I Hardly Listen to Music Anymore

I've been a frequent observer to Audiogon, but this is the first thread I've started.

I find that I rarely listen to music anymore. (Once every couple of weeks). Let me explain.

I've been into audio for about 35 years. When I first got started listening to music and got involved in audio, in the late 60's, music was not a background pastime. When the new Dylan, Band, Allman, James Taylor, Santana, etc., album came out I'd listen to it in a dark room, in the sweet spot, eyes closed, alone or with friends, for hours on end, to great satisfaction. Since then, that's how I've always listend to music and I still enjoy listening like that for hours on end when I can.

As I grew older, I was never able to listen to music as background, because I can't concentrate on work or anything else when music plays. Consequently, as time goes on, and I have less and less time for serious listening sessions, I find I listen to music less and less. I don't play music at work and do not put the big rig on when I'm just hanging around at home in another room.

Other friends/coworkers constantly have jam boxes, walkmen, ipods etc playing as filler. So the people who care about music less listen to it more and people who care about music more listen less. I also am not as exposed to new music as people who constantly listen as background.

One of life's little ironies, I guess. Anyone else have this experience?

PS- It's not that my stereo is fatiguing. When I have time to listen for an hour or two I fall in love with my system(Wadia 21, ML-335, Wilson Sophia, Transparent cable) all over again. I've finally gotten it to the point where it is detailed yet smooth, and effortless at all volumes. So its not listner fatigue.
On my way to work, I listen to talk radio, at work I have no music in my office (can't concetrate), on the way home, talk radio, at home... every chance I get, I play my system. In fact... today, I came home for lunch for a brief listening session to unwind just a little bit. It is on every day with at least 1/2 hour in the sweetspot. It relaxes me, removes the pressure of work and is much preferred over TV.
Wow! That's tough. Much of the time, I listen to my system as background music -- but I am drawn into it 100% often enough to make it great (it plays and I simply stop sometimes and just listen before resuming what I was doing). Other times, I focus only on the music. Sometimes, I try to make it background music and can't -- I listened to Mozart last weekend while trying to work and I simply couldn't do my work: Mozart was too compelling.

I wonder if it's a matter of training. Could you play some generic music you don't care for much in the background to get used to playing your system while multi-tasking? Abba perhaps ;-) I believe we can continue to train ourselves and at least some of our habits -- but it must be done deliberately and patiently. Good luck.

I know where you're at, but for me I enter that stage for usually only a few months at a time. Eventually I return to the dark, late nights reclining and being lifted away by unearthly rhythms.

In these modern times, it's easy to get distracted or steered down different paths.


I think...

Yes, I hear a faint voice. It sounds like a left Wilson Sophia calling out your name...

"Mitchell...come back to me..."
I go through phases of listening less for exactly the reasons you described - I like listening intently and have less time these days than when I was a student and first got audiophiled. I have to say I've also gotten more involved in live music, both listening and playing. When I work at home, I listen to the internet radio all day. But I use a moderately crummy audio setup which, I think, helps keep me from getting distracted by the sound itself. I love the radio because it lets me hear new stuff I might not otherwise hear.

I'm on vacation this month and I'm listening to more music because I have more time. I've fallen for Cyndi Lauper (again) and her "At Last" CD.

Mitchell- suggest you start buying at least one new CD each
week, trying some of the excellent suggestions on this forum.
Yeah,I get it. The best,most eloquent explanation(that I know of) of what you describe is by Aaron Copeland in "What to Listen For in Music"-a good read. He described listening to music on a musical plane,an expressive plane,and a musical plane-with the three overlapping.

Most of my musical plane listening is when I'm driving.
i hesitate to admit it, but, while i like to listen to music fairly often, because of the length of most cds, i'll listen to one classical and one jazz/popular cd per session, after
which, 100 minutes later, i'm ready to do something else.
plus, often times, like with mr.mozart, i am so astounded by his compositional skills, that i just have to walk away and think about what i've just heard for awhile. it's really overwhelming sometimes, and then to have to perform that stuff effortlessly... i'm convinced that i've just witnessed the impossible- again. or am i just too emotional...
I also am not as exposed to new music as people who constantly listen as background

