I still don’t pay attention to the equipment unless I am evaluating something. But I think you hit the mark with this:
Maybe it’s something that can’t be recaptured, as it is with a lot of things of youth.
Maybe it’s as simple as " Ignorance is bliss" Life in my teens & twenties was about excitement. I woke up everyday feeling great and ready to conquer the world. Now I sometimes wake up feeling like I was run over while asleep. Now I spend my days maintaining my old body which bears the battle scars of my conquests. Hard to really get into music as much when I'm doing that.
Yes, that 8 track in my 64 Impala sounded great. I still love music while I drive. But that excitement is not there today like it was when I was 20 something
Yeah, everything sounds awesome now, but it's never the same as it was back in the day when the friends were all and the world was new.
In the words of BB King, the thrill is gone, but the memories and appreciation are not.
There is no comparison between the state of my audio system now with anything i listen to in the past...
Then i enjoy music the most now...
It is not the result of costly gear upgrade tough but mainly from acoustic room controls...
There is a big difference between music coming from an avarage uncontrolled audio system and music living in your room which dont seems to come from the speakers with a natural timbre...
Acoustic is the sleeping princess and the Queen....Any other things are the working 7 dwarves....
The general law is simple : because electronic design is mature now from decades ago any " relatively good system" will transform itself completely under the right acoustical controls.... Gear matter now less than room control....
There were moments in my youth that really stand out in my mind as well. Tubed counsel radio when I was 12, Early 60’s hearing the Beatles I Want to hold Your Hand for the first time (literally the first broadcast of the group in the US) on a plastic clock radio. Sears “portable stereo” with speakers removed and placed head in between. College several systems... drugs were involved. The ESS AMT 1D system I heard when buying a small bag of grass... he also had one of the most beautiful women (girl) as a girlfriend I have ever seen... guess that was a positive association..
All of those experiences were motivators to pursue high end audio and music. But I think they were circumstantial, emotional state when they happened. I think music, particularly when coupled with high hormones and associated emotional states create these marker memories and interests that we follow throughout our life.
Happily I don’t listen to my system any more, just the music. This is a fairly recent thing with my most recent upgrades. I find it difficult to listen to the system... it is so musical, I just get captivated by the music and do not listen to the soundstage or micro details. Come to think about it, increasingly over the last two decades I would upgrade as fast as posdible to get back to listening to music. My current system is incredibly good at establishing the emotional connection with me. It can work as a time machine given the right 1960’s or 70’s... or 50’ input. I can only think how much my young self would have loved the system I have.
Good question. It really made me think about what made the system I have today so compelling... it is that it has that emotional connection that I think I had been working so hard at creating for the last fifty years. I have finally done it.
I enjoyed music the most when I was in the process of discovery. Audio was not such a big deal back then and 'sweet spot' was practically unheard of.
My audio system has improved markedly since then. Its properly set up and I sit in the sweet spot most often. My music collection is quite large so I have plenty of recordings on hand - I don't shop much anymore - I think pouring through record bins was half the fun. I know most of my music well now so the sense of discovery doesn't occur often (but it does and I'm thrilled).
Unfortunately I don't believe that the improved audio system has really replaced the involvement with the music I had back then. And, as I think for many, I have redirected my interest in music to its reproduction for an audio system. Poor exchange I think.
Thinking about your post reminded me of one I made elsewhere a while back. I started writing and out came an interesting conclusion I hadn’t realized before:
Lost in the Details
I have spent the last fifty years slowly learning, earning, and building my audio system. I loved the outcomes and process. I upgraded to what I thought was to be my ultimate system about ten years ago with an ARC Ref 5se preamp, Sim 650 DAC with outboard power supply, Pass x350 amp and Sonus Faber Olympica 3 speakers, VPI TT and a couple B&W 800 series subwoofers. I did this while still working, in advance of retirement. It sounded fantastic. I have an incredibly good sounding audio room (lucky not good). It was good at all sorts of music. I considered this my reference system as it laid out everything, the venue, the mastering style, the microphones used, the violin played. It was musical and really enjoyable to listen to. I learned new things about each recording I listened to.
Throughout the process of building over the years I learned about more aspects of sound and music: details, micro details, tonal balance, midrange, imaging, slam, transparency, rhythm and pace, etc.… and then I took them into account. For much of my life I had ribbon or electrostatic speakers of some kind but I was careful to built a system that was not too far into the detailed end so half my recordings sounded bad… however, they imaged the soundstage very accurately. I could easily hear the venues. They were also musical and believable. I have had season tickets (row 8 center) to the Oregon Symphony for nearly the last decade. It has a surprisingly outstanding orchestra and hall.
