What was your Ah ha! moment in becoming an Audiophile?
Everyone started somewhere. What was the piece of equipment that initially sent you over the edge into caring about frequency response, specs, drivers, etc?

Mine had to be the Havi B3 Pro 1 when it was a complete unknown. Blew me away compared to the items I had previously. I made the jump to an audio-gd dac/amp and HE-500 real quick after that, and I don't have those anymore either.
thumb_upEspabo, westrom, and 8 others

Jul 25, 2018
Mine was when I had purchased the Shure SE215 a bit after they released. That was my gateway. I still have my 7-year old pair in working order though they are looking a bit beat up. For a long time, I was using such crappy headphones and earbuds (Skullcandy, cheap Sony's, random unknown brands, etc.). My most recent pair had broken for the umpteenth time and was looking for a new pair. I was fortunate enough to be in a local record store that had listening stations for all the new release CDs of the week. In one station, they had the 215s setup and I was just amazed. I had never realized what "better" sound was. Mind you, the 215 isn't audiophile by any means but coming from cheap earbuds that came with your Razr or Blackberry, these things sounded absolutely amazing. Fast Forward 7 years later and I still feel like I am always finding a new amp, or DAC, or heapdhone that gives me the same feeling when I sampled the 215 for the first time all those years ago.
Jul 25, 2018
When it came to audio in general I actually started with the home theater route. I was putting my wife through college at the time, so money was tight. One of our favorite things back then was going to movies, so I decided that the best thing to do was to save money by setting up a home theater (Awww...that might have been my first good self-delusion to rationalize buying electronic toys).
DVD was pretty new, so I ponied up for one to add to my VHS player and my huge 32" TV. Everything was just fine until I noticed there was something called Dolby Digital on the DVD menus. I made sure nobody needed to use the phone, and fired up my trusty AOL modem to do some research. That started me on my quest. I made friends with the stereo store in the city where I worked, bought the cheapest used receiver I could find, and they were kind enough to give me some of their speaker castoffs, since I didn't have money for speakers.
My first setup literally had five completely different types of speakers, since their castoffs were situations where one of a pair had been damaged or destroyed. It was a total monstrosity, and now that I know better, it must have sounded awful - but I loved it! I was hooked and have had a home theater ever since.
What's funny is that, even though I have loved music since my teens, I never really got into headphones until just a few years ago. I had tried several, including some Sony's, Klipsch's, and Senns, but I honestly was one of those people who was like, "Nah, there's no difference - why would you spend more than $20." But after a discussion with my team at work, I was curious enough to try again.
I picked up a pair of Senn HD558s on a Black Friday deal at Best Buy. Feeling nostalgic, I threw on my "Live at the Roxy" CD from Social Distortion - and my mind was blown! It had been 15+ years since I had been to a Social D show, but when it started playing I felt like I could see the stage, Mike Ness moving around behind an old-school mic, Dennis Dannel messing with his guitar, the distortion screech just before the wall of guitars hit. It lit up visual and auditory memories from decades past in a way I hadn't experienced before. And that was that.
After all these years, I'm just about done with my "dream" home theater, and managed to include a very comfy headphone listening station to boot. After I put on the finishing touches, I'm looking forward to sharing it on the "rigs" board to see what y'all think.
There are SO MANY.
But. My absolute epiphany would be when I learned that "there's something BETTER!"
I was in high school. All I could afford with my crap odd jobs and local veterinary after-hours doggy sitter/walker/feeder was a mix of a junked Radio Shack receiver, a cheap used car cassette player, a set of Idon'tevenknowbrand speakers and an Idon'tevenknowbrand turntable that had an elderly bent and skippy needle* on there. I had this Leo Kottke record album my Dad gave me, I played it over and over and over on that rig. For my birthday, we went to a live performance by Mr. Kottke. I'm like, "Wow. NOTHING like this is coming out of my record player!" Made it hard for me to listen to that record so much any more because it seemed so poor.
Then...I went to college. One of the guys in my dorm was into the electronic-geek schtick, he had this tube amp he'd built, a refurbed Denon TT, and a set of Beyerdynamic DT770's, (Yes. The very ones I wound up owning because he sold them to me), he let me listen to my beloved Leo Kottke album on that rig. It was so much closer to the magic I had heard coming from that stage at the concert that I sortofalmostmaybe cried. That was me understanding that "there's something BETTER!" I had to have it, and I understood, in that instant, that, if his rig was better, then there were likely even MORE BETTER equipments out there.
So, now I pursue that "there's something BETTER!" ethos. I try not to spend too much money, (but enough to achieve a very aurally satisfying experience), since, 1) I'm still paying off med school, and, 2) The one thing the concert vs. my crap rig taught me is that live performance will always be better and I save the extra cash for attending that. And maybe there's some little piece of my brain that wants it to stay that way..... ;)
I still have those DT770's. Still have that Kottke album and the ticket stub from that concert. I'll always keep them. Because they gave me so much...more than the concert, more than a scratchy old vinyl, more than a closed-back set of cans that got me through snoring room-mates in the dorm while I was up studying late at night.


