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Are You More of an Audiophile or Videophile?

I've never considered myself an audiophile. Don't get me wrong—I deeply appreciate high-quality audio reproduction, and I know it when I hear it. But I've never seriously pursued the 2-channel hobby as exemplified in our sibling publication Stereophile. I believe this is because I've been a professional musician far longer than just about anything else in my life, and I spend so much time listening to live music that no reproduction system can compete in my ears.

On the other hand, I do consider myself a videophile—I spend hours calibrating my displays to meet the standards established by the industry, and I can't help noticing the smallest faults in a visual image. Of course, I also want my surround system to sound as good as possible—audio is at least half the home-theater experience, after all—so I carefully select and set up the audio components as well. But home theater is a fundamentally different experience than 2-channel music with no accompanying video.

What about you? Are you more of a 2-channel audiophile or home-theater videophile? Or do you pursue both hobbies about equally?

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice.

Are You More of an Audiophile or Videophile?

strongstein's picture

Reality would be video 60% - audio 40%

love the sound of good music BUT the starship blasting into another galaxy leaves my breathless - and the phasers!!!

ca1ore's picture

Well, I care about both audio and video quality, but I use my main system most of the time to listen to music - so I guss that makes me an audiophile first. However, I do listen to as much music as I can in 5.1 (either native or trifield), so I'd quibble with your desgination of '2-Ch audiophile'.

When watching a movie, it's hard to know for sure what an interstellar starship ought to sound like (as opposed to a piano or a violin), so I certainly get why folks might lean videophile.

Malcolm02's picture

I only have one system and use it for music (which I listen to a lot), movies, TV, concert videos, everything. So I need it to be good at everything. But when I'm watching a movie, if I had the choice of outstanding sound with mediocre picture quality, or the other way round, I'd choose the great sound. I find good sound immerses me in the experience more than a good picture. So I voted audiophile, but of course they are both important.

Animal1984's picture

Being a musician also I love live sound. Any speaker setup that can reproduce the clarity of an awesome recording I appreciate very much. I also do a little bit of live sound mixing for my church and whenever I mix I go for crisp sound over a powerful bassy sound. Any recording that can reproduce what an instrument sounds like in person is a recording I covet. A speaker and amplifier combo are only as good as the source pumped through them.

On the videophile side, ever since I bought an HDTV over 4 years ago along with a bluray player, I haven't looked back. Every person I can talk to about it, I extoll the virtues of watching true hidef. Sometimes it falls on deaf ears and sometimes it peaks the interest of others. I would definitely have to say I am one of those with "champagne taste on a beer budget". With my current situation it be more like a half soda/half water budget. I have even considered getting into the film industry to work on audio and video, still deciding too. Maybe one of these days I'll actually go to the Conservatory in arizona.

MatthewWeflen's picture

Definitely Video, no contest.

Based on the reviews I see on this site, true "audiophiles" seem to need to spend $5k plus on a setup, for one thing. I feel like high quality video is a lot easier and cheaper to obtain.

But another factor, as a new father, I do a lot of my critical movie-watching late at night. It's just not feasible to crank it and really take advantage of a DTS-HD mix. Not to mention the fact that I live in an urban condominium setting, which makes really cranking audio a non-starter.

Don't get me wrong, I've got an a/v receiver capable of 5.1 channel sound. But I'm not really willing to go beyond a HTIB setup for audio.

aopu.mohsin's picture

It's just becoming one of the most expensive hobbies of mine. But can't help it. I want everything to be perfect, both in audio and video world.

notabadname's picture

I find the audio can make the film more immersive than the image personally. A great score or convincing sound field can really carry me away. Think of your favorite scary film. Mute the sound and watch the image alone and not much feeling IMO. Now flip that, and close your eyes but hear the building string instruments, the sound of rustling leaves behind you as the villain sneaks up from behind . . .

For me, great sound alone can give me goosebumps.

msardo's picture

I would consider myself more into the audio versus the video. I do not need a perfect picture (although it should be pretty good), but I really enjoy the impact of sound. I love surround sound for movies and I enjoy listening to music. When it comes to music, depending upon my mood, I will listen in the traditional 2 Channel Stereo mode, or in multi-channel surround - since I have a Denon, I usually pick ProLogic IIx Music (available on most AVR's) or Denon's Multi-Channel Surround (a Denon post processing selection) which is pretty nice. Being a tweaker though, I am always adjusting the channel levels (volume) to get it "just right".

Mark_887's picture

Simple answer: i'm both! but if you ask me which one i pre-fer and use more then i say i would care about the video. Audio comes in second for me.

HardBoiled's picture

We need a new category: Home Theaterphile.