On my quest for my system, I occasionally would hear an incredibly musical system. One that would just pull at my emotional core and involve me in the music. These were inevitably tube systems. Usually the emotion came with an incredible loss of detail. Sometimes I would hear incredibly detailed… natural with great slam… but usually lacked in the emotional draw.
My system found a great balance to all the different aspects. I tried and quit streaming… then tried again and upgraded to an Aurender WE20se… that incredible piece of equipment changed everything and caused a cascade of upgrades… see my profile.
While auditioning the ARC REF160s my audio guy brought over a ARC REF CD/DAC. I did not want to try it… I was not interested. But he had brought it over, I respect him, we have had a relationship for twenty years. Within two minutes I had sent him a message to order me one. I really did not have the money… I then upgraded all my interconnects to Transparent Ultra. Wholly cow.
So, the reference system is gone. Now I have a 100% music system (funny it is a known thing: All Audio Research, Sonus Faber, Transparent interconnections). It has the heart and soul of those incredibly emotional tube systems I heard but with all the detail, silent background, and imaging. I am completely captivated. But it is making me rethink the approach I had taken to get here. I just wonder when one triggers the "evaluate… analytical" process in our brains it jumps on the easily distinguishable parameters… details, slam, stuff that really should be secondary thoughts not primary. I know some folks must start looking for musical first (I don’t know any)… but I am pretty sure that is the minority. Most of us are pretty analytical. I am not sure that sometimes we get waylaid by details that are really not important. My system does not have the slam (precipitous rise in a kick drum), the vivid edges of the sound stage, the micro structures of the edges of instrument sounds, but it has the best bass I have heard, it has all the details, and space (but not in the spotlight like my reference system) and most importantly it has incredible emotional pull of great rhythm and pace. It does not make poorly recorded albums sound bad… but just plays the music and draws me in and makes the experience amazing. I can’t help but thinking if I had taken a turn towards smaller scale musical system 35 years ago based on musicality, and built up from that side of the equation I would not have gotten here much quicker. But, then, I really did enjoy the journey.
We all parrot the same crap now - that our systems are transparent and disappear, but do they?
But seriously, what you're talking about, "music", we focus on the sound with our systems but music is much more than sound. It comes from the root "muse" the nine goddesses who presided over science and the arts. Today we use the word muse to mean the source of inspiration.
When you are young and life has yet to beat you down you are full of hope and promise and inspiration. So of course music, which you now know means of or like a muse, inspires you. It still does- if you are young at heart.
Had a wonderful long talk with Ted Denney the other night. Now there's a man still young at heart. Boy is he ever in the right line of work!
There really is nothing in "music" then that requires sound. See? Like in Margin Call when the Jeremy Irons character has just been told the financial world is about to collapse, he says the music has stopped.
We audiophiles work in a realm that is passing strange. We want perfect sound to create something that does not even require sound at all. No wonder one of the more common complaints is here we go down the rabbit hole.
It's the same for me now at 66 as it was back in the day. A good record played low at 1am sends me right back. I have to force myself to go to bed, I just want to keep listening. The magic is still there.
I can remember music coming out of a cheap AM transistor radio, probably with a cracked speaker, resonating with the very fabric of my being. Bob Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone, The Who - I Can See For Miles, Jefferson Airplane - Somebody To Love. These songs hit me like a bolt of lightning.
I still love that music but I wouldn’t want to listen to that sound anymore. The music I listen to now on my several orders of magnitude more expensive system is mostly different and the much better sound helps me enjoy it. I still get great enjoyment out of music, but 50+ years on, the experience of listening to music is very different, but just as enjoyable.
I've been nuts for music since I was three. Every record player/music system I've ever had has given me pleasure and a good 90% of the upgrades I've gotten over the centuries has made things better still. Right now I'm listening to some modernist who-knows-what via Primephonic. Sound is not as 3d as I might like but the tone is lovely and the composition is emotionally engaging. Hooray for hi-fi!
Sit up much too late listening to music.
Tonight will be no different. Just Lenny Breau and me :)
Whenever I hear good sounding interesting music I feel good. Every time. It’s funny how that works. It happens all the time but more often at times when my hifi is on its game or I am out at some live event. I guess that is why I care about sharing ideas about how people might wean more enjoyment out of listening to music.
Oh, forgot to answer :)
I enjoy music much more now than I ever have.
When I was young, I was a pretty lustful creature. I like to think that lustful pursuit of "whatever" has been replaced with a more measured "love" based experience of life.
