Why is music so much better LOUD?

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JonUrban

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It seems to be universal. When you hear a great tune, you want to CRANK IT UP! I listen a lot in the car, and many times I've gone somewhere, parked, done my thing then got back in the car and the tunes come on and they're blasting and I think "Man, that was loud", but when I got out of the car it didn't seem that way to me. No wonder why I can't hear like I used to.

But really, all through my years most everyone I've known has loved to crank up their tunes. It's the same music, the same song, but why does it sound so much better LOUD? And why does it turn out that it's not good for you. Another one of life's little bite backs!

Comments? :SG

loud.jpg
 

aludra

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That is a problem for even the best recording engineers as well...You should always mix music at very low volumes to get a more accurate representation of the mix...but the temptation to crank it up is always there because its so much fun and it sounds so good!! :)
 

4-earredwonder

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It seems to be universal. When you hear a great tune, you want to CRANK IT UP! I listen a lot in the car, and many times I've gone somewhere, parked, done my thing then got back in the car and the tunes come on and they're blasting and I think "Man, that was loud", but when I got out of the car it didn't seem that way to me. No wonder why I can't hear like I used to.

But really, all through my years most everyone I've known has loved to crank up their tunes. It's the same music, the same song, but why does it sound so much better LOUD? And why does it turn out that it's not good for you. Another one of life's little bite backs!

Comments? :SG

View attachment 47071
I used to play my music [and movies] LOUD but over the years with better electronics, speakers, etc., I've learned to play it at more moderate levels ... and it actually sounds BETTER.

Unless you have those uber powerful amps, playing music LOUD over receivers tends to distort the harmonics and what you think sounds GREAT is actually distortion.

And as we do get on in years, LOUDER will only wreck your 'delicate' hearing which like your lungs will NEVER REGENERATE. And being hard of hearing just ain't SEXY! HUH?????

See the source image
 
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mrcond

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I don’t know the scientific explanation, but I experience the same thing. I start at moderate volumes, and little by little find myself nudging up the volume as my ears and brain adjust. Like they need to warm up first. And then you need to get louder and louder to feel the necessary stimulation. But I try and be smart about it and set some limits. I’d like to still be able to hear as I get older.

Also, there is no doubt the bass impact takes hold as volume increases. At low volumes, just not enough bass to satisfy. I think that’s why they invented loudness buttons (or bass boost).
 

JonUrban

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...... But I try and be smart about it and set some limits. I’d like to still be able to hear as I get older....
Old Man Rant Alert:

This is a serious point for you all to think about. I found out a year or so ago that although I can hear fine in my left ear, I lost the ability to hear high frequencies in it that I can still hear in my right. It's something that will creep up on you as you get older and you may not (I didn't) notice it because your other ear does all of the work on the highs. But, what I found out with some Google'ing is that once that high frequency hearing is gone, there is nothing you can do to get it back. Nothing. No hearing aid, no operation, no hocus pocus, once it's gone, it's gone. Pretty scary stuff.

So, if somewhere in your job you pass over hearing protection because you don't think it matters to YOU, think again. It matters. That's why it's there. You're not being macho by passing it up.

Alright, now back to the fun stuff..................
 

marpow

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Old Man Rant Alert:

This is a serious point for you all to think about. I found out a year or so ago that although I can hear fine in my left ear, I lost the ability to hear high frequencies in it that I can still hear in my right. It's something that will creep up on you as you get older and you may not (I didn't) notice it because your other ear does all of the work on the highs. But, what I found out with some Google'ing is that once that high frequency hearing is gone, there is nothing you can do to get it back. Nothing. No hearing aid, no operation, no hocus pocus, once it's gone, it's gone. Pretty scary stuff.

So, if somewhere in your job you pass over hearing protection because you don't think it matters to YOU, think again. It matters. That's why it's there. You're not being macho by passing it up.

