V.com weekend vote: How do you mostly listen to recorded music?

February 22, 2019, 12:44 PM · When you listen to recorded music, how do you do so?

One of the best things that you can do for your playing, (and really, for your soul!) is to listen to good music, played by an artist, recorded well. Of course it is great to hear it live, but for this vote I'm talking about the rich choices we have in recorded music.

happy listening cat

When I was in college, I actually worked at the school's Listening Library, a quiet room, in a gorgeous building with stained glass windows, where people came to sit in little cubicles and listen mostly to old vinyl LPs over big headphones. Because the records were old, only we library workers could handle them, placing the needle down where each listener wanted on any particular record. One of the oldest LPs we had was Rachmaninov playing Rachmaninov - holding this record felt like holding a piece of the past. And of course the great advantage of my "job" was that I got to listen to whatever I wanted to, in this vast library, for hours at a time.

Life is not like this for me now! I barely seem to have time to catch part of a movement of a concerto, on a computer with pretty lame speakers. My best chance for a good long listen is usually in the car, if I think well enough in advance to cue up something on my phone or bring along a CD (one of our cars can still do that). Robert also recently got me an actual speaker, which has the unusual capacity (for 2019) to play CDs as well as remotely access Spotify on my phone.

When it comes down to it, these days nearly everyone has access to a vast library, whether you access it over Youtube, Spotify, your own CD collection or iTunes library, etc.

When you listen to music these days, what is the medium you most frequently turn to? Do you listen in the car? Over speakers? On your phone with headphones? Mostly on the computer? Please choose whichever answer fits for when you have a good long listen, and then describe in the comments how you go about listening to music these days. Do you enjoy the way you are currently listening to music? Are you able to find time to listen to, say, an entire violin concerto? Do you wish you could listen more? Or maybe you listen more than you ever did? Have your listening habits changed as technology has evolved?


February 22, 2019 at 07:16 PM · It should be noted that one can connect one's phone, tablet, or computer to "speakers in rooms" (stereo equipment and thereby hear streamed music in at last medium fidelity. I mostly use Spotify and jazzradio.com (the piano trios channel is particularly good). I do not worry about the details of high fidelity because my hearing is compromised (constant ringing, etc.).

February 22, 2019 at 07:47 PM · On the computer. I play the tracks on a desktop system with external high-quality stereo speakers. I don't have ear-buds, because I don't like having the sound piped right into the ears.

I very much enjoy listening this way. Yes, I find time to listen to entire concertos -- plus entire symphonies and entire operas. I hear many performances during the week this way. What a change technology has wrought in my listening habits -- and what convenience. A 20" screen definitely brings these shows to life. I listen more now than I did when I was growing up, but I still wish I could listen even more.

BTW, I don't always sit in front of the computer. I can also do indoor chores or take the evening walk indoors while the music plays. While running the biz, I’m mostly at the computer, keeping track of other things on screen, but can still play the music in the background.

I don't get all this convenience free of charge. For a few years now, I've subscribed to YouTube Premium -- formerly YouTube Red. For a small monthly fee, I can play all the performances I want -- without those crass, annoying, LOUD ads breaking in at the worst possible moments.

Side benefit: Thanks to opera subtitles, I've gained a small Spanish vocabulary. The Italian operas I studied on my own time when I was in school now often come over YouTube with Spanish subtitles. I can make the jump from Italian to Spanish without much trouble -- they're both in the same family of languages. Same for German works with English subtitles -- again, two in the same family of languages. On the French side: I studied French in high school; so, even if only the original French words appear on screen, I know, for the most part, what the characters are saying.

February 22, 2019 at 08:07 PM · I still treasure my CD collection, and I still buy new ones regularly. I also listen to FM broadcasts. And I listen through speakers mostly, but headphones often too.

I think it's regrettable that so many people are abandoning CD's. They often don't realize that CD's are higher quality recordings than either FM broadcasts or internet downloads. Because interest in CD's is lagging, I fear that a time is coming when manufacturers will cease to produce them. Before you throw yours away, take time to understand the recording quality advantages they offer. As a related aside, I have a somewhat anxious Shih Tzu that is untroubled by FM broadcast music, but can react to CD's, even at very moderate listening levels. I believe this is because FM frequency response tops out at 15kHz, while CD's go all the way to 22kHz.

