Listening to music I don’t particularly like


Do you find yourself listing to music you don't particularly like because it sounds so good on your system? If I'm honest with myself I am an old dude who grew up with classic rock and really enjoy it but a lot of it was not well recorded. So I find myself listening more and more to other genres of music that I normally wouldn't  just because they sound so good on my system. I don't know what this says about me, maybe I am more of an "equipmentphile" than a music lover? I keep listening to music ranging from classical to vocal jazz to country and I love the sound of it  but it doesn't get my toes tapping like a good old rock song from my youth. I was even listening to Chinese drums today. Is there hope for me? Will I ever ever enjoy this music as much as I enjoy the "sound"?

emiliop

If I don't like something I tend not to listen to it at all. Now what I will do that I don't like is not listen to some music I really enjoy simply because it doesn't sound great on my system, or will only listen to in my car. We can be a strange breed.

maybe I am more of an "equipmentphile" than a music lover?

You are a prime example of Listening to the equipment rather than the music. And you know it. maybe its a phase. I have learned to like some music that I formerly never listened to either. I even listened to "Kind of Blue". I never learned to like it though. I haven’t mustered up enough courage to try female vocals. Yuck. to each, their own. A seat for every butt and a song (genre) for every person. I guess if you enjoy listenin g to the equipment, then who am I to say differently? But I suspect that will be short lived. You’ll get tired of that . I’ve seen a lot come & go. They had gone through equipment til they got tired of the merry go round.

 

One note is that I found that as you climb the ladder and get a really good system established, that classic rock doesn’t sound bad. No, it doesn’t have the separation & air, etc that acoustic music has. But I like it. it sounds really good to me. But I do understand your dilemma. I now play albums which I could not play 15-20 yrs ago because they were too shrill, thin and awful. But I found that it was the system, NOT the music.

There is a lot of the old stuff that I quit listening to because of the crap recordings..Janis is one of a few. 

BTW I have collection of over 400 78s in VG condition..It was my FIL pre WWII and until he went to heaven. 

For 6 weeks every year I crank up the Victrola and listen to 78s .. I don't care what it sounds like, it reminds me of my Father In Law, one of the greatest men I ever new.. I can see his wonderful smile.. Foxtrotted untill he was 92 then he slowed down. Ton of fun..

Regards

 

I still listen to the music I love. I just find myself listening to more music than I would have in the past. I just can't shake the feeling that no matter how good it sounds it doesn't have the same reaction if I haven't heard the song a hundred times before. Possible exception is a jazz vocal cover of one of my favorites. 

"For 6 weeks every year I crank up the Victrola and listen to 78s .. I don't care what it sounds like, it reminds me of my Father In Law, one of the greatest men I ever new.. I can see his wonderful smile.. Foxtrotted untill he was 92 then he slowed down. Ton of fun.."

 

Sounds like a wonderful man and a real music lover. 

I also prefer excellent sounding content.

Happily I like Jazz, and both early Mono and most Stereo (not reprocessed) Jazz includes great engineers that knew what they were doing. I do put in the 'sell' shelf, albums from artists I like with crap engineering. So many new to me artists to discover, and additional content of favorites.

I play fun memory type LP's, 60's, 70's  like you describe, great songs and beat but nothing special accoustically, using a separate MM replaceable ML stylus, avoiding wear on non-replaceable MC SAS stylus. My MONO is also replaceable stylus. CDs of course are and stay however good/bad they sounded.

Great sounding stuff, i.e. Eurythmics, Melissa Etheridge, .... I buy new LP's to replace my beat up ones. Not serious audiophile 45 rpm versions, just decent condition, near mint or new. 

It is a pretty common trap for audiophiles. I was in that mode, and only after I broke away from the audiophile approved recordings did I really get to enjoy and learn. Good sonics can be found on LPs that are musically enjoyable, entertaining or challenging listens-- my ears opened up figuratively to all kinds of stuff I never explored. I now have a palate for things I would have never listened to before and written off as cacophony-- although I do find some "free jazz" remains a challenge.

