How rare is an audiophile

I’ve been extremely busy lately and not had a chance to sit back and listen to music  on my system for a few weeks. I’ve streamed my favorite music in the car and on a small JBL Flip-4 portable speaker; which by the way “punches way above its size class.”  I continued to enjoy music whenever, wherever, and however i can during this “dry spell.”

So now its 5 am Sunday morning. I know i’ll be spending most of the day listening on the JBL when my wife and I drive out to a lake house we bought recently and are furnishing and getting ready for 4 generations to enjoy lake life this summer and for years to come. 
I’ve let my system warm up and hit play on my CD player. I now find myself in total bliss listening to Chris Standing’s newest CD “The Lovers Re-mix Collection.”  The effect of the quality of the sound of the music my wife and i are enjoying right now with a cup of coffee is hard to explain, but it brought literal tears of joy.  

I started thinking, how many people are like us?  What % of the population are audiophiles (whatever your definition of an audiophile is)?

I know the answer is heavily dependent on which country you live in. I live in the US along with ~332,000,000 fellow citizens (please, lets not get political on the meaning of population or citizen). 
Are we the 0.1%ers?  Are there ~332,000 audiophiles in the US?

i’d be interested in what others think about how rare our species is.


I guess your question is what percentage of the U.S. population are audiophiles.  In my experience 1 in 1000 is a bit high.  Probably more like 1 in 5,000.

Yeah, I really don't know any locally...  none of my co-workers, friends , or family.   

It's extremely small. The high end watch industry is likely 50,000 times larger than the hi-end audio industry.

Take the total number of subscribers to Stereophile and TAS for a good ballpark estimate!

The only local Audiophiles I know are the guys at Natural Sound in Framingham MA

I know three people who have gear and only two regularly listen. The other ones wife won't let him enjoy himself. They all have vintage gear and don't believe whatsoever that power cords, interconnects, speaker wires or anything for that matter can make a difference. They don't have an external dac or believe that a tube preamp will make a difference with there ss amps. They don't frequent any audio forum. 
I know one other guy who has several hundred grand of totl gear, he has a serious setup. He's a complete nut who often upgrades, I can't afford his used gear. 

I deal with several people on a daily basis and the first thing I ask them is about audio gear and records, no one has any interest at all and threw away there records 30 years ago.


A good sign for the continuing viability of the audiophile hobby is the upward trend of LP sales! Plus the stability of the print subscriber base for Stereophile and TAS. 

Urgent message to all audiophiles: less tweaking and  listening and step up  the breeding or else.

After pursuing high end audio and being an executive (meaning circulating with lots of other management and thousands of employees) I have never randomly met one that I know of. Not one. So, the number is small. 300K… that probably is not a bad guess.

Hasn't music appreciation been removed from Grammer, Middle and (except for Band) High School? The communists know, you have to get to kids when they are young else they are lost. This goes for music as well.

In Catholic school second grade, we gathered, without notice, in the assembly hall. For a good two hours listened to about twenty classical musicians play. Overwhelming and inspiring. In high school, we'd listen to the same (classical) music day-after-day. Our wise music teacher borrowed this technique from top 40 radio until we started to "appreciate" what we were hearing.

I am a Primary Care Physician have practiced about 35 years.  Once you get a patient for a year or so you start to learn about their interests.  I have known exactly 1 Audiophile in that time.  Amongst my colleagues in that time, perhaps one more, although I’ve known several that bought expensive gear just because they have to have “the best” of everything, even if they are clueless about how to use it

Excellent question! I've often thought the same about how rare is the audiophile. I'm in the construction industry. After a hard day many seek some kind of relief. Many use music to distract from boredom on job sites. More often now, (Happily) phones stream music into headphones or else I'd still be subject to "boom boxes" blaring out either classic rock or country ALL DAY LONG at immeasurable distortion levels. Not surprisingly many have rigged up systems at home. (some to which I've sold my upgrade hand-me-downs:) A custom cabinet guy is the only audiophile I've bumped into. (Harbeth speakers Real turntable  etc) He may or may not qualify. All his gear was stolen in one fell swoop and he doesn't seem eager to replace it. If that happened to most of us an aggressive replacement agenda would be pursued ASAP. Look what we do if a piece of kit burps one too many times! So unless I hang out in Grand Rapids Michigan (Or wherever) at a high end store our paths will probably never cross. Check out attempts to create local audiophile groups on this forum! Not very successful as a rule. Could be most are pseudo-hermits locked in their sweet spot, saying, "swoosh... quiet I'm trying to enjoy the music!"  