I generally don't listen to music with utmost seriousness in my car. The environment is just too noisy for a quality experience. Perhaps if I someday get an S-class Mercedes or something similar, I might reconsider that.

February 22, 2019 at 08:31 PM · I listen almost exclusively in the car during my commute (WCRB in Boston is an excellent classical only station). I've been quite happy with this arrangement.

However, this past December, I had attended "A Baroque Christmas" live concert by Handel & Hayden Orch. one evening with my wife, and it was an excellent performance.

The next day I was SO disappointed at how flat and lifeless the music sounded on my drive to work...

February 22, 2019 at 08:35 PM · Probably 70% on the computer, 30% in the car. At home, I use my desktop computer, which has decent stereo speakers, and at work, I use earbuds. On the computer, it's a mixture of CDs, streaming my local classical station, and YouTube (which I increasingly use to discover obscure pieces). I have classical FM radio on in the car whenever I'm driving; often when I park my car I wait until a piece or a movement of a piece is finished before getting out.

I don't listen as much as I used to (that peaked around the end of college and the first year after I graduated), but I still make an effort to listen to a full symphony or concerto or similarly large work, giving it my undivided attention, at least once a week.

February 22, 2019 at 09:29 PM · I listen to music almost every day during my commute (an hour each way via bus and train), on my iPhone. At home we have a Tivoli system with bluetooth so we can stream our digital library through it. We also have a lot of CDs, and I haven't stopped buying those things, either.

February 22, 2019 at 11:27 PM · I either stream Spotify or YouTube to my television or to my Boise speaker, sometimes I stream it to my car's speakers though that is not as good as listening at home. I listen to individual pieces most days, and listen to a full concerto or symphony twice a week.

I've always listened to a lot of music, the type of music has changed over the years. I started out loving classical music, over the years other types of music got my interest, it's been wonderful to return to my musical roots.

February 23, 2019 at 02:07 AM · I used to listen to music in the car a lot, but practicing religion took over and I don't regret it because I like practicing religion. I now tend to listen to music on the computer or on my phone.

February 23, 2019 at 02:32 AM · If I'm seriously listening outside the concert environment, it will nowadays be on the computer using the disk drive as CD player. However, more often, I'm listening on car journeys, which is why I voted "in the car".

February 23, 2019 at 03:33 AM · When I'm in the car I prefer to listen to NPR talk.

February 23, 2019 at 06:59 AM · I have a nice sound system connected to my PC, so I try to listen to music on there as much as I can, but I prefer listening to vinyl records through my guitar amplifier (weird I know). It's a Yamaha THR 10 that with a phono pre-amp, doubles perfectly as a phono stereo.

But I don't have infinite money to spend on records, so I mostly use the computer.

In my car I either use an ipod connected to my car's stereo, or I just listen to my local classical NPR station.

February 23, 2019 at 12:39 PM · When I'm in my car I usually listen to a talk podcast streamed through my phone's bluetooth or AM talk radio,though I occasionally listen to music in the car. My car has a nice Bose setup in it so the music sounds pretty good.

When at work I'm using earbuds so I don't disturb anyone.I listen to composition by many up and coming composers, maybe some of the older music.

At home I have a studio monitor setup for assembling and mixing music which I do for church work and for my own personal enjoyment, so though it may sound conceited, I mostly only listen to the music I make because it takes so much time to make it.I don't have time at home in the studio for much else.

February 23, 2019 at 09:06 PM · Evangelising hitchhikers, Hope it's the true Gospel you give them (Why not read Alleine's Alarm, just to check up?)!

February 23, 2019 at 09:25 PM · I’m almost certainly going to seen as a dinosaur here but I listen to CDs on my hi-fi using an amp, CD player and floor standing speakers. There is no substitute for good quality sound reproduction and immersing yourself in the music for me.

February 23, 2019 at 10:09 PM · Old school for the most part. LP, CD, or Amazon echo fed into a tube preamp, then a tube power amp feeding 2 full-range drivers in open-baffle cabinets. And an amplified sub for the really lows. I take my sound reproduction seriously, lol.

