HiFi snobbery, or is it just me?

June 16, 2010

Chances are at some stage you’ll have walked into a HiFi shop innocently browsing at the latest and greatest gear on display, when along comes Mr Salesperson, eager to program his knowledge directly into your weary and unsuspecting brain.
It starts thus: “I’ve got a Sansui amplifier, and Thorn Ambiosonic speakers along with a Funai cd player, and my cabling is black and red bellrip I found in an abandoned building back in ’75”.
What happens next is an automatic response of sarcastic smirking, followed by that ‘you really don’t have a clue, do you’ look of unbridled snobbish superiority.
Nothing you can do will placate the guy, or re-inflate your sense of worthiness.
So once humiliated, the only alternative is to back out the way you came in avoiding any eye contact with the chuckling salesperson – never to return.

It’s an exaggerated scenario of course, but there is a definite seam of HiFi penis envy amongst some audiophiles.
The trick is to not get yourself wound up in audio snobbery, and there is one extremely good reason for it.
Your ears do not lie.
The components in your system may not be the latest and greatest or have double-barreled names, but if the system works together in your room and delights you, well it’s the perfect system for you.
Of course if you are looking for improvements take on the salesman’s advice, but it pays to shop around and visit other dealers and importantly: always take your own music with you when auditioning equipment.
Luckily the days of the audio snob are in decline and most dealers employ great staff with genuine passion and knowledge, but never forget reason number 2: it’s all about the music, not the equipment!


  1. Hehehe… but there are one or two decent dealers out there… then again over the years I have been treated to some hifi salesman snobbery of the highest proportions when trying to buy a Dynavector cartridge and Kimber cables… (those brands should give you a hint at the establishment I mean).
    Some retailers out there expect you to know exactly what you want when you walk in the door, and that usually isn’t the case. I may have a vague idea, but I do want sage advice without being belittled or preached at…

  2. I’ve seen some classic audio snobbery over the years (and been on the receiving end of some).

    The worst I’ve encountered was at a now defunct Auckland AV store, where a punter asked if he could hear one of his CDs and the sales guy sort of sniffed and said “you can’t really play that kind of music on this system Sir” and then proceeded to put on some Dire Straits instead. Needless to say, the punter promptly pushed off and took the potential sale right out of the door with him….

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