Not that I've looked that thoroughly, but I'd guess you can count the number of high end audio enthusiasts on my island on the fingers of one hand.

Last time I checked, we're on the Endangered Species List.
And moving up.

All the best,


Hasn't music appreciation been removed from Grammer, Middle and (except for Band) High School? The communists know, you have to get to kids when they are young else they are lost. This goes for music as well.

In Catholic school second grade, we gathered, without notice, in the assembly hall. For a good two hours listened to about twenty classical musicians play. Overwhelming and inspiring. In high school, we'd listen to the same (classical) music day-after-day. Our wise music teacher borrowed this technique from top 40 radio until we started to "appreciate" what we were hearing.


Great post, brought back memories from my first school where we sat in the assembly hall and listened to various recordings.

2 memories still remain. 

Those programmes often featured the voice of children's presenter Johnny Morris who famous for doing his animal impressions of animal voices talking.

Secondly, at some point they changed the speakers and I didn't like the changeover. It really bothered even at 5/6 years old.

Does this mean I was born an audiophile?

This is an interesting question, but one I've never considered before. Although I have family all over the world I can't say there's a single audiophile amongst any of them.

Not one.

Even my sister with her Sony / NAD/ JBL system would necer consider herself as an audiophile.

My nephew thinks his Bose headphones sound really good, but I don't think that would qualify him either.


Of course just what actually is an audiophile is open to debate, but I think most of us here would say that to qualify as one you have to place considerable (everyone else might say undue) emphasis upon sound quality.


Unfortunately, by that definition, this also includes those people who seem to love equipment more than actually listening to music. Heck, I used to be one of those myself.

The same might also apply to inveterate tweakers. Yes, I was one of those too, but these days to quote Andrew Robinson, I'd consider myself a recovering audiophile when it comes to equipment fetish and tweakery.

Given that sheer weight of numbers against us, perhaps we should be asking ourselves, what's wrong with us?


Or perhaps it's them, not us?

Big difference between an audiophile and one who just loves music! I know plenty of music lovers that enjoy music on a low to mid fi system! As far as audiophiles go they are few and far between!!

Leave it to our resident quacks to read into something that's not there.  For at least 3 decades (if not longer), funding for the arts have been cut or scaled back, long before the commies became a thing as their hobby horse.

That, and isn't it obvious from all the flack these types have been getting since book bans and school takeovers that they're just projecting, as usual?

All the best,

I’ve never met one.  And given that I think music has, in general, progressed over the years, disqualifies me as one, so that makes zero.

I think we are a small dying breed. Talked to guys I hadn't seen for 40 years or more who used to be into the gear like I was. Sadly they make remarks like "oh, are you really still into that stuff?" Acting as if it were something I should have outgrown. 

Let’s see, my high-school English teacher, a former doctor, the guy who redid the floors in our house, and (most likely) the three people I’ve sold gear to on Audiogon. I never thought that was a lot of people until I read this thread!

Sadly, many musicians are amongst the worst. One bassist I've known since we were kids in elementary school listens to music on the speakers in his computer. Back in the 1980's he put his LP's in the carport of his condo (in San Jose a lot of apartment buildings ended up being sold as a group of "condos"), and doesn't have even a separate CD player, let alone turntable. He saw my pair of Infinity RS-1b's and said to me: "Ya know, nobody has big speakers anymore."

Yogiboy hit the nail on the head as there are a lot of people who enjoy music but very few who are audiophiles. I have been very fortunate to meet a few most of whom  have become good friends. Nowadays there are so many distractions that for someone just to sit down and listen to music outside a concert event is unusual. I would love to introduce others to this crazy hobby but I just don’t think the interest is there.


Am I an audiophile? I don’t know. In 1990 I bought the best system I could afford. I recently had it all refurbished. It’s what I’m used to and I like the sound. It’s not that extravagant but it sounds as good or better than anybody else’s system I have ever known. I didn’t buy it for that though. I bought it for me based on the salesman’s advice at the time.

