Do you listen alone or with guest s

I am curious about the social element of listening to an audiophile system. Do you listen alone?? with wife, ladyfriend, buddy or guests?? For myself, I prefer to listen alone and for a few important reasons. I like to listen to the performance of the system I have put together or have made changes to. I listen to judge the performance of the musicians in terms of innnovations,and new revelations about the music's structure. I listen to "just" listen, to get that emotional fix that only music can provide. I occasionally ask my wife to listen with me or to a particular cut, but after about six minutes she loses interest. In the past, with lesser systems, I tried to point out things to friends in the music that I was hearing. After a short while, I realized I was making others uncomfortable, and also myself. Listening alone over the years became a ritual. I never regretted following this path, and was/am surely open to other listeners in the room....Maybe this is smug attitude to have; I think it comes with the territory of high-end audio. It often annoys me when I see people switch on a stereo and listen for just background music, or incidental music. I feel it denigrates the music and the musicians (excluding hip-hop, Daughtry,and Lady Gaga) I realize and am grateful there is no "golden rule book" for listening to music. The audiophile who drops thousand of dollars on his system cares about sound and music---science in the service of art.
alone. i get tired of people yelling at me...ha. plus,,most people i know avoid all conversations concerning my audio/music opinions.i know this because their eyes glaze over! i'm sure i am not the only person on audiogon with this situation. now at a bbq or in the garage with friends playing ping pong the ipod or sirrius radio and boom box is perfect.
I am with Hotmailjbc,
My family and friends probably thing of me as the audio authority, but really don't want to discuss it. Occasionally I'll hear "you should hear Tim's tunes" or rarely my wife will want to hear a song she might like that I was listening to, but overall I listen alone. When I forget the system and just listen to music, I find this my time of refuge a time of relaxation and recouping. Tim
What an appropriate thread to start for audiophiles and enthusiasts. It's a great question. I listen alone 99% of the time. No one in my home enjoys Hard Bop which is most of what I play. My 7 year old only notices if I play the Beatles or some other occasional music he likes and then he pays attention for a bit. My wife would love to see me get rid of my setup. It's a very solitary thing, listening to an audiophile system, at least for me. Although, I now regularly get questioned by guests, "what's those things sticking up?" I say, "those are vacuum tubes." Sometimes that leads to a brief conversation.
To really listen, you need to listen alone. It is all about focus, focus on the music. Socializing is best done without music or the TV going. That way your guests get the attention they deserve and the conversation flows best. Often people ask to 'see' my listening room, but they ask to hear it and perhaps that is telling.
I built my system for me alone (as pain relieve to the rigor of life: Anodyne). My girlfriend likes music but rarely sits in to listen with me because gets annoyed when I have to "flip" an album over or worse find another to play (the interim silence is a 'party killer' says she). She, like so many these days is an ADD afflicted music listener.

I'm lucky enough to have an audiophile buddy who drops in now and then on fridays to drink scotch and listen to my latest music purchases and/or tweaks/additions I have made. Today is one such day.

Occasionally, I round up several folks from work and introduce them to the wonders of high fidelity wherein we listen to records all night. It's loads of fun watching these groups of people riff thru my record collection making their own "listen to next" piles against the wall, not having touched or heard a record in many decades.
I usually listen with my wife who appreciates good music. For me, it adds an extra dimension to my enjoyment knowing that someone I care deeply about is experiencing the same thrill and sensual involvement that well reproduced music can bring.
My cat is always there on the couch with me in my listening room. Was it Twain that said, "The more I know about people, the more I love my dog."? I think that goes for my cat as well.
Alone! It makes me edgy to listen with others because first, I'm concerned that they may not like the music and are just being polite and second, it seems that most folks want to talk during the music session and obviously could care less about the whole thing. This would imply that I am simply forcing my own preference for music on others without regard for their comfort level. No such concerns when listening alone. Quite often the headset is the best option - nobody gets annoyed.

