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Ariel Bitran
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All about the Music?

Can audiophiles talk about music or can they only talk about the sound of music?

Here in the official cubicle of Stereophile (see our facebook page for plenty of pics of happenings in this cubicle), we ponder why in a community so built on the very foundation of listening to music, why the practice of talking about the music is either limited to the discussion of sound of the music or preference and personal history rather than the musical elements of a performance: energy, composition, innovation, technicality, history, and discussion of the creation process.

I guess the question i'm really trying to ask refers to an earlier post at some point by Buddha in these forums. He criticized (whether seriously or not), the "its all about the music" positioning of writers and companies. How much of this hi-fi game is really all about the music for you? Please note, the question is not: "do you love sound more than music?" I'm pretty sure most of the people who 'listen' on a regular basis, most likely do love music. But when listening to your hi-fi, what do you love more: the sound or the music?

I know for me, I enjoy my hi-fi for the sound. I love the sounds of instruments and their collaborations. I dont listen to my hi-fi for the music b/c i can do that anywhere from the gym to the subway to my bed with my laptop.

Drtrey3
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Re: All about the Music?

Good point about the sound being the reason for the equipment Ariel. I listen differently in the car and in front of the speakers, it is the soundtrack to my life in the car, and it is what matters now in front of the speakers.

Having said that, I do not listen to music I do not love or that does not at least interest me. And it does not have to be well recorded. I was wearing out the quad mix of Paranoid till I lent it to a friend and it is in no way a stellar recording. But it made me happy.

I also have some old audiophile chestnuts in my record collection that I have not listened to in over a decade because I just do not care for the music. I am gonna sell those suckers!

So for me it is both and. It is not ALL about the music, I like the music to sound better, but I don't care about the sound if the music is not happening.

And welcome on board! I hope your gig with the Phile is long and happy.

Trey

Dr. Spivey
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Re: All about the Music?

My love of music was well developed long before I owned a decent stereo. I listen to a lot of music that is poorly recorded, but very enjoyable. I can enjoy music on a lame system, if need be. My music collection cost more than my rig. Music that blows, blows on any system. Nice gear and fun tweaks are less important to me than good music. Good sound is a bonus.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: All about the Music?


Quote:
Can audiophiles talk about music or can they only talk about the sound of music?

Here in the official cubicle of Stereophile (see our facebook page for plenty of pics of happenings in this cubicle), we ponder why in a community so built on the very foundation of listening to music, why the practice of talking about the music is either limited to the discussion of sound of the music or preference and personal history rather than the musical elements of a performance: energy, composition, innovation, technicality, history, and discussion of the creation process.

Here's one reason. I think our community has a common interest in sound but is much more diverse in our musical interests. I know that I converse about music much more in other forums (and with real-life friends) where we share musical preferences.

Kal

Ariel Bitran
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Re: All about the Music?


Quote:
Here's one reason. I think our community has a common interest in sound but is much more diverse in our musical interests. I know that I converse about music much more in other forums (and with real-life friends) where we share musical preferences.

this is a good point. I believe what i'm really trying to tackle here is what does it mean to talk about music. I know I've stayed up into the 4am's just dishing about songs and artists and albums, but to pinpoint the words that make up those beautiful aimless conversations is difficult in retrospect, b/c it all seems so dumb and non-specific(for example, ranting about how awesome the Alan Parsons project is).

Drtrey3
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Re: All about the Music?

Music, poetry, and art in general are neural hacks. Good art bypasses our cognitive defenses and gets right to our emotions. For some reason, Fields Of Gold by Eva Cassidy makes me misty eyed every time I hear it. The Sting version, not so much.

And for audiophiles, the purity of the delivery of the music greatly enhances our experience. Maybe it does for everyone, I would love to run that research project. Some of us are strictly moved by excellent reproduction I think, then for others of us, a good system enhances the emotional communication with the music itself and makes the hack work better.

As evidence I submit that feeling you get when you hear familiar music played back on a fantastic system. It is visceral, even when the music is not. It is like seeing a beautiful woman, it hits you!

Audiophiles are more susceptible to the hack being enhanced through better reproduction, or we are aware of that effect, and so pursue it.

At least, that is what I think is going on.

Trey

Buddha
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Re: All about the Music?


Quote:
Music, poetry, and art in general are neural hacks. Good art bypasses our cognitive defenses and gets right to our emotions. For some reason, Fields Of Gold by Eva Cassidy makes me misty eyed every time I hear it. The Sting version, not so much.