I think that's the key statement here.I have cycled through almost all the phases written of above.What gets me fired up is exiting new music,something not previously heard which reaches out and snatches me up.XM or Sirius is a reasonably cheap way to be exposed to exiting new music.I have trouble "backgrounding" via standard FM broadcast due DJ's lack of reporting artist and title.A local listener supported KVMR is good at giving this info but most others are not,hence sattelite subscription which has playlist readout.This allows me freedom to casually listen and let a tune "grab me",I can make a mental note to check what played when more convenient.I jot down a 'get these'list and find I look foward to extended weekend listening sessions.Tip;put all music that interests you on a list in your wallet,so you can look through used and cutout bins.A nice stack of fresh music draws you to listen whenever schedule allows.
Well, old dogs can learn new tricks, so long as its not walking tight ropes! Much can be gained by letting the music in on a more subsconscious level. Much of the music I hear I hear in conjunction with other activities - some time it diverts me, sometimes not, but I always enjoy it as background (and its not elevator music). The typical compliant I hear is about those who can't get out of the sweet spot any longer because of their focus on stereo artifacts as opposed to the music. Perhaps its less that you can't listen anymore, its that your bored with the music you have. Maybe its time to broaden your horizons. :-)
Yeah. I'm along a similar trend personally. I've been in and/or around high end audio, and thus music for over 22 years now. And I find I listen to less and less music, the older I get. Personally, I like to click on the music, enjoy some album or whatever in it's entirety, then turn it off! I don't listen to much background/casual anymore, nor in my car much for that matter. Basically, I enjoy superbly reproduced and recorded music, but I enjoy my peace even more often!
I just can't play music all day anymore, nor do I care to. I find songs just bounce through my head incessently. When I go to enjoy some fine music at times, I just go to it, then go away from it!...just like changing moods. I enjoy it that much more when I do listen at those times now. Before I was getting burned out, and "over saturated"...I do think peace is a premium in life, and you should maintain a level of that for health.
However, I will say that I also enjoy my hometheater more than music listening mostly as well! Movies also allow me to escape to someother thought briefly. Then I go away from that as well.
Being "not single" anymore, I also find sharing movies is more common amoung us (my girl) than music.
Hummmm...we certainly change as time rolls on...
Nobody mentioned live music. Can one live from recorded only performance? I think not. A balance should be struck with live music feeding the urge for reliving the experience with recorded and recorded feeding the desire to find the artist live.
I second the previous comment about live gigs. I intend to see John Renbourn this weekend in Berkeley. He never fails to inspire.
I care and I listen.
I keep my Stax system in my office and listen music through headphones and I-Book G4.
I realy now wish to get A to D converter to put some of my records onto CDs specifically for my portable system which realy sounds fantastic.
Hmmm, thoughtfull stuff. I think there are many reasons for what's happening, most of not all spelled out:

- Changing priorities
- Intensity of listening and inability to do it long
- Dissatisfaction with sub-par systems
- Age? :-)

For me, I am lucky (I think) to be able to switch "modes" often. I can listen intensely and critically at home on my main system. I can also listen in private through headphones at home or work (Marakanetz, I envy you! I wish I could bring one of my headphone amps to work; I use Ety 4P's out of my laptop). And I listen a lot in my car.

I say I'm lucky, because I still enjoy it at all levels of quality, and still get the time to do it. I don't listen to my speaker-based system as MUCH, but I still do. Not out of lack of desire, but due to family/child situation - time spent with them, and desire ny them for reduced noise levels.

Now the live music thought; there's another good one. A lot of my music is simpler folk and acoustic. While I've seen a lot of live shows, this to me sounds almost as good ina recorded setting. I rarely listen to classical anymore, and definitely think that is a wondeful live experience. But some other music (electronic especially) can be even better recorded than live, due solely to the tricks available in the studio that are more limited live (or just go through tape loops or the like, meaning very little difference from the studio recording).

My 10 cents....
So the people who care about music less listen to it more and people who care about music more listen less.

Careful, careful.
Because you're part of a crowd that obsesses about equipment doesn't mean you care more about music. I always find it funny when one of the audio mags does a story with a renowned musician and find out he has a $300 Circuit City rig as his system. Know what - he has the best refernce in the world that he can pull out of his closet -any of your co workers or associates have that instead? Maybe they like music better than equipment.
I have a stupid-$ system which my wife can't (or won't) turn on, but she's always finding new music, and is happy playing it back in a portable CD player in our beater '96 Tauras wagon.
On a more positive note, I suggest some of the good new-age jazz (oxymoron?). Brian Bromberg, Jeff Golub et al. Fine music that works wonders for background listening.
Good Luck.
I know exactly what you are saying and I have a potential remedy. Buy a Henry Kloss Model 1 radio from Tivoli Audio and tune it to your favorite stations. I have a great system that I only have about 30 minutes to an hour a day to listen to. Enter the Kloss. Unbelievably musical for $100, and extremely gratifying. There is no better value in audio by my reckoning.
I keep the radio on while I work. But I have fallen into the not listening dump. I think for me it is because I do not have friends who like music the way I did when I lived in NYC. Music listening was both serious and social. I do hear new things on the radio, which I buy and play on my big rig.
I am the original poster. I only expected a couple of responses and I am quite grateful for all the insight and suggstions that were posted.

