Home Stereo Quality
Hey all, the post about making CD's caused me to think. Do people care about the quality and detail of the music they listen to at home. I've been an amateur musician for over 40 years. I love listening to live performances of many genres. Several years ago I learned how good a home audio system could be and invested in building one. The components of my home sound system are all mid to very high-end. Most of my pieces have been accumulated from audiogon so I seldom pay full price but they are still very high quality. I can tell a significant difference in the detail and quality of a good front end source compared to a poor media recording.
As we continue to move to lower quality recording media (mp3) versus CD versus analog vinyl, the sound we hear from our speakers become less and less dynamic and musical. If you are playing background music then who cares, but if you are sitting to do nothing but listen carefully to something which you really love, it makes a difference.
Over the last 15 years I've spent time researching equipment, shopping for bargains and doing A/B comparisons on components to improve the listening experience I achieve. My system isn't the best money can buy but I've achieved high enough quality that further improvement becomes extremely expensive.
As guitar players we always search for the tone we like and ways to improve. Many of us save money to buy the best PA speakers we can afford to make us sound the best we can.
Why do you think it is that people just don't seem to even consider the quality level of the source of music they listen to?
Does it matter to any of you?
Matters to me. My stereo isn't high end, but from the 80's.. I still use my turntable, though not frequently.
I think the convenience factor, and the singularity of the listening experience today (Ipod and earbuds) has created a generation or so of people who would be amazed at the nuance of recorded music through a high-end source. Hel!, I have cassettes that still sound better than an MP3 through the computer.
I have a nice Rotel component and B+W speaker system yet I spend a lot of time listenig to mp3s through my powered monitor desktops. Go figure. You pretty much nailed it though Steve59. I think the ease of digital music, plus once you get used to it it's all you know, has led to a sacrifice in quality.
I still buy CDs. Hate compressed formats despite their convenience. Never went so far as to go high-end vinyl though...
I just bought a couple CD's off of Amazon today. Maybe I'm becoming a dinosaur but I still enjoy listening to music from a quality audio system. I fully understand the convenience of downloading and using mp3's. I use my mp3 guitar trainer all the time when I'm learning to cover a difficult lead part. Playing that through a good set of head phones is certainly very detailed but the overall sound quality isn't something I could kick back and chill out to.
I'd love to get back into vinyl myself but that's an investment I haven't made either. I have a Rotel CD player that I've A/B'ed against a much more expensive Theta Digital disc player and I liked the Rotel just as well. My speakers are Vandersteen. Great sound yet still affordable if you search the used market. My two boys grew up listening to quality audio and do appreciate it but I'm sure they are rare amoung the 20 something crowd.
Nowadays most music is listened to on computer speakers, car stereos or iPods with crappy headphones. People just don't seem to care about music they way that we do. Music has become a commodity for them, they don't even know what band or performer they're listening to most of the time, let alone what song or what album it is.
It really bugs me because I grew up with a hard core audiophile dad. We had a full Macintosh preamp, amp and tuner setup with a Thorens turntable, big Teac reel-to-reel tape deck and massive Cerwin Vega speakers. You could hear so much detail, it was truly inspiring. He kind of corrupted me, I know what good sounds like now so I've spent a small fortune on studio, home stereo, and portable listening equipment trying to replicate that. One surprising area that made a big sound difference to me is when I upgraded my studio interface. The AD / DA converters on my RME Fireface unit are really good, music through my studio monitors is clearer, less shrill sounding and more detailed compared to my old MAudio and Presonus units.
One of the things that educators have learned is that some people learn by ear, and some people learn by eye. There are evidently different patterns in how the brain processes information that certain people have. I believe that the same is true for listeners. There are people for whom audio clarity greatly enhances the process of listening to music, and people for whom it doesn't matter much.
But of course, musicians hear tone differently, too. For example, I can revel in the sound produced by players like Bonamassa, Clapton, and EJ, and when I hear Satriani, who is by any measure a great player and musician, I find the tone so irritating that I can only listen to his work for a few minutes!
So I think we all listen for different things, we hear differently, we process information differently.
I spend all day in front of studio monitors (Genelecs) and listen carefully, and honestly can't listen to regular hi-fi gear much anymore because my studio equipment has spoiled me. I used to have some really good hi fi gear, too!
I spend much of the day listening to Genelecs in my studio as well.
I also have a decent (well... better than decent but certainly not "top of the line") home stereo which now lives in a small room adjacent to my studio. [Rotel CD player, a Cary tube amplifier, a pair of old B&W speakers, and a Music Hall MMF-7 turntable] I enjoy listening more in there, mainly because the sound of that system is somewhat less accurate but more pleasing-to-the-ears. I have a 180G vinyl copy of Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow. Listening to that record on that setup is a FAR more enjoyable experience than listening to the CD of that album (admittedly an early and relatively crappy CD mastering job) on my studio monitor system.
FWIW, upstairs where my laptop lives, I have a Creek headphone amp and a paiur of Grado 'phones that I use; I also have Grado earbuds that go with my iPod. As far as my iPod goes, anything I transfer where I care how the music sounds (not always the case), I do at a higher quality setting.
So yeah, I definitely care, but everything doesn't have to be perfect.
For me it's more about having the space(or lack there of) and time to make it worth while having a high end system. My cheap home theater does the job for the RARE occasion I actually listen to music on it(almost never). I have it on more for dvd concerts more than anything else. My car stereo is slightly above an average upgraded system. Besides my desk/pc, that is where I listen to music the most so it made sense to spend a little money there. If I had a man-cave of sorts, I'd maybe have a high end system....I suppose that's the dream - to have that and a semi isolated music room. I may never come out though, probably end up a recluse.
Great thread! I was just thinking about how the only time i'm listening to music is while driving or when i need to block out the background noise at the office. I really do miss having the time to listen for the sake of listening.
A few months ago I realized I never listen to my high end audio system any more nor even turn on my home theater gear. So, after much thought, I sold it all except of my Jukebox (which handles 100 CDs) And my CD player. I then bought a Bose bluetoth wireless portable speaker and a Bluetooth adapter for my Jukebox. I use my iPhone for all my music. It's a simple setup, but I now use it almost every day.