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Ear Training Tips for Aspiring Audiophiles and Hi-Fi Equipment Buyers

Ear Training Tips for Aspiring Audiophiles and HiFi Equipment Buyers

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Most aspiring audiophiles and HiFi equipment buyers miss out on an important prerequisite before heading to a local or online store and splashing their cash on whatever looks good and sounds nice. To be fair, that’s how most people start. However, by taking this shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach, they fail to understand and quantify their sound preferences and quality.

I know this may be hard to believe, but that’s okay. When I started, I didn’t know what I was looking for until I did some A-B testing. Since then, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on equipment – a lot of which I regret buying. Fortunately, over the years, I’ve gotten better and spent my money more wisely.

A few months back, I was listening to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. on my turntable, drifting in my thoughts, until I came up with a catchy phrase of my own – Ears of an audiophile.

Following this immersive, energetic experience, I had an epiphany while thinking about how I gradually trained my ears to listen like an audiophile and equip myself with the stunning HiFi multimedia speaker system I have right now.

I thought, why not talk about how I trained my ears to listen like an audiophile with my readers? So, in this post, I’ll share a few useful ear-training tips for HiFi equipment buyers and aspiring audiophiles.

By adopting them, you’d be able to distinguish the sound quality, just like differentiating cheap instant coffee from premium pre-ground beans or strip steak from ribeye.

How to Listen Like an Audiophile – 4 Ear Training Tips

1. Sharpen Your Sonic Senses

Over the years, I’ve transitioned from listening to music on tapes to loudspeakers, Walkmans, and iPods. I’ve tested thousands of songs and music playlists on hundreds of headphones and speaker systems. However, when I tested HiFi multimedia speaker systems for the first time, I was blown away. Most of the songs I had listened to a million times sounded different.

From that moment, I knew I couldn’t settle for consumer-grade audio formats and equipment. So, I started experimenting to sharpen my sonic senses and build a solid foundation for my future purchases. This wasn’t easy. However, I spoke to a few musician friends of mine.

They suggested trying out lossless audio formats, such as FLAC, WAV, or ALAC, for clearer sound and authentic representation of the music playing.

2. Head to a Vinyl Record Store

Growing up, I found record players and turntables visually intriguing. However, I never paid too much attention to them because they were rapidly becoming obsolete due to the CD revolution.

One day, I stopped by a local record store on my way back from school after seeing posters of some of my favorite artists back in the day and different cover art on display.

I thought it was really cool, so I walked right in. Boy, did it change my life.

I listened to some of my favorite songs, free from distractions. The more music I heard, the more experience I acquired related to recorded music and the equipment and audio formats used to produce those sounds.

So, anyone looking to learn to train their ears to listen like an audiophile should head to a record store, or better – equip their spaces with a record player, hopefully, an inexpensive one to get started before upgrading to a HiFi turntable.

Headphones on a microphone stand in a room with music posters and vinyl records on the walls.
Image: JumpStory

3. Leverage the Audio Glossary to Describe Sounds

To purchase the right HiFi equipment, you need to be able to describe the sound you’re hearing. This is perhaps the most important ear training tip for aspiring audiophiles as it will help them judge the overall quality of a system and distinguish between different audio qualities and nuances.

This is where an audio glossary can help. It contains hundreds of subjective terms used to describe sounds, including:

  • Dark – warm, rich sound
  • Boomy – sound with excessive bass
  • Bright – sound with strong treble and upper midrange production
  • Brilliant – crisp and clear sound
  • Cool – S=sound with low bass
  • Edgy – sound with turbulent harmonics and excessive treble, etc.

Using these terms will help you expand your good and bad sound spectrum by allowing you to describe what you’re hearing better. It’s similar to learning about different perfume flavor notes to help find your signature fragrance.

4. Play Around With Your Existing System

Finally, my last ear training tip for Hi-Fi equipment buyers is to treat their existing equipment (if any) like a car and optimize its performance before going for a new HiFi multimedia speaker system. This will boost your listening experience and allow you to test out different configurations. The difference between experienced audiophiles and casual listeners is often just curiosity.

Curiosity is what drives any music lover to hear different sounds inside their music and improve their equipment’s performance accordingly.

The first thing I recommend is listening to different genres and artists on the same equipment and using the vocabulary you’ve picked up from glossaries, sites, magazines, and videos to try different fixes for improvement.

For instance, I try to change my speaker placements according to the bass and treble. Sometimes, I bring them closer to each other. When listening to high bass, I move them slightly apart or closer to the wall for better absorption and reduced distortion.

If you own a system with a bundled digital-to-analog converter, opt for an upgrade. From my experience, this is one of the smartest ways to save money on new equipment and improve sound quality.

Listen. Learn. Listen.

Becoming an audiophile is a journey that involves continuous learning. With these four ear training tips for HiFi equipment buyers and aspiring audiophiles, you can ensure you get your money’s worth, whether you’re looking to set up a new system or looking for a minimalist upgrade.

I’ve learned that music will continue to evolve, and our musical tastes will do the same.

So, you should always listen actively and try to experience new sounds on different systems to keep learning and enjoying this amazing form of art.

Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.

Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.

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