Driven to Tears

I'm not referring to the Police classic cut "Driven to Tears." (which I really love) Recently and over time I've been reading posts here about audio systems that can produce music that evokes such emotion it can drive the listener to tears. I want that kind of system some day! I'm wondering, what is the common element to these various posts and audio setups? In my memory it seems that these systems sometimes were tubed based systems. I'm not sure if that's accurate or not. Maybe analog based? But it is has me wondering.

I've not heard that many audio systems and haven't experienced that kind of emotional connection. How many of you have experienced that kind of emotional connection with the music from a high end system? (the beauty of the music drives one to tears) What gear copmprised the system? Was it your system or some other audiophile's? Are tube based audio systems the common element to produce this kind of beauty and emotion or have you heard a solid state system that can connect with the listener on this emotional level? (or analog-based systems?) Have you seen someone's eyes well up with tears because the music eminating from a pair of speakers is so beautiful?
I have. But the emotion was due to the music "scoring" an event or circumstance in my life that I was thinking about, and the combination elicited tears...much as music adds emotional impact to a film. With natural sound only, a dramatic film scene may not elicit tears, but once scored with music, the scene will often convey deeper emotional dimension.

Music by itself has never done this to me, regardless of the playback system.
This happened to me once in my audiophile lifetime (I'm 50). It was last year at RMAF and I was listening to Josh Groban singing "You Raise Me Up" on the Sonicweld Pulserod system. Not a tube in sight and I am a tubehead. Caught me totally by suprise as I was not really expecting anything.
I think that ascribing the emotional impact of the sound to the audio system is completely wrong and indicative of the audiophile mind set. The music itself elicits the emotion, and that is true no matter if it comes from the finest stereo or from a table radio or is experienced in the concert hall.

No doubt, Tvad has it right that we create associations between some music and events that are scored by that music, but IMHO, the music itself can elicit a strong emotion independent of previous associations.
I never felt that the emotional impact of music was the audio system alone. I guess I did not communicate that in my post. The music must convey beauty and emotion. If the system has nothing to do with the emotional impact, then I'm glad of that. It's much easier on the bank account to continue building and adding music to your collection then it is to continue building a system and adding audio gear.
Loud bombastic and energetic music never fails to lift my mood to total joy and exhilaration. ToP cranked! Akin to an open air sports car or sport bike screeching along winding mountain roads in full summer at outrageous speeds - it says we are alive.


I mostly save my tissue boxes for romantic movies - Dear Frankie, Pride & Prejudice and all that nonsense gets me everytime!
Nope, I've been driven from rooms by music, but I've never been driven to tears by music.

I've never seen anyone weeping to recorded music alone. I've seen tears at a live performance, and I've seen folks cry with recorded music that was accompanied by a video performace (movie), but not by recorded music alone.

I can listen intently to Bonnie Raitt, "Not the Only One", at a moderate volume level on my current solid state system, and be driven to tears. It wouldn't happen on my old Marantz/Advent system because the sound quality just isn't there. But, there are other times when I listen on my current system, and there are no tears. I have to place myself in her shoes, to really feel the emotions the singer is trying to convey. As Tvad said, music by itself has never done this for me, either. Led Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" will bring me to tears when the electric guitar starts to kick in and pick up the tempo. It just gives me the biggest rush, but I wouldn't have gotten that rush without the previous music with lyrics.
an emotional response originates from within a person.
you can think about a piece of music, or sing it to yourselfand, perhaps, a thought will elicit an emotional response without any playback.

i agree with tvad and others that a stereo system has very little to do with eliciting an emotional response.

i think a lot of js bach's music can elicit an emotional response. it has a spiritual quality unlike many other musical compositions. there are other compositions i might include, such as faure's requiem and some music prior to the 17th century.
I also agree with Tvad and MrT.
I was driven to tears in 1973 listening to "Dark Side of the Moon" on a portable cassette player,and the player was about as much money as the tape.Course I was in Morocco at the time so that may have had an influence.However, I do occasionally get teary listening to my system now, course its not a cheapo.But I've never gotten the same 'Emotional Rush' listening to the same "Dark Side" ever,not live or recorded not even close.So yep the dollars spent offers no guarrantees.
In the case of my current setup the speakers is what really sets it up for an emotional connection for me.
So my suggestion is to find the speakers that feel as close to the highest emotional plateau for you and build the rest of the system around that.
Any system, even the cheapest out there, could drive you to tears with the right music and mood. I hear this used a lot, and do not agree it's system dependent. If the song/music you are listening to drives you to tears, it should be able to do it on any system, as it's the music, not the system that evoked the emotion.
No tears here...but, have had times when really good passages of music hit me just so and sent shivers up my spine....Happens with Carol Kidds, Linn recording of "All my Tomorrows" track 3 of Funny Valentine..the part near the end of the song where she builds up to the verse... "stay little valentine...stay" Gives me the spine tingles..still does it every time I listen!

Combination of great music and the right frame of listening mood I suppose. The system is just the vehicle that allows the music to convey the emotions..Tube or SS is irrelevant I think

I think this song has special meaning for me since it reminds me of my daughter when she was a kid. Shes was a Valentines Day baby :-)
I have had this experience, the first time in front of a grown man (who was then a stranger) who was demoing the Avantgarde Duos for me...surprise, surprise, I bought 'em!

Tubes, high efficiency horns and a refined front end can cause this most welcome phenomenon.
I also agree that the person's frame of mind, reference and mood play the major role outside of the music itself. I've been moved to watery eyes on a few occassions. This happens much, much, much more with movies which is why I enjoy cinema more than audio alone (cinema having more stimuli.) Many bash the home theater expierence but it by far trumps 2 channel audio for my enjoyment.

