Why is music so much better LOUD?

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LetsRecapVintageHIFI

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I had 2 PSW300's before. I blew one of them out and gave the other to my stepdad. Now I have 3 subs all with 12" drivers. They are all different. The linchpin is the SVS SB12-NSD which has an STA-400D Bash amp in it. This thing does all bass well and resides in the front left position. For movies this sub rattles everything in the house and really is the only thing necessary, but it is not quite as good for music. The other cheaper units are a BIC PL-200 and a Velodyne CHT12. These are both great for music, not so much for movies. They are side by side facing the back wall of the room on the left side about 3 feet out from the back wall. All 3 subs have different characteristics which I believe with bass is better than having all the same subs which would have all the same benefits and shortcomings amplified. They complement each other. Everything just seems to fill in with the 3 different subs. Bass is the same anywhere in my 17 x 12 foot room. And yes, if I want I can have skeleton shaking bass all the time but for music I adjust the volumes so that the bass sounds like a bass guitar or whatever is creating the bass. The volumes on the subs range from 1/4 on the volume knob to 1/2 depending on the sub. That's the other benefit, you don't have to overdrive the subs. Anyway, just what I have found.
I like the approach of different sub models, to introduce variation between the fadelity
I had 2 PSW300's before. I blew one of them out and gave the other to my stepdad. Now I have 3 subs all with 12" drivers. They are all different. The linchpin is the SVS SB12-NSD which has an STA-400D Bash amp in it. This thing does all bass well and resides in the front left position. For movies this sub rattles everything in the house and really is the only thing necessary, but it is not quite as good for music. The other cheaper units are a BIC PL-200 and a Velodyne CHT12. These are both great for music, not so much for movies. They are side by side