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I wonder how most people listen to music these days

Yorkshire Mouth

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It wasn’t all that long ago that most people will have listened to most of their music on a traditional ‘hi-fi’, though how ‘hi’ the ‘fi’ was is, of course, another matter. Most living rooms in the UK will have had some sort of micro system, or similar.

The only other form of listening which large numbers of people will have used will have been the car stereo, or a transistor radio, maybe in the work place.

I suspect most music these days will be heard from either earbuds, or Sonos-style speakers.

I wonder if this, in turn, has any impact on how it’s mixed and mastered.
 

Zensō

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The data I’ve seen indicates a majority consume music via a streaming service on their phones, either through the phone speakers, earbuds, or a Bluetooth smart speaker.

Some estimates put headphone/earbud listening at over 80%. There seems to be a correlation between this and an increase in mixing and mastering on headphones. In fact, multiple Grammy winning engineers now primarily mix/master on headphones, something which was virtually unheard of 20 years ago.
 

jsrtheta

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It wasn’t all that long ago that most people will have listened to most of their music on a traditional ‘hi-fi’, though how ‘hi’ the ‘fi’ was is, of course, another matter. Most living rooms in the UK will have had some sort of micro system, or similar.

The only other form of listening which large numbers of people will have used will have been the car stereo, or a transistor radio, maybe in the work place.

I suspect most music these days will be heard from either earbuds, or Sonos-style speakers.

I wonder if this, in turn, has any impact on how it’s mixed and mastered.

"...Music-making still performs the normal functions -
Background noise for people scheming, seducing, revolting and teaching
That's all right by me, don't think that I'm complaining
After all, it's only leisure time, isn't it?..."

Robert Wyatt, Moon in June, from Soft Machine Third, copyright Robert Wyatt, 1970
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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I have a problem with this line of reasoning (blaming the supposed ills of modern recording on the earbuds and bluetooth speakers and streaming services "all the damn kids are listening to")...and I bring it up every time I see a thread like this, lol.

I was there in the late 70s and through the 80s. What "most" people were listening to music on was walkman cassette players with crummy headsets, boombox cassette players, or mostly low grade dept. store "hifi" systems with cheap turntables and cassette players. Compared to current earbuds and bluetooth speakers (which, if you haven't been paying attention are sometimes remarkably good - certainly better than pretty much any boomboxes I can remember owning bitd) streaming digital content at or above 192kbs, kids today are WAY better off in many cases - and certainly aren't experiencing some sort of degraded sound experience relative to the rose-colored days of yore. I mean of course there's crummy gear out there just like there always has been. But decent sound quality is easily attainable for anyone who wants it at a much more affordable price today than ever before. I suspect the percentage of people today listening on truly good hifi speaker systems isn't much different than it was in the 70s or 80s really. A lot of people I knew back then had systems, but they were rarely high quality components and they were almost never set up for good sound. Mostly they were crammed into a corner of the basement.
 
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Doodski

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When out and about exercising and getting fresh air for in total maybe ~four or five hours per day I listen through my Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro Bluetooth earbuds. When at home for the remainder of the time I use my wired and heavily PEQ'd Sennheiser HD 598SR headphones for maybe another 6-10 hours per day. So I'm tied to streaming in both the cellular telephone and the desktop PC. My life is on my Premium YouTube account and ASR besides going out and about. LoL. :D I have no idea what YouTube is streaming these days but I compared to some pretty good recordings up to the max of a 2666kbps music file that I have. You Tube for me is good enough at this time.
 

jsrtheta

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I don't doubt that such devices produce excellent sound for what they do. Your point about Walkmans (Walkmen?) is quite true.

I never listen to headphones. I've owned some good ones, but I prefer the full kit, listening in a room. But that's just me.

We really have achieved "perfect sound forever". At least as close to perfect as we can get with today's speaker technology.

Now if we only got those jetpacks we were promised...
 

Barrelhouse Solly

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When I was a kid, a phrase I'm beginning an embarrassing number of sentences with these days, most people had record players. A rectangular box with a record changer and an amp in it. People also had console units, sometimes incorporating a 21" TV. A few had hi-fi components. I've stuck with separate components since I bought some used mono stuff when I was 19. I'm guessing from what I see on this forum that one form or another of powered speakers is the most common these days. I'll admit shamefacedly to owning more bluetooth speakers than I am using currently although my main setup is passive speakers and an amp. My source is a Raspberry Pi that streams stuff from my NAS. I also watch TV on my tablet using the amp and speakers for sound fed from a USB DAC hooked up to the tablet.
 

Punter

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As I mentioned in another thread, during a recent hospital stay my wife purchased a set of wired Apple earbuds for me to help drown out my room mate and allow me some isolated entertainment. Listening to some old favourites on Spotify had my spine tingling! Not only was I reliving the music but hearing details I'd missed for years. I was really happy with them and at AU$35, the best money spent on any sound equipment in some time for me. As for what I'm listening to being mastered for earbud listening, impossible really, I don't think I would have anything from this century in any p[aylist, only a couple of albums that I have added this year (one on the recommendation of an Audiophool reviewer of all people!).
 

jsrtheta

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When I was a kid, a phrase I'm beginning an embarrassing number of sentences with these days, most people had record players. A rectangular box with a record changer and an amp in it. People also had console units, sometimes incorporating a 21" TV. A few had hi-fi components. I've stuck with separate components since I bought some used mono stuff when I was 19. I'm guessing from what I see on this forum that one form or another of powered speakers is the most common these days. I'll admit shamefacedly to owning more bluetooth speakers than I am using currently although my main setup is passive speakers and an amp. My source is a Raspberry Pi that streams stuff from my NAS. I also watch TV on my tablet using the amp and speakers for sound fed from a USB DAC hooked up to the tablet.

