The term “audiophile” tends to be used loosely. Generally it refers to someone who takes their audio equipment seriously and enjoys music. More specifically, it refers to someone who takes pride in the components used to achieve great sound.
While being an audiophile was popular once upon a time, today’s solutions can oftentimes remove the brain work. There are still plenty of music lovers, but fewer will take the time and effort necessary to build high quality component systems.
Why the change? Decades ago, an audio system was complicated. You needed speakers and amps, pre-amps, and separate components for all your music formats (phonograph, tape deck, etc). It made sense to commit to audiophile products. Today, achieving a decent mid-range system is easier than ever. People still recognize great sound, but don’t have to put forth the same amount of effort and money to achieve audiophile worthy quality.
Casual audiophiles still invest money in audio products, but do so differently. Think better quality Bluetooth speakers and powered products with built-in receivers. Wireless products that allow you to plug-and-play. Stepping up from the standard issued plastic earbuds to more durable and better sounding headphones. Steering away from tube amps and going with receivers rich in feature sets.
Every industry changes over time and the audio industry is no exception. There will always be people who want the best possible audio experience. It’s simply the way in which we go about achieving the best solutions that differ.