WAF, or Wife Acceptance Factor, is a common acronym used by those in the AV industry, both on the sales as well as consumer side, to sum up the “plight” men have with women allowing them to enjoy their beloved hobby. WAF is a serious thing among manufacturers and somewhat of a joke inside enthusiast circles. It’s also, in my opinion, derogatory, and well, stupid.

Allow me to explain.

By its very nature the fact that such an sentiment, a women’s supposed disapproval or lack of understanding,  has been summed up using three letters implies a certain disrespect. I’m not saying all those who use the phrase are bad people -hell, I’ve used it many a time -it’s just that with repetition, I believe we’ve lost sight of its original intent. In the process we’ve turned it (WAF) into a punch-line. This likely isn’t going to go over well, but leave it to a large group of men to lose sight of something’s original intent and/or meaning.

Stick with me gentlemen.

Back in the day, loudspeakers were but large, ugly boxes powered by large, cumbersome devices. Descriptors like “console,” “deck” and “coffin” were common when trying to sum up one’s stereo. AV was a man’s world. And while some would argue this is still the case, I disagree -thanks in no small part to WAF.

You see, I don’t believe women are anti-technology or even anti-home theater. I believe they’re merely anti-silliness. My wife doesn’t complain when I upgrade our 50-inch HDTV display to 100-inch, 16:9 projection one. Nor does she give me any  grief when loudspeakers end up on the floor, walls or shelving. Why? Because I don’t believe in WAF. I just don’t. I don’t believe my wife is stupid and incapable of seeing the benefits of what such a setup could bring to our everyday life. So provided the decision to move from one setup to another becomes a discussion, with positives and negatives both being taken into account, rarely have I personally been told “no.” I may not have always ended up with what I’ve originally envisioned for myself, but I’ve never had to walk away empty-handed. If anything, I’ve been forced to become more creative and find solutions that I would’ve otherwise not thought of originally. That last fact in and of itself is actually quite fascinating when I think about now.

And I think that is the real kicker. We believe, at some level, that AV is only for men to understand and enjoy. And this simply isn’t true. Don’t believe me. If men were left entirely to their own devices when it came to the design and implementation of AV equipment, we wouldn’t have half of the innovations, both technologically as well as from an industrial design standpoint, as we do now. Speakers would still likely be large, unbecoming black boxes. Amps would look like airplane parts that fell off a Boeing during take-off. And TVs? Forget about it. While women may not have been directly behind the design of the before mentioned products or technologies, their influence surely was.

But we’ll take all the innovation they’ve helped to spur or better yet force in order to woo them to the fold, we just won’t invite them in when they actually try and participate. I can hear some of you groaning and saying, “not true,” but so long as acronyms like WAF exist, you have to admit, we don’t appear as a collective to be very inviting.

As always I thank you all so much for reading. Until next time, take care and stay tuned…

Andrew

  • markshlitz

    Please whatever you do…. Do NOT let your wife meet mine….

  • Paul de Silva

    Sorry,I have to name brand names but I think part of the term WAF also got rubbed in by companies like Bose with their decades long, multi million dollar campaign “Room filled sound without a room full of speakers.” Like any intensive ad campaign, if you shout this out loud enough and long enough consumers perceptions of acceptable and unacceptable looking audio gear will certainly change.

  • Mark Thompkins

    Andrew, never have I disagreed with you, until now. But only slightly.

    Now while I do not believe the term is defined as “My Wife Is Stupid”, or, “My Wife Doesn’t Get It”. And I certainly agree that A/V is no longer mostly a male dominated world. I do know that of all the systems I have designed, and installed, the wife has, in every case, stated something to the effect of, Isn’t there some way to hide this?, or, Can you make the speakers disapper?, “This does not go with the design of the room”, or, Do you really need all that equipment?, etc..

    Like it or not, most women, but not all, (all in my case), but most women, who have a significant other who is about to add items to their rooms, are concerned with how it will “Interact” or “Clash” with their decor. I do not think of that as derogatory, or insulting, but one of concern, that has to be met head on with compassion, and an explanation, as to how this will result in better/worse sound, or video.

    Therefore, like it or not, there is almost always going to be a WAF

    Keep up the good work. I do enjoy your writing.

  • Barry

    Dear Andrew:

    I am sure you showed this to your wife before you posted it
    and it made her very happy!

    “It’s also derogatory, and well, stupid.” In fact, in my
    world it is considered “consideration.” That is, when you live with someone and
    value and respect their opinion is a good thing. Yes, no girlfriend of mine (GAF?) has ever
    been involved with stereo and Home Theatre as I have. And when stereo grow up
    to be home theater, adding 5 more speakers, a sub-woofer. A huge screen and
    lots more wiring and components, it did take over the living room and my girlfriend
    was not happy. So we worked things out.
    You did too.

    Even in your description, you don’t say when “WE” upgraded the
    TV, it’s always “YOU” acting alone, and then getting approval. You never state
    that your wife was part of the process. And as you dismiss WAF you then state, “I’ve
    been forced to become more creative and find solutions.” That’s not WAF?

    Your wife doesn’t complain, but isn’t this part of how you
    earn a living? That’s different from the rest of us. And she probably knew
    about this going into the relationship. In my world, everyone had a stereo and
    a TV set, but HT has become a monster
    that just grows. I stupidly said, “ I’m just going to add a center channel on
    top of the TV and that’s it.” We agreed.
    Then came the sub-woofer, rear and back speakers, etc.