I find most non-audiophile friends can not grasp the concept of sitting quietly for extended periods, to enjoy the music and let the magic happen.
What Rudolphls said...
Well the nature of high end invariably means that the majority of listening sessions are solitary. However, the most fun I have had in this hobby is sharing the experience with friends. I am truly blessed to have a group of like minded enthusiasts (?fanatics?) to share music and audio...
You have to be alone to listen critically. As mentioned above, focus is absolute. I have our rig in the living room and my wife does love to listen but doesn't like all the Bebop I play and her ears are more sensitive to DB's. So when we are together I will play mostly contemporary jazz or pop. This is fine because it gives me a break from what can be very demanding music and gives my subwoofer a workout from synthesizers. I do use the system for background at dinner and NPR news as well so it is on about 14/7 (yes it's solid state).

Where other people are concerned it's a total waste of time to even mention this hobby. Most people use all music as background for the total chaos/boredom going on inside their minds, never hearing or appreciating anything. At least someone using an Ipod shows they have a spark of intelligence about them. And you should definitely stay away from mentioning or answering questions about what stuff costs. It's a lose lose situation. I'm lucky to have a wife that is willing to share this experience.
I'm with Viridian on this. My dog is almost always there with me listening and shows his appreciation of certain music by laying in the lower sweet spot on the floor. My wife enjoys listening to classical music and her listening is generally background while doing other things. I have never run into another audiophile in my daily life other than of course in an audio store. I used to try to convert people but gave that up long ago.
Great question. I listen alone most of the time which is fine. I would like to have friends or even acquaintances that enjoyed music enough to sit an just listen but at last those are few and far between. As stated before most friends don't get it, want to just look at the room and equipment, want to know how much it costs and will maybe sit through Money on DSOTM. This is strange because when i was in college (mid 70's) people listened to music as a singular activity alot, where did they go. I have one friend, interestingly enough in his late 20's who loves to listen for hours. This is undoubtly a strange hobby but I love it.
I generally listen alone simply because my wife doesn't enjoy the volume that I like to listen at, but because my system isn't in a dedicated room my listening time is limited at times. As long as the volume is down my wife really enjoys listening while reading a book or playing on the internet.

The most fun is when friends come over to enjoy my system. This past Tuesday evening a friend came over and brought his fiancee. She was extremely excited and now has dreams of owning something similar in the future. She's a violin player so I pulled out my best violin recordings and let her pick the volume. It's the first couple that I know where they may actually be able to shop for gear together from all indications.
About half the time with my wife and half the time alone. I second Jgiacalo's eloquent comment, while also agreeing with the other comments that it is easier to concentrate when alone.

-- Al
Interesting responses so far, I must say.

I tend to listen alone, but to be honest, that is not really by choice. (My wife loves music too, which means I get to listen with her sometimes, although she does prefer the volume to be a bit lower than I like, but she does compromise on that, as it is a bit higher than she likes.) I mostly prefer to listen with friends actually. I love it when friends bring over they favorite music, (or when I go to a fellow audiophile's house and bring my favorite music).

I have a couple of music loving audiophile friends, (both of whom still go to concerts too), who enjoy both coming over to my house to listen to music, and hosting me, when I go to their houses to listen as well. (And yeah, there is a certain amount of critical listening going on, as well as bits of advice being given, and taken.) But for me, the experience is not really about critical listening, but socializing in an environment that I enjoy. Sharing and learning about new music is extremely enjoyable in these situations. Sometimes we talk, (in which case we will lower the volume a bit), but mostly we just listen quietly. We tend to share the sweet spot on the couch, (I get it when he plays his music, and he gets it when I play my music).

My two cents worth anyway.
Alone. My wife gets restless. I wish that weren't the case, because it would be rewarding to share the experiences with her. She is aware of this, so sometimes she sits with me to make me happy.

I do have a close friend who is also an audiophile, so we sometimes listen together when changes have been made to his system or mine. But we don't like the same kind of music, so we tend not to listen together in a more regular way.

The only regular music listening companion is the dog. But she falls asleep, so once again, it's just me.

