RMAF 2012 – Seminar – High Fidelity for All Budgets: Engaging Your Friends In the Hobby

One of the most challenging aspects of audiophilia is keeping it relevant.  But, in these trying economic times, how do continue growing our hobby?  John E. Klintz of The Soundsmith in Georgia is a fervent believer that involving your friends and family is the best way to move audiophilia forward.  The key is making it accessible while being approachable.

In his RMAF 2012 seminar, “High Fidelity for All Budgets: Engaging Your Friends in the Hobby,’ Klintz begins by dispelling some of the common myths surrounding high end audio.

Audio Myths:

1. “If it’s new, it must be better.”  Sometimes, but not always – the classics remain so because they still work like a charm after forty years.

2. “I have “tin ears” – I can’t hear a difference between my $50 all-in-one and your painstakingly chosen components.”  Well, if that was truly the case, we would’ve all been happy with the clock radios we grew up with.  Even the most stubborn “tin eared” listener has likely moved up from a clock radio to a better system by the time they reached high school.

3. “The more expensive, the better.”  Again, we have to look towards vintage components – many are less costly than their newer counterparts and work just as well, if not better.

4. “You get what you pay for.”  Definitely false.  Those $3000 loudspeakers won’t help if they’re tied to a bad source.

5. “If it’s popular, it must be good.” There’s a certain music system advertised on television regularly that promises “lifelike sound” – but just ask any audiophile how “lifelike” it is.  It’s like the old saying goes, “Just because everyone’s jumping off the bridge, does that mean you have to?”

6. “More is always better.” Some rooms and systems require more components, yet some don’t.  This is the type of generalized statement that will keep your friends shying away from high end audio.

7. “This hobby is for geek males.”  Categorically false.  While this hobby is predominantly male-oriented, few identify as “geeky.”  And most importantly, Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is run by a WOMAN!  Good sound is gender-neutral!

So what does Klintz suggests you do? Developing a System Roadmap is a great way to get started.  A roadmap will help keep your goals in line with the technology and prevent you from going overboard or getting bogged down in extraneous details.  Here he is talking about the key points of a good System Roadmap:

So you’ve followed all the steps, but the sound still isn’t quite right.  Now, it’s time to do the research.  Go see and hear other systems, find a local knowledgeable dealer, visit audio forums like Audiogon’s, but always remember to trust your OWN ears and use your own music when demo’ing a component.  Consider the basics like dynamics, tone, and rhythm before imaging and soundstage.

In the end, your system should disappear and the music should evoke an emotional response, not a clinical one.  Using the steps John Klintz outlined for us, this should be an attainable goal for newbies to pros.  But how do we grow the hobby?

1. Study and choose wisely.

2. Always remember the source – you Get Out What You Get In

3. Engage your friends, inspire them through demonstration

4. Use your own stories and try to make at least one positive comment to four people each week – create interest!

5. Find like-minded individuals in audio communities.  Take newbies under your wing and teach them!!!!

As with any hobby – sports, cooking, knitting – it’s easy to fall into a superior mindset when you’ve reach a certain level.  Don’t do that! Remember that you too were once a newbie who needed guidance – pay that forward with the younger generation now!

So Members, what tips do you have for sharing your hobby?  We’d love to hear any stories you might have about turning someone into an audiophile!  Sound off in the comments below!


  1. The MP3 is the best lesson in audiophilia…I regularly play an MP3, than a CD/SACD and finally the vinyl of the same recording for friends. They suddenly realize what they have been missing with their crappy iPod boom box/Bose/Sonos system. Until they understand what cognac is supposed to taste like, they don’t realize that E&J brandy is a different drink. We can’t all drink Napolean, but a nice Hine is still a great pleasure.

  2. My tip for newbies is if your amp sounds terrible with the speakers you are using try another set, in my experience their is a speaker for ever amplifier and reciever, You may have a pioneer system generally pioneer systems favour the bottom end so you can use speakers that favour the trebble to balance it out. I had a pioneer sx-1050 hooked up to sansui tower speakers,these speakers were so bright they hurt your ears, however when hooked up to the pioneer they
    out preformed many multi thousand dollar speakers, if you have real boomey sprakers
    find an amp that favours the tweeter and mids. You will be amazed at trying out different combinations. As the saying goes oppersites Attract. Hope this has been of some help to someone out there
    Cheers and keep on grooving

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