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  1. #1
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    serious listening...what to do during it?

    So you have set up your listening space...moved speakers, toe-ed them in, changed components, turned on your best source material....THEN WHAT?

    I've often tried to sit down and relax to music. Just me, the room, my gear and the music, but after 10-15mins i'm looking for something to do or a beer to drink.
    Sure, we can be critical in dedicated music systems and wonder how this/that affects tonal accuracy, staging and imaging, and realistic sound reproduction.

    But, at the end of the day, what do you do with the time?

  2. #2
    Ajani
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    That's a good question... I actually don't engage in "serious listening" that often anymore... I play music very often, but I don't like to spend time analyzing sound quality (unless I just got a new component)...

    So sometimes I'm on the computer, cooking or exercising while my system is playing... Though I do just relax on the couch and listen (not critically, but solely for enjoyment) at some point each week....

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    I do a lot of serious listening instead of watching tv. I find when I am happiest with my system I do very little critical listening. My former roommate could not understand that when I was listening to a symphony or Broadway musical I did not want him to talk to me at home anymore than I would want him to talk in the concert hall. Of course I do get up to get a glass of wine. If I am cleaning or other chores that is when I play pop music.

    I recently did some critical listening to my three phono preamps and was surprised with the results.
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  4. #4
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    I try to sit down for 'serious' listening at least 3 times a week for a couple hours at a time. It doesn't always happen - but that is what I aim for.

    When I find myself unable to engage with the music is when I find I don't have something set up correctly or some component or system as a whole just isn't emotionally engaging.

    I can almost always but on a record and be swept away with it.

    Maybe it is just me, maybe it is level or love for the music, maybe it is a level of quality in the system.

    Sounds to me though, if you are finding yourself searching for other things to do with in 15 min of sitting down to listen... than you either don't seriously like what you are listening too or the system just isn't getting you involved.

  5. #5
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    So you have set up your listening space...moved speakers, toe-ed them in, changed components, turned on your best source material....THEN WHAT?

    I've often tried to sit down and relax to music. Just me, the room, my gear and the music, but after 10-15mins i'm looking for something to do or a beer to drink.
    Sure, we can be critical in dedicated music systems and wonder how this/that affects tonal accuracy, staging and imaging, and realistic sound reproduction.

    But, at the end of the day, what do you do with the time?
    Forgive me for asking this, but what's the point of having an optimal system if you don't enjoy just sitting and listening to the music?

    For me, the music comes first. I can sit on my couch, close my eyes, and zone out to music that I love for hours. Although, it's most enjoyable on my best system, I can listen on a pretty crappy system (within reason) too because it's about the music not the sound.

    I'm not trying to be critical of your post, I ask this honestly because I've just never understood the love for gear over the love for music.

  6. #6
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Strangely enough, I do most of my critical listening on my second system. I love to lie in bed listening to music while I slip off to sleep. It is also is set up to come on each morning as my alarm. I do some critical listening on my main system, but always end up interrupted by something within a minute or two. My next upgrade is going to have to be speakers for the bedroom.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  7. #7
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    So you have set up your listening space...moved speakers, toe-ed them in, changed components, turned on your best source material....THEN WHAT?

    I've often tried to sit down and relax to music. Just me, the room, my gear and the music, but after 10-15mins i'm looking for something to do or a beer to drink.
    Sure, we can be critical in dedicated music systems and wonder how this/that affects tonal accuracy, staging and imaging, and realistic sound reproduction.

    But, at the end of the day, what do you do with the time?
    Well I love good music. Imma Jazz lover. I also listen to some classical, but not to the level of JohnMichals...only because I dont know many titles and who to look for, but I have a few classical albums and CD's I do like.

    Now you ask "then what?' Well for me I have to have decent gear to be able to relax. Some people watch tv to relax. When I have a long day at work, there is nothing better than knowing I can have a good evening meal and the 2 channel waiting for me. Sometimes I have my lap top, but to just relax and enjoy the music is a very effective way of winding down and relaxing. Its not critical listening at that point....its just relaxing to the sounds and pure enjoyment. There has to be some kinda connection with the listener and the music. You have to let it get inside of you. Listening and enjoying the sounds takes me away from life's Hustle and bustle of the day.