And for audiophiles, the purity of the delivery of the music greatly enhances our experience. Maybe it does for everyone, I would love to run that research project. Some of us are strictly moved by excellent reproduction I think, then for others of us, a good system enhances the emotional communication with the music itself and makes the hack work better.

As evidence I submit that feeling you get when you hear familiar music played back on a fantastic system. It is visceral, even when the music is not. It is like seeing a beautiful woman, it hits you!

Audiophiles are more susceptible to the hack being enhanced through better reproduction, or we are aware of that effect, and so pursue it.

At least, that is what I think is going on.

Trey

I think of it more as a fetish - we need high heels and extra manipulation in order to get off, while other people can get off just as rapturously without all the extra shoe involvement....so to speak.

I guess it boils down to who you think is appreciating what.

Do we enjoy music to the same degree as a music fan who has a Bose Wave Radio, then take our enjoyment to "11" by virtue of our gear, or....do we need the gear to get where the person with the Bose is already grooving?

_____

My answer to the question lies in the gender skew of our hobby. I don't think we are "out appreciating" chicks who dig music. I think we are just exhibiting that male "hobby object fetish" thing that happens.

Likely, it even shows up when we compare hobbies...

Does a fishing nut automatically appreciate sushi more than I do?

Does Hugh Hefner, as a sort of connoisseur and collector/gear head, appreciate women and sex more than I do as a monogamous married man? He has pricier pieces of gear to play with, but I'd argue I'm potentially equally happy or perhaps more so.

Does the guy in the F-40 appreciate a sunny day in the mountains more than I do?

As gear heads, there is obviously something more than chilling and appreciating music going on. We fetishize the sound, for sure. Just as gun guys fetishize about "stopping power" and fly fisherman fetishize Powell bamboo fly rods.
____

Lastly, I would postulate the opposite of your "hack" hypothesis of musical joy.

I think we audiophiles all too rapidly lose the illusion, the "hack" we seek, and are driven to a partly neurotic search for the next piece of the illusion....then we enjoy it briefly until our brains accomodate to the illusion and we end up right back where we started, only with more pricey gear.

I know I enjoy music just as much in my car as on my best rig. So, I admit as an audiophile to additionally finding the gear aspect to be a fun diversion, but in no way a prerequisite for enhanced musical joy.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: All about the Music?


Quote:
I know I enjoy music just as much in my car as on my best rig. So, I admit as an audiophile to additionally finding the gear aspect to be a fun diversion, but in no way a prerequisite for enhanced musical joy.

Well said.

Kal

Drtrey3
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Re: All about the Music?

Buddha, you make a great case for the opposite view. I bet it is both, that some of us are jaded so to speak and some of us in wide eyed wonder.

While I agree with you about the gear aspect of the hobby, I have too many kids and not enough money to be too gear oriented! Maybe next year!

Good thoughts pal, I appreciate them.

Trey

michaelavorgna
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Re: All about the Music?

Interesting question. I

Jim Tavegia
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Re: All about the Music?

A really great composition will be played over and over regardless of the sound quality to a point. Most bad recordings (there are all too many) could have been engineered much better), but weren't. I do find myself spending less and less time on them these days staying put on great recorded music that sounds real and IS well recorded (many of the ECM).

I am finding that it can be hard to record well given restraints that hold engineering back, but the engineer must fight for his cause rather than just get "something" tracked. Eva Cassidy's "Live at Blues Alley" is a great location recording and Fields of Gold is superb. Considering the available technology most music is poorly recorded and fails to sound like a "real" live music performance. There are other goals.

I found another's comment interesting where certain music sound very bad on his system and he thought his system was defective. The better the system the worse bad recordings will sound. There are labels who make recordings for business purposes and others who are more driven by the art and try to preserve as much as they can of a performance. Unfortunately we 1%'ers are just too small a market to really drive the overall industry.

There is plenty of music for us to buy and own, but it isn't $15 a disc anymore. Of course there is used off Amazon at under $10 which is a great bargain these days.

Allen Fant
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Re: All about the Music?

I was very fortunate enough to grow up in a household of music being played all of the time. I feel that the kids of today are missing out on this wonderful experience.

Ariel Bitran
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Re: All about the Music?


Quote:
I was very fortunate enough to grow up in a household of music being played all of the time. I feel that the kids of today are missing out on this wonderful experience.

this is probably the single most important aspect of my upbringing which led me to be comfortable with the idea of "listening to and enjoying music" as a solo activity.

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