The Dogs seem to like to be where ever I am, so if I am listening they are around. Other then that, I am alone which allows me to disappear into the music. My sessions tend to be late at night.
Well, at least I know I am neither loosing my hearing, nor anti-social based on the great response to my thread.... On the issue of playing music loud, I had some people question me about it. However, you are not playing it loud if you are properly "pressurizinng" the room, and finding the right volume level of the recording....that is not headbanger behavior.... As many commmented, "focus" is the key, to enjoying music, and as noted lets the "magic happen".... It can be a lonely experience, but I prefer to think of it as meditative. A retreat from the meaningless trivia of life. Those members who have wives who listen and enjoy with them are very fortunate.... One final antedote: A few weeks ago, I played the CD: "Hundred Year Hall" a live recording from the Grateful Dead's European tour in 1972. I usually listen up to track 8, and skip the next: "Turn on your Lovelight" and finish out Disc 1. I decided this time to let the disc play through completely. "Lovelight" is nearly 20 minutues long. About half way through, the band hooked out. The next ten minutes of music was pure esctasy, and musical genius. They explored several avenues of musical style, stepping on the gas, then slowing the music down in remarkable increments, seeming always to be closing toward a finale, then almost jumping to another plane of speed and harmonic variations. I was left stunned as the track ended, marveling at the virtuosity of this great band. For me, these "moments" are what high end can capture about music. Regards to all Jim
Music appreciation is so subjective that similar tastes is a non starter. Appreciation requires concentration and having others around is a distraction, in so many ways. It is so deeply personal that it becomes a selfish act allowing one to fully mesh with the experience. It's like meditation and that requires singularity.
I think I need a therapist.
I listen alone but enjoy listening with fellow audiophiles who appreciate music like I do, they know when to listen and when to talk.
I'm an Only Child, so of course I listen alone. Seriously...Alone. Why?

One of my friends used to sell stereos back in the eighties and when he came over to listen, all he could muster was that it sounds "different," but I couldn't get him to say better.

Another friend is part of a broadcast crew and did some audio recording work including some with Bob Katz (Chesky). He thinks we're all nut-jobs and unless you run a cable over 100 feet you can use piano wire and it won't make a difference.

A third friend only owns a boom, end of story.

My wife goes upstairs and watches TV when I turn on the system.

I listen alone and I'm damn proud of it!!!
It's hard to enjoy listening to a high-end system with other people when there is only ONE perfect sweet spot, and this perfect spot is really big enough for only ONE person! Unlike a Bud light beer, this spot is hard to share...:-(
Thank you, Itsalldark! I realized I'm not alone, after all, because my black lab, Joey, always sits next to me when I start listening, and he never asks for the sweet spot.
True music lovers dont mind being out of the sweetspot.
I have one friend in particular who I met through our audio club. He comes by monthly, we do lunch or dinner, shoot some pool in my basement, sip some beers at the bar down there and jam all day long. We will at times sit and just listen to an entire dics and at times enjoy talking about the music as it plays. Yes I do admit we swap places from time to time in "the spot" but I pretty much can get 3 in that zone where it is still really sugared.
It is really awesome to be able to share this with someone who gets it, I have 5 good men I can do that with, well 6 cause of my father. While I know it isnt always possible or practical for others to find and click with others into Hi Fi I sure hope those who dont at this time have anyone give up trying, it really is great to experience all this in real time with someone else.
We shop for music together at a used LP store, burn discs for eachother, roll our eyes at the name it but the point is we are on the same page...fantastic!
Interesting. It is probably 50/50 for me. people love to listen to my system and are usually taken back by the quality of sound. I will ask for a request and put it on. Friends and visitors often say that they have never heard “x song” sound like this and did not know they were missing so much. There are certainly times when conversation kicks in and a song or 3 are not “heard” properly, and other times when 3 or more people just get quiet, taken by the music. Lastly, when alone with a lady friend, the music can often be as seductive as a glass of wine or martini.
Harvey has an open invitation at our house. He sometimes joins me.

Isn't that right, Harvey?