Alright, now back to the fun stuff..................
I totally agree with you Jon, after two hearing tests in the last 14 months, to get my baseline, my hearing at 64 is actually quite good, even in loud partys, etc. But my high frequency hearing especially in my right ear is significantly diminished. The hearing doctor told me the big problem is when conversation goes bad, now that's a real problem. I also agree with Ralphie, what I do is I might start off a little louder and after a few minutes I start turning it down and my brain equalizes the hearing and it does sound good. We are MCH listeners so we also have rear speakers blasting closer to our ears than the fronts, at least for me. I will always miss being shit faced drunk and having a blasting music system, but now that is for the younger folks.
 
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Circular Vibes

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I find as I get older that I still like to crank it at times but "cranked" ain't as "cranked" used to be. Nowadays I am still able to stay under my neighbours (and landlords) radar. I sure thought there was gonna be a major complaint when I played Queen's The Game a couple days ago and didn't realise where the volume was!
 

peterzach

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Old Man Rant Alert:

This is a serious point for you all to think about. I found out a year or so ago that although I can hear fine in my left ear, I lost the ability to hear high frequencies in it that I can still hear in my right. It's something that will creep up on you as you get older and you may not (I didn't) notice it because your other ear does all of the work on the highs. But, what I found out with some Google'ing is that once that high frequency hearing is gone, there is nothing you can do to get it back. Nothing. No hearing aid, no operation, no hocus pocus, once it's gone, it's gone. Pretty scary stuff.

So, if somewhere in your job you pass over hearing protection because you don't think it matters to YOU, think again. It matters. That's why it's there. You're not being macho by passing it up.

Alright, now back to the fun stuff..................
Jon, are you sure about highs lost forever as i think good hearing aids can help with loss of highs?
I have reduced highs in both ears and with hearing aids the highs are restored but I prefer actually to listen to music without hearing aids as maybe not the smartest thing to do but listening at louder volumes music sound's better to me than the digital manipulation of the hearing aids I use as they do restore the highs but as hearing aids amplify sound to the ears you need to listen way quieter which for me at least doesn't justify the trade off of hearing things acoustically what my ears can still hear properly at a moderate to louder setting on the amp.

For sure if I had a chance to tell my younger self to wear hearing protection for all work related,concert related and other noisy situations that I was subjected to over the years maybe I wouldn't have the highs missing today but it is what it is. I am glad to see many people from here that were much wiser than I in that respect so that you can enjoy a fuller listening spectrum. I should have had you guys as my concert going friends as everyone I went with never wore ear plugs so I never thought to bring some with.
 

JonUrban

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Jon, are you sure about highs lost forever as i think good hearing aids can help with loss of highs?
I have reduced highs in both ears and with hearing aids the highs are restored but I prefer actually to listen to music without hearing aids as maybe not the smartest thing to do but listening at louder volumes music sound's better to me than the digital manipulation of the hearing aids I use as they do restore the highs but as hearing aids amplify sound to the ears you need to listen way quieter which for me at least doesn't justify the trade off of hearing things acoustically what my ears can still hear properly at a moderate to louder setting on the amp.

For sure if I had a chance to tell my younger self to wear hearing protection for all work related,concert related and other noisy situations that I was subjected to over the years maybe I wouldn't have the highs missing today but it is what it is. I am glad to see many people from here that were much wiser than I in that respect so that you can enjoy a fuller listening spectrum. I should have had you guys as my concert going friends as everyone I went with never wore ear plugs so I never thought to bring some with.
That's what I read, but if it works for you then maybe I am wrong! (Who, me? :) )
I am very happy to stand corrected - but still advise being smart enough to use the hearing protection when needed. Especially around machinery, jet engines, etc.
 

watsontr

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We always bring earplugs to concerts.
I always wore earplugs when playing live. Playing through Marshall’s on stage and having high powered foldback I always thought it a necessity. At the time we would have minimum of a double four way out front with too many thousand watts on offer. I always thought the singer’s foldback way too loud and made a point of not getting on axis with it. I always liked a bit of volume but it seems that heavily compressed music on the verge of clipping, tires me and at times makes me feel uneasy/unwell. If you like loud music, buy a loud system. It shouldn’t be due to the decision of the mastering or engineer recording
 

aludra

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Hear! Hear!.......I absolutely DETEST heavily compressed audio...It hurts my head as well, because music is supposed to have dynamics...not Flat-lined loud...Oh well.. that argument is as old as the hills....... like me :)
 
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DennisMabry

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We always bring earplugs to concerts.
Yep!
Sometimes they are not needed. But when they are, I am so glad I have them. I have found that limited duration of exposure is the key. Keep the ear plugs in for the warm up band that is loud and distorting. Take them out for those songs you really want to hear from the headliner. If you leave and your ears are ringing, it was too loud for too long.
 