    There are times when listening critically, I play several CD's of different bands from the same era. When I listen like this I hear what sets them apart from others...you find their "signature" and "technique" . Its the same with piano players and sax players and guitar players. You can listen and hear some of the people you know influenced them in their playing...or you can hear their own signature or technique they started. Billy Higgins is known as a very "musical drummer" and you can hear it in his drumming. Thats what sets him apart. Connie Kay of the Modern Jazz Quartet and The Paul Desmond Quartet is a self taught drummer never having a lesson. He is know for his great subtle cymbal work. Art Blakey another great drummer, has a signature that is heard always after the bridge. Buddy Rich...well you know his signature right off the bat. that cat is the best drummer I've ever heard...him and Max Roach. So I like to listen to the different techniques of the different musicians...like Sax players...some are warm and smooth, some are thunderous and hard and loud..some slow and some just touch your soul like Paul Desmond and Benny Golson who in my opinion was very much under-rated. So you gotta love music for you to be able to just sit and listen.
    Last edited by frenchmon; 09-23-2010 at 01:51 PM.
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  8. #8
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    Forgive me for asking this, but what's the point of having an optimal system if you don't enjoy just sitting and listening to the music?

    For me, the music comes first. I can sit on my couch, close my eyes, and zone out to music that I love for hours. Although, it's most enjoyable on my best system, I can listen on a pretty crappy system (within reason) too because it's about the music not the sound.

    I'm not trying to be critical of your post, I ask this honestly because I've just never understood the love for gear over the love for music.
    maybe my op wasn't clear, i didn't really mean i sit and analyze my setup/system over enjoying the tunes each time.

    I'm really looking for what folks do when they actually sit down and listen.

    on 2nd thought, maybe we should define 'serious listening' -vs- 'critical listening' as I consider them separate.
    Last edited by Tarheel_; 09-23-2010 at 11:20 AM.

  9. #9
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    bourbon, neat.

    If it ever cools off down here, I'll open a bottle of Scotch and I have a bottle of Yamazaki 12 year old Japanese whisky waiting for the right occasion.
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  10. #10
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    maybe my op wasn't clear, i didn't really mean i sit and analyze my setup/system over enjoying the tunes each time.

    I'm really looking for what folks do when they actually sit down and listen.

    on 2nd thought, maybe we should define 'serious listening' -vs- 'critical listening' as I consider them separate.
    Well - when I sit down to listen just for what is on - I pretty much put a pillow between me back and the couch - something to keep my eyes at the right angle for the speakers behind my neck - put the feet out - hands typically in lap or at my side - sometimes my cat jumps on me to join in - and i close my eyes and enjoy the ride. oh - and i have the remote near me.

    now, if i am spinning vinyl, i pretty much do the same and then have to get up every 10-20min to flip the record.

    I try to slow my breathing down so that i wont hear or notice it - i typically unplug the refrige - laptops and computers same - throw up a couple more thick blankets to reduce high frequency reflections - turn off the lights - turn up the volume - and drift away on the soundwaves.

  11. #11
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    I see. I misunderstood you then. I apologize.

    When I have the time to sit down and listen, that's all I do. I put on a CD that I love, close my eyes, and just listen. Sometimes I'll have a relaxing beverage, wine or tea depending on my mood, more often than not, a 20 pound cat will be purring on my lap. It's all very soothing. I don't feel the need to be doing anything else other than enjoy the moment and enjoy the tunes.

  12. #12
    Suspended atomicAdam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    bourbon, neat.

    If it ever cools off down here, I'll open a bottle of Scotch and I have a bottle of Yamazaki 12 year old Japanese whisky waiting for the right occasion.
    THAT ICECUBE IS HUGE!!!!

    It is a Cubezilla! Watch out Tokyo!

  13. #13
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    Cubezilla!
    LMAO!!!

  14. #14
    Mutant from table 9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    bourbon, neat.

    If it ever cools off down here, I'll open a bottle of Scotch and I have a bottle of Yamazaki 12 year old Japanese whisky waiting for the right occasion.
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  15. #15
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomicAdam
    THAT ICECUBE IS HUGE!!!!

    It is a Cubezilla! Watch out Tokyo!
    never been to Japan, but my son has. I'll have to ask him about the ice over there. It looks kinda like a Godzilla egg from that awful Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick.

    Yamazaki is a Suntory brand. Bill Murray's character in Lost in Translation goes to Tokyo to do a commercial for Suntory.

    Edit: Hah! - SB beat me to it.

  16. #16
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    For me there isn't really any difference in the type of listening as long as I'm in my chair. When playing LP's, of course I have to get up frequently. Many times it's just an excuse to dance (alone) to the next couple of selections. I also have the volume up to a "good" level. usually 90+dB.

    I generally have to do this alone as conversation is not practical at 90+dB levels. Also when I plunk someone in the sweet spot and play selections for them the volume is up and my toes are tapping. For those occasions I stand behind "the chair" and dance anyway!

    As for drink and recreational substances; I'll partake of whatever I have at hand. It's usually, well lately, Saint Pauli Girl. In the bottle only.
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  17. #17
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    I just sit and listen and take in the music. I agree with Adam, is you aren't whisked away then you should probably change the album. Could be something in your chain that's not agreeing and tiring your ears.

    Aside from this, I like to read liner notes, expecially on the old jazz LPs. I also like to do some light reading, like a coffee table book or Maximum R&R magazine, etc.

