Debate: Do people need to learn how to listen?

Do we need to rediscover the art of listening? Does knowing what to listen for enhance your enjoyment of music or is it enough just to be carried away by the emotion? We asked two experts what they thought.

Fraser Lewry, Digital editor of The Word argues NO:

Do we need to learn to listen to music? The answer, for anyone in possession of a reasonably efficient set of ears, is no. Turning the appreciation of any art form into an academic exercise, as the people posing such questions are prone to do, is a sure-fire way to remove any pleasure that might be derived from hearing it in the first place.

The assumption seems to be that if we understand more about the recording process, and are able to identify precisely what’s going on, it’ll somehow open up whole new levels of appreciation. This is errant nonsense, of course – it’s the equivalent of marching into a restaurant and demanding that the chef supply a recipe card to go along with each dish, thus removing the surprise, the mystery, and any kind of magic. Worse, by concentrating on such minutiae you’re in danger of forgetting what it was that drew you to the music you love in the first place. In my youth I knew someone, who, after a typically forensic examination of a new Yngwie Malmsteen album, triumphantly announced that the histrionic Swede was using a heavier gauge of string than previously. When I asked him whether he actually liked the record, he looked at me as if it had never even crossed his mind to form an opinion.

It’s tempting to see this as an extreme example of audiomania, but it’s still true that those most concerned with “learning to listen” are often the ones creating the most sterile environments in which to do so. Sure, you can precision-engineer your hi-fi so that every note is crystal clear, every nuance apparent, and study the music so hard you can accurately produce a blueprint of the room in which it was recorded, but you know what? You’re not having much fun. Really, you’re not.

Prior to writing this piece I spent a couple of hours reading various online forums frequented by audiophiles, and was disheartened – but not altogether surprised – to discover that music is something that’s barely talked out. People casually refer to “auditioning speakers” or “listening to some [insert name of manufacturer here]”, as if the name on the cabinet matters more than that on the disc. You’ll never hear anyone say that they just listened a Stevie Wonder track that made their heart leap, or a Flying Burrito Brothers record that made them cry, or a Pixies track that inspired them to leap around the room like a freshly-shorn goat, bashing into the furniture and knocking over plants. And that’s a real tragedy, because those reactions are what music is really about: its ability to stir the soul and move the feet.

People don’t need to learn how to listen: they need to learn how to relax.

Dr.John Dibb, Bowers & Wilkins Senior development engineer argues YES

We all learn to listen from the day we are born.  As we grow, our brains learn how to interpret those minute variations in pressure at our ears, which we call hearing. Because we have two ears, we can assign direction to sounds, and in a relatively short time, just as the brain interprets a 2D image in the eye to give a 3D view of the world, we experience a sonic image of the space around us.

It’s true that we don’t need to be an expert on music, or have any knowledge of how it was recorded, or spend all our time nerd-like, adjusting and upgrading our audio systems, in order to enjoy it.  I remember my son, aged around 3, commenting on how much he liked ‘that noise’  -  (I think it was Vaughn Williams )

We can, however, significantly increase our enjoyment by learning a few rules, with the ultimate goal of making listening our primary sensory focus and therefore a much more rewarding experience. Quite a challenge these days thanks to i-Pods, headphones,  commuting, car audio etc. All of which turn music into something that exists only in the background.

Luckily, it’s not difficult to achieve a state of immersion where music, and your appreciation of it,  becomes your primary experience. Just :-

Make sure your system is set up to reach it’s full potential.

Experiment with speaker position (if you have them)

Try out a few different headphones (if you don’t)

Make time to listen, and kill as many distractions as possible.

Appreciation shouldn’t be rushed.

Get comfortable  -  the right temperature and a comfy sofa can do wonders.

Relax and clear the mind.

Force yourself to slow down and recognise the space you’re in and the time you have made.

Finally, close your eyes.  You may feel a little odd, but this is a vital stage in sound appreciation, because your brain should tune in to the sounds you are experiencing.