How many others in my lifetime have I met that like decent sounding music? Not many at all. There was one guy with a similar budget. We grew up together and bought our systems at about the same time. We had our own tastes but respected and admired each others purchases. He passed away years ago unfortunately and his equipment was scattered to the winds.

Mostly what I get from people is "I like listening through my phone" or "You spent $1200 on a cassette deck? You’re nuts!" The world has come to be filled with folks who want stuff cheap and easy, not of high quality or durability.

In addition to jasonbourne71's comment, I would take  the attendance totals for Axpona and Munich Hi End.  I think that anyone who attends these functions would qualify as an audiophile.

Answer is simple. Audiophiles, US and Globally, are very rare. We should be on the UN endangered species list, and I would say the largest concentration of audiophiles are in the US. I truly don’t think there is more than 100,000 true audiophiles (just people who like good music reproduction and willing to invest time in it) in the US. That’s < 0.003% of the US population. And even though recent resurgence of vinyl and even R2R sales has been encouraging, I am losing more and more of my audiophile friends all over the world. Last month, we lost the founder of Feastrex Japan, maker of high end speaker drivers and an ardent audiophile first. His son is shutting down the business. AR is in financial troubles recently. Bill Thalmann, Music Technology, who does a lot of high end audio repairs and servicing is also shutting down. I hope to convert at least one of my kids to be an audiophile but we shall see or rather pray. The next presidential candidate who is an audiohile gets my vote. A candidate who is an audiophile will likely be less of a because at the end of the day, they sit down and try to listen for the "truth". LOL. 😆. 

As soon as their is a majority agreed upon definition of "audiophile", the number can be estimated..

OP here.  After a long day hard at work, I’ve finally had time to read everyones thoughts on the subject. So far, it appears most think we are indeed a rare species perhaps approaching endangered status. I’m in that camp also. I live in Huntsville Alabama which became our state’s largest city last year. We have the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the Redstone Arsenal, genetic engineering business incubatos/companies, the FBI ordnance training school, 2 universities, a regional medical center etc.. i’ve read that Huntsville has the highest per capita post college graduate degreed population in the US. All this is to say there are a lot of school educated people with good incomes. I’ve met many people here who enjoy music and go to concerts (here in Huntsville, Nashville, and Atlanta).  I’ve travelled to many states for my work meeting and working with lots of people that ive gotten to know.   But i’ve never come across another audiophile. Or at least willing to admit they were. 

@riie, im sorry, but i don’t understand you comment “Based on your question, you shouldn’t be that busy.”

@roxy54, i didnt want to post my system (very modest compared to the majority of the chat contributors ive read over the years) to avoid the discussion getting sidetracked. I can share that on a separate discussion. 

Any more thoughts on % or number of audiophiles in the US are welcome. 



I guess I’m an outlier here. I already had audiophile friends in high school. In college, just about all the guys in the dorms were into good stereos, and several had what even today, and even after years of earning, would still be considered good equipment (Advent and ESS speakers, Stax headphones, etc.). For some years I’ve belonged to a very active Audio Club (about 30 regular members, meetings every other month or so; Richard Vandersteen is coming to visit us in September). Three of my good friends are serious audiophiles, with much more invested financially in their rigs than I have in mine, who are not even club members. Frankly, most of the people I’m fond of are audiophiles to some degree. Just about everyone other than my wife—who, however, is a pianist and musicologist. Go figure.

I personally know one aspiring audiophile who can afford anything and is ready for an system upgrade; have met a radio engineer who admired my system and wished for something equivalent; and today learned that my cousin's son is a music blogger. She sent him a photo of my system and he reportedly commented, yeah, I want to build something like so I can hear everything on the records (he's a vinyl-only guy, about 40). So while we're very much a rare breed, we're not yet quite yet extinct.

@mapman....Well, can't even more than then....:(

Had that output of my personal 'signal injection system' disconnected some 35ish+ years back....spouse agreed and supported that move....

Rare event last night, local buddy who likes what I do and have done brought by a buddy of his from FL.....he'd talked to Pete about what I've got, what I do, and popped by for awhile..

Pete was a nice enough sort, listened to a pair of my omnis', and I'd appraise as being 'polite enough'....

