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Is Everyone Deaf?

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:04 am    Post subject: Is Everyone Deaf? Reply with quote

Lately I have been trying to purchase a set of low cost headphones or earbuds to use with various audio electronics.

Well...not lately, more for like the last few years. I've tried high end, low end and middle ground. Read reviews. Tried headphones, some with noise reduction, others without. Bought buds with skulls, and ones with heavy chrome shells.

You know what? They all sound terrible to me. Well maybe it's my devices...but I certainly have a few of them. Several computers and mp3 devices. I have tried both "high quality" and regular quality files. Downloads, streaming, from sites like Rhapsody and Pandora. Quasi-legal sharing sites like Grooveshark.

Again, the sound doesn't really sound like music to me. It sounds like a muddy cacophony...a muddle. Or else, sometimes the opposite, where the range I guess is so unbalanced that I hear one instrument oddly playing in the foreground. Remember when you first heard the Beatles in stereo...and you turned your stereo to L or R and you hear mostly voice or mostly guitars? Like that.

Then there's my "home entertainment system". In my case it's a PC I built myself with a HDMI cable to the TV and the sound system is a Logitech 2+1 speaker set. It didn't cost much, but I reviewed it after I bought it (something McLuhan says we like to do...we read the ads after we buy the product to make us feel better that we made the right decision) and it was described as one of the best systems.

But even there, when watching movies, I have to really boost up the equalizer -- and thank goodness my sound chips, nVidia, supports one -- in order to distinguish the voices. For music, it's good, but not nearly as powerful as I would like even with the knobs on "11".

The one place I really enjoy music is in my car. There all I have is a radio with an aux input. I sometimes use the cell phone for audio streaming, but what I really like is good old fashioned radio. Specifically I like this one station which is headquartered in the next town from me...KMCQ, Covington. They are a robot station that has been on for a couple of years now and they play back to back Oldies with very few breaks. One thing about them is they have a very strong, clear and I assume digital signal. The sound quality is outstanding, and my car audio system...standard model for a 2007 KIA Specta delivers what I consider the appropriate mixing, power and definition. It has enough power to give the physicality that rock and rock 'n roll music demands.

There's one thing that bothers me. Am I the only one? I mean, I see headphones/earphones as the medium of choice especially for people under...well, probably 40 at this point. Is it just that my ears are burned out...or having grown up with wizened sound do they not know any better? I still think I can call the tune and it's them not me. So is most of society just "humming along" but not hearing lyrics? Catching melodies? Knowing a seems likely given the current pop offerings which are less singers singing songs and more like a Las Vegas top billing act...the live tigers and lasers being equally important to song styling.
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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An inconvenient truth: Why music sounds bad

Today's bands and record labels know their audiences aren't listening at home on a stereo, so they have to make sure the music's volume never changes. That way the listeners can hear it well enough in the noisiest of places. That's why engineers compress music, compression boosts the softer sounds, and flattens the really loud bits, so it all comes out sounding the same. From a whisper to a scream, it's all equally loud.
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