Harvey says yes.
I listen alone. When my wife is home, I'll turn the volume down to her liking. She will on occasion ask who is playing, or take a stab at naming the artist, but mostly tolerates my hobby. She will ask me to pick out music for her drives to and from work.
My brother in law recently asked for my help in his choices of what speakers and amplifier to get his wife for Christmas. He is a radio station DJ, and through work was able to pick up a Technics turntable to build the system around. They are not serious listeners, but it was nice that he asked for my advice. I'll try to do my best to infest them with the upgrade bug as time goes by....who knows where it may lead...
I listen alone with my friends Mozart, Beck, Juana Molina, Simon and Garfunkle, Joanna Newsome, Leo Kottke, Oscar Peterson, Swingle Singers, Tony Vivaldi....
G M C,

A bit off topic, but your system just blew my mind...yikes! Others, check it out if you have not yet.
Ninety seven percent of the time I listen alone. I only wish the wife and kids would like to take advantage of my primary system. The benefit of doing shift work at times however is being able to listen alone. It is a double edged sword in fostering a good relationship with the wife. As I find myself spending too much away time. Best to shrike a balance. Keeps all happy. And happy listening to all, even if it is all by yourself.
Alone, whenever I try to share with someone they won't shut up! They don't appreciate quality playback. Which is fine I don't like golf. Bad experience was taking a girlfreind speaker shopping, no matter how good the speaker was, it couldn't drown her out! One sweet spot, one D.J., one critic, one man smiling, I like it that way.
12-03-10: Tvad
Harvey has an open invitation at our house. He sometimes joins me.

Isn't that right, Harvey?

Harvey says yes.
I'll bet that Harvey helped you to improve the transparency of your system.

Best regards,
Al :-)
Ironically, I often don't sit in the sweet spot even when listening along because my couch only reclines on the ends and the absolute best listening spot is in the middle. I do tend to lean a bit towards the middle. It's amazing how different things sound from the other end of the couch.

Right now my wife is reading a book on the other end of the couch and the dog is sleeping on his bed in front of us.
While the majority of my listening is done alone, I also often listen with my wife and with friends. And I would also disagree with the comment that it is only possibly to listen critically when alone. Being a professional musician, most of my friends are as well, or they are people who truly appreciate music, so they are all listening at least somewhat critically as well. The communal experience of listening to great music can be a very powerful thing, and while the concert hall is the best place for this, it can also be done in the home. While we musicians can be very critical listeners, we are also the most appreciative listeners as well - I have had some incredible experiences listening to music with friends, though it is not quite the same as playing it.
i am a member of an audio club. when i have a meeting--about once every 18 months i set up the listen and others listen to it. i usually only in the listening room to change cds.

at other times, i listen alone, but not for the reasons that have been posted so far.

i am somewhat of a multi tasking person and prefer to listen when reading or writing.

i believe this habit can be traced to the years when i attended undergraduate school and when studying for an exam, had music in the background. hence i enjoy music in the background as a secondary activity.

when i am reviewing , it forces me to focus on the sound of my stereo system.

as long as i don't notice any unusual anaomalies in the frequency response, i do not listen critically.

as i said, i reserve my analytical listening to reviewing.

of course, when attending symphony orchestra concerts i give the music my undivided attention.

since i believe the concert hall experience is so superior to listening to a recording, listening to music at home is based upon my taste in the particular recordings i chose, and some level of satisfactory sound. thus , i listen to music in the background mode and inviting others to listen when i don't participate with them would be rude and impolite.
Alone. No exceptions.
Boy SunnyJim ,Sounds like there is a lot of rain in your forecast.Take a deep breath, it isnt so serious!
Wife And I like to curl up and listen , beats the crap out of TV .
Wife And I like to curl up and listen , beats the crap out of TV .

Thank you T !!!!!!!!!
I listen alone. My wife is a T.V. junkie and my friends don't get it and don't care.
I like to listen with friends but I prefer to do some things by myself.
Alone 99.99% of the time. An occasional friend drops by and gets to sit in the sweet spot and I do love the jaw-dropping reactions... but other than that, it's my personal time which is deeply appreciated as an escape from the outside world. Unfortunately my wife feels she's in direct competition with it for my time (I have a dedicated room away from the main part of the house) so sometimes stealing away time isn't as relaxing as it could be when I have to pay attention to my watch... but I do have stints of opportunities and it's pure rejuvenating bliss.
Great thread. PS I'm usually listening in very dim/low lighting too... it helps soothe the spirit...