Listening to gear? Or, listening to Music? ...

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by bhazen, Sep 14, 2020 at 1:43 AM.

  1. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    ... the audiophile problem.

    Here's a very perceptive article I stumbled into on the Google homepage. Yeah, they know a scary amount about me.

    HiFi: How Do We Listen? | Part-Time Audiophile

    I say perceptive, of course, because he basically agrees with me and thinks like I do about this stuff. ;)
     
  2. Retro Music Man

    Retro Music Man Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    He definitely has some good points. Speaking from personal experience, I care about audio quality, but only up to a certain limit.

    For instance, I like listening to tracks on a car radio, but I have a nagging feeling that they would sound better on my home stereo. Now, my stereo is decidedly 'mid-fi' by the standards of most on this forum - Yamaha A-S701 amp, B&W 685s2 speakers, Onkyo CD changer - but I thoroughly enjoy it and don't feel the need to upgrade.

    In other words, going from a cheap car stereo to a $2500 hi-fi makes a huge difference, but going from a $2500 system to a $20 000 one would not interest me. At all. Even if I could afford it :D
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020 at 3:39 AM
  3. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
  4. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    Good music is enjoyable on a clock radio,car stereo or a high quality system....if i think back to the start of my audiophile journey,it was the pursuit of good music that put me on the path to good sound reproduction.Without good music we have nothing to enjoy on our systems.Good music over good systems all day!!!
     
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  5. Gaslight

    Gaslight ⎧⚍⎫⚑

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    Most of the time it's listening to music.

    On occasion however, it's listening to gear. There's a gear-head in there, just try to keep him under control (most of the time)
     
  6. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    What was it Alan Parsons said? "Audiophiles don't use their gear to listen to your music, they use your music to listen to their gear." Ouch. :(

    AP's slam is a bit of an over-generalization, but it's probably true of most audiophiles SOME of the time, and some audiophiles MOST of the time.

    And I think the industry kinda sorta plays right into it, as you have some manufacturers clearly going for 'impressive' sound versus 'musical' or deeply-emotionally-engaging sound. But 'impressive' does sometimes open the wallets, especially for big-ticket items, and, what, are you some kinda anti-business pinko or somethin'? :laugh:

    I don't say this to be cynical, it's more just by way of warning. Though I think many of us are keenly aware of this particular pitfall, as it's often written about and debated.
    .
     
  7. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, CA, USA
    I need to read the entire article (thanks!) and maybe check out one or both of the books he mentions ... but certainly there are various states/depths at which I listen. As Glmoneydawg just said as I was composing, I can be moved to tears in a car or on about anything when the mood/music is right. Maybe it reminds me of a time I was playing a song in a garage band with my dear departed best HS friend ... or maybe I feel a deep connection to Spirit at the time and a song 'speaks' to me in a new way. Most of the time I can't have 'background' music on and concentrate on something else (like work). I either want to concentrate on the music or the sound ... sometimes both, sometimes almost entirely one or the other.
     
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  8. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    This comes down to a simple question....do you prefer to listen to good music with mediocre sound quality?....or mediocre music with good sound quality?
     
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  9. draden1

    draden1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Des Moines, IA
    I tend to start a session by listening to the stereo but if the depth and separation of the sound is “good enough” (vinyl or CD), I will disappear into the music. Now, my “good enough” is probably very different from yours or most people as this is all very subjective. Also, what gets me there differs from session to session. One day a particular LP I have transports me, but listened to on a different day, it may not do it.

    Not sure what any of this means? Other than I love listening to music, regardless of my focus (stereo or music) at the given moment.
     
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  10. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    Aren't most of us going for good music with good sound quality?

    To me question is more, is what you consider 'good' sound quality all about the music, or is it all about something else?
    .
    .
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020 at 8:59 PM
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  11. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    I do have some music thats appreciable mostly for the quality of its sound,but thats more technological than musical....if thats where you're going here?
     
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  12. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    I think that's part of it, yeah.
    .
     
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  13. jonwoody

    jonwoody Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington DC
    I listen to music but sometimes if I put something on and the sound quality is really poor it will eat at me and I'll eventually change it. Beyond that I sometimes will think "The system sounds great today" but not much has changed in it for years so back to music.
     
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  14. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    nothing wrong with multitasking
     
  15. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    well bully for him, said the man who has numerous audiophile masters to his credit!
     
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  16. Slimwhit33

    Slimwhit33 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orange County NY
    Great read.. I find that when I get new gear I listen more to the gear for sure. But after that initial few week period, I settle into the music again.
     
  17. It depends on the mood, and the reason why I am listening.
    I will say right up front, I have little tolerance for a static riddled radio station...Yes I listen to radio as well as other options.
    If the station is full of static I get irritated quickly and suddenly the subject does not matter because the static is making me lose focus.

    With all other listening options it really depends on many factors.

