I prefer not to use the word ‘audiophile’. To my mind it has an element of the elitist about it. Instead I prefer the more understated, ‘audio enthusiast’. The good thing is that we don't really need either term and can simply allow the music to speak for itself.
A great sounding system is obvious to all and needs no fancy words to elevate its status or your enthusiasim for it. If someone develops a passion for something and then dedicates time and energy towards the pursuit of it, like a bottom up approach, it conjures up positive images. On the other hand, it is the top down or expert approach, which I think tends to turn people away.
What about those that just want to enjoy music?
Just like someone who enjoys an occasional bottle of good wine, so you should be able to enjoy fantastic sound from a quality system. And just because you do these things, shouldn’t immediately label you as a wine connoisseur or an audiophile.
If you are one of a select group of people who owns a fine audio system, isn’t it better to be more inclusive towards others, peaking their interest, showing and encouraging them to have a go themselves.
Good for you
You have managed to cobble together a load of old second hand gear and are busy trying to iron out the kinks and improve it. Good for you. So many of us started out in the same manner and through reading magazines, listening, you can slowly improve your system until it gets to the point where you are satisfied. To my thinking, the gradual incremental improvement approach can be the most satisfying journey of all.
Tweaker or music lover
There are ‘tweakers’ who are fundamentally interested in the technology of audio reproduction. They love to fiddle or ‘tweak’ with the sound of their system. They may be constantly moving their loudspeaker position, changing cables, upgrading components and all manner of other activities. A music lover is not as concerned with components and tends to focus more on the music. Their audio components are seen simply as a means to achieve a satisfying outcome. That said, both groups arrive at the same destination by attacking the challenge from different ends.
When you boil it all down, there is no right or wrong way. Enthusiasim or passion remain the key ingredients to unlocking and enjoying good sound. If you consider yourself to be an audiophile, good on you also. I feel we are all better served by allowing the sound to speak for itself and leave the description to someone else.