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Are we losing the soul of music?

Had a hard time deciding exactly where to put this post and may have been somewhat dramatic with my "subject" title but.

I was curious to hear if there were others who had thoughts with regard to the quality of the airing your music was receiving - given today’s technology.

I have been thinking about peoples listening habits when it comes to music over the past couple of years. Other than “live” of course, it seems most people these days listen to their music on portable devices. And although the listening quality of some of these devices is good….nothing can touch listening to music on good amplified playback systems in a reasonably sized area under ambient conditions. Only then can the dynamics and richness of the music be absorbed and enjoyed by the listener. Only then can the true intent of your productions and arrangements be heard as it was intended. And I personally think that is even more important when it comes to music produced with synthesizers and the like which is what I am personally involved with.

I have made the music I have produced with my synthesizers and associated equipment available from time to time for downloading from the Internet like many of you have also done. But I am reaching a point where I feel I no longer am going to do that because I feel the work I have put in to the mixing and dynamics of the arrangements of my music is never being heard as it was intended. And under those conditions, I would just as soon it not be heard at all. At best, most music that is downloaded like that usually doesn’t make it past the downloader’s computer sound system anyway I would guess. And if one does eventually put it on a CD so that they can play it as it was intended, they have to have the software and knowledge to do so.

I often wonder how recording and production engineers these days actually feel about this subject. Assuming a bit of their heart and soul goes into their productions, don’t they feel cheated to some degree because their music is not being listened to as intended? I have to say I find it all a bit depressing. or perhaps I am just too old to appreciate the new listening technology.

Other thoughts or comments….?


Pro Audio Guest Mon, 01/15/2007 - 06:19
As a brief follow-up on this subject, I did run across this article and audio report from National Public Radio with reference to the subject matter. If you have any interest in this subject check out this link and then click on the “Listen” to hear the audio report.

[[url=http://[/URL]="…"]"iPods Edge Out Home Stereo Systems"[/]="…"]"iPods Edge Out Home Stereo Systems"[/]

Seems to confirm that “convenience” is the order of the day over “quality”. :(

Michael Fossenkemper Mon, 01/15/2007 - 12:22
Always has been. sometimes they come together, and sometimes they don't. But, a nice home stereo was more convenient they flying to Rome and seeing the 3 tenors live. Now there are a ton of things that fight for leasure time. you have DVD's, Video Games, Cable TV, The Internet, and this is only your living room. So in order for music to compete with all of these things, it has to kind of fit in a little to. So instead of having a huge system to play your music and a different surround sound system for your movies and another system for the internet, they are all coming together in hopefully a single package. Now you have a ton of music and where does this fit in to everything? sure you can build a whole library to hold your CD's, or you can cram them all into a pocket size devise that actually doesn't sound too bad considering what you just put your music through. Most of the time they can't hear the difference over the 20 other things going on at the same time anyways.

But the way i see it is, You can cater to the highest common denominator or the lowest. This is your choice. Do you want to please ear bud dude, or do you want to please hi fi dude, or dudette? make a decision and go with it. sure you can also walk the middle ground too. Can you please both at the same time? maybe, maybe not.

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 01/21/2007 - 17:11
My humble recommendation? Take a break. Take it easy. Get back in touch with the the world outside of music. Friends/family. Listen only casually in the car or wherever for a while or better yet not at all. Forget about everything. Just all the pretentions your high end gear has built up go.

A few weeks may pass, and when you come back, you might find a much more balanced perspective awaiting you. Works for me when I get too caught up in a sort of 'wanting things to be perfect even though the world isn't' mindset.

Also, try the movie Adaptation - summarizes some of the dilemmas an artist can go through pretty amazingly. Love it.

zemlin Sun, 01/21/2007 - 18:03
The mainstream has never owned the good stuff, and I suspect a lot of the higher-end customers are now spending their money on HDTV and surround sound.

8 tracks, little record players with steel needles, etc ...

Music is far more accessible now - phones, mp3 players, music available online, and the sound quality the common folks are hearing is better than what they used to get.

I'd think that while the mean quality of music systems is falling, the number f folks listening to music is rising. Now, if we can get the replace the bulk of the "popular" music with tunes that have some soul ... then we'll be making progress.

Michael Fossenkemper Sun, 01/21/2007 - 20:14
All of the high end shops in NYC are selling theater systems about 10 times more than stereo systems, at least the last time I asked. probably more now. And if they are anywhere near as complex and the system I have, who knows what they are hearing. Hell I can't even figure it out. sometimes it's a 3 channel thing or a 5 channel thing. I just keep hitting buttons until it resembles music. I lost the manual about 2 years ago, I can't figure out how to set the damn thing for the life of me. Surround, adv surround stereo, direct stereo, auto stereo, movie mode, theater mode. some have reverb, some have a weird dolby pro logic thing. When I set it to auto, it sometimes switches in the middle to some other mode. I'm toggling abreviated menus trying to decifer what each is... If I have this much trouble, what about the average Joe?

Cucco Sat, 01/13/2007 - 10:12
I understand your dilemma. Whenever I mix/engineer/master a project though, I think about the guy who will be listening through his Macintosh Amp with Wilson Watt Puppies and $50K of acoustic treatments through the room. Yeah, that's 1 out of 5,000 probably, but he's still my friend.

It does suck that people will be listening to your work and not giving it the dignity of listening on a real system (kind of like some jackass visiting the Louvre wearing fake oakleys...).

BTW - what part of Central Ark are you in? I lived there for over 10 years (in Cabot then Russellville, then Jonesboro).


Pro Audio Guest Sat, 01/13/2007 - 11:05
Greetings Cucco.....

Cucco wrote: BTW - what part of Central Ark are you in? I lived there for over 10 years (in Cabot then Russellville, then Jonesboro).

I currently live in North Little Rock. However, I did use to live in Russellville in the seventies. Worked for Bechtel during the construction of Arkansas Nuclear One. I suspect that may have been before your time. Got a sister that has lived in Cabot for years. Went bowling once in Jonesboro – never went back. :D

Thanks for your comments...

Cucco Sat, 01/13/2007 - 11:32
TekoBand wrote: Greetings Cucco.....

[quote=Cucco]BTW - what part of Central Ark are you in? I lived there for over 10 years (in Cabot then Russellville, then Jonesboro).

I currently live in North Little Rock. However, I did use to live in Russellville in the seventies. Worked for Bechtel during the construction of Arkansas Nuclear One. I suspect that may have been before your time. ...
A little, but not much. I did get arrest (not booked or anything) for trespassing on Nuclear 1 grounds. We would go out late at night (when in college at ATU) and cruise the parking lot.

You're not missing much in Jonesboro.