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Headphones

Mobile vs. at-home music listening -- what's your preference?

Where do you do the bulk of your listening: at home; in the car, train, bus or plane; or at school or work?

For most people I suppose it's a mix -- there's no single location -- but I do 80 to 90 percent of my listening at home, with stereo speakers or headphones. Most of the time when I'm at my computer, I'm writing or doing research for writing and don't have music on; it would be too distracting.

Location, location, location

For me, music on-the-go is a very different thing, it's background to what's going on around me. Unless I'm reviewing a portable music player, chances are I'm listening to my iPod Classic with my in-ear headphones, and music is my soundtrack to life in New York City. I like to listen to high-energy music on the subway and acoustic jazz or classical in the park, or when I'm looking at art in a museum or gallery. Music is secondary to the place I'm in.

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Listening in the subway is a lot different than listening at home.

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

At home, music is usually in the foreground, the main event. I put it on and listen with my eyes closed. As an album is ending, I'm thinking about what follows: if it's Radiohead I might go next to Pink Floyd or Aphex Twin. If I'm listening to Sharon Jones, maybe I'd next cue up Booker T. & the MGs, or Amy Winehouse. One record leads to the next.

Of course, listening to LPs is strictly an at-home pursuit and tends to be even more focused listening than what happens with digital music. LPs have a greater pull on my attention than digital, but that's me. You might feel differently.

I also play music when I'm reading, but then it's usually digital -- and never music with vocals; the words would be too distracting. The music has to be instrumental.

I'd love to hear from you guys about how and where you listen. What do you prioritize? Is there a hierarchy, and does that come into play when you spend money on audio gear? Are you more of a headphone than speaker listener? Do you listen to music over a single sound bar or wireless speaker, or in stereo, with an audio system or with a 5.1-channel (or more) home theater? Share your preferences in the Comments section.