Amps and Women

I have been happily married for over 20 years now. I am the supposed audiophile, yet my wife ,god bless her, can pick out the differences in amplifiers in about two seconds. I change over from my Spectral stuff to my Classe stuff,"Honey did you change the system again?" She was not even listening seriously, she was doing something totally different. So the question I pose, and my wife is not the only one I have noticed this with, do women in general possess better listening/hearing capabilties then men?? That is why I take her(and usually with great resentment on her part.) to audition audio equipment. In fact, in all fairness, she narrows the choices pretty quickly.
My boss's wife have a similiar "six" sense when it comes to car. His understanding is that unlike men, women listen or choose a product without a lot of technological bias. Some time it's just better and quicker that what. Cheers!
Woman do not intrinsically hear better than me. Men are much more apt to suffer hearing loss because of occupational exposures to noise, exposures to guns,loud music ect, also exposures to lawnmowers, weed eaters, saws and other power equipment. I have performed 20 plus audiograms a week on men and woman for over 25 years and the largest percent of hearing loss is in men. But this is changing, woman are now working in jobs that were traditionally male(factory work for an example) they are doing yard work, shooting guns ect. I am now seeing more hearing loss in woman than before. The number one cause of hearing loss today is ampilfied music(headphones, car, home stereos and live music concerts)This may explain in part why woman are able to tell differences in equipment but as a long time music lover and married, I also believe that woman listen differently to music than men(can't explain that part) Good listening to all and remember to wear ear plugs when exposed to noise.A rule of thumb is that if the noise is loud enough that you have to raise your voice for someone next to you to hear, it's probably loud enough to cause a hearing loss. Also remember that time exposed to noise is a key factor too.
Sorry for the typo, I meant to say that woman don't intrinsically better than MEN,(not me) Thanks
Perfect. Here's where I come in. I think that my husband's passion with this hobby is both in the technical understanding and the journey of improving the reproduction of sound (that includes obtaining the gear, but also the personal relationships established in doing so). He can speak to this, this is just what I have observed. He was on the phone, just this morning, for an hour with someone discussing Innersound gear Me? I just love to listen. He troubleshoots, works out the details, then I come in and sit down with a glass of wine. Pretty good gig, actually! Sure, I enjoy understanding enough to intelligently understand WHY there are differences, but for me - it's in the discovery of hearing something in a piece of music that I never heard before. You can listen to your collection again and again and it's like hearing it for the first time. Who would have thought changing out power cords could bring such enjoyment! It's insane. I love the musical gear - Rowland amps, Apogee speakers, tubes in the front end. I tend to get a personal attachment to stuff, too. Something really has to come in the door and show me something more, before I am ready to let go. I, of course, trust his judgement and go along with whatever he is ready to try. The Apogee stages lasted the longest, but we have moved on to electrostatic panel hybrids. We are now in the middle of seeing what we think about a Classe 300 in place of the two Rowland Model 1's mono-blocked. And it is very musical. But, I bet we end of getting the gain adjusted on the Rowlands and tri-amp the whole bloody thing. It is so much fun!
MY wife calls my system A RADIO...Until she hears her favorite CD...Then it's a lovely sounding sweet tubes ontop solid state on the bottom great sounding system....GEE.
i'm not sure whether it's better or no to live with a wife who has better ears than mine. angela100 is a special and unusual sort of woman, who not only tolerates us "guys" but is seemingly as interested in this crazy hobby as is her spouse:; in my 3 decades of experience in the audio highend, i've met but a handful of like souls. my wife of 34 years tolerates my indulgences, which is probably more than that i should hope for-- or expect. i listen to my system or waste time with all of you while she spends nearly every waking hour devoted to volunteer work connected to purebred dog rescue or the psychic and physical care of her terminally-ill mother. the only time her listening acuity is tested is when i put on reggae music, that she likens to nails scraped on a blackboard. or when i turn it up the volume so high that the sound from my basement sound room awakens her two floors above. my bride still doesn't know, or care, which of those great big boxes she must pass to get to the laundry room is an amp. that's just one of thousands of reasons i love her. -kelly
This morning my wife and I took a drive to the ocean side and she insisted that I take my car. So I asked why and she said it has a better stereo system. I was surprised that was able to hear the difference. I had installed a pretty nice system in her car consisting of Mcintosh, Soundstream and KEF equipment. I have Nak, seperate DAC, Sounstream and B&W in my car. She complained that sound system makes her fatigue. She used to be satified with a boom box.
thanks, Kelly... and I think that you should show your post to your wife...that should get you some major brownie points, soldier boy :-} I hope that my husband thinks so well of me after 34 years! Nice goin'
In the last couple of years when I audition major equipment purchases I find the right moment to ask my wife to take some time and listen. She normally has a different impression then I do, and sometimes helps me to undo a predilection towards certain (brands of) equipment. She is particularly sensitive to equipment that has a forced/bright/sterile upper midrange and treble quality, and where the bass is out of proportion. Recently I have been auditioning 2 channel analog preamps (I currently use a surround pre/pro as a digital preamp). She has consistently preferred all of the tube line stages to any of the SS units I have tried, such as ML's 380s.