I used to do these threads on other audiophile boards that were labelled "non-audiophile records" as a sort of counterpoint to the warhorses-- sometimes common stuff that was fun (lots of the Warner Green label and beyond was really well produced). Other stuff has gotten more recherche as my taste has evolved. Snob factor- not really- listen to what you like, the problem I confront is that a lot of this stuff is now in collector territory, but if you are patient and perhaps live with a CD or lesser copy until you find the OG copy, you don’t always have to pay a fortune. I just got a copy of Steve Reid’s Rhythmatism, which, while not exactly rare, isn’t so easy to find in top condition. Not cheap, but not crazy money, from an honest seller online.

I guess people use streaming services to discover stuff. I had this complementary trial of Qubuz, and looked up Cecil McBee- a very prolific jazz bass player in the ’70s who, as of this writing, is still with us. There was very little of his material on Q. So, for that, unless Tidal or one of the other streaming services has a deep catalog of what you are interested in, that may not be the best route to exposure.

Classic rock- still have a ton of it, most of the stuff I care about i went to the trouble to buy multiple pressings. I do have a thing for early heavy rock-- what would now be labelled proto-metal, but it was at the time, just hard rock. Like biker bar stuff. Juxtapose that with some cello solo recordings or soul jazz-- The Visitors- a/k/a The Grubbs brothers- cool stuff, well recorded, again not easy to find a mint copy unless you live near some good used record stores, but the hunt is also part of the fun.

 

I will sometimes gravitate to music that is recorded so well that although it might not be my first choice it is very enjoyable anyway. I still listen to all of my old music though including those atrocious 80s CDs not replaced and my old LPs as well.

I suspect it depends on how I feel, but with a very enjoyable system it's a pain to listen to some mediocre recordings. My LPs do not pop so they still sound great!

One advantage of having a nice system is listening to it and I think trying new music is an ancillary effect.

I often have Linn Jazz on my system - I have my system on a large portion of the time including when I'm away so my dog doesn't feel alone.

There's some vocal jazz tracks with some amazing vocalists.  There was one song I heard - I stopped what I was doing to find out who it was.  (It was Nikki Yanofsky)  I thought that was really cool! 

I regularly listen to music that I don't think I will like. Perhaps the artist's work didn't appeal to me or I didn't get enough exposure to the artist's oeuvre. I think to myself: There must be a reason this artist is so highly regarded.

Happily surprised once I gave a good listen. Lucinda Williams, Elbow, Wolf Alice, Nathaniel Rateliff and many others. This past week, the songs of Taylor Swift landed on my playlist. Wowsa. How did I miss that?

Thank you for letting me use the word 'oeuvre' in a sentence for the first time. 

We are never too old.

T. 

 

@emiliop,

I think it is fine to be a "equipmentphile". Don't be ashamed of it. Most audiophiles want equipment that make their music shine. I don't have a single non-audiophile friend who cares for their equipment or how the music sounds.

The good news is that if your equipment is making you listen to music you might have liked otherwise, then  you have invested in a great system. Maybe it is time to NOT stereotype "other non classic rock" music as something that you "might not like". A few years ago I used to tell my friends - I don't like "synthesized" music. And man I was wrong. The worst thing you are doing here is by calling yourself "old dude". Don't discrimate music. Keep your mind open and you will surprise yourself. If you listen to Tidal, then it has the "My Daily Discovery". Not all the songs that you listen in ths playlist might appeal to you. But as you listen to more music, it will be tailored to your liking. All I say is - keep an open mind and don't be ashamed of being an "equipmentphile". If we were not that, then we all would have a $100 receivers, with $30 bluetooth adapters and lamp cords connected to some junk $50 speakers for listening to our music.

Actually "My Daily Discovery" on Tidal is what got me started down this road and I love it. 