    Now this sounds like a GIANT LEAP! But the happiest men I
    know, the ones with the best marriages and relationship actually have a room or
    a place in their homes ALL THEIR OWN.
    Tim Allen had his garage in Home Improvement, my brother has his “music
    room,” I have my home theatre room and so on. Many men (and women for that
    matter) have basements, attics, whatever. Honest to gosh, many of the men that I
    know who did not have their “getaway” wound up in divorce. Did it mean they
    needed to get away from their families? NO! I think that men like occasionally
    go to place all to their own, without having to get their spouses’ approval.

  • Fred Benson

    I am VERY SENSITIVE to political correctness, but I think it is a fitting and accurate term to use. – Also harmless.
    How many times have we seen somebody on Audiogon, Craigslist, or Ebay
    selling large speakers, or amps and going to smaller ones with the added note,
    “Because my wife doesn’t like them.” DOZENS of times for me.

    once I had an Acoustic Electronics Air 2.2 power amp, which was noted for
    it’s beautiful mid-range. I saw in an add that a guy with a pair of Adcom
    mono’s to sell or trade because his WIFE thought they were too big and
    cumbersome. I went over there, but the trade never materialized. That is one of
    MANY EXAMPLES of the dreaded WAF.
    If in that position, ask her what SHE is willing to give up from one of her beloved hobbies. – LOL – That will be a very short conversation.

  • James K. Nelson

    Does the term reflect reality? Sure, to a degree. Does it also *perpetuate* and help *maintain* the “boy’s club” atmosphere? Sure does.

  • Prerich

    Andrew, my wife and i have an understanding….I understand that the enitre house is her’s to decorate and I don’t bother that – the entire house….with the exception of one room – the HT room. Does she enjoy that room? Greatly. Does she like the decore….well with the exception of some of the sound treatments (skylines in the back)…yes! We even had an elderly coulple comment on the treatments and thought that they were modern art (LOL)!!! There is a decorative factor (I know men that don’t like big speakers) involved – however, I’m glad my wife sees the benifit of big speakers (she loves the finish on my Cornwalls).

    I remember when I got rid of my huge Ininitiy’s back in the early 90′s and bought Bose AM 5′s and 7′s because her decorations were taking over the living room. Those speakers didn’t last a month, and it wasn’t because of me! Yes I hated them, but I didn’t like the ideal of nick nacks on my speakers and cushions in front of my speakers. One day she came in – we were watching a movie on Laserdisc and she said, “Baby …when are you going to get rid of those toys and get some real speakers back in here?” That’s when understanding came into being – she realized that she couldnt decorate my room to death (and from then on we’ve had the HT seperate from the living room), and that there’s a reason for my big boxes!!!! So in my house the term W.A.F doesn’t exist, but I know enough people for whom this term is a way of life! I’m a blessed man indeed!

  • AndrewRobinsonOnline

    Thanks for sharing. I know for some the mantra of “happy wife, happy life” rules the day, and for others, it’s more of a compromise. Me personally, I’ve found that it is possible to have my cake and eat it too so to speak, so long as neither my wife nor I attempt to “force” anything upon one another.

    For example; I reference going from a 70-inch HDTV to a 100-inch projection screen. While my wife originally commented that she felt the 70-inch HDTV was sufficient (she has a very valid point) her concern with projection was that she didn’t want to watch TV all the time with the lights off. So, I began looking at negative gain or ambient light rejecting screens. When I found one that worked, I threw it up on the wall and her and I weighed the long-term ramifications. When we were finished discussing, the difference between the HDTV and the projection setup -day-to-day -proved minimal at best. Despite being larger (quite a bit larger) the overall change or “impact” to either of our lives proved minimal, so the bigger screen and arguably greater HT experience won out.

    Thanks so much for reading and for sharing!

  • AndrewRobinsonOnline

    My point exactly. I’m not trying to suggest that women don’t play a role in many decisions as it may relate to AV gear in the home, but giving that role a male-generated acronym, doesn’t help our cause.

  • AndrewRobinsonOnline

    I totally see your point and respect it, but doesn’t labeling a women’s perspective about her feelings on or towards our hobby or equipment garner or perpetrate a small level of resentment to some degree? This is what I’m getting at. I’m not suggesting that women don’t play a large role in what does and does not enter a household, but if one continues to view that role in the negative, what chance for positive does an enthusiast have?

    Thanks for reading and for sharing your views!

  • AndrewRobinsonOnline

    Please see my above responses. My apologies for using “I” when much of what my wife and I do is most definitely “we”.

    Also, my wife has NO IDEA I posted this article.

    Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

  • AndrewRobinsonOnline

    Thanks for reading and for chiming in.

  • Barry

    Andrew, you are in a world of Hi Fi and Home Theater, which,
    whether you wish to accept or not, is dominated by men. So what?
    There are other activities that are dominated by women. For example, in
    setting up my house, my girlfriend wanted the kitchen just so. She knew the
    products and the brand names of what she wanted. She knew what colors she wanted
    the walls and what surface the kitchen counters should be. I use the kitchen too, but I didn’t care. A
    GE, or Bosch or Kenmore refrigerator meant nothing to me, but a lot her. But
    she conferred on every major decision.
    Is that Boyfriend AF (BAF?) Being considerate? Perhaps some men do not like
    to admit that they get their wife’s opinion because it sounds like they have to
    get there wife’s permission.

    I don’t see the resentment in my world at all. You are hearing and
    interpreting WAF as a derogatory term, but frankly, my girlfriend not only didn’t
    care that I got a Krell or Mark Levinson. Go outside the very male oriented
    world of Hi Fi and see tghat men consider their spouses opinions all the
    time. Again, that’s consideration, not
    annoyance