Bright or Dim?


Have you ever noticed that when listening to music in your listening area that music seems to sound better with the lights down? To me there is a rather noticeable difference. Could be just in my mind because that's how I like to listen, or is it something more biological/scientific than that?  Could it be that the lessoning of one sense enhances the other? Maybe it's just me. Anyway I thought I would see if anyone else has the same experience. Im sure if there is an actual reason for this phenomena, that someone on this forum will have the answer :) 
barnettk
All my serious listening is done with the lights dimmed, I believe it frees your brain up a bit not having to be distracted by your visual.
Music is definitely a better experience in the dark.It helps create the illusion that it's real(not Memorex:)
@tooblue I totally agree because there is definitely a difference to me. However my car also seems to ride better when it clean lol. I know that’s  more of a psychological thing, but when it comes to this it seems to be more of an actual change. 
It’s psychosomatic.

I have a tall lamp right by my listening chair. It has two bulbs, one ordinary white bulb and one blue bulb (available at Home Depot). For listening sessions, I have the blue bulb lit only. It sets a good mood for music listening and the music really seems to sound better that way. Bright lights distract. The blue light slightly saturates the room and draws you into the music.

Frank
Nice. I will have to try that.
Could be a power line noise issue, dimmers are notoriously bad. :)
I found out that listening in the dark allowed me not only to 'see' the soundstage better, but to also concentrate on the music.
Bob
@gdnrbob 
“I found out that listening in the dark allowed me not only to 'see' the soundstage better, but to also concentrate on the music.”

Bob Sometimes I listen with only the lights of the gear on and that is a very pleasant listening experience. However I don’t listen to records that way. I will play my reel to reel in almost darkness tho. 

I have various lighting in my room. I have 3 of the tall paper shade lights I got from Ikea that have dimmers on the cords. These seem to be much quieter than the dimmers I have on the wall switches. With these lights I can get the room just perfect and I can also still see how to Change records etc. for streaming, CDs and tapes I do like to listen in almost darkness. My Mckintosh meters also add nice atmosphere as they are quite brite in a dark room. 
Less noise is always a good idea. That’s why it’s a good idea to not only clean all electrical contacts for appliances and lamps, etc. but also to employ contact enhancer on all contacts, you know, to reduce micro arcing. Unplugging the fridge oft results in better sound, too. A much bigger mystery is why taking all cell phones outside improves the sound.
Geoff

"Unplugging the fridge oft results in better sound, too. A much bigger mystery is why taking all cell phones outside improves the sound. "

My rack is on a dedicated 
circuit. However We have 2 refrigerators and a huge Freezer in the garage. One of the refrigerators is in the adjacent room to my listening room. I have not had an issue with interference from it that I know of but I had wondered about that. Unplugging it... well if I did that I would be sleeping outside if the wife ever found out lol. 

My audio systems sound uniformly superb whether the light is on or dimmed.  :)

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@douglas_schroeder 

"My audio systems sound uniformly superb whether the light is on or dimmed. :)"

I hear you on that Doug. Maybe I should not use the term "sounds better" Maybe I should have said " more pleasurable listening experience" Just seems that like another poster said you have less distractions. Not sure what lends itself to the phenomenon. 
Dweller
"The colors..." "The colors..."

I have a friend that uses the smart lights and I think its pretty cool that you can make them any color you want. Just don't want to go disco lol. Actually not even sure what color I would make them, or if I would like the whole room to be filled with colored lights, but maybe in a lamp or two might be pretty nice. I know one thing. Delta airlines uses these awful mood lighting on some of their aircraft and whatever shade of blue they use its rather hard on the eyes. But if I could find that right color it might be nice when listening to music. 
barnettk OP

Geoffkait "Unplugging the fridge oft results in better sound, too. A much bigger mystery is why taking all cell phones outside improves the sound. "

My rack is on a dedicated circuit. However We have 2 refrigerators and a huge Freezer in the garage. One of the refrigerators is in the adjacent room to my listening room. I have not had an issue with interference from it that I know of but I had wondered about that. Unplugging it... well if I did that I would be sleeping outside if the wife ever found out lol.

>>>>>We all have to make certain sacrifices. 😬 You wouldn’t necessarily be aware of appliance generated noise in light of the fact much of it is due to micro arcing. You become aware of noise by its absence.
With the lights off, soundstage depth opens up even more.  If you're looking at equipment, equipment racks, the drywall, wall hangings, whatever, however much you concentrate on the music, your eyes are telling you that those things are right there.  You also might try one of those sleeping masks.
Regardless as to whether it's daytime or nighttime, simply closing one's eyes and listening attenuates most light/visual distraction.
I agree to listening in low light and with eyes closed is better. Kinda like taking an app off your phone and it runs faster. Sight takes up some brain power.

stevecham
"Regardless as to whether it’s daytime or nighttime, simply closing one’s eyes and listening attenuates most light/visual distraction."