    If I am testing a piece of gear, a repair, a set up, or some other form of set up and diagnostic type listening, I listen to the gear at first.
    I need to hear the gear, and the set up, in order to know of what I am searching for has been found.
    Once I find my goal my mind switches to listening to the music.

    I mostly listen to the music, unless something is quite a bit off, like a really terrible mastering that would sound bad on a boom box, let alone the home system.
    I have received a few of these over the years as gifts, and occasionally as a purchase that turned out poorly.
    Pop in the gift CD, get ready to listen, only to find out the mastering is terrible...and I don't mean terrible from a picky perspective.
    I have a few compliation CD's that sound like they were copied from the 5th copy of a cassette tape made copy of a bad LP in the 1980's...This kind of thing makes me switch to listening to the gear in order to find the problem.
    Once the problem is found I'm back to listening to the music...but usually from a different CD after learning this CD is just terribly mastered and will NEVER sound good on any system.

    Listening to the music = 95% of the time
    Listening to the gear = 4% of the time.
    The other 1% has slipped into a place I can no longer reference...so I let it go peacefully...it might be reaching 2%, or was it 3%?.........
     
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  18. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    Audiophiles have a reputation for listing to equipment and not to music, but I think that viewpoint tends to get applied to all audiophiles. People think all audiophiles are like this, which is silly. The stigma is so much so that some people don't even want to be called an audiophile. And it's probably not true in most cases. So the whole notion has been exaggerated and blown out of proportion. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with a nice system and no one needs to apologize for owning one. A well crafted system does enhance the recreation of a musical performance.

    But you don't need a great system to enjoy music. People say musicians tend to not have great systems because they hear live music all the time and can fill in what isn't there so to speak. I'm not so sure that's true. I think most of us can enjoy music on a relatively poor system. I think we do it all the time, listening on our phones for example, a small bluetooth speaker, etc.

    It's only natural that a small segment of society will get into audio gear. The same way a small segment will be interested in video gear, or cameras, or watches, or cars, working out, tennis, golf, or...many other things. Musicians specifically, most of them, probably don't care too much because they already have something music related that takes up a huge amount of their time. There are only so many hours in a day.

    There is a trap that the audiophile can definitely fall into though, and I have heard of those people who listen to the same 10 albums over and over simply because they sound good (but are musically dull). There was a time when I was obsessing about gear; I think we can fall into that trap when we start getting into audio and it's all new to us. But that just wasn't fun. The gear is, but the obsessing isn't.

    The only time I focus on the system now is when I am evaluating a component. If your system is on point then focusing on the music shouldn't be hard. If you can't help but focus on the system then that might be an indication that it doesn't sound right. At some point it clicked for me that I needed to fix my speaker placement so that the speakers worked with the room. If you have this, the right sized speakers, the right positioning, and adequate amplification to drive those speakers, I have found that most of the problems just vanish. Now almost every system I try sounds good. Not all are to my taste, but they are all enjoyable. The gear is a lot of fun but mostly it is there to play music.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020 at 10:16 PM
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  19. chipcalzada

    chipcalzada Forum Resident

    I vacillate between listening to music and my gear, I see no harm being done to myself or others by doing this.
     
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  20. Bryan T

    Bryan T Well-Known Member

    Location:
    L.A.
    Given the choice, I’ll always spend my next dollar on music, not gear.
     
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  21. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Both kinds of listening bring me joy and I don't view them as opposite or poles on a spectrum.
     
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  22. Danby Delight

    Danby Delight Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    The former, all day every day. One of my favorite songs ever recorded, "Private Plane" by Thomas Leer, was recorded by one guy crouched in the corner of his bedroom, and the vocals have a particularly strained close-miked quality because his girlfriend was asleep in his bed and he was trying to sing without waking her.

    There are audiophile classics that I love -- I like Aja as much as the next guy -- but SQ will always always always take a backseat to whether the song itself moves me.
     
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  23. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    I'm a music guy first and foremost. If the music sounds good on the gear I have, I'm done with the gear side of things. I don't fiddle with anything save for adjusting speakers to bring out their best in the room, mostly for imaging's sake. I don't label myself an 88%er for nuthin'.
     
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  24. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Great discussion all, this is what I hoped for!

    And yes, there's no wrong responses, really. The only thing that would sadden me, would be if someone's audiophilia prevented them from the enjoyment of music. Hence, my signature -- which is primarily intended for myself.
     
  25. bhazen

    bhazen Magical Mystery Tourist Thread Starter

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    That's a win!

    I dislike the term 'mid-fi'. It's sometimes employed as a term of casual snobbery, at worst causing someone to second-guess their enjoyment at home on an affordable system. Thankfully, it isn't used in that way much on the SHF. If your system plays music in an enjoyable way, it's doing its job. Full stop.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 1:28 AM
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