Just to play devil's advocate for a moment,-- What it sounds like to me, would be more important.Having read Stereophile for years,the women hearing thing is no new news.Yes,if the woman can point to something I was missing out on,but then could hear,after it was brought to my attention---Can I rent somebody's wife?? Yes,you can come along,my intentions are honorable.
I have been blessed with a girlfriend who is "tolerant" of my audio & electronics based "cluster....". While she does enjoy having all of the "goodies" that we have to take advantage of, she doth think that i carry on just a bit much. Nonetheless, she is willing to listen to systems when i've made changes and share her findings with me. Since she is not into "audio" and has no sense of brand or model recognition, i'm basically getting the "straight dope" based on what she hears. So as not to bias her opinions or what she should listen for, i simply play music and let her tell me what she notices most. Most of the time, things are pretty obvious and she wants to speak out quickly, so i've had to remind her to relax for a bit and take in a deeper breath of the systems performance and traits. I do this AFTER i have formed my own opinions so that we can then compare notes. While she may not share the "audiophile vocabulary" of most of us here, her descriptions are typically spot on and coincide with my observations. I have also found that my Brother shares most of same sonic likes / dislikes that we do, so having three different opinions come up with the same findings can be pretty re-assuring that i'm on the right track. Now my Father on the other hand........ Sean >
God Bless women that will take some time to appease their significant other!
I can spend all day doing a, b testing with speaker cables,then my wife will reach the same conclusion as me in five minutes.
That women have better hearing acuitiy is an established fact. It seems to be genetic and not just environmental, as suggested above. They seem indeed to be especially sensitive about the upper frequencies, but their astuteness is in no way limited to just there. I've been into this hobby for more than thirty years and never made major decisions without a pair - or best multiple pairs -of female ears. Believe me guys, they are practically ALWAYS dead right and to the point.
There is no genetic base that woman have better hearing than men. I agree that they may listen differently than men but physiologically we hear the same. Critical listening is a learned process. While I also ask my wife to listen, in the final analysis I trust my ears.
is there a doctor in da house?
sorry, rec... i assume from your earlier post that you are a doctor?
I practice Occupational Medicine at a large metro hospital and provide occupational services to employers. Many of my patients are exposed to noise and have noise induced hearing loss. We always perform baseline audiograms and if they work in an area where the noise exceeds the federal limits(OSHA)yearly audiograms are performed. I also spend a great deal on time performing noise sampling to determine noise levels in particular workplaces. I also have tested school age children for hearing loss. There is no difference between the boys and the girls, we all start out the same unless we have a hearing loss from other conditions. As far as our hobby, I agree we listen differently but there is no innate hearing ability in woman.
My stereo always sounds better when my girlfriend is listening with, hearing her comments and ideas (unbiased). She has heard all of the studies and enjoys telling me how my stereo sounds better then I can hear, sometimes I think she is right. Check that she is right every time.
Jsbail, the difference between you A-B'ing all day and your wife forming opinions in 5 minutes is that YOU enjoy the tinkering around while she gets to verify the results. It's kind of like the guy that does his own tune-ups and the one that pays someone else to do it. The "tuner" enjoys his tinkering and wants to know all of the intimate details of his "baby" while the "payer" simply thinks of his car as being "transportation". BIG difference. Sean >
You are a moron if you let somebody tell what you like if you have the chance to hear the same thing at the same time.
Your girlfriends' comments are totally biased, fully subjective, as are all of our individual opinions, don't you get it?
It's all subjective. It's all subjective. It's all subjective, if it were not so then there would be one system that would be the best, get it?
In all this discussion about differences in hearing between the sexes and if its genetic or not, I wonder if "listening" would not be the better expression. I also wonder if its a quantitative thing, in the sense of the frequency range you are capable of hearing, or if it is rather a qualitative thing, in the way you listen to what. Another puzzling thing: Why is it that people who are known to have defects in their intake ability for higher frequences will imediatedly notice if there is a cut off above say 15khz in any given piece of music. They will tell you, that there is something "wrong", but in terms of pure sience they are not supposed to notice anything at all. Can anybody clarify?
I wonder why this thread fell asleep? It seems interesting enough to follow through. Contrary to what whatever "science" may maintain, there may well be a genetic difference in hearing between the genders. If we suppose that prehistoric females were not expressively trained in karate and selfdefence (-: and being physically inferior to their male counterparts and hampered by their brood, it was essential for their survival to hear approaching danger as early as possible, in order to take the appropriate measures. In other words: being hampered ( pregnancy, children) means a certain amount of involuntary passivity, hence the importance of an early warning system. Its only hypothesis, but a valid assumption I think.
Great post, but would the males not also be in need of an early warning system when out hunting and gathering? I suppose you suggest, that women, being forced to live more passive, needed an even more finely honed hearing acuity, compared to the males. Wonder what anthopologists have to say to that. Any around?
I would like scientific proof that women hear better, ask anyone for some data on this.....oh wait, I thought I was Steve.....