I think life experience has added relevance to the music I listen to. And as I have gotten older, I am far more open to music that I would have dismissed in my youth. If it wasn't "angry young guy music", it didn't register.
On any given night, my "playlist" can shift from the B52's, to Lenny Breau, Mr. Bungle, Janos Starker, Ben Webster etc.
That would never have happened in my youth :)
There really is nothing in "music" then that requires sound.
Get that! We do not go to the party, we are the party, it goes where we go. Keep the inner child alive, it's hungry and needs feeding...enjoy the music...
As much as I dig my current rig, I really enjoyed the music listening on my Marantz receiver, Garrard 301 turntable, and Superscope speakers. A pretty rudimentary set up, I know, but it sounded great, and the blue light from the Marantz in my dark bedroom at night was magical.
My Marantz 2020 with blue lights and Advent speakers. with a pioneer turntable and Shure cartridge listening to the Doobie Brothers "Listen to the Music" at full clipping volume.
Yeah, over 60....but when I put that album on today, I'm 17 again.
I used to learn guitar parts for club playing by lifting the arm on my Philips turntable to figure out "Barracuda" on vinyl by Heart...among a hundred others. The internet has given young musicians a leg up...that I now use. I still have the Philips in storage, along with my Pioneer SX-450 I bought at 16 from University Stereo.
Now and then, like a great painting, you see it first pictured in a magazine, you like it, but now you get the pleasure of examining it from close and surprised even more by its details.
But the memory of first sight is always there.
Yes I enjoyed music in a totally different way then. Good new music was a revelation, usually on the very first listen. Hendrix, The Doors, CTA, The Band etc....
Today, I am just as obsessed, but new music doesn't grab me the same way. It is very rare to hear something and just know it's right first time off. Much of new music is taken on trust and the love builds up over time. Radio Paradise MQA is always on, in the background, and I find it very useful in introducing new stuff (and old stuff I missed back then).
When my hearing was a little sharper.
Chayro. definitely can relate to your post. I had a red Rambler Classic whose engine seized on the way back from a Band concert the weekend before Woodstock. So I missed that show. Only had a few albums then including the first Hendrix, Cream’s "Wheels of Fire", the first Creedence, and the Stone’s ’Let It Bleed". The music was played loudly on a suitcase style "stereo" my folks had that defined "Lo-Fidelity". The music never sounded better or was more immersive.
Almost forgot, had some JBL L-100’s too, not too long after getting out on my own in 1970. They sounded great, although I honestly can’t remember if those had the orange or blue grills. In music or life, your first loves are always the most intense. The later ones are the most unforgettable though.
Always enjoyed the music, even more now!
The Brain is the most important component.
I enjoyed music in a totally different way back then as well... stoned. 🙂
My best enjoyment was when I first started out at 13 with a Panasonic mono table radio and a Roberts (Akai) mono cassette deck. I thought it was the end all system and I truly loved it. I enjoyed that set up immensely until I bought a Sansui Receiver, Bozak B201 speakers and a BSR record changer with a Shure M44 cartridge at 16. Both those systems gave me more pleasure than the many pieces of equipment I have had since then. I think it had more to do with my age at the time.
When the last time was last night...the next one will be soon.
Over the years some things have changed such as where I listen to music and other things remain - that I enjoy listening to music and spend time listening. Sometimes I listen to music alone, sometimes with friends and I may listen at home, in the car, at a club or a concert.
Sometimes I am reminded of my first concert (Triumph with Foghat opening up), hearing Jackson Brown perform "Stay" or when me a some friends saw Tragedy - the best heavy metal coverband of the Bee Gees in the tri-state area. Music is emotional for me and it can connect me to an old memory, lift my spirits, give me confidence and fill me with satisfaction (such as when I first heard Claire Martin's "Getting High").
I have a lot to be thankful for and plan to enjoy music again tonight. I hope you are able to too!
I’m still enjoying music. I recently put up a post asking for recommendations of new to me jazz artists and have been happily listening ever since.
All the best.
My 7 year old self most enjoyed music in '63, listening to "Love Me Do" on WABC under the blankets on a transistor radio on a winter night...
My 16 year old self most enjoyed it, on a rooftop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, under the stars, listening to Otis Redding on a portable cassette player, drinking from wine from the bottle...
My 17 year old self most enjoyed it in Southern CA, 1973, staying up all night in a high school friend's attic bedroom, listening to Live At Leeds, Allmans at Fillmore, Derek and the Dominos...