Many of us have become victims of  sound convenience, but it’s never too late to learn. Following these simple rules will help you to rediscover the art of listening and I challenge anyone who tries this at home not to be won over by the experience.

34 Comments

  • Kieron says:

    I’m more of a “No” than a “Yes” but agree time is the buggy here.
    Giving yourself time has got to be the best facilitator to listening to music. As soon as distractions creep in then the music becomes more wall-paper like.
    Investing time in listening, for most of us, would deliver more benefit than investing time in “audiophile” behaviours.

    I’m off to Hyde Park now to listen to the Kings Of Leon. I’ll not be tweaking the speakers there!

  • andrew tooley says:

    yes, no, maybe!

  • Jo says:

    If you are familiar with a piece of music, you know how it’s supposed to sound. If not, you have no frame of reference!

    “Make sure your system is set up to reach it’s full potential” This is meaningless unless you know what to aim for sonically. An audio salesperson wants to make a sale – beyond that, they don’t care. I’ve listened to friends “good” systems that didn’t reproduce the recordings faithfully because they were sold speakers that were supposed to be good or didn’t know what the composition should sound like.

  • Cindy Davis says:

    I say yes.

    But that doesn’t mean you have to be an equipment master. Unless someone is reviewing a system, I question the people whom consider themselves audiophiles if they spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking the equipment. Maybe they are more equipmentphiles. Unless someone has a perfect memory of the live performance as a reference then I am thinking they just love tweaking. I suppose if someone is really into trying to understand the physics of how something was recorded versus appreciating the performance of the music, then tweak away. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And with all due respect to my audiophile friends.

    Using Lewry’s analogy of food: Whether I spend $15 or $150 on a dinner I savor each experience. If I like it I will go back and experience more. Because I like to cook, I appreciate the magic that a simple combination of ingredients can bring to a dish. I don’t need a recipe card with directions, but the discovery of a nuance that helps create that unique flavor can lead to a wonderful, “ah-ha” moment.

    Assuming the music being listened to was recorded with the best possible results and the system the music is being played on is the best the listener can afford (and is set up properly), then I think a few tips on how to listen on your second, third and fourth round can only enhance the overall experience. Discovery is part of the experience.

    I think Gibb’s tips are perfect and unassuming. You don’t need to be a musician or a self-proclaimed audiophile to want to enhance a listening experience.

    In particular I like the tip to close your eyes. I have listened to many speaker demos while watching the accompanying video. It isn’t until I isolate my senses by closing my eyes that I can really hear the sound and have some, “ah-ha” moments. That’s enjoyment.

    All of that said, I believe if you can be, “carried away by the emotion,” at any level—that is more than, “just enough.”

  • Martin says:

    Definitley yes. You don’t have to make an academic exercise out of it. Just know the basics and – most important – take the time to actually listen actively to music. In my experience, practice is much more important than theoretical knowledge. When I started to really appreciate music, my initial learning curve was astounding. It all started by walking into a hifi specialist store and being given an demo of Lynn Klimax speakers. I was blown away. Never head experienced recorded music in such a way. Now I’m hooked and have already spent way too much on equipment…

  • Jake Purches says:

    I would argue that YES you can learn to appreciate music by learning. Of course you can! I have had the good fortune to have listened to many audio systems and also many concerts. I do have a active interest in equipment, and a great love of Music. Its not contradictory at all. John Dibb introduced me 20 years ago to real deep bass for example, something I was never aware of other than the realm of reggae bass. It was Vaughn Williams ‘Job’ and it was playing on his prototype CM2 loudspeakers. For the first time I heard the thundering organ pedals and bass drum – Wow!! When I started to go to the Proms at the Albert Hall regularly I would listen out for these low frequencies which before where unnoticed. In so many ways building a wonderful HiFi has increased my love of classical music which I didn’t have so much before – its been cause and effect. I also discovered Jazz – and of course live Jazz at Ronnie Scotts. If I was a billionaire I could hire my own orchestra but I also enjoy listening to the ‘illusion’ of an orchestra at home, just as one would enjoy a 3d movie, when of course the world outside is 3d all the time. There are no rules – but Dr Dibb’s advice is good.