Saw my handful of various raw woofs, and got excited about his collecting  Peavy woofers, and a pair of 18" he'd scored recently, commenting that his spouse had suggested...."Not enough amplification...."

He did notice I've got 5 pieces of Behringer I'd wager into 'pro PA audio' and/or 'decent automotive sound'; the latter based as we all laughed at the 'boomers' installs that sound like the bolts and hardware are loosening on their 'rides'...

The one woof that caught Pete's eye is a MTX 12" sub salvaged from an attempt to replace a 'normal' 12", the rest being basically trashed....can't say i didn't suspect why that happened....

35 lbs. of steel with a magnet the diameter of a softball, 2+" thick.

I keep everything away from it.

Can't find it in their 'vintage' lists. has no model notation on it....other than 

RFL! in big red letters, and the notation

"Designed to rip your face off!" (all caps,of course).

Am I a 'phile'? An audio degenerate of sorts?  A nasty narrow minded jade?

All the above? None of it?

I amuse myself well enough...hopefully that counts.... ;)

One of my favorite parts of having a decent system is having people curious listen to their favorite songs and realizing a different appreciation for music. And I've since gotten my parents and several friends on the train.


Everyone appreciates quality music, and sharing that is part of the hobby in my view.

several audiophile youtube channels have 300K subscribers. I assume they are audiophiles or interested to become one, why else would you listen to those presentations.

Based on the average user profile here (close to retirement/old, male) which is about 13 million people in the US and also affluent, which is about 10%, - that would make 1.3 million people to have the potential (time and money) to be an audiophile. But of course very few are interested, maybe 1 in 10. So around 130K people.... The other angle is the size of the audio business, which implies  a similar scale. 

You and your wife sound like music lovers first and audiophiles a close second. When the two meld together, great things happen. Thanks for sharing your experience. Tonight, listening to GoGo Penguins / A Humdrum Star has hit me straight in the feels. That kind of talent astonishes me. 

Whilst there must be doubt about actual numbers, what can certainly be said is that we are getting rarer..  Gen Xers, Zers and Millennials are not at all interested in the quality of sound, that's how MP3 and all the other competitor low-grade systems got going.  Not to mention digital broadcasting and listening in cars and on computers and handphones.

Almost all audiophiles are Boomers and we're fast dying out.


@oddiofyl  - Depending on what you consider local:


-Goodwin's High End in Waltham is excellent and has been my go to. They're one of very few that has a Wadax setup alongside dCS gear + others (Shunyata, Spectral, MIT Cables, Avalon, Rockport, Vinnie Rossi)

-Safe and Sound in Chicopee has a good selection of gear too (Moon, Focal, B&W, Dynaudio, Esoteric, EMM Labs/Meitner)

-Fidelis in Nashua, NH also good (MSB, Wilson)

Also, Millennial here :) 


main problem I've seen with my generation: they prioritize convenience over quality.

Audiophiles of any type are very rare these days. I'm 56 but when I was a young adult, almost everyone that I knew wanted to have a good stereo and collected music. As we moved along our journey some of these people stayed in the same lane, some continually collected (hoarded) and traded hardware as they loved the hardware components. Gear hoarders, not audiophiles. Some continued to collect music, but got corrupted by the crappy compressed audio wave, and strange enough, still refuse to agree that MP3 is garbage to audiophile types. So toss them out as they are not audiophiles. Some I thought were audiophiles ended up collecting LPs, but now we find them playing them on crappy gear only because whatever little turntable combo was trendy, but useless for anyone over the age of 13 probably. Remove those vinyl hipsters as they are only about a trend, not the performance of the music. Come up to the current day and it is truly uncommon to meet or talk to anyone who is really into the music, the quality of the sound, and the desire to have the best sound they can regardless of budget. I still have really good gear I bought when I was a broke kid, 40 years ago, but I also have some upgrades. I only know a few people that talk stereo or even high quality audio of any type. Most people are happy with whatever sound comes out of a Bluetooth speaker. Odd, but that's reality. Maybe .00000001 of the population? Wonder why we can no longer sustain specialty stereo/audio shops in many areas? 

