“Do they like music? Or are they in love with equipment?”

The excellent BBC Archive account on Twitter has unearthed an audio gem.

A 1959 film called 'Hi-Fi-Fo-Fum' purports to reveal the burgeoning audiophile scene, with more than a little tongue-in-cheek humour for good measure.

“There is a man in Wimbledon who will go on adding to his equipment until he can hear the sigh of the conductor as the piccolo misses its entry," says the introduction. He sounds like our kind of man.

"Is it a religion or a disease? An American psychiatrist calls it 'audiophilia'", reveals the voiceover, as men - and it's largely men - shuffle in and out of hi-fi shops before rushing home for earnest listening sessions. It was ever thus.

"Do they like music? Or are they in love with equipment?", wonders our narrator, as one excited punter buys a new tweeter for "6 pound 4 pence". 

And while much has changed - you don't see many shops with individual listening booths nowadays - much has stayed the same. "A dream of perfection... of machines more sensitive than the ears they play to", reminds us that arguments about audio frequencies that the human ear can't hear are nothing new.

The video also shows the early music critic. "With a dozen different recordings of every work, how do we find the best?" wonders the voiceover. "Rely on the critic, nothing escapes him," comes the reply.

His verdict? "Comparisons are odious but inevitable..." Well, quite. 

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