I think there's a difference between music you don't listen to and music you dislike. If your system is encouraging you to listen to stuff you don't ordinarily check out it could be a good thing and open your musical horizons. If you're enjoying listening to these new things I wouldn't worry about it.

I only listen to music that I like or love. If it happens to be well recorded, (Chris Isaak, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell etc.) it's a plus, but I can listen through an average not-so-good recording and enjoy it anyway.

I don't go out of my way to listen to genres I don't care for, but I must admit that when they do come on when I'm in Qobuz or something, they really DO sound a lot better to me! 

If I don't like the music, I won't listen to it no matter how great the sound is.  There are a number of audiophile releases that sound excellent but the music sucks in my opinion.

As a person who listens to a lot of ’classical’ music, yes I do. Why? Because I find myself listening to some composers today I wouldn’t have in the past. Understanding perhaps? Evolution of that understanding? Not sure.

The one composer who ’sticks out to me’ is Bruckner. I don’t quite get the attraction to his work, but I continue to buy various performances of Bruckner’s work, and listen to them from time to time regardless. I don’t detest his work, it just doesn’t do much for me as others do. But, I keep my mind and ears open and listen nonetheless.

I don't generally listen to music that I don't like. I'm also a classic rock aficionado, going back to R&B and doo-wop. I find myself enjoying more recent and well-recorded covers of the oldies.

I have found that when I listen to music that I like it makes me happy. Tonight I am not happy and some of my of my collection is headed to St Vincent de Paul. Live is too short to listen to music that doesn't make you happy.

I may not listen to something because it is poorly recorded, but I never listen to something just because it is recorded well. There is more than enough out there that satisfies both requirements.

a few thoughts

- just like food, wine, movies, etc, sometimes it is nice to veer out of one's comfort zone to experience something new (especially if recommended by those whose taste you like, respect, trust) - sometimes it can open a door to new pleasures

- that been said, i think an important aspect of putting together a hifi system is to be honest and realistic about the source and music types you will listen to most of the time, and optimize for those

- i remember back in the vinyl days, we all waited each month for the newest releases by mofi and other such audiophile record labels remastering.recutting beloved gems... so the notion to of seeking best versions of music we enjoy is hardly new

- end of the day, even with music genres. listening to comfort-food music of medium recording quality vs audiophile tracks of mediocre musical content, one also needs to find a healthy, enjoyable balance

bikeske -- Try the Third Movement, the Adagio, of Bruckner's Symphony #8, in a performance by Eugen Jochum and the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammaphon. The rest of the symphony can get, as Bruckner tends to be, more than a little long in the tooth. But the Third Movement is as beautiful and moving as anything I've ever come across. I love it dearly.

So OP, a tune like "Havans" by Camilla Cabello, you don't tap your foot?

Mercy when I put on Salsa me and the mail lady will dance for 15 minutes on her lunch break. We don't mess around amigo, and I'm American Irish/Welch kid. I'm a dancin' Baptist.. I'm 67. I'm worn out. :-)

Some of the new POP music I throw the hat on the floor, me and dog do the Elvis Shuffel Dance untill I run out of battery power on the Tesla Super scooter, THEN I switch to nuclear power.. If it's a really good FRIDAY..

My old stuff is in really good shape and I recomend you get youself a Puffin and learn how to use it for your older medium. You can take a pretty bad record if it tracks and is clean, and make it sound a whole lot better. 

I have a couple of good mono carts for broadcast so easy to service. Again my FIL had GREAT taste..

These 78 are in hard back books, they were made that way. He was super proud of his collection. A lot of big band, jazz, and some county western. 10-20 LP per album. at least 20 albums.. He had some Indian (India) music and Hindu Stuff, I'm not a good Hindu. I'll eat anything. :-)  I like Hindustani music.. But I like a washboard and spoons, too. 

Regards

I occasionally (infrequently) listen to recordings that I either don't like or didn't like the last time I listened to them, just as a reality check that what I heard the last time is still true.  Personal tastes change over time, not to mention our hearing.  Sometimes I am surprised; the artist (or recording) sounds better than they did the last time.  When you make significant changes to your gear, all bets are off and it's usually worth a re-listen.