Easternlethal's picture

I think the problem is that home theatre components just aren't as good as audiophile components when it comes to sound quality and the industry makes it extremely difficult to build out someone's stereo system into surround.

For example, I have a PC that contains both music and video and currently running everything through a usb dac and to my preamp/amp and speakers, which works great for stereo.

But if I wanted to integrate my current system towards a surround system that was audiophile quality without replacing any of my existing components I'd have to a) find a surround processor that was as good as my dac when unfortunately there just aren't that many at the moment (most processors are crammed full of features and connectors and priced to sell in bulk and cannot compete against a top grade dac), b) buy separate speakers for the front and rear that match my front speakers (difficult if your front speakers are audiophile and don't come in a 5.1 range because hi fi showrooms tend not to stock them or don't have the skills to match rear with front speakers and there aren't that many manufacturers that make standalone centre speakers, so I'd have to buy a front speaker to use as a centre, but even then audiophile manufacturers usually sell them in pairs), c) find a separate preamp and amplifier.

K.Reid's picture

Imagine watching Gladiator, Lord of the Rings,
Star Wars, or Transformers without the score and incredible sonics. I don't care how good the film is, the score and sound effects are at least 50% of the experience in my opinion. Pair that with good story telling and solid acting and I'm good to go.

BTW, I love Stereophile, especially my faves Analog Corner by Michael Fremer and The Entry Level by Stephen Mejias.

A guy in Saskatoon's picture

I would have to argue that in this hobby you need to be both for the full at-home experience that we are all trying to achieve. And most of the people reading this magazine likely have audio systems that can far outperform the local theatre's horrible systems (I know mine can). But Mr. Wilkinson, your argument of being a videophile by default because "no reproduction system can compete with live music" simply doesn't make sense (no pun intended). If we followed that argument, then no display can match opening a window and looking outside to see true HD so there is no need to attempt video perfection.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
Of course, you are right that no display can match opening a window and looking outside. In fact, the color gamut and dynamic range of all displays is far smaller than what we see in real life. However, you will see no story presented there, unlike a live concert, where you will hear music as you would from an audio system. I suppose that live theater is to video as live music is to audio, but theater is fundamentally different than movies and TV shows, whereas live music is roughly the same as a recorded reproduction. Many audiophiles talk about reproducing live music as closely as possible, just as many videophiles talk about the best high-def being like "looking through a window," but you aren't going to see Star Wars looking through any window!
A guy in Saskatoon's picture

The perfection which audiophiles and vidoephiles pursue is a dangerous and ellusive (and therefore in our hobby fairly expensive) handmaiden. What makes it dangerous is what you refer to your collegues at Stereophile know all too well, it is really easy in attempting try to achieve some sort of audio perfection the hobbyist forgets the passion of the music. The same can be said of someone who is a videophile. The videophile no longer sees the artistry of film, instead they see crushed blacks, overblown reds, soft focus, sepia color, etc. which of course in many films is the directors' intention (okay, not crushed blacks). The best video and audio that can be afforded, yes, perfection, no!
So Mr. Wilkinson you have done so much for our hobby, both past and present, please don't end up pigeon-holing yourself as a videophile. "Once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny"

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I completely agree that many "philes" spend so much time fretting about quality of reproduction that they forget to enjoy the content, be it audio or video. I never said I strive for perfection in A/V reproduction, which is impossible to achieve. Rather, I advocate, as you say, "the best video and audio that can be afforded." To me, that goal epitomizes the best kind of "phile," and I'm proud to count myself among them, at least in terms of video—though, come to think of it, I suppose I'm also an audiophile in the sense of wanting the best audio reproduction that can be afforded, even though I know it's not going to equal a live performance.

In the end, it's a matter of balance between optimizing the quality of reproduction and simply enjoying the content. After all, part of the fun of our hobby is thinking about and playing with equipment, while the other part is playing music or movies and getting lost in the experience, which is more effective with high-quality reproduction.

A guy in Saskatoon's picture

Oh yeah, P.S.: If anyone is actually seeing Star Wars through their window in the words from the Woodstock concert video, ``Don`t take the brown acid. The brown acid is bad!`` :)

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I had thought to include a note in that comment about there being no story through a window unless you're a mystic or a stoner!
123sam's picture

As much as I love a good movie presented in the highest quality I care to give it,or going to the movies, music is my first love. My surround system is geared toward music first because I listen for hours without a brake. My plamsa tv may not see any action for days, except to play a DVD-A. I was bitten by the hi fi bug at about 10 years old, as I had to have the volume quite high I remember seeing the tubes in the stereo turning very dim and the sound getting lower. That stereo seen a lot of retubing in its' days in the 60s. Music Number 1 without any doubt.

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