Does anybody really listen to music anymore?

Having music "on" isn't the same thing as actually listening to it.

Music is all around us, it's just that very few people actually listen to it. Sure, you have music in your car, iPod, or computer, but is the music just a soundtrack to other activities? If music, a la carte, can't hold your attention from time to time you're definitely not an audiophile. Worse yet, you're missing a lot.

Jazz great McCoy Tyner listening on Stax headphones. Dave King

Think about it: the people who made the music sweated the details, agonized over the sound, the mix, and the performance for weeks or months. The composer tweaked the work to the nth degree, and still, very, very few "listeners" ever give music their undivided attention. They only hear the surface, the most obvious elements of the music. Multitask all you want, but can you just focus on the music? Let it really get to you.

Start with a song or two a week, close your eyes and just listen. If the band has a good drummer, listen to how he propels the tune. Or just focus on the singer, is he or she really thinking about the meaning of the words being sung? Does the band sound like it's having a good time? In other words, listen and connect with the music, it really does change the way you experience recordings.

And who knows, if such a change came about, you might get more out of listening. You might start to notice how good (or bad) your speakers or headphones really are. You might even start to prioritize some dollars toward better sound. Uh-oh, you might be an audiophile after all.

Caution: Actively listening to music may result in... more active listening. That might negatively impact precious hours spent on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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