Wow! Really! This works whether it is day or night??? actually closing one’s eye’s attentuates light!!!! That is most remarkable and thank you for explaining this complex mechanism to us it is truly eye openeng!!!!
Micro arcing is another made up non issue that simply nobody needs to worry about. Clean the contacts on your gear once in a while and they'll be fine. I have hum rejecting power supplies replacing the wall warts in some critical areas (DAC and phono preamp), an old but effective power conditioner everything is initially plugged into, a PS Audio Humbuster III for the power amps (main tube amp and SS outdoor speaker amp), high quality cables (replaced the "din" phono cable on my "vintage" Linn with a Jelco Mogami and killed any hum), and dimmers everywhere...I love dimmers, always have, and listen at night with dimmed lights on artwork and everything else, with a gas fireplace to gaze at if my eyes are open.
@clearthink, do I note a hint of sarcasm?
Intersting comments. I agree that dim lighting when listening to music allows one to focus more on the music. There is a lot going on in the brain while enjoying music. According to several articles I have read suggests that we use more areas of the brain when listening to music then doing most tasks. For example here is a excerpt of a finding by Stamford University on the subject: 
“A Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory (Baker, Mitzi. "Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds.”

anothrr article I read suggests that people who have had head injuries that have left a person unable to tie their own shoes can compose and be able to play musical masterpieces on certain instruments. 

If if you think about how we can anticipate with great certainty of a note to follow in a song we have never heard etc. these are amazing abilities we as humans have in regards to music and how important it is in our lives. 

So I think as many here have said here,  lower lighting causes less distractions and we can tap into the music we are listening to easier. It’s an icrediblly intersting topic and I’m very interested in what goes on in our heads when we listen. 
barnettk OP
Interesting comments. I agree that dim lighting when listening to music allows one to focus more on the music. There is a lot going on in the brain while enjoying music. According to several articles I have read suggests that we use more areas of the brain when listening to music then doing most tasks. For example here is a excerpt of a finding by Stamford University on the subject:

“A Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory (Baker, Mitzi. "Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds.”

>>>>Unfortunately, the Stanford study you referred to has precious little to do with listening in the light vs dark. Now, if the study had concluded, “Darkness moves the brain to pay attention,” it would be a different story.

barnettk OP
anothrr article I read suggests that people who have had head injuries that have left a person unable to tie their own shoes can compose and be able to play musical masterpieces on certain instruments.

>>>Again, that second article sheds no light - to use an expression - on the issue under debate, I.e., listening in a lighted room vs listening in a dark or darkened room.
I think ebm should weigh in on this topic. I have a feeling he would express my thoughts better than I could.
@geoffkait well it was more of a comment. For that matter neither does Micro Arcing but who’s counting :)
Geoff not sure if you realized it. It this time it’s supposed to be a non controversial post lol. 
Uh, but micro arcing is the correct answer. Hel-loo! 😛
You know someone told me that you like to go around this forum keeping up mess. Really.  Do you even I kw how to have fun? I’m sure there are ones things you can be doing.  It’s people like you that give the term audiophile a negative connotation. 
How the heck did we go from listening to music in a dimly lit room to his crap. Incredible. 
Oh, I see. Now I’m the troll. 
if You want to discus this further send me a private msg so we don’t waste others time  that actually may be intersted in the topic. Not going to waste there time bickering with you about something between you and I. 
I thought it was how some tubes get classified.  
@tastyfreeze 

“I thought it was how some tubes get classified.”

How is that?
barnettk,

I am not sure if the music sounds better with lights dim but it is more enjoyable. At the same time, cars definitely drive better when they are clean. I am not sure about science behind it, but it works.
I listen all day every day. morning to night. Huge picture window, bright light. Period. At night a tiny fraction of the light. I notice no difference in the quality of the music, bright or dim.  Many other factors, but light is not one of them.
@glupson haha. Yep. Agreed. Maybe sounds better is not a good way to phrase it. Im sure that " music" sounds the exact same unless audio equipment knows when its dark or light lol. So lets go with that..."more enjoyable" That way its totally subjective and no-one is wrong! wow that might be a first in audiophile history lol. Oh and I do agree about the car thing. 
This is about the ability to center oneself and the ability to direct and isolate focus. Those good at it can do so under remarkable conditions or circumstances.
@elizabeth All day? Must be nice. I wish I could listen to music all day everyday. Spoken like a retiree (thats just a guess no harm meant) 
david_ten

"This is about the ability to center oneself and the ability to direct and isolate focus. Those good at it can do so under remarkable conditions or circumstances."

Thats a excellent point. Never thought of it that  way. 
The 'dimming of the lights' is an example of a ritual to initiate this for some (centering and focus).
FWIW, ever wonder why they dim the lights at a music venue as the band is getting ready to play? Just saying.
I love to dim the lights or turn them off when listening. I enjoy the music more. I hear greater dimensionality and become more attuned to the whole picture, but especially microdynamics. My theory (based on absolutely nothing at all) is that limiting your senses to one concentrates and/or enhances the brain's perceptive abilities with respect to that sense.  
barnettk: Yes  am retired..Nine years now. All I do is lay around, listen to music. I am old...
@nonoise LOL no you did not do that.... too funny.
@elizabeth

"Yes am retired..Nine years now. All I do is lay around, listen to music. I am old..."

Thats whats up. Congratulations. You deserve to to exactly what you want to do if you have worked to be able to retire. I want to be just like you when I grow up :) Your not old...you’re wise. How about that.