Coming up: The next generation of audiophiles

We know you guys are out there, it's time to speak up and be heard!

It's true, most audiophiles are older, 40-plus-year-old people, but that's not to say there aren't a lot of young audiophiles.

A couple of years ago I met a 10-year-old audiophile at a hi-fi show when he walked right up to me and declared himself a loyal Audiophiliac reader. He peppered me with questions for a few minutes before his father joined the conversation -- he was also a 'phile, but nowhere as intense as his kid. The boy had already assembled a nice system, with a Creek amplifier, but I can't remember the speakers. I don't know if he believed me when I told him I was thrilled to meet him, but he made my day! He was the youngest audiophile I ever met.

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My friend's son Dylan with two of his favorite things -- a new copy of Elvis Presley's first album -- and a black kitten.

Adam Sohmer

Last summer I overheard a conversation in a record store between two teenage girls, no older than 15. One had just bought a new Audio Technica cartridge for her turntable, but the other one was adamant that Grado cartridges were better. They were up on their turntables too -- the Grado fan was using a Technics; the Audio Technica girl had a Rega turntable. They were into the music, but they were also into how their music sounded -- they were audiophiles!

It's one thing to listen to music squeezing out of a pint-size wireless speaker or a set of cheesy earbuds, quite another to dig deep into the sound with a pair of decent speakers and immerse yourself in the details the band fussed over for weeks or months in the studio. That's an audiophile thing; getting as close as you can to not just the music, but the essence of it.

I get plenty of emails from folks who are just getting started, and lucky for them the quality of entry-level audiophile speakers and headphones has never been better. The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers, and Pioneer SP-FS52 towers are both highly recommended, and the Klipsch RP-150M, Elac Debut B5 and B6 bookshelf speakers are incredible values. If those are out of reach, no worries: seek out the Dayton B652 Air bookshelf speakers.

As for amplifiers, I like the Lepai LP7498E a lot, and for a bit more money the Onkyo TX-8020 stereo receiver is also really nice. If you're just getting started with vinyl, the Audio Technica AT LP60 is highly recommended.

Of course, headphones are usually more affordable than speaker-based stereo systems, and dollar for dollar make better sound than speakers do. The 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphone or Focal Sphear in-ears, and Grado SR60e or SR80e full-size headphones might ignite a passion for high-quality sound.

The very affordable FiiO X1 portable music player is worth checking into for anyone curious about high-resolution music, or just a killer sounding music player that won't break the bank.

If any young audiophile readers want to chime in and share their experiences, do so in the Comments section below.

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