While I’m very much in favor of retaining my hair cells in working order, and I tend to end every talk I give with AND PROTECT YOUR HEARING (otherwise my profession is sort of irrelevant), I admit to being a bit tired of the back and forth here.
I listen to music in a concentrated way, think chair, eyes closed, like the old Memorex commercial without the streaming hair (don’t listen that loud, and don’t have enough hair either any more). Think Beethoven/Bach/… Classics, Baroque, Romantic more or less.
I listen to music in a less concentrated way, but while still playing primary attention to the music. Think Chet Atkins, Dire Straits, Don Henley, Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Green Day …
I use music to block extraneous noise when I’m trying to work. Usually something of the “smooth jazz” category . Think Peter White, etc.
I use background music just so it’s not too (*&(* quiet. Anything will do, but Eric Bogle, Atkins, Tommy Emannuel, bluegrass of most any sort, etc.
I think it’s beyond arrogant to suggest that, other than destroying hair cells, listening to loud music is doing more (now that’s enough, really, isn’t it), and sounds a bit more than slightly alarmist to me. The CNS is rather plastic in my experience, even if I’m now an old fogie, I still learn new tricks, and recover skills I had 40 years ago in a few minutes, ones that I thought I had complete forgotten, as well.
Now, if we are talking record-company <unbelievably gross and offensive expletive referring to a fertilizer substance deleted>, that’s another story. I’ve seen the recording industry go through at least 3 cycles of spread/consolidation, first with Mono LP’s/45’s, then stereo LP’s, then to some extent with 8 tracks (ecch), and then with CD’s. We’re at the bottom of the pits of (*&(* in consolidation right now, with attempts to control the entire process end to end, and the result is just what you’d expect, zero innovation to speak of (at least in the mainstream) and the financial types telling the artistic “directors”, most of whom are not musicians, what to buy and sell.
It will change again. It always has previously. To what, this time, I don’t know, but it will change. If nothing else, the traditional “buy a recording that we keep ownership of” mode of operation is just going to die, the same way POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service and long distance) died despite the best efforts of people to control and dominate that market via regulatory means. But something will replace it, because people want to hear music. Foreground, background, whatever, people want the end product, and in general they want a pleasant, rather than clipped to (*&(*, experience.
I see a breath of hope when the Metallica fans started to raise Cain about hypercompression (of the level sort). It’s of the “even the metal rockers are sick of it” hint that the industry hasn’t taken, but that you do see minor labels and indies taking.
For playback in portable/car premises, there are obvious ways to deal, but I’m not at liberty to discuss them.
Brian, it’s not your comment that set me off, rather I was heartened to see a voice of sanity in this regard.
Oh, and for those who asked, I walked through two Dorms yesterday, I like to hang out in college bars when I’m travelling on business, they are less dead-and-stuffed than business restaurants, unless I’m doing business at dinner. My favorite radio station is KUOW, where “UOW” means University of Washington.
So, guys, lay off judging preference. Stick to insisting on safety, I’m all for that part.
James D. Johnston (jj@xxxxxxx)
CHIEF SCIENTIST - DTS, Inc.
The story about Pete Townsend is totally apocryphal
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