February 24, 2019 at 02:55 AM · I listen in the car, at home from a CD player, and sometimes on the computer. I have a huge CD collection of classical music. Most of them, I've picked up CHEAP at thrift stores. Apparently, most people don't listen to CDs anymore?

February 24, 2019 at 04:31 AM · I mostly listen to (classical) music through a system that sounds very much like that of Jim Hastings. My car radio is set to our local PBS/NPR station. My teenage daughter plays Spotify over her iPhone's speaker all the time, so I also get a healthy dose of that: a broad mixture of rap, hiphop, and pop through many decades.

February 24, 2019 at 09:51 PM · My car has a very good sound system but it is also a pretty noisy place (road noise, et cetera). Since I spend some hours in the car with WQXR keeping me company this is where the most time is spent. Then I have three (yes, three) internet radios in the house. One in the bedroom where it is played just before going to sleep, in the garage generally while on the tandem bicycle mounted in the trainer during the nasty weather and then the good one that sits in the living room and gets pushed through a really great set of large speakers with great dynamic range. Add to that a good CD/DVD player.

As far as the computer goes - yuck! lousy speakers! My phone is a flip-phone so there is no way to listen to music on that.

Of course there are the live concerts in our area, my violin students, and the young musicians in the Youth Orchestra were we volunteer our time.

Thinking about it, I spend a lot of the day listening to music, even the music I make myself.

February 25, 2019 at 04:48 AM · I'd like to recommend the Harmon-Kardon Onyx Studio Bluetooth speaker for your cell and laptop. I received mine as a gift, but they are not terribly expensive. Great sound, if you don't mind no stereo.

February 25, 2019 at 05:39 AM · Mostly on the computer, with my studio headphones, I love the quality. But my job as a programmer is binding me to sit with my computer most of the day. So I listen to music, yes I have time for whole concertos. I am unable to work without good music, but I have pieces to relax and work and some of them don't let me work and I must listen to them before. It is good because my brain can unconsciously manage my thoughts and then I can write more beautiful code :)

I am listening with my daughter at home, on the speakers, she loves music, but she is barely 2.5 years old so she doesn't hold still for a long time. And my favourite, but unfortunately less used way to listen is listening to my collection of vinyl records on my modern turntable with hifi headphones. It is my bedtime when my wife is working on something. This is the most important listen for me. I love to buy new vinyl (Thanks Hilary Hahn and the others for them).

I am a collector a little bit.

February 25, 2019 at 05:41 PM · I voted phone, but I have high quality earbuds, and also listen to a ton of CDs and vinyl at home on a proper stereo system and speakers. If I want to listen to something via my computer or phone, while I am at home, I'll either plug it into the stereo or use a Bluetooth speaker to listen.

Wish there were more options for people like me who essentially listen to music (of all genres, but mostly classical at the moment) nearly all the time.

February 26, 2019 at 01:02 AM · I still regularly buy CDs but the first thing I do is rip them to my iTunes library since I generally have more time to listen on the go than at home. At any time I typically have around 9-10 days worth of music on my iPhone and connect to that through bluetooth either in my car or through earpods. I still have a huge collection of vinyl but these days don't find much time to sit down and listen to it...

February 26, 2019 at 08:36 PM · I voted car (sometimes CDs but usually my MP3 player), but I also sometime listen on my computer at home (it has a decent pair of speakers). Most of the time I'm listening to material that our orchestra is working on (and at home I play along).

I have a good CD collection and occasionally still buy CDs (Anne Akiko Myers' latest, for instance). Sometimes I'll listen to FM radio, but unfortunately the Vancouver CBC transmitter has been putting glitches into its signal about once a minute at least as far back as 2012 - it's like Chinese water torture. I'm amazed that nobody at the station monitors their on-air signal - or maybe they do but just don't care. Either way, I find their signal unlistenable and refuse to tune it in except for once every few months to prove that they still haven't fixed it. My only other classical option is KING-FM in Seattle, but it's so far away that reception isn't all that good. At least it's honest noise, not the result of negligence.

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