  • andrew tooley says:

    most people need to learn how to be quiet!

  • Ruhi says:

    A big “YES”. some people are born good listeners while others need to learn it. After all, the communication can’t be successfull and fruitfull if the subject is not clear to both the actors.

  • Matthew says:

    Both arguments here are well-written and refer directly to audio equipment. However, if we come at things from a different angle, I think we get a clearer answer. Let’s move this argument to other fields. First, imagine that you sit down and watch a baseball game. It captures your attention and seems fun. However, if you never take the time to learn the rules, the history of the game, its best players, etc., then at some point it would be boring and you’d move to something else. Also, anybody who has read Shakespeare or seen an Opera would probably say they enjoy both things infinitely more, when they study them more. In fact, they might seem boring or incomprehensible at first. After spending the time to learn about them, they offer a depth of enjoyment you could never understand without doing the research.

    I think the same thing applies to audio equipment. Sure, I might be happy listening to my favorite song on a cheap boom box. But the first time I heard a CD playing music in a fancy hi-fi system at my Dad’s friend’s house in the early 80s, I realized that I was missing out on a lot. So, certainly not everybody has to become an expert on everything they enjoy. However, I think we, as people, enjoy our interests, vocations, and hobbies more as we learn more about them.

  • Richard Cote says:

    It’s ironic that Mr. Lewry chose to close his argument with “People don’t need to learn how to listen: they need to learn how to relax.”

    It’s precisely because of the shortcomings of typical digital audio quality that I was compelled to learn how to listen.

    I cannot relax and enjoy music in standard definition. I reluctantly term myself an audiophile, rather than try to explain to everyone that for some unfortunate reason, standard digital audio – whatever the type of content – makes me irritable, edgy, and anxious. It took me years to finger the culprit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many other “audiophiles” are stumbling around trying to find words/equipment/answers that are keeping them away from a satisfying listening experience.

    Mr. Lewry’s opinion from a romp through audiophile forums informs me that he doesn’t “get it”, and he should be glad that it is so. (Who could ever enjoy a beer if any quantity gave them a hangover?)

    On the audiophile forums — if you can look past the equipment-p***ing-contest banter, you’ll see that quite a few are truly in love with music (of all types), and are simply sharing their own personal adventures in sound.

  • Sandy Untermyer says:

    An interesting phenomenon that would seem to argue for yes.

    After I picked up my present speakers — a pair of B&W CDM1s and a 610 sub — last year, I noticed that everything I listened to — my car stereo, the Bose Wave in the bedroom, etc — sounded MUCH better.

    I would say, in a word: clearer. Less muddy. More defined.

    Furthermore, when I later upgraded my interconnects (and biwired my speakers) using TARA Labs products the change was NOT subtle. It felt as though I’d switched speakers, again.

    What I’m thinking: at my ago of 67, those old B&W speakers taught my ears something new. I don’t know how else to explain it. Do you?

  • Michael Berger says:

    We hear Muzak at the stores, have televions on for background noise, and always have some sort of sound coming out of our car radios. Add to that list iPhones and mp3 players, and you have a population of people who have listened to more sounds than at any time in history. But who is really listening?

    It’s all a distraction. The music is not the star of the show. To really listen, you have to give something up, maybe T.V., or whatever it is. But to sit on a comfortable couch or chair the in the manner described by Dr, Dibb reveals whole new levels of information and understanding.

  • Andreas Klein says:

    The current “discussion” between “yes” and “no” does not address an important point: noise pollution! We are constantly surrounded by a variety of noises, such a traffic, alarms, hums, clicks etc. etc. Just think about the places which shower you with music (restaurants, hotel lobbies, shopping malls) or expose you to sounds you do not want (seatbelt alarms in cars, air-conditioning, cell phones etc). The new generation tries to suppress this aural bombardment with “listening” to the iPod/MP3 players, often at too high levels risking their hearing ability in the future.

