop I frequent. I wanted him to check them out and get a clean bill of health ( they’re techs too ) before I listed them for sale. We ended up listening to both my amps and the monster Mark Levinson amp he had running before I came in. Other equipment was, vintage rebuilt Luxman pre, Aurender N10 server ,a korean dac that they import and Usher speakers. We listened to all types of music changing out the amps ( Classe still sounds great ) and ultimately he ended up buying the two amps, fine by me saves the hassle of shipping heavy amps. So all in all we listened to some pretty good equipment, and when I walked out a there it was the first time out of dozens of times hanging out in his shop that I was able to say to myself “ wow my system sounds better “. It cost me a pretty good sum to able to say that , was it worth it? Oh hell ya😀!


It is about passion for the gear, not price.

The fallout from my assault on the low end has resulted in a garage full of boomboxes and mini-systems.

As a self-proclaimed transport junkie, a high-end CD system starts at about 2K for the transport alone. If you don't get the transport right, the rest of the system will sound "mid-fi" no matter what you spend. Spending more on downstream equipment will only reinforce that "mid-fi" sound.

The actual cost of music is next to nothing, a Qobuz subscription gets you more high quality music than one could listen to in decades (ok, that might be an exaggeration 😂).  The equipment to stream it, amplify it, and speakers to listen to it on in a decent quality sound system would likely be $3k on the cheap end, less if used, the sky’s the limit from there!

I guess I figure my Audiofile enthusiasm started back in 1962 when I got my first 2 transistor radio. I’ve been a lost cause ever since. It’s not the investment but rather your state of mind.

There was a reason I never joined a fraternity in college, or joined a political party. I’m in it for my enjoyment. Don’t need the title or anyone to tell me how to get there.  

Even what most would consider a modest system, it is nicer than anybody that I know so I figured that makes me a de facto audiophile amongst my friends. 

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The cost argument is silly. When I was in my late teens I got a KLH Model 20 compact system because I knew it simply sounded better than any other inexpensive system. It just did. That approach has served me well over the decades and continues with my current heap that simply sounds great with components that are far from precious. You just have to listen to music and decide what sounds good, and judging by price is simply stupid.

I'll respond in a different way. When I brought my first good system back in 1979, nothing too fancy, but it sounded great (Marantz receiver, Advent speakers, Pioneer turntable with Shure M95 cart.) - you would call it a low-end audiophile system back then. It cost around 1200.00 (I don't remember the exact price, but that's close). Then with inflation,  a low-end but good sounding system today would be around $5K. And that would buy you a pretty good sounding system today. Not $400K good, but a system that would impress the average person, and even an audiophile. 

But on he other hand, I had friends who had an Empire Turntable or an AR, a Shure V15 or Micro Acoustic, and maybe JBL 100 Speakers or Mirage. Which would have cost 4 times what Mine did and therefore would today put you into $20K. And of course you could go much higher then that.

IF: makes you forget the day, and puts you into that 'zone' where you forget that you're experiencing devices and just enjoying the 'transport' you sought....

The price is irrelevant.

Ear buds off the cell, thru electrostat phones off the mains.

RatShack boxes from the garage sale driven by that 'vintage' from a friend, that led you to the 2nd mortgage stack in the basement with 'padded cell walls'....

You will spend what you want to

You will spend what you have to

You will spend what you shouldn't

Pick your level of commitment...

Get committed by your level of commitment....

"....just a little 'prick'......There......" *G* ;)

I've spent more, and less....$, that is....

The amount of time?

Can't put a number on that.....won't put one on it, either....


It follows me like a puppy....always ready to play....*s*


"Audiophile" is a label, and it depends on who is doing the labeling. It is a state of mind and a commitment to a personal goal. It will cost something, in money or time. It isn't about meeting any particular spending goal. The person who seeks an opportunity to hear something rare and special, even if they can't buy or own whatever it is can be as much an audiophile as the person who teaches himself the necessary craft to build a music playing device that no one manufactures any longer for the sake of having the opportunity to hear music played. There are people who have carefully built their own speakers and amplifiers who may rightfully have a greater claim to be an audiophile than the person spending the price of a house on a sound system. The people who go on about spending floors for excellent sound and who dismiss those who don't spend those amounts just don't get it. The person who hand builds a unique loudspeaker from carefully curated parts and builds an amplifier to bring the best from that loudspeaker to reach their listening goal has traveled much farther toward the goal of an audiophile than most high-dollar audio shop customers ever will.


I helped a friend curate one of the best sounding systems I’ve heard in real life (ie in a home not in a show room or audio show) for $3k.  It absolutely spanks some $20k systems I’ve heard."

I frequently hear comments like this and then, of course, the poster does not post any of the components.