Not at all. If I don’t like the music it doesn’t get played on my system.

I would contend that you're expanding your horizons music-wise as a side effect of having better equipment, but if you enjoy it, that's what it's all about, isn't it?  As others have mentioned it can lead you down a rabiit hole where you only listen to a small selection of recordings that sound good, but I've found that with a better system most music sounds better (or different, at least), and you start searching out more diverse music.  I find I'm listening to all kinds of things I never bothered with, like jazz and acappela groups; still can't listen to most classical music or opera, though.  Also it could be a matter of getting more nature in your listening habits, but I too have come across albums that I used to play to death in my youth but now are so compressed and such bad quality that it's distracting to listen to.  A live album from Journey that I loved is so compressed and lifeless on my better system.  I used to listen to Grand Funk Railroad's Live album and I recall my father coming into my room, calling it garbage and stomping out of the room.  I just listened to it recently and you know what?  He was right - I couldn't even listen to a whole side without yanking it off.  I am forcing myself to go through the pile of records that I've picked up recently or have had for years and am giving them a spin, and I'm finding more often than not I'm enjoying them as if they were recordings I'd never heard before, because of all of the extra detail and the instruments and effects that I never realized were there.

Then, there are albums like this: Betty Carter, 'Social Call' I just bought.

Put out in 1980, her original material from 1955, and never released from 1956. Mono, as I said, recordings in the Mono era were quite good, Quincy Jones and Gigi Gryce involved here.

I always love hearing how an artist began and developed, you get that with the first listen, and the liner notes are very informative.

Listening to one of my all time favorites of hers, 'Finally', you know how she progressed, turned herself into an instrument, amazing. Only some of the 'Social Call' material is wonderful.

If it was a CD, I probably would just play the 5 songs I really liked, LP, I will listen to all tracks, in the presented order That's when you hear something you missed first or even 2nd time time thru, busy reading the notes, ... I will never play it frequently like 'Finally', but I will never part with it, and will play it on the rare occasion for the several great songs it contains.

Also, I learned, try favorite albums CD versions on Shuffle. You will discover certain songs, typically the ones that follow the 'hits' in new ways. Cannot do that with LPs.

That's something I rarely do, listen to music that I'm not fond of, but that makes my system shine.

When I toured my then local lineup of brick-and-mortar audio stores to find a new pair of speakers, it really bothered me that one of the dealers insisted that I listen to a particular piece from an artist I didn't know or enjoy, but made the speakers really shine.

Roon radio plays often in my house. I tune it out until something good comes on. At that point you can save that song to a playlist and later start the playlist from that song. I would call that exploration. Saved songs typically have a good sound and rythm. 

I too find myself listening to well recorded songs to hear my system.  Percussion is a big thing for me.  

You might listen to these songs to hear what your systems are capable.  These are high quality recordings:

1. Girlfriend (Feat, Dam-Funk) by Christine and the Queens

2.  Lights on by Maggie Rogers

3.  The River by Aurora (ADifferent Kind of Human

4.  Chocolate by The 1975

5.  Kiss in Blue by Yello

6.  The Expert by Yello

7.  Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancocks 1973 Head Hunters Albumn 

OH YES ! There are many,many recordings from the past that were not only poorly recorder, but also poorly transcribed and poorly produced.  I have been able to clean up some of the poorly "produced" albums but it's only part of the picture. 

I actually have found that MANY afficianodos of ROCK and ROLL and HEAVY METAL bands, etc. actually like the "distortion" associated with a large number of poorly recorded albums from the past. Even some of the newer albums or the so called RE-MASTERED recordings. aren't a hell lof a lot better.

You can clean up a little of the "grunge" with a first class DAC, but even with that it still remains a "GI-GO" situation.  For some, the pain is worth it.  I'M NOT ONE OF THEM !

