Linear frequency. Signal-to-Noise Ratio. Total Harmonic Distortion. Bit Depth. Sample Rate.
There a plenty of objective scientific ways to measure just how well an audio source and device can work together in a space to replicate the sound that was produced in a recording studio. Ultimately, the sound we hear is the result of several factors that can include the quality of the recording itself, the quality of the music source (ie. mp3 vs CD, tape vs vinyl, etc), the quality of the audio gear (ie. speakers, amps,etc) and the actual audio properties of the space you are in (i.e. living room or gymnasium). Luckily, we can control most of these factors to maximize our listening pleasure.
For audio, controlling the variables is generally pretty straight forward.
A high-resolution audio stream versus a low-resolution will always sound better. Properly pairing a high-quality amp with quality speakers to best your space is not always as straight forward as it may seem, but doing it is a no brainer. If you want better sound, get better gear. This said, in my opinion, it is also true that there is diminishing return on value once you get to high quality; there are some people who see the point in breaking the bank for a marginal subjective gain in audio, and who are willing to pay a lot of money for it – I am not one of those people.
I am the same way about a lot of things actually. My wife and I will be shopping for winter tires soon and will be looking for the best reasonably priced high-quality tires that I can trust to keep my family as safe as possible. We refuse to buy crap and don’t just want good tires – we want excellent tires. We also don’t want the most expensive tires in the world, though I get that some people do. To me a $20-$30 dollar bottle of wine tastes way better than the $10 bottle of wine and while I suppose the $2,000 bottle may taste marginally better, there are a lot of other things I could do with my money. My sweet spot hovers in that space where high quality meets high value.
So what’s my point? There is an objective difference between good sound and bad sound and it is relatively easy to control for this. But the value we get from things and experiences are necessarily subjective. If you just listen to the news, go ahead and get the cheap stuff. If you are an obsessed audiophile, go ahead and put a second mortgage on your home.
But, let’s assume that great minds think alike. Here are some things to consider when finding the audio sweet spot:
· Find a knowledgeable professional like myself to consult with. Luckily there are countless audio solutions on the market but finding the perfect solution can be daunting. A non-commissioned professional will take the time to consider your budget, your space and how you actually listen to music to help you make the perfect purchase. A professional with help you deploy a properly designed solution.
· Get a subwoofer. I am not necessarily talking about pissing off your neighbours, but rather about filling in the low end of the audio spectrum that makes music feel real.
· Spend the extra pocket change required each month to subscribe to a high-quality streaming music service. The audio source matters. If you actually like listening to music but are streaming the free version of TuneIn Radio to save money… get a life.
· Do not listen to music through your television’s built-in speaker. Ever.
Here’s the thing: If enjoy listening to music, not only will you enjoy it more when it sounds good, but you will listen more often; bad sound creates ear fatigue. So find the sweet spot and get the gear that sounds good and is easy to use… then get on with your life and start listening to more music.
I’m always up for questions – call me today for a chat!
Until next time friends,