Trust me. "When I was a kid" is becoming my middle name.

But, when I was a kid we had a Webcor record player with one speaker and one tube. In the basement. That was it.

Some years later, after my father had passed, someone gave my mother a big honkin' "console" with 12" speakers either end. But it was still mono.

Not a lot of HF, believe me. Got loud, though.
 
OP
Yorkshire Mouth

Yorkshire Mouth

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IMG_0642.jpeg
Some great points.

Apple earbuds do seem to be pretty good quality. However, I’ll guess that their popularity is little to do with that, and that they’d be as ubiquitous if they were relatively poor.

We used to have a music centre in the ‘70s - I’m not sure if that terminology was used in the States. Sort of turntable, amp radio and (possibly) cassette deck in a box, with external speakers.

I think they were most common in UK living rooms in the ‘70s. By the early ‘80s I had my own in my bedroom.
 

bodhi

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Apple earbuds do seem to be pretty good quality. However, I’ll guess that their popularity is little to do with that, and that they’d be as ubiquitous if they were relatively poor.
The headphones would need to be really, really bad to have an effect on sales when dealing with average customers. Most of headphones sold today are probably good enough.
 

Barrelhouse Solly

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Trust me. "When I was a kid" is becoming my middle name.

But, when I was a kid we had a Webcor record player with one speaker and one tube. In the basement. That was it.

Some years later, after my father had passed, someone gave my mother a big honkin' "console" with 12" speakers either end. But it was still mono.

Not a lot of HF, believe me. Got loud, though.
My folks got a Magnavox console with a radio and record changer in the late 40s. It had a 12" electromagnetic speaker. It was a nice piece of furniture. When they retired it in the mid 60s I gutted it and put my hifi stuff in it--amp, preamp, and turntable.
 

dasdoing

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I wonder if this, in turn, has any impact on how it’s mixed and mastered.

yes and no, they allways mixed with small devices in mind. you can hear the bass drum of Billy Jean on any device for example.
but in some pop genres heavily distorted bass became a thing, and that is probably the reason
 

Zapper

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It wasn’t all that long ago that most people will have listened to most of their music on a traditional ‘hi-fi’, though how ‘hi’ the ‘fi’ was is, of course, another matter. Most living rooms in the UK will have had some sort of micro system, or similar.

The only other form of listening which large numbers of people will have used will have been the car stereo, or a transistor radio, maybe in the work place.
Boomboxes were very popular. But the Walkman in 1979 created the mobile hifi market. Walkman morphed into Discman, then MP3 players, then iPods, then iPhones. So it's been 44 years since mobile devices have been a primary means of music listening for many people.

When I was in college in the early 1980's many of the boys had a modest component stereo, with a ~30W receiver, turntable, and a pair of small acoustic suspension bookshelf speakers. A few had bigger more impressive systems. Very few of the girls had a component system, preferring a compact hifi system.
I suspect most music these days will be heard from either earbuds, or Sonos-style speakers.

I wonder if this, in turn, has any impact on how it’s mixed and mastered.
None of my 3 sons has a hifi system. Two have small rechargeable bluetooth speakers, and one has a small Edifier R1280 speaker pair. This seems typical for the 20-somethings today.

I was amused when one young reviewer described the Edifier S2000 Pro (small self-powered monitor speakers with 5.5" woofers) as "huge", "massive", "real units". So it must seem for someone who has never used anything bigger than a portable bluetooth speaker!

That said these small speakers often sound better than those compact hifis did back in the day, thanks to class-D amplification, DSP, and modern speaker technology. And there is no comparison between today's premium earbuds and the tinny sound from the Walkman type headphones.

Given that most people today listen on equipment that is much superior to what most people listened to in the heyday of hifi, I doubt that trends in music production reflect the playback equipment of the end user. I think the abundance of new technologies and techniques available to the recording engineer or producer is the driving factor. The possibilities for manipulation and synthesis of sound were not imagined 40 or 50 years ago.
 

jsrtheta

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View attachment 296442Some great points.

Apple earbuds do seem to be pretty good quality. However, I’ll guess that their popularity is little to do with that, and that they’d be as ubiquitous if they were relatively poor.

We used to have a music centre in the ‘70s - I’m not sure if that terminology was used in the States. Sort of turntable, amp radio and (possibly) cassette deck in a box, with external speakers.

I think they were most common in UK living rooms in the ‘70s. By the early ‘80s I had my own in my bedroom.
Ubiquitous doesn't begin to cover it. I began to think every college dorm room came with one.

Well, maybe not at Harvard. But everywhere else.
 

egellings

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I work with two 24 year old guys who listen to music from their phone to a powered speaker. Neither one has a stereo system at home.
I think that portability is a big draw for young music listeners. Nobody wants to be tethered to a chair between a stereo pair of speakers, even if, with the good equipment, can generate a better listening experience. Imaging is a nothingburger. Also, the little earbuds can sound darn good, too. Oh, and slap me; I'm a boomer who listens to a stereo in a living room.
 

Owl

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I think part of the resurgence of LP's a few years ago came from young people finally hearing a decent set-up, compared to MP3 files and ear buds. Any half way decent phono stage and turn table could beat that.
 

Sequitur

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All digital, all streaming. Outside is bluetooth over-the-ear-headphones connected to iPhone. Movies, TV connected to 5.1 system + headphones. Office is desktop Mac + wired headphones + usb Dragonfly. Zero physical media (no turntable, no records, no CDs, no cassettes, zero), never buying it.
 
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