Being an audiophile has nothing to do with lp sales, lp is just a very small group that likes to listen to vinyl. Not a big deal. Being a musician doesn't mean that you will never have decent equipment to play music on (I’ve been a musician for over 60 years and have many systems in my house from apple AirPods/HomePods, to a dedicated music room with over $100k of audio equipment.)

What is an audiophile? The OP might just be a lover of music. I listen to music all over my house, in my cars, golf cart, boat, and while bike riding. I love listening to music. The only reason I think I might be an audiophile is I travel around the country to the different audio shows to see if there is anything new that would increase the sq in my dedicated listening room, so I get wrapped up in gear upgrades more than I should. I think you can always tweak or upgrade over time to something better.




Rare indeed! Where I am in the Florida Panhandle, I don’t know anyone I can share this hobby with. There are no clubs, and no Hi Fi shops. I’m envious of those who can actually drive to a hi fi shop and look, listen and purchase audio. There are a couple of record shops but no serious hi fi. So I listen on my own. When I have guests over they look at my systems quickly and maybe a “wow,” “what’s that’s” or “that’s nice,” but that’s it and oh, “ can you turn that down?” So, if you have pals to enjoy the hobby with your are lucky!

I'm the only one I know of.... When I was young, I tried to get my parents to buy a nice system but they thought it was a waste of time and money as I feel all my current friends feel the same way. It's OK though.

@jasonbourne71 I'm not so sure that the surge in LP sales is an indication that those purchasers are audiophiles.  I've read a statistic that implied more than 50% of those purchased albums never get played.  They are purchased so someone has a physical "thing" that they can have in a collection.  They are most likely actually listen to music through streaming (and its probably Spotify).

Having said that, those folks are absolutely music enthusiasts and that is the first step to becoming an audiophile.  So you point is valid.  

One in five vinyl buyers has no record player… – Record Collecting Vinyl & CD New, Rare, Reissue & Box Set News (

Like a lot of things, audiophiles are not a homogenous group. It reminds me of that old saying, “One person’s ceiling is another person’s floor.” There are people (like me) that fancy themselves audiophiles that “real audiophiles” would not. Part of the difference is money — my entire system only cost $8,000, and for some here that doesn’t even afford what they consider high-end speakers. But, I think the bigger part of what makes an audiophile is the continual search for something better. It could be different equipment, room corrections, spacing of components, all the other tweaks that we read here that people have tried. I think of Mahgister as an audiophile, even though his equipment is modest — he tries all of the various tweaks that most likely don’t even think of, in pursuit of the elusive sound.

I used to consider myself a “baby audiophile”, as my equipment purchases have have been modest, while being open to making improvements. But then I realized that I’m likely not moving on from my initial equipment, for the foreseeable future anyway, because I don’t really want to fiddle with all the details and the hassle of trialing new equipment, sending it back, sampling something else, sending it back, finding something better and selling my old pieces, etc. And questioning, “Did I REALLY hear a difference, or am I fooling myself?’ I’m not good at selling anything, and I find most people want something for nothing. I’d just rather not deal with it. So, these days I’m mostly a “listener of music” rather than an audiophile. Which is OK. I still have better equipment than anyone else I know, and those people think I’m a nut for spending as much as I have.

P.S. I think of audiophiles as like the guys that keep adding stuff to their souped-up cars to make they go faster, corner better, look sportier and sound more aggressive. Obviously, these guys also love the tweaking and trying out new gear, and communicating with others that share that passion. Other people don’t understand them either.

For me it’s very hard to tell. I talk to people about music but rarely does the conversation shift over to systems and sources. I like you will listen to music any time and way I can. I am picky and do demand the best quality I can get given the situation. Take my car I upgraded to the mark levenson system and then use an external dac headphone amp run into the aux jack to deliver a great sound in my car. I will say that there are times I am in a couples home and get pleasantly surprised by their systems. I will say is rare but is nice to see there are others out there. Being an audiophile is not like a car collector or watch collector were you can drive and wear in public. It is mostly hidden inside homes if people who don’t flaunt it. 

I have friends who buy records.

I have friends who "spin vinyl".

I have friends who listen to music.

I have one friend who is an audiophile.

In my town of 200K+, I would guess there are less than 20 actual, bona fide tried-and-true audiophiles. Certainly no audio clubs here, though we do have one store that sells high-end gear. They make most of their sales on car stereo.