I still cannot listen to music at work. I am very focused at work, and background music simply won't work for me. And in the car I enjoy my peace and quiet. But, beginning this past week end, I played the stereo at home as background as I went about other activities. I enjoyed it. I'm also going to buy a CD a week (new K. D. Lang this week end) and will start to listen to the big system more on a daily basis, even if only fifteen minutes at a time.

Finally, I do listen to a lot of live music- Dylan at least six times a year amd live jazz at least once a month (last week end I heard Ellis and Branford Marsallis (sp?)).

Again thanks for all the thoughtful suggestions.
I started a similar post awhile back. My theory was all the background music everywhere we go was reducing peoples enjoyment of music. Meaning, the more you do something the less unique and interesting it becomes.

While I still believe that to a certain extent, I have additional thoughts on the subject. I read an interview of a musician and writer of music. I can't remember who. The musician, in answer to questions about his system and favorite musical artists, said he rarely listened to other musicians music. The reason was he could only get into music for so many hours in a day or week, and then wasn't interested anymore. His musical itch was satisfied by writing and playing his own music. That took up all his "musical" time.

Could it be that being subjected today to the constant barrage of muzak at work, stores, supermarkets, restaurants, etc reduces the time we feel like listening to "quality" music?
From your post it seems that music has been something of a force in your life, something that you have shared with others in a meaningful commune. Maybe it is sharing music with other people that makes music happen for you? And maybe you have just arrived at that. It seems you still go to concerts, and you mention that as a younger person music was sort of the orbit around you related. It is possible in a persons life as they get older that what is important to them is refined, finding the right place amongst everything that defines their life rather than a general place. Maybe you are changing. The good news is, you do not have to decide anything about these observations you have made. If you miss what is gone you will find your way back to it. You will assert your priorities. It is very possible that you are reserving your energies for something which is presently more important to you.
Great thread... I think as music lovers get older their capacity to listen to the great churning rehashment of music we have all heard before (and done better) weakens the drive to invest in the necessary focus and energy.It's just ripened discernment that develops.For me it's reached the stage now that I just pull out a guitar or drum or keyboard much of the time and that scratches the itch.For the most part the radio is was and will always be a wasteland but there are occasional exceptions.
I got quite sad when vinyl all but went away and gave up doing much listening for some time. Now CD bandwidth and sonics have improved to the point that I am back to listening more again (in the manner you describe). I still don't think the sound quality is as good as great recorded vinyl on a terrific system - but it is getting better and I need the escape from everyday things to sit and listen ;-) I am still listening on Snell Type A's and Spectra 11's with a CJ Premier II and a Hafler 9505 - maybe I need new equipment - but I can't afford Wilson quarter of a million dollar speakers ;-( Oh and my CD player is a $700 Adcom (maybe this is my problem?). Music soothes the soul and shouldn't be given up on...
Gardengirl, welcome to the world of posting in the forums! I think you're right about the Adcom. There're lots of great threads on cd players/dacs. If the Adcom has a digital out, you might be able to move into a better world of music with a dac upgrade. Nice system overall!
Thank you Ozfly - We have two GCD 700's and a GCD 600. They are quite musical for older CD players (especially the 700's) - excellent bass I think. They do have digital out - I know little about this "added step." I will have to read the archives and see what I can find out. I recently got a Jolida 1501 integrated that is very musical through the Snell's. It doesn't quite have the energy for the Acoustats (although at lower levels it is nice). I very much like the Hafler 9505. In my kitchen I have an OLD Hafler 101 preamp - playing into an OLD Hafler XL-280 feeding a pair of Dahlquist DC3's ;-) Good for the kitchen while direct attention is at the stove ;-) I enjoy the wisdom here on AudiogoN. Sure would be unhappy not listening to music anymore.