841: Audiophiles

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 15:36, 21 October 2014 by Pudder (talk | contribs) (Explanation: Fixed link)
Jump to: navigation, search
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.


The joke centers around the fact that the higher the data stream rate of the sound, the better the sound will, well, sound. This is obvious when it comes to video files, but less so when it comes to audio files. Almost everyone knows that a 1080p video picture has better resolution than a 480p picture, because the 1080p image has thousands and thousands more pixels in it. And with this higher picture resolution or "quality" there's a direct relationship to the amount of data contained in the picture. For this reason, online video pictures are generally of much worse quality than your HD-TV, because streaming all that data is hard work for the internet, so they stream a lousy quality picture in order to move all that picture information in a timely manner. Cell phones are to sound what a bad website is to video; it moves just enough information to get the point across without being a stunning reproduction of standing next to the action. For reference, the data rate from listening to an audio CD is 1411 kbps, over 117 times better than a cell phone.

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.


[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.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


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)