    And yet, engineers of audio equipment strive for the most sophisticated sound recording/reproduction quality which ultimately is lost on a generation of listeners used to mediocrity of audio playback. Only a few consumers, not even every professional audio engineer, are capable of hearing the quality of different speakers (to stay within the B&W blog surrounding), because the sensitivity to audio levels and nuances has been destroyed by the exposure to unnecessary noises and audio levels. (Have you noticed the increase of decibels at rock concerts and movie theaters over year?). The recording business demands ever more compressors (to make the music ever louder for radio stations to accept the newest hit), and quantity (in decibels) wins over quality (transparency, faithful reproduction of the performance).
    Perhaps the more important issue is not which audio system performs better (there are too many parameters to define first…), but what do we actually hear?
    My answer here is: YES, let’s listen (not hear) to music, and that needs practice! The focusing on details and comparing recordings or live concerts, is fun, believe me!
    Dr. Andreas Klein
    ULTIMO Productions
    New York

  • Oliver Nelson says:

    Experiencing live music is the best way to get a frame of reference. Go to a rock concert, a jazz club or a symphony concert. Absorb all the sounds, sights and emotions around and realize you will Never get that full impact at home no matter how much you spend. Recorded music is a wonderful thing. It allows us to experience artist many of us will never hear and see but have their music touch us in hopefully a positive and uplifting way.
    Get the best equipment you can afford and then Listen, Listen,Listen.

  • Gary D. McFarland says:

    I don’t believe that people need to learn to listen as much as they need to understand what it is they are hearing.

  • mike olson says:

    After having sold high-end audio for thirty years i will have to admit that a lot of people who buy audiophile products spend more time listening to the equipment and not enough time hearing the music .
    (don’t go crazy on me here not everyone, just some) At the end of the day it’s about enjoyment of the music.
    I would always ask clients to bring some music they were intimate with and after playing it on a better system, ask them if they had heard something that maybe they hadn’t before. Most usually would say things like I never heard the brushes on the snare drum before or I’ve always missed that voice in the background.
    To a majority of people a Hi-Fi system is considered a appliance. However the minute you get a new piece of equipment made by a company who has quality of sound at heart you can hear the difference and the music will just sound better.

  • Pedro says:

    I’ve always used the term “show the best and sell the rest” when it comes to loudspeakers. Allow a customer to experience fantastic audio, and see if he or she appreciates it. If you preach to them, some customers will resent you and think you’re talking down to them. Remember, audiophiles have that “snotty” attitude. If a customer is open to an easy going education, let them have it. You never know, you may have a customer that can afford the good stuff!

  • David says:

    I listen to whatever is pleasant and exciting to my ears. I don’t really care about the fine points of the equipment I am using as long as the sound is clear and crisp. As they say, art is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. To me, all there is to it is whatever floats your boat. My old B&W P16′s give me a crisp and clean sound. No annoying and/or excessive base or trebles. Just nice sound and enjoyable music, whatever I happen to be listening to at any given time. I don’t believe in over-analyzing things. I’m not a scientist and don’t have scientific test equipment. I know what I like when I hear it and, to me, that’s all that matters.

  • Mark says:

    I used to sell speakers, and without a doubt most people don’t know how to listen to music. I would compare speakers playing perhaps a violine or other string instrument. With one speaker you could hear the screaching of the bow against the strings, it was almost like fingernails across a chalk board. It would sound as though the instrument was right in front of you. When asked to compare those speakers to one that would mute the the harshness of the instrument and loose much of the detail in the origianal sound most people when asked would prefer the less harsh less true sound. When of course the hairs on my arms would almost stand up to applaud the trueness of the other speaker. Once explaining what they were hearing and why they should like the true speaker, people got it. I created many monster audiophiles back in the day.

  • Nicholas Shippey says:

    I cannot stress this enough to my clientele: There is more to listening than meets the eye (or ears).

    One cannot expect to get everything from a recording if they don’t have a system that reveals it. Furthermore, one cannot expect to get everything from a recording if there are distractions in the way (light, other noises, lack of concentration). And lastly, one cannot expect to get everything from a recording if they do not know what to listen for.

