841: Audiophiles

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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For years, I took the wrong lesson from that Monster Cable experiment and only listened to my music through alligator-clipped coat hangers.
Title text: For years, I took the wrong lesson from that Monster Cable experiment and only listened to my music through alligator-clipped coat hangers.


Cueball is buying some new speakers for his television, and asks Megan if they have the right cord to hook them up. Megan begins chiding him for using "crappy little laptop speakers", i.e. low-powered, low-quality speakers that don't faithfully reproduce the sound.

Cueball and Megan reproduce the two extremes of the Audiophile arguments: Cueball simply wants something that works, regardless of the quality, whereas Megan wants to use speakers and sound to create beauty. Cueball seems to think that's unnecessary, and Megan snipes back that he's never heard beauty, so he wouldn't know; after all, he thinks low-bit-rate re-encodings from YouTube (at the time, notorious for dodgy sound quality) are perfectly fine music. Cueball, frustrated with Megan's perfectionism, states that he's just going to buy cheap, 5-watt speakers. While 5 watts may be a lot if you're, say, trying to fill the immediate area with sound from your MP3 player, it'd sound tinny and hollow, lacking any ommph, coming out of a television across the room.

Cueball, annoyed, tells a snowclone joke, the content of which implies that the content doesn't matter to her, only the quality in which it's delivered to her ear.

The title text is referring to a forum post from audioholics.com, where a user did a blind audio test using monster cable and coat hangers with soldered on alligator clips, and the audiophiles were unable to discern any difference. Randall, getting the wrong idea from it, instead just uses coat-hangers to connect his speakers, not getting that that wasn't the point.


[Cueball and Megan are talking over the telephone. The first two panels are split diagonally. Cueball is at a store, holding a box, and Megan is consulting with him.]
Cueball: Do we have an RCA-to-3.5mm female-female plug? I'm getting some speakers for the new Xbox, since the monitor doesn't have any.
Megan: Are they crappy laptop speakers? Ugh.
[Cueball is standing next to a sale rack.]
Cueball: Does it matter? I just want to hear if I'm getting shot at, not savor every detail of a beautiful musical soundscape.
Megan: You've never heard a beautiful musical soundscape. You listen to 96kbps flv rips from YouTube.
[Megan is walking.]
Cueball: Whatever. I'm just going to get these $20 speakers. Five watts will be plenty.
Megan: Five watts for a living room sound system? Is that a joke?
Cueball: No, this is a joke: How many audiophiles does it take to change a lightbulb?
Megan: How many?
Cueball: I'll tell you later—you wouldn't appreciate the punchline over this 12kbps cell phone codec.

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I find that once you have a set of good headphones, that's all you really need. The difference between crappy laptop speakers and a 200$ set of gaming headphones is massive, but the gap between a 200$ set of headphones and a 400$ set of headphones is a bit of padding and a marginally nicer sound. Davidy²²[talk] 09:56, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

This kind of argument could be made about all sorts of price ranges. For a poor middle schooler with no job and no allowance, spending $15 on a set of headphones pushes the limits of price-performance. If you make millions of dollars a year, what's another $200 if it buys you some better sound quality and nice padding?Diszy (talk) 21:17, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

That must not be the girl from 586 19:54, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

-- It could be her; maybe Cueball finally "got some culture" in her.

Is it just me or is the lowest sign in panel 2 actually reading "SALE?" (with a question mark)? It's rather small and might be a blurred "!", but maybe it's a little extra joke. -- 00:09, 14 May 2017 (UTC)

based on the intensity of the SALEs above that one, it may or may not be a "snake? snake!? snaaake!!!" reference. Probably just me tho.
On an unrelated note, am I the only who read the "96Kbps" as "%Kbps"? 15:33, 21 February 2018 (UTC)