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I wonder how most people listen to music these days

bodhi

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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.
Good <$100 earbuds have better sound quality than most stereo systems.
Nobody is listening to mp3 files, it's 2023.
Vinyl? Oh well, let's not go there.
 

egellings

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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.
Part of the draw of turntables is their fiddly nature. You have to get the arm attached correctly and the cartridge aligned, styli wear out, records need cleaning and careful handling, among other infelicities. It's like the little puppy that occasionally piddles on the carpet. Yor are willing to put up with it. Thing is, if that's your cuppa tea, the setup can sound quite good. If not, then simply pass the whole enterprise by. Of course, if portability is important, then vinyl is a no-go. Digital formats ace that.
 

Pretorious

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Here I am, my hi-fi system disconnected due to flooding that we had, listening to a Bose portable smart speaker that the wife and I bought for around the house. This thing sounds remarkably good, if not flat out excellent, depending on placement. The bass is prominent, which I have grown to really enjoy.

I can absolutely see the majority of people buying something like this and being thoroughly satisfied; they would get most of the way towards accurate sound, to the point where most wouldn't even be bothered to make up the difference, nor would they likely even notice. I know that's how I'm feeling right now. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to last the next few weeks without the main system as we repair the flood damage. But I am well-satisfied with this, even pleasantly so. Add to the pure convenience factor and it's no wonder listening habits have shifted away from the dedicated hi-fi system of the past.

I am always reminded in these situations of the scenes in Star Trek: TNG where one of the crew would be listening to music. You never see speakers or any other equipment. Presumably, in the future, the transducers would be hidden and sound would emanate from everywhere, or would fill the room from few sources built with advanced technology. We're getting ever closer, fellas.
 

MacCali

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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.
I think there are some differences clearly. However in my experience with the pandemic and listening to music with no end in sight. The only differences I see are only between live recordings and studio. The other differences are very toned down across studio tracks, as in you can hear it but it doesn’t stand out like a live recording presentation.

But hey maybe my systems aren’t resolving enough to tell. Speakers wise that is, my main listening systems weakest link is a NAD M23 and I’m not even sure if you can say that’s weak
 

Mean & Green

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I think most people hear music rather than listen to it.

It’s a background secondary activity for most people.
 
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Yorkshire Mouth

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I think most people hear music rather than listen to it.

It’s a background secondary activity for most people.

I agree, but hadn’t that always been the case? And (puts on crash helmet) is there anything wrong with that? I grew up on building sites (my dad was a plasterer), and every team working would have a transistor radio (mono, tinny) tuned into Radio One (UK top 40 radio).

Pop music as background noise is more than valid experience.
 
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Mean & Green

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I agree, but hadn’t that always been the case? And (puts on crash helmet) is there anything wrong with that? I grew up on building sites (my dad was a plasterer), and every team working would have a transistor radio (mono, tinny) tuned into Radio One (UK top 40 radio).

Pop music as background noise is more than valid experience.
To some extent yes it has always been the case, especially when it comes to radio listening. But back when music was something that had to be purchased from a store and physically handled in order to play it at home if you wanted to choose what you were going to listen to, there was more chance of the mass population actually taking time to listen and carefully select what they listened to.

At one time almost every home had a stereo system of some kind taking up a decent footprint in the living room.

Today it is niche to play a physical album, most homes now no longer have a stereo system of any kind. The whole world of music is now at everyone’s disposal at the touch of a screen to be played instantly with no effort and no real thought. Most of the time music is played over a phone speaker or a single Bluetooth speaker, or while out for jog or whatever.

Most people can’t even put their phone down for 5 minutes today, everyone is consumed by apps and social media whatever they are doing and wherever they happen to be. Music I think will be even more of a background thing now than it ever has been. I’m not saying there is necessarily anything wrong with it, it’s just my thoughts on the topic in question.
 
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Yorkshire Mouth

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To some extent yes it has always been the case, especially when it comes to radio listening. But back when music was something that had to be purchased from a store and physically handled in order to play it at home if you wanted to choose what you were going to listen to, there was more chance of the mass population actually taking time to listen and carefully select what they listened to.

At one time almost every home had a stereo system of some kind taking up a decent footprint in the living room.

Today it is niche to play a physical album, most homes now no longer have a stereo system of any kind. The whole world of music is now at everyone’s disposal at the touch of a screen to be played instantly with no effort and no real thought. Most of the time music is played over a phone speaker or a single Bluetooth speaker, or while out for jog or whatever.

Most people can’t even put their phone down for 5 minutes today, everyone is consumed by apps and social media whatever they are doing and wherever they happen to be. Music I think will be even more of a background thing now than it ever has been. I’m not saying there is necessarily anything wrong with it, it’s just my thoughts on the topic in question.

To be fair, I think most old ‘hi-fi’s (most were mini systems or similar) have been replaced with smart speakers, Sonos, etc., rather than the room’s ‘music machine’ disappearing altogether.

How has the move to from physical product to streaming impacted on listening? Very tough to say. I suspect you’re largely correct, but I’m not completely sure.

I’m a big believer that providers should make more of displays. Yes, it’s a shame we’ve lost gatefold sleeves, etc. But many listen to music with a TV on, and there’s a golden opportunity for the albums of today (and even catalogue items) to have excellent accompanying visuals on a 55”+ TV screen. I don’t feel they’ve tried too hard to tap the potential.

Lyrics on the app are a fair start, but come on, there could be so much more.
 

Mean & Green

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To be fair, I think most old ‘hi-fi’s (most were mini systems or similar) have been replaced with smart speakers, Sonos, etc., rather than the room’s ‘music machine’ disappearing altogether.

How has the move to from physical product to streaming impacted on listening? Very tough to say. I suspect you’re largely correct, but I’m not completely sure.

I’m a big believer that providers should make more of displays. Yes, it’s a shame we’ve lost gatefold sleeves, etc. But many listen to music with a TV on, and there’s a golden opportunity for the albums of today (and even catalogue items) to have excellent accompanying visuals on a 55”+ TV screen. I don’t feel they’ve tried too hard to tap the potential.

Lyrics on the app are a fair start, but come on, there could be so much more.
I agree the streaming interface could be so much better than it is. A thumbnail of an album cover just doesn’t cut it, your suggestion of including the lyrics and album art and presenting them in such a way in which they can be un zipped so to speak is a good one.
 

Head_Unit

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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.
This is a really good point. Bluetooth speakers get a lot of criticism, but bass response aside the music is perhaps as clear or maybe more than old cheapie box speakers. And at modest volumes there's never much bass. I was just staying in an apartment in Bilbao-turntable (many of which back when were not great, cheap ceramic cartridges and bottom feeder preamp sections) with some vinyl, some kind of receiver, bookshelf speakers up high pointing at nothing in particular, set all the way back in the shelves. For the vast majority of people listening has always been background music.
 
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