What little work has been done on high fidelity/audiophile aesthetics uniformly agrees that the aesthetic aim of high fidelity is to achieve maximum transparency—the degree to which the listening experience is qualitatively identical to hearing the live instruments. The present paper argues that due to modern recording techniques, transparency is often impossible and may not be the proper aesthetic goal even in cases of documentary recordings. Instead, audiophilia should be understood as a broadly pluralist artistic endeavor that aims at an idealized generation of a musical event. This positive conception serves to explain away certain debates among audiophiles themselves.

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