My 20 year old self most enjoyed it living in Santa Barbara in '76, when I could wander a few blocks from my apartment to spontaneously catch artists like Jean Luc Ponty at the nearby Arlington Theater. Ticket prices were very low and that town was a live music paradise.
I could go on and on... I don't think the intensity of my love of music has changed, although it's certainly evolved to meet changes in me, as have my tastes. When I was a confused adolescent, music met different needs than it did when I was 30, 40, 50 or now, as a retired, 65 year old.
Being able to afford a decent system is a relatively recent phenomenon for me, so my memories of life-long listening enjoyment have little or nothing to do with gear... and I wouldn't have it any other way. I enjoy good sound but would never want my enjoyment of music to be dependent upon gear!
...OK-- obviously, some kind of gear is required for listening at home-- what I meant was, I'd never want my enjoyment of music to be conditional upon availablity of "audiophile quality" sound. I've always found music- listening to be a freeing experience. Being unable to enjoy music unless it's delivered by a sophisticated system doesn't sound like "freedom" to me-- quite the opposite. I realize I may be in the minority in this regard, however.
Music is first and foremost the driving factor. It's emotional, for sure. Also very important to me is quality playback product. As a child a countertop radio with bass & treble control was exciting compared to the lesser sounding clock radio that was my earliest introduction to music playback. Then, I saved my allowance and got some additional help from my parents to buy one of those "record players" with the fold out speakers that detach at the hinge and pull away about 6 feet each for stereo separation. A few years later my parents got a Magnavox console hi-fi and that was a game changer. At 8 months outside of high school I bought my first high fidelity system that was a Marantz 2270 receiver, Philips turntable with Stanton 681EE cartridge, and some 12" 3-way Altec speakers. All my friends wanted to party at my house. Several really good systems since then and my present one is the best SQ I have ever had. And all along the music has still remained the driving factor. It's still emotional, for sure.
Including last night😊
I remember several times... sneaking up to the living room and playing LedZep ll on my Dad’s Fisher console system at 1:00 AM. Very low volume, all tube goodness. Later driving home late at night in the dead of winter hearing Bridge over troubled water on my tinny VW am radio. Every time I hear that song, I’m transported back to that night. Years later building my own speakers and loving the sound so much more than any other speakers that I owned.
I started playing guitar and in order to learn, I played Beck, Page, Clapton, Hendrix, ect on a cheap, funky mono tube powered record player and tried to play along. I spent many hours in front of that thing.
More recently, I’ve recaptured some of those emotions with the addition of a 300B tube integrated.
Right now I’m enjoying some mellow jazz on a tiny Bose bluetooth speaker and ipad. We’re in the process of moving and all my audio stuff is either in storage or has been sold. Amazing what you can learn to appreciate.
I enjoyed the music back in the day and would say i enjoy it more now. All things change some better some worse same with music. What i would say is the music i enjoyed the most back in the day has been replaced with the music I did not enjoy as much. Think the better the system the more the artistry and production starts to come through. A lot of what I really enjoyed long ago sounds like crap on my reference system but does still sound good in the car. So i guess i have always enjoyed the music but my taste has aged like a good whiskey.
When did I most enjoy the music? The last time I listened.
Ah yes. 10 years old. For me 60's-70's. Simple beginnings. It was all about enjoying the music.
Now I would not (well, can not) remove the Tuner or Receiver, Turntable or Speakers from a tv/stereo console donated to the Salvation Army and purchase them for my home Frankenstein system. Which I had.
Now I would not ever entertain using mismatching models or individual speakers. ala, Lafayette sale one each speakers. Oooo, I upgraded from DIY Salvation Army speakers.
Nor 20 ga. speaker wire.
Now pick pick pick. Try this. Try that. Try enjoy the music.
Come to reminisce, I wonder how honestly good were those tv console stereos. My relatives and friends had them and I thought they sounded good. I also remember seeing hefty transformers with 4 6L6 style tube amplifiers behind each 12" 3 way speaker system in some of those Salvation Army consoles. BTW They let me take out what I wanted for $5.00 per unit.
Those were the days.
Oh, some jazz stuff like Peter White, Basia, Sade, Najee, Keiko Matsui, Fore Play on a lazy Saturday afternoon with some ice tea is good stuff right there!
I think nostalgia and fond memories of friends and girlfriends adds to the recollection of just how much we enjoyed our music of our youth. Just music with no concern for how it was delivered to us.
Yep. I get it.
My favorite sound of any stereo I've ever had was the single speaker on the dashboard of my Dad's '67 Vista Cruiser with my girlfriend snuggled up next to me as we drove around.
Or maybe it was the handjob that made it special. Just kidding.