In the old days, singles were mixed and eq'ed differently than LP tracks, to make them "punch" more on a car radio.
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I have experienced that many times, and I believe that it is for 2 reasons. First, I have read over the years that car acoustics are good in general, and second, I think car listening supresses the bass and treble, and brings the midrange very close so that you feel that you can hear things very clearly that you don't normally hear in the singers voice and other midrange details. It isn't as smooth, lifelike, textured or well balanced and dynamic as your home system, but yes, it can really communicate emotion at times!
Imo, emotion or soul of the song is not conveyed well on poor audio systems.
Its like saying as a somgwriter you better hope everyone has a great system....
All of the emotion and soul lies in the song itself not the system its played on.
Actually a highly resolving system ruins otherwise great somgs by revealing shortcomings in the recording.
Take great mono cuts on a car radio needs absolutely no help conveying its soul.
Not sure about emotion and soul but there sure are plenty of albums that sound WAY better in a car than on my main rig.
I'm thinking overly compressed ones like Attention Attention by Shinedown.
I can barely get through track 1 at home but in the car it loses a lot of that edginess and is sort of palatable.
I don’t think there’s an AM radio station where I live that still plays music just people blabbing all day or weather. FM has some pretty good stations. Perhaps one reason the car sounds great is you’re not concentrating as hard on the music trying to hear every detail like some do on their high end home systems. Hopefully you’re concentration is more engaged in driving letting the music take a back seat not to mention a lot of music was mastered with listening in the car as the focus.
I've had the same experience. Early in my hi fi journey, I bought records with songs I'd heard on the car AM radio, and was disappointed in the LP stereo version. The sound quality there was fine, but there just wasn't the same impact. For example, I would have to listen for guitar parts that were right out front over the radio. I think bdp24 has a good reason, in that the mix was different. There are a couple of other possibilities:
- Car radio receivers are pretty darn good. They have to be, operating in a very noisy (ignition system etc.) environment.
- Dashboards and car doors actually make decent baffles for speakers. Again, the environment (road noise) demands some good audio engineering there.
Listening to music over a hi fi system is very different from listening to tunes in the car, as djones51 points out. The demands of driving require looking and thinking about the outside environment, not listening for musical detail in amongst the road noise. Hence the need for strong vocals and midrange elements.
A little off topic, but.....
Ever listen to a REALLY good cassette recording(not a pre recorded one, but off a clean LP) thru electronic Xovers, a trunk full of amps and thru separate drivers?http://milbert.com/
I'm imagining this is what it would be like inside a pair of giant headphones. The music goes thru your entire body. Dynamics like some of the great systems you've heard before. I'm not talkin about loud, but actually passing for "fidelity"
Any song that comes over AM radio I don’t expect to hear. If it is a favorite song of mine, especially one I haven’t heard in a long time, and double-especially if it has good memories attached to it, then the element of surprise is heightened by those aspects. Also worth mentioning is the knowing that others are hearing the same song—and in far-fetched land—feeling the same thing. Most of that really doesn’t apply to a song I hand-select to hear over the big-rig stereo. That’s not to say that listening to the big-rig is devoid of emotion; it’s just a different experience. One has to know how to sort out one’s emotions 😉
I’m going to say it’s because the car radio runs off battery power and doesn’t have the harmonic distortion of AC powered systems.
Also another complete guess is that perhaps when our brain hears a low bandwidth signal it isn’t expecting anything to do with real sound, and fills in what’s missing.
When you hear a full bandwidth signal with actual dynamics, maybe the brain is expecting some thing more literal, instead of the mere represenation of music.
in the same way, you can watch low quality comedy YouTube image and still laugh as hard as watching it in the theater, but it doesn’t have the immersive quality.
Also think of a voice over a squawky phone signal. You will get the content of what someone is saying, but you might miss small cues like a sigh, that indicate additional meaning.
Sorry, I cannot relate to this post. I cannot think of a single instance where any music played on an inferior system, much less a radio, was more moving, compelling, soulful, etc. than on my finest system.
If you had ever heard ANYTHING played through Richard Clark's award winning Cadillac or Buick Grand National audio systems back in the day, your mind would be completely changed about what's possible in a car environment.
Further, I realize that there are some good car systems, so ozzy, your point is well taken. Yes, sound quality can be terrific in a car. I choose to neglect that for several reasons; I have a very short commute and could even walk to the office if I wish, I am disgusted by engine noise (especially with an 8 speed and engine revving more), wind noise, road noise. I strongly prefer a perfect environment to listen, which is why I built a custom room. Given those conditions I choose to put nothing additional into car audio. I can see why others with longer commute, etc. would wish to.
I remember as a teen listening to Toto, et. al. and immensely enjoying it as played on a boom box. Now, I get to enjoy and appreciate the performance much more.
Bottom line is, I have always been very sensitive to the quality of the music, and the higher the quality, the more I connect with it. That's one reason I am a System Builder, beyond being a music lover.
We are going off on tangent....
Its not about Ferraris or Sonus Fabers etc ....
It an old classic car radio that produces a haunting piece of music in a way no high end system can. Yes we can include enviroment...but its that "X" factor in the sound that is just so complete and satisfying from that old car radio and what was coming thru it.
Less to distract you on an am radio. You mostly just hear the beat and maybe the vocals. No details to distract you from that catchy pop tune. A lot of pop stuff these days is little more than that anyway in order to serve up a least common denominator product that might appeal to ever more diverse listeners.
On a related note one of my favorite things to always check out is well crafted oldie tunes one probably never heard reproduced well back in the day. Nowadays on my good hifi it’s yowsa!
I streamed the old tune “Early in the Morning” by Vanity Fare on my setup the other day off Spotify and even there at less than CD quality Resolution I was amazed at all I had never heard in that tune before like the harpsichord that sounds like something from Chandos or some other high quality classical recording label.
No expectations. I just think its the scale of the music from a simple car AM radio that creates MoJo. Sometimes less air and dimension in sound is a plus.. That is why many high end systems fail at playing the Rock Genre for example.
When ypu click next trying to listen to song you really like and you know you have heard it before on a system supposedly way down in class...your system has failed you. If it starts dictating what music you listen to well in my opinion its time to sell it.