Yea, so would I, lots of opinions floating around. Maybe "better" is the wrong term, "different " might be more apropriate.

It's an interesting question you pose, but its premise, I believe, is flawed. You suggest that women, inferior to men in physical strength, martial ability, what have you, needed to hear imminent danger as early as possible. Fine as far as it goes. But I do know a little of anthropology, paleontology and suggest to you that virtually everything that wasn't human, protohuman, anthropoid (pick your flavor) was just as capable of wiping out a man as a woman. Consider the "opposition": sabre tooth tigers, dire wolves, cave bears, mastodons, and whatever other creatures prowled the land, and you quickly realize that any of these critters was far too powerful for even the strongest of men to contend with. I think "rec" explained it best as a cultural thing that is changing as females get into areas once dominated by men; the attendant risks and benefits are still there. And that is manifest by the diminution of audio acuity he is now "seeing" as he tests the females in noisier occupations.

Let's not start a war here. My wife's hearing is demonstrably inferior to mine. Why? Haven't a clue, but it makes her of little use when I'm on one of my audition trips. But she's still a whole lot more sensible about this stuff than I am; I keep searching for the Holy Grail, while she says in effect, "isn't 98-99% of the way there close enough?" Good point.
One point not made here is a sort of ZEN thing. the woman is just casually LISTENING, but "golly" she is actually LISTENING to the sound of the MUSIC. You, are listening to the sound of your SYSTEM. Every little nuance, being cataloged and judged... DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE???
Very nice post, Adamanteus and I've rated it accordingly. I haven't got your training and I won't start a war either, but in the face of this mighty opposition, as you so rightly point out, was it really just our cortex, in interpreting signals though hearing, smelling, sight, whatever better than all those beasts and the Neanderthal men, that helped us to survive as a species? What your statement seems to infer, if I interpret it correctly, is something like no "need" for different sensual acuity between genders, because that would not have helped anyway against all that mighty opposition. Now what Katharina seems to imply is that the better the cortex is fed with information, the better its bearer has a chance to survive and since women, to her reasoning at least, had to lead a more "passive" existence, they needed a better "radar" to stay alive. So I think your post does not really fault her argument. To me the weak spot in in her assumption might be the passivity aspect. I think Ka's idea is fascinating, but I cannot say of course, if its valid or not.
Thanks for the flowers D, but maybe I was just too much trying to be left brained or so and if I forget the other sice it never comes out right. Elisabeth, I think you absolutely got it. I don't care a damn about what component makes the system sound this way or that, but, devil, will I hear if its "right" or not, "right" being a sort of engram in me about all the live musical events I've been to.
My wife's hearing is much keener than mine at lower SPL's. I do have some hearing damage but it only effects me at extremely low listening levels (I have had it tested off and on since my teens). My wife is not into this hobby but will sometimes complain about changes that I make to the system (cabling, etc.) and ask what "that noise" is. As far as I understand (that noise) only happens when the music is playing and has been generally present to her when I have been auditioning brighter more detailed cables. For example she hated the Illumination D60 digital cable in the system (PBJ's as well), which I actually liked until I turned up the volume well past our normal listening level and also heard some type of high frequency noise (whatever it was it was a sound that seemed to be "behind" or in addition but still accompanying the notes, if this makes any sense, it's a CD based system), she was right there was a "funny" noise. I had always thought that acute female hearing was due to the inner workings of the ear being scaled down and more delicate/sensative (I doubt if KD Lang would fill the bill, but you know what I mean). I have also noticed that generally speaking the women in my life have preferred more bass and less treble in regard to what I feel is a nice balance. I wonder if I hear more of the bass and less of the highs in comparison?

I appreciate your thoughtful reply, and, yes, you interpreted my argument correctly. I simply left the conclusion unspoken. I don't agree that it vitiates my argument, but we can agree to disagree :>). Re "passivity".. who the blazes knows? The females I've known throughout my life have been anything but passive when they've got their minds set upon something. My wife, a sweet, gentle soul will usually win me over to something or other just by dint of persistence, subtle reintroduction of ______ in a conversation, or finding a way of steering our attention back to this or that topic. Is that passivity? Not to me. It's more like a quiet, unwavering tenacity. Simply not as dramatic at first blush as some approach a man might take. Results seem to be about the same.
Deklay, this is fascinating, because after trying another subwoofer in my system the other day, my lady in question found, that finally the music had the right underpinnings, whereas I found the bass still illadjusted and simply too much. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
Okay whatever... I just had my hearing tested last month and it is excellent. So the lady doctor said before she winked at me. No just kidding about the wink. But I don't buy unless my wife hears it first and I'll give her this, she is always right. The women can go from one place to another(audio stores) and point out things that I've missed. So she has saved us $$$ and has picked the correct upgrades. Which is good for me cause I just want to buy it all.......
I think IMHO it may not have anything to do with sex and that God may have blessed some with better ears than others. As much as I love my audio I am afraid I may be one of the people he passed over. It has taken a long time to train my ears to appreciate the nuances of a very high quality audio signal or live performance. God bless your wife for she has a most enjoyable gift.