Mesozoic Mike

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Peaks of 85 to 90 db are my limits now. Sure wish they had been my limits in my younger days.
As a side note, often times ear wax can reduce one's hearing. I have that problem in my left ear. After wax removal by a professional, my high freq. response is markedly better.
 

ar surround

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Listening at 85dB+ will damage your hearing over time. Keep that average SPL below that and don’t do it for too long. (Advice from a retired power company man where EH&H was beaten into our brains 24/7, and rightfully so.)

And for heavens sake, use earplugs/muffs when running power equipment.

As for why music sound better cranked, yes that low compressed stuff really shows off it’s stuff at higher volumes. The cure is to play something like Tommy James Hanky Panky. That will make you lower the dBs!
 

ashr1565

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Actually, I feel this is a good time to bring this up - I'm very good about controlling volume when listening in stereo, but with quad and 5.1 and whatever I find myself often not noticing that it's too loud until after when I have a headache. It sounded low enough to me... Why?
 

Quadly McQuadmeister

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Cheese and crackers, folks. Facts matter. : - )

Feelings are subjective, but at the same time still relevant. Let's inject a little Science into the discussion.
Google the "Fletcher Munson" curve. Your hearing (and air, the liquid medium sound travels in-it, through evolution-shaped the way our ears evolved) is rolled off at both extremes (a "frowny face" on a graphic EQ) and is most sensitive (until you kill it by listening at 165dB for decades on end) at the center frequency range of around 1Khz. That's the neighborhood in which the Human voice resides. (It's also why most folks who have EQ's will default to the "smiley face" settings.) The more you turn the volume up, the more of the extremes (resultant harmonics in the natural series for highs) and subharmonics (the fundamentals upon which all Western Music is based) become more easily perceptible. Midrange is the easiest to reproduce (as evidenced in whizzer cone/transistor radio speakers) but it's also where our ears hear the lack of "whizzer cone" accuracy the most easily. Midrange isn't "hard" to create, it's just hard to create accurately because our ears will hear "bad things" when they "squawk". (Horns are particularly bad about this.) But highs and lows both are harder to hear and harder to create outright. If you don't get the middle right, listener fatigue gets to be "a thing" relatively quickly. But without clean extended highs (and lows) it lacks immediacy and visceral impact. None of its unimportant, but the bottom octave is the most expensive to get right and that pretty much requires dedicated subwoofers (STEREO pairs, no thanks to 80s disinformation marketing). Above about 10Khz, fundamentals become increasingly hard to hear. But if you take care of your hearing you should still be able to discern 16Khz as a pitch (or at least a tickle) in your ears. Those old enough to remember 17Khz squealing of CRT TV flyback transformers know what I'm talking about. As a kid, I used to hear certain pre-PIR detector department security systems in department stores squeal in ways that if you turned your head, your head would go in and out of phase with your physical location in the store. If you moved it would come and go. These things are "old hat" to Musicians (I'm a retired Musician/Teacher), and a little less "intuitive" to non-Musicians. But compression and other issues aren't as "insidious" to Music as the larger phenomenon that all Music is being relegated to "auditory wallpaper" status. People are no longer sitting and focusing on a recorded performance (with real dynamics LOUD and soft) because they no longer have time to dedicate to that "intellectual" (but NOT passive, it's just physically passive) pursuit. We are the keepers of that tradition. Loud isn't good just because it's loud. The Human nervous system CRAVES diversity of stimulus. The same thing repetitively inflicted on the Human Nervous system will cause our nervous system to "null it out" over time. True for smells (nose-blindness), true for visual stimulus (too many examples to cite here), and definitely true for hearing. It's not Rocket Science unless you dig into it, and then it can be. But most of us have the intuition to figure out we know why it's the way it is, just from our "life experience". Have a great weekend, everybody...
 
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