    The first two statements are very easily solved with gobs of money. The third takes time, relaxation and concentration. It was at least a year after purchasing an audiophile-grade system that I began noticing the ‘textures’ of certain sounds and ‘the ‘layering’ of sounds to create a truly three-dimensional soundstage with just two speakers. I do believe that listening is an art form and can be learned.

    However, the recording plays an important part in all of this. It matters not how great your system is, or how keen your hearing is, if the recording is of poor quality. I have listened to many albums that hold such potential, but are hindered by the very quality of their mastering/recording. Thus, so long as what you listen to is recorded and mastered well, you will learn to listen much swifter that your peers, as you will hear more in the track and know what to look for in future tracks.

    At the end of the day, quality is the main factor in how you experience and listen to sound. The higher the quality, the easier it is to listen and see.

  • Jake Purches says:

    @Mike Olsen says “At the end of the day it’s about enjoyment of the music.” –
    I say, why can’t it be both? I get a lot of enjoyment out of the hobby of audio equipment, trying out new ideas, set ups. When I am happy with an arrangement I then enjoy listening to the music on it. Its a two way process. Nothing wrong with that. People who think otherwise are happy with Zeppelins instead.

  • Chuck Z. (aka The HiFi Doctor) says:

    Yes and no. The highest level of musical enjoyment occurs when you forget everything else, you do not analyze, and you are emotionally swept away by the music. Your brain knows without you having to think about it when a performance sounds realistic. So in these terms, no, you don’t have to learn to listen; your life’s experiences have already taught you. But wait. The moment you go out to purchase a music reproduction system, you are made to form value judgments before you lay down your money. You have to mentally process which of two pieces of equipment pleases you more. If you have learned how to analyze sound (either left or right brain dominant) you will be able to make a better decision. So under these conditions, yes, learning how to listen is a good skill to possess and can improve your appreciation of the music when you bring your equipment home.

  • John Burris says:

    This is a process that no short cuts are viable. Critical listening can bring the participants into the recording by not only listening but hearing every nuance, embellishment, push, pull, ying and yang offered . You must prepare the head, heart and mind environment is everything . It’s why they build listening rooms, control rooms etc.
    Place yourself into the right space mind and body with the right system, relaxing and enjoyment are next in line.

  • Rob Hughes says:

    I would argue that Mr. Lewry completely misses the point. While a false equivalence, I’ll take his example of the recipe card being presented with the meal to illustrate why. By being presented with the recipe, it may cause the eater to notice some nuance of flavor in the food that they’d previously missed, thus increasing their enjoyment of the meal. Nor does it remove any of the mystery or appreication for the artistry that went into the actual preperation of the food, or even how the chef originally came up with that exact blend of ingrediants prepared in just that way.

    Now, to use a more relevant example, some time back, I was listening to a Beatles record on my first non-lo-fi system. During the song that was playing, I noticed I could hear one of the Beatles yelling something in the middle of a fairly busy passage. I felt so close to them at that point, like I was there in the studio with them. And for me, that’s the entire point of of the hobby of hi-fi equipment and learning to listen; the feeling that I’m there with the musicians. Amidst all that wonderful music that stirs my soul, I can hear all the little human sounds too. The intake of breath and the snap of saliva in a singer’s mouth, the sound of a guitar players fingers moving across the strings, all of it. It all makes the music sound that much more real and human and alive, something Mr. Lawry is likely missing amidst his gyrations and furniture destruction.

    So while Mr. Lawry’s friend, the Malmsteen “fan”, seemed to miss the point, the plural of andecdote is not evidence, and so he does those of us with both a technical appreciation, as well as an emotional appreciation, for music a great disservice by assuming that everyone that enjoys the reproduction side of this hobby is here to simply perform an analysis of the sounds. Nor do I feel he should be trying to tell me what I do, or do not, enjoy. And I’m quite certain of two things. First, that music does stir my soul. And two, I enjoy getting as close to the music as I can. So on some days you may find me dancing around the room while listening to something that makes me want to move, but other days, I’m sitting quitely in appreciation of the artistry of an entire symphony. And that’s what makes me happy.

