I'm an audiophile. Unfortunately, I'm also an audiophile with very little money to spend. This made a recent trip to the HiFi show at Heathrow more of a window shopping exercise than anything else. Liking any kind of technology tends to be rather pricey, but you can really spend huge sums of money on hi-fi (£17,500 for a pair of Nautilus speakers, anyone?). But it costs nothing to look or listen, which is what I did with my Dad and brother, sad audio geeks all (see, it's heritable).
The world of hi-fi is an odd one. Some components that are really expensive look really cheap and vice-versa. However, there are some rules of thumb. 1. Price is inversely proportional to the number of buttons. 2. Components with blue LED's are more expensive. This is odd, as blue LED's are really no more expensive than the usual red or green kind. So, if you see an amplifier with just one huge milled aluminium knob and a blue LED, you know that you'd have to re-mortgage the house to afford it.
I have two favourite memories of the show. The first was a demonstration of the fabulous DAX DAC made by Audio Synthesis, playing Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix, through Tannoy Dimension speakers. The latter have black velvet on the front and top, so that they're comfy when you hug them (no, really). The second was nothing to do with hi-fi. Like many of the other kingdoms of geekdom, the world of the audiophile is somewhat male dominated. So, at a very crowded show, I walked into the ladies toilets and found it completely empty. Yes, you heard me, empty. Female readers will know that this goes against the laws of physics.