Now, to further add proof to my point, the last time I cried listening to music was listening to Mariah Carey's " Can't Let Go." Many would regard her as pop dribble but given the thoughts of my mother at the time I absolutey cried like a baby in my wife's arms and the song just helped release those emotions.

I remember the first time I heard Patricia Barber's " A Rush of Blood" from Cafe Blue (which again some may discard as not so avantgarde jazz dribble) on a Maggie 20 custom setup in a gents spacious family room. The sound ws so all encompassing that if not for two men standing behind me I may have watered up. I do remember purposely gathering my emotions...excitement and involvement. It was a wonderful match of song, system and room. The large room just melted away and had I been alone I may have been brought to tears, maybe. There is a certain physicality that a system can convey that can prompt an physiological and emotional response. Timbre, Tone and Bass response.
I agree and disagree with the previous posts.

For me, I can be driven to tears by beautiful tone either by a live performance or on an audio system that reproduces the sweetness of the harmonic structure. Tubes are often better for this than solid-state and the quality of the speakers has a lot to do with it.

I've heard the same recordings on lots of systems and most times I am not so affected. So I don't believe it's the recording itself that brings the tears, but the systems ability to reproduce it in a manner that just tugs at my heart.

I have had two recent experiences with this in my own systems. The first time I was playing Laura Brannigan's cover of The Who's "Squeezebox" on vinyl. I was just using a cheap Sony direct-drive turntable with a Grado cartridge feeding a Prima Luna Dialogue Two tube amp with EL-34 tubes. The speakers were Silverline's Preludes.
When the "squeezebox" enters late in the cut the tone was so pure and the image so holographic that my eyes just welled up and began to tear.

And just yesterday, I began auditioning the NSR D3 Sonata speakers for an upcoming review. Again, the source was vinyl via a Michell Tecnodec and Benz Ref 3 Copper cartridge. I used the Nova Phonomena Phono preamp into a custom 6SN7 tube preamp feeding the NuForce 9V2 SE amps.

I forget the name of the track did me in, but it was one of the middle cuts on Ry Cooder's Bop Till You Drop LP. Interestingly, this recording was the first vinyl pressing to use a digital master.

I have listened to those same albums on a lot of systems and have not be affected at all; so I have to say that it's the way the tone is reproduced that brings the tears.

I had my first experience with this phenomenon oddly enough at a Jr. High School concert where the orchestra was not amplified electronically. I was embarassed and tried to hide my emotion but I had just never heard such sweet and dramatic sounds before.

To those who have not yet experienced this level of musical beauty, I urge you to keep trying. When it happens it will most certainly take you by surprise.
Once, my wife was in the listening chair groovin' on "Living for the City" by Stevie Wonder. When the song ended and I raised the lights, she was crying. I asked, "what's wrong; you don't like my new amp?" She responded, "No, it's fine, but I feel so sorry for that poor kid in the song." I usually skip that track these days.

I cannot recall if I have ever weeped during a musical passage, however the first time I heard my VK75 tube amp in my system I almost pissed in my pants - it sounded that good.
Celine Dion brings me to tears.

And indigestion for that matter.
Tears, no, but goosebumps with amazing regularity.
Happens all the time. Some music is just emotional to me and can bring either joy or sadness.

Along the lines of what Viridian, Mr. T, and others have said, system is secondary, although certainly enabling.

Back in the late 60's or so, I remember reading in the local paper about a study to understand why loud music was so popular (inspired by Grand Funk Railroad, as I recall). If I remember correctly, the researchers attributed an emotional impact to resonant frequencies within the spinal cord/column that were excited at high SPL's. The spinal "resonant frequency" was different among individuals, but present among most. I don’t know if the hypothesis was ever proven.

I really subscribe to the phenomenon. There are certain passages in music, both vocal and instrumental, that when played loudly will elicit an emotional and physical response for me. Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. And, it is repeatable. It has been so long since I have played an instrument I can’t tell you what note, or range of notes it is. But I know it when I hear it.

System comes into this in this respect. It has to play loud enough, without distortion or distraction, to allow the moment to happen.

Two more things... I can tell you which passages, but they would probably belong in the thread above titled “secret guilty pleasures”… and… a Manhattan or 2, or bottle of Cabernet is also a great enabler.

Jim S.
I once heard a pair of Apogee Divas being demonstrated with Steely Dan's sweet sixteen. I don't know about tears, but, this was probably one of the best sound systems I have ever heard and it got every bit of my attention. Funny thing is, I am not a great fan of Steely Dan!
The Pink Floyd song "Wish You Were Here" does this to me, every time. And it doesn't make any difference what the playback system is. It reminds me of my (late) brother Stevie. He loved Pink Floyd and I dearly loved him. Stevie, I truly Wish You Were Here...

-RW- Tears welling up as I write this.
Anthing by Michael Hoppe will get you tears, especially the cello stuff.
Twice, once when I played the Marrying Maiden album by "It's a Beautiful Day" for a friend, and once when my ex-wife found out how much the system cost.
drove from tucson to l.a....through the desert at night with the windows down and the radio blairing what i believed to be the soundtrack to my childhood...i had a religious experience

05-14-08: Jaybo
drove from tucson to l.a....through the desert at night with the windows down and the radio blairing what i believed to be the soundtrack to my childhood...i had a religious experience.

Were magic mushrooms involved?
LOL Audiofeil.

nothing like a western road 'trip'
>>nothing like a western road 'trip'<<


Coyotes and peyotes.