Thanks for this post, very interesting. The reason for having a nice system is the ability to hear all the music and come as close as possible to having voices and instruments sound natural. Any music mentioned on this forum or songs featured on YouTube videos by Audiophiles or stores showcasing their equiptment, we pull up from Tidal and give it a listen. If we like it, save it or move on to the next song. Tracks that are poorly recorded are difficult to listen to,  yet sometimes the recording is so good we may continue to listen just to enjoy the detail andd clarity.

You're not alone. I do the same thing. But it has opened my eyes and ears to a lot more music.  One reason I have several systems so I can use the one that fits the music I want to listen to at the moment. My Klipsch hates classic rock. So I listen to my Def Techs for rock. Those speakers are very forgiving. 

It's a crap shoot folks. Sometimes I talk to people that I don't like and regret it. Unfortunately they can't be turned off as easily as Stereo. Switch the station man. But don't we do it with audio anyway? I mean I will listen to 'Deep Tracks" on FM and cringe every so often, and yet find new stuff from a group that I previously didn't care for just to hear something from them that I do like. 

 So, about the recordings and our listening pleasure. Just to hear if something new in the system pulls it's own weight, I will listen to music that I normally wouldn't. And yes, it has happened more than once that I hear something for the third time and start to like it. Maybe it becomes more to me than I expected after all. 

 

  If you have watched a movie all the way through even though it sucks, that doesn't make you bad person, right?

I bought and listened to Madonna’s Immaculate Collection because I wanted to hear another Qsound recording.

I'm pretty sure this particular territory has been visited and re-visited many times and this thread will not be the last. 

For me, music is melody, harmony, rhythm, emotion, timbre, tonal color, density, dynamics, etc.  Its sonic presentation is secondary to these factors as well as being secondary to my enjoyment. There are many musicians who don't particularly care about sonics-- their focus is the music, not the sound. 

Music is the cake and sonics are the frosting. Cake without frosting is not as appealing but whereas I can live just fine without frosting, life without cake is unimaginable. Still, it's not an either/or proposition-- it's a spectrum. 

I consider myself a music-lover who enjoys good sound, rather than an audiophile. 

This means that while I cannot relate to the OP's circumstances, I also choose not to listen to painfully poorly recorded/mastered CDs. 

Each person eventually discovers their own natural point of balance, no? 

I continue to wonder whether where one locates one's self on this spectrum is affected by whether one plays an instrument or not...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I disagree with the non music equipment listening comments. I think you do like the music and your system is helping you to discover the new music. The amount of music that is online and just a click away is incredible today. Radio is good in the car but all the stations are run by maybe three firms and they all play the same 10 artists over and over. I to listen to music I thought or never liked in the past but my taste has expanded and yes my system make it sound fantastic. Don't over think it just enjoy the music!

@4krowme "that doesn't make you bad person, right?"

Of course not. But I think it would be more analogous to suggest someone watching a bad movie all the way through simply because of how good it looks on their tv, then rewatch it. To each his own though. If watching a bad movie or listening to bad music because of how good the picture or sound is, well, more power to you if that brings joy. Personally I'd rather cut one of my toes off before watching The Love Guru again no matter how glorious the picture quality.

@edcyn 

bikeske -- Try the Third Movement, the Adagio, of Bruckner's Symphony #8, in a performance by Eugen Jochum and the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammaphon. The rest of the symphony can get, as Bruckner tends to be, more than a little long in the tooth. But the Third Movement is as beautiful and moving as anything I've ever come across. I love it dearly.

Thank you, I'll give it a listen. Jochum with the Berliners is typically done well.

Diana Krall.  I would certainly never have gotten any Diana Krall if I had not started chasing the audiophile sound.

The closest I come to the OP’s situation is that I listen to different music when in my car than when listening on my home system.  In the car, I prefer uptempo and hard rock.  In my home, I prefer easier listening and some genres that I would otherwise not listen to, like old-time country (not a fan of most modern country music).  I think it is because the softer music has a broader range of sounds and I can hear individual instruments more on my home system than on the car radio.  Still, I enjoy the music or I don’t listen.  Like classical music — it just strikes me as more suited to a funeral than to a relaxing evening at home. 

