High-end audio: It's a man's, man's, man's world

Audio is a male obsession, and that's too bad. Women love music just as much as men, so why aren't more of them interested in audio?

I wish it wasn't true, but most, I mean like 99% of all audiophiles are men. The vast majority of industry's designers and owners are men. During my sixteen-year stint as a high-end audio salesman, I had three or four female customers. That's out of thousands and thousands of encounters, and even away from the job, I can't remember ever meeting more than a handful of female audiophiles.

The Audiophiliac cradles a lovely Boston Acoustics speaker Steve Guttenberg

Men have a thing about things, we get off on the technology, and the look and feel of the gear speaks to us. The mere sight of a gleaming 150 pound amplifier can set our hearts a flutter. We get hung up on sound quality in ways that women don't relate to. Funny thing is, men believe women have better ears than men, but they don't seem to care about sound. And I have no doubt they love music just as much as men.

Most wives of audiophiles have some degree of benign acceptance of their husband's pursuit, but I remember the ones who expressed outright hostility to audio. Some harassed me over the phone, a few screamed at me, and one was reduced to tears. I think I understand what was going down: they resented the gear's physical imposition, and weren't happy about where their spouse's money was going. I had the most sympathy for the poor souls married to gear jockeys that bought and sold audio like normal people change socks. I knew plenty of guys who really tried to get their wives interested in audiophilia, or at least tried to have them sit and listen with them, but most gave up trying.

I'm not saying women can't be fascinated by technology, and I've met quite a few female recording and mastering engineers. But they weren't audiophiles.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.



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