Wanna get high listening to music--upgrade your hi-fi!

The music's not moving you like it used to? The Audiophiliac knows why.

Great music, not just dance music, is supposed to get you to feel something. Which is, I think, the point. Daniel J. Levitin had a great Op-Ed piece, "Dancing in the Seats," in the October 26th New York Times examining the question of how profoundly we're affected by the sound of music. Levitin, a neuroscientist, runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University in Montreal. Levitin observed that "Our species uses music and dance to express various feelings: love, joy, comfort, ceremony, knowledge, and friendship." Oh, and when everything's clicking just right music modulates brain chemistry to produce dopamine, the "feel good" neurotransmitter. Right, music gets you high.

But the very question of linking movement to music, well, that's where great audio gear can have its effect. Decent speakers will make you want to get up and dance! In my opinion higher fidelity seems to engage us more, we feel the music more when it sounds really good. Closing the gap between recorded sound and the real thing really does change the way you experience your favorite tunes. Ergo, investing in the really good stuff isn't such a nutty idea. Maybe the reason the music industry is in such poor shape is we're not moved by music the way we used to. Ya gotta feel it to get it, and today's pipsqueak audio systems just don't have the muscle to get the dopamine flowing.

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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