* required 3 pennies taped on the cartridge to keep the needle in the grooves at all.
Jul 23, 2018
First ah ha moment was when i was auditioning the Infinity reference 60 and I just HAD to hear the Harbeth in the other room. At the time, it was about 3 times the price of the infinity so i passed and have regretted ever since.
Second was with my wilson audio watt puppy speakers. I had a Sonus Faber cremona at the time and i immediately traded it in to upgrade to an ugly, grey, boxy but truly mesmerising speaker.
Third was when I bought my UE triplefi IEMs with the Graham slee Voyager about 8~9 years ago.
Fourth was today, when i powered on my R2R-11 that i received this morning, paired with my hifiman 4xx. I finally found an amp that makes the 4xx not suck (so far).
People say the R2R-11 only gets better in time, so I'm optimistic!
Jul 23, 2018
My recent acquisition of a Stax SR-009 + Mjolnir Audio KGSSHV Carbon resulted in another "Ah ha!" moment. Having owned other flagships with excellent amplifiers, such as the Audeze LCD-4 and LFF Code-6 (modded HiFiMan HE-6) and having auditioned most other flagships, a well driven SR-009 just decapitates all of them and it's not even close. Similar to when I went from garbage gaming headsets to the Audio Technica ATH-A900X years ago.
Jul 22, 2018
My ‘ah ha’ moment was when I bought some HyperX Clouds a few years back that blew me away. I had, up to that point, been listening to some Best Buy brand (Insignia) computer speakers and occasionly using some Razer cans my brother bought me. From there I bought a Schiit Stack on a whim (Modi 2 Uber with a Vali), which was the best whim ever! Then I got serious and picked up some HD 650’s. It was truly amazing. Now I have a pair of LCD-2C’s and a Jotty and couldn’t be more pleased! =D
Jul 21, 2018
I was parked in the back of a warehouse shipping cell phones with a co-worker from hell. She NEVER shut her mouth, white foam formed on the corners of her mouth sometime. Before completely losing my shit, I bought a pair of Sony Mdr7506 running on my 4gb sony mp3 player. Been hooked ever since - current favorite setup is Mrspeakers aeon flow closed, hd650, and Fiio Q5 bluetooth to galaxy s8. Recently got into making my own cables and have been having fun trying different material.
Jun 15, 2018
I've had many moments. Listening to my father's record collection in the late 70s and early 80s and discovering Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Miles Davis, Santana, BB King. I don't remember the brand of receiver or speakers, but they sounded great.
Another was when my mom bought a Kenwood stack. It had a turntable, EQ, dual cassette , a CD Player and huge tower speakers. The first CD I bought was Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I needed more. Almost 35 years later, I still have that CD.
Next was in college. I bought a Sony receiver and blew out the speakers I had. The same ones I used to listen to my dad's record collection. A guy that lived in the same house as me had some gambling issues and offered to sell me some $400 Polk speakers for $150. I bought them and it was a revelation. I had them up until about 10 years ago when I upgraded to my current Polk Monitor 50 speakers that do a great job with my Sonos Amp.
Last Audiophile moment I'll mention is my recent decent into headphones and amps. I always appreciated a good set of headphones,but they weren't a focus of my listening habbit. I was looking for some new headphones in late 2017 and found Massdrop. I ordered a set of 6xx and didn't initially notice the long wait time for delivery. 3 months. I'll skip the story of all the headphones I tried and returned in that 3 month window (I kept the m100) and just say when the 6xx finally arrived I was not overly impressed. That is until I bought a DarkVoice 336SE tube amp (Massdrop strikes again). When I listened to the 6xx via the DV I had another wow audio moment and knew I had a winner.
Jun 15, 2018
Good thread. And wow, good on you jumping to the HE-500 so quickly. To this day I prefer it to over 95% of > $1,000 headphones.
For me, it was just the Audio Technica ATH-A900X in 2014. Even that slaughtered everything else I had heard at the time. Since then I've had all kinds of crap including top of the line gear.
Mar 1, 2018
I went to school for sonic physics and audio recording. They let us listen to high fidelity music through some mid-fi headphones in one of the labs and it was clear that most consumer products weren't good enough. The quest to finding that perfect audio reproduction started there. This was in 2006.
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