 For me, this is really a 'to each his own' case as the audio hobby in general. I have gritted my teeth at someones new toy when I worked at a local college. Dam, the kid was so impressed by his new ear buds, what was I going to say? He loved them. I listened to them and tried my best not to wince.

 

  Same for me though. Sometimes when I get 'the next level' component (or think that I do), it takes a little bit to come clean with myself. 

 

 I have to remember how excited I was by the music itself, way back before I had ANY good gear.

I would rather have a Root Canal without anesthesia than spend 5 minutes listening to music that I don't like because it sounds better on my system

I was considering starting a thread very similar to this one, you beat me to it.

I'm of the opinion that many 'philes go for what sounds good on their system and happens to be in their wheelhouse.  Some of you remember the days when an audio demonstration included sound effects tracks...jet planes, trains and such.

It also appears to be readily apparent that many contributors to this forum are music lovers as opposed to equipment addicts.  I love all my gear, but not to the point that I discount music because it doesn't stand up to what sounds the best on my system.

I do not listen to music that I dislike, I only listen to music I really like.  There is a life time worth of listening in that category.

As an aside, if I start to think that my rig is not performing well all I do is put a 78 on my 1917 Victrola.  And then listen to the same music on the big rig.  Brain foolery works every time.

Regards, barts

 

Back in the seventies I used to argue with high end dealers that I don’t like or play the demo garbage they used in the showroom on my home system. When I did bring in records I liked and their products only magnified the bad recordings they became as silent as car salesmen when you bring up another brand. 

What is the problem here? You can listen to anything you want for whatever reason you can come up with. We like music for a multitude of reasons and that includes badly recorded music. Sometimes the bad recording is part of the charm. If you are listening to it there is something you like about it and that can legitimately  be anything. 

@mijostyn:

Hard to argue with that!  

 

Do you find yourself listing to music you don't particularly like because it sounds so good on your system? If I'm honest with myself I am an old dude who grew up with classic rock and really enjoy it but a lot of it was not well recorded. So I find myself listening more and more to other genres of music that I normally wouldn't  just because they sound so good on my system.

Robert Harley covers this in his book The Complete Guide to High End Audio. Music is different than other forms of communication in that the delivery is everything. Written words mean the same on paper, screen, or Morse Code. Music is performance art where timing, tone, volume, and more all carry meaning. Tchaikovsky heard on a iPhone is literally different music than in the concert hall, or high end system. 

Most of us will enjoy a far wider range of music performed well live than played back poorly. I dread classical in the car- the quiet parts drowned out, the crescendo too loud, everything in between all messed up. At home though or in a concert hall, wonderful.

I have one record that epitomizes this. Mickey Hart Rafos is a bunch of unusual percussion and string instruments. With hardly any discernible melody or rhythm it is more like some kind of audiophile test record than music. Might have played parts of it 3 times in 30 years, and not once in the last 15 for sure. 

Put it on the other night and at first was all, "Here we go again." But then within a few minutes it had drawn me in. What? First side done already? Side two! By the end I was shaking my head at how I had let this wonderful record languish on the shelf all these years.

Of course I knew the answer. It wasn't anything to do with making any particular recording sound good. It was my whole system is now so good it let me hear what the musicians were doing. I also enjoy jazz, blues, swing, big band, classical, everything a whole lot more now.

A good system is like a good telescope. If you want you can tell yourself all that big scope does is give you a crystal clear view of the pimples on your neighbor's butt. Or you can marvel at the rings of Saturn, lose yourself in the Milky Way.

A good system is like a good telescope. If you want you can tell yourself all that big scope does is give you a crystal clear view of the pimples on your neighbor's butt. Or you can marvel at the rings of Saturn, lose yourself in the Milky Way.

@millercarbon thanks for the humorous analogy