    Right now I have this book next to my chair...


  18. #18
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Guilt?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    maybe my op wasn't clear, i didn't really mean i sit and analyze my setup/system over enjoying the tunes each time.

    I'm really looking for what folks do when they actually sit down and listen.

    on 2nd thought, maybe we should define 'serious listening' -vs- 'critical listening' as I consider them separate.
    I feel like im waisting time (not doing anything constructive) if im sat down listening to music and doing nothing else, so I usually have my laptop with me. But I do indulge every now and then, although it doesnt necessarily last a long time...

  19. #19
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    bourbon, neat.

    If it ever cools off down here, I'll open a bottle of Scotch and I have a bottle of Yamazaki 12 year old Japanese whisky waiting for the right occasion.
    Single malt and a good recording....Oh yeah!

    Good Cabernet will do too. That and some good cheese and possible grapes...Hey, that's what's on for tonight - thank you!
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  20. #20
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    To me the terms "serious" or "critical" are interchangable and connotate that some type of analysis is going on. You could be anlyzing gear or you could be analyzing a piece of music. I don't think many people except the most obsessed audiophile truly does that much "critical" listening because there is IMO little need for it once you have your system set-up and are playing from your library of music. Slight changes in the room, additional gear and new music are intances where "critical" listening should be performed IMO.

    How you listen to your set-up is a different manner and probably varies from person to person. Some like JohnMichael here treat it like a concert experience and they want to devote their focus to listening to the music while others here apparently mix in a few other activities such as light reading or small chores. I don't think anyone here can tell you what will work best for you. Sitting in the "sweet spot" and not moving while listening to music is not a requirement so find what makes the best listening experience for you and relax.

  21. #21
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    IMHO you can't do light reading or small chores and even remotely expect to do "critical listening". Sitting relaxed is an absolute must, and with no other distractions like talking, working a laptop, or texting on your cell phone.

    I would say 90% of my audio time is NOT spent in such a state, and however enjoyable that time is, it really can't be called serious listening.
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  22. #22
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    IMHO you can't do light reading or small chores and even remotely expect to do "critical listening". Sitting relaxed is an absolute must, and with no other distractions like talking, working a laptop, or texting on your cell phone.

    I would say 90% of my audio time is NOT spent in such a state, and however enjoyable that time is, it really can't be called serious listening.
    I think you misread my post.

    I agree that you cannot do "critical listening" while doing other things. My main point was that most of the time you do not need to do "critical listening" but only have to enjoy the music. I think the OP is operating under the impression that because he has invested some much time, energy and money into his set-up he feels he must sit and do "critical listening" everytime he sits down to listen to music. Most people do not (cannot) listen to music like this on a steady basis.

  23. #23
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    maybe we should define 'serious listening' -vs- 'critical listening' as I consider them separate.
    IMO, there are 3 types of listening:

    critical listening - you remove all distractions and analyze the sound of the system and the music being played...

    serious listening - you remove all distractions, but just listen to the music for enjoyment. No analysis is done of sound quality...

    casual listening - You listen for enjoyment, don't do analysis of sound quality and don't remove distractions...

    I believe that critical listening is a necessary evil to be employed when evaluating a potential purchase... but should be done rarely as it often leads to obsessive behavior (Upgraditis) which leads to more serious problems (bankruptcy)...

    Serious listening is something I think hardcore music lovers do fairly regularly, but the average person rarely (if ever) does... Considering that we have 5 senses, it is very difficult to shut off 4 of them and just listen to music... Personally, I find that many of my serious listening sessions end because once the groove gets me, I jump up to dance... so bye bye sweetspot...

    Casual listening is the most practical method on a regular basis... And is the reason why not everyone is an audiophile... If you never do any critical listening, then there is probably no incentive to upgrade components...

  24. #24
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    So you too have happy feet. Last night I was playing some CD's I recently received from CD Universe. When I put on Nigeria 70 and skipped to Upside Down (Fela) I had to dance! Anyone who can play music like this and not start "bar stool dancing" at minimum has no sense of rhythm. I can dance while listening. I can't read anything. Even the newspaper is out of the question.
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  25. #25
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    So you too have happy feet. Last night I was playing some CD's I recently received from CD Universe. When I put on Nigeria 70 and skipped to Upside Down (Fela) I had to dance! Anyone who can play music like this and not start "bar stool dancing" at minimum has no sense of rhythm. I can dance while listening. I can't read anything. Even the newspaper is out of the question.
    LOL... I do wonder how some audiophiles just recline in a chair in the sweetspot and not move, while a sweet groove is playing... I almost embarrassed myself at a few HiFi shops while auditioning gear... If I really like the sound, I want to dance, rather than just sit still in the auditioning chair...

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