  • RAJAN GERA says:

    My hello to the readers & all at BW, whatever little i experience says that eventually we need to connect to music. every component is vital but over clinical(analytic) approach to listening destroys the essence of the recording (for most it is close to live, well, who is blessed to hear live without so much electronics and coloration involved).
    People spend hours tweaking the sound each time they hear a recording. The same time can be spent in appreciating the music (artist more than equipment). All you want is your kind of sound with the budget you have, for those who want to hear ‘neutral’ can spend their life searching for the same and think they are lovers of music. That is for critics (please don’t get me wrong that they don’t love music) and to help us give a hint of the flavor of music when auditioned thru particular gear and not for an average rich listener to destroy his precious time.
    These songs can be your prayers only when you find your eyes closed not realizing you were asked to close them to appreciate music.

  • Robert says:

    I would say YES, I see it over the years, where my clients come and say…I learned to listen..I need to upgrade my equipment. And this is a good feeling.

  • jaye NZ says:

    i think yes, being in new zealand we see a lot of people buy cheap crappy audio. as much as i would love to say i own high end audio gear at home, i dont. it all falls down to time. and what kind of audio it is. i have got the physical cd of Tron Legacy ost mastered my Daft Punk. i know what it should sound like. i have decent headphones so i do know. i tried it on a Panasonic home theater and it sounded ok but it missed all the high and mids sounds for reason at all. the Sony did a better go at it but i dont think they have ever heard of to much bass. then i tried it through the MT-25 and Marantz SR6005 amp. and it blew my mind. i heard every sound you would expect and more, it was very enjoyable i got lost in the sound. i also tried that setup with some euphoric trance/ house/ and DnB and it just preformed so well. it wasn’t just noise it was just sound the way it should have been. i work in a retail shop and i have done this test and by far the B&W Marantz setup was by far the best. and i am now saving for this badboy setup.

  • Jim Tavegia says:

    For all too many who claim to be music lovers, the reality is that MP3 is fine for them as they are usually involved in “some other activity” while the music is playing, making it nothing more than background material. If the masses really cared about music and getting deep into it, then Itunes customers would have been demanding at least CD quality, but it was most convenience that they demanded, sacrificing qaulity for a quick download. Now with many labels providing the option of 2496 downloads of WAV files or in FLAC format, downloading can add quality to convenient. Why anyone would offer 24/44.1 is beyond me other than to proctect the material from being burned to a CD easlly. Most converters are at least 96khz today and many are 192. I am not sure that you can call anything less than 2496 a quality recording with all the technology being left on the table from what the studio can provide. I listen to all the poorly recorded material from the 1940s and 1050s that for want of caring and effort could that music be greatly enjoyed, but someone’s lack of attention to details lost forever a great performance. I will always want to hear more, not less, does not a $100,000+ Steinway D deserve the best we have in recorded medium? I would sure think so. Does the restoration of the vintage microphones from the movie “The King’s Speech” deserve it? I would certainly think so.

    The sad part is the very listeners who couldn’t wait to jump on the HDTV-3D bandwagon still find poor home theater in the box more than acceptable. This video trumps audio comcept still alludes me and always will. The allusion of 3D audio with only 2 speakers will always trump the gimick of 3d TV. And, it has been with us for over 60 years. You just need to buy a resonably priced stereo to join the party.

  • Luis Franco says:

    My opinion is: “Yes AND No”. Yes, we need to show the younger generation that listening to low quality MP3s over narrow-bandwidth systems like laptop speakers or the speakers built-in to phones is not as satisfying as listening to something that actually reproduces frequencies lower than 80 Hertz, but “No” to shoving it down their throats and making them feel like their listening experience doesn’t matter because they’re not listening to a “Hi-Fi” system.

    The key is to show those who are interested in a better listening experience an affordable upgrade path into something that’s cost-effective as well as enjoyable and from there, it’s up to them to invest more into their listening experiences or not; who cares what the recording bit depth and sample rates are, if people are considering their laptops or cheap earbuds their main reproduction systems without knowing there are better listening tools to feel the music more, music will continue to simply be the background to life (and not part of it).

  • Victor P. says:

    If you want to know how to appreciate something to the fullest, an expert guide is a great way to start your journey to richer experiences. My short answer is “Yes”, we need to be taught how to listen, and how to discern and appreciate quality from not. Some say that “quality” is subjective, I do not believe so. Michaelangelo’s ‘David’, ‘Sistine Chapel’, Beethoven’s 5th, and Mozart’s Requiem are examples of human brilliance that remain timeless. From their offerings we learn how to evaluate others. I believe that after learning how to listen, we can then afford to sit back and relax, and just enjoy the moment.

  • Rob Lefler says:

    I’d have to agree with the “No” argument. I’m in the semi-rare position of being a home audio salesperson and a musician. I have played drums for 20 years, have spent many hours in the studio, done some sound engineering, and attended numerous concerts, as well as sold high end speakers to discerning clients. For me, if it doesn’t get some kind of emotion out of you, it’s not music. One example would be “Angel’s Son” by Sevendust. Every time I hear that song it brings a tear to my eye. To restrict this to one album, I’ll use Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood. It was a very well produced album by Bob Rock. It’s still their best-selling album to date and arguably their best sounding. Everything about that album was done well, I thought. That being said, if it weren’t for the fun of those songs, it would just be a well-produced blah album. Songs like “Kickstart My Heart”, “Without You”, “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”, and all the others had a lot of emotion going into them. It’s still a lot of fun just to sit back and enjoy listening to it and every song will get you moving in some way. I am by no means a huge Motley Crue fan but I thought this particular album was a good representation for both arguments.

  • David Jenkins says:

    Hello all,
    I just wanted to know if any of you have both the old Zeppelin and the new Zeppelin Air? And which do you think sounds better? I believe the Air has more clarity than the first one, I think due to it bypassing the iPod/iPhone DAC. But I also think the older Zeppelin had/has better mid drivers. And I am at a loss as to why the Zeppelin Air is almost 5 pounds lighter??? You would think with the upgrades, and more amps, 5 instead of 3 amps as in the first Zep., and the other stuff, that the Air would weigh more, not less! This is very confusing. But I LOVE my Zeppelins, and thank god they changed the status LED to a much smaller one, the big one thru the speaker fabric on the first Zeppelin was/is very distracting! But I miss the stainless steel chrome back, it was so classy! But I believe it has to do with “Air” reception. But where did the weight go?? And again, which do you think sounds better?? Would love to hear your comments!

    Cheers,
    David

  • Mariel Piper says:

    I find myself agreeing with the yea sayers. My Music Theory and Appreciation classes this year put heavey emphasis on listening, dictation, and aural analization. I’ve found myself hearing secondary dominant chords in Paramore but instead of being bothersome, it serves as a fascinating aspect I could have never realized before. I was highly skeptical to the idea of listening for chord progressions and such in the beggining but I’ve found it gives me a whole new respect for composers and writers. While I can no longer sink away into blissful unawareness during most of my albums now I still enjoy the peace of a good work. I think it is important for people to make sure they have the attention span to really stay focused and listen to an entire piece.

  • Hal Owen says:

    I say yes, we do need to spend time learning how to rediscover the art of listening. For people lucky enough to have grown up with radio as their primary source of entertainment, (essentially before say the early 1950s here in the states,) the process of listening, (IMO,) came almost naturally. Perhaps less so for many who grew up later with television. Whatever your background, one way to measure your listening skills is to walk into a room and try and appreciate whatever acoustic sound you hear. Forget about multitasking, can you identify, ( for lack of a better phrase,) an acoustic signature for a particular venue? Can you seperate the ambient sound of a room from any noise, (unwanted sound,) present? This could be a first step to improved listening. Another idea for good listening is to consider audio reproduction as the servant of music and of course music appreciation, not the master. Of course, if the medium is the message, (as with some boom box audio for example,) that too can be an excercise in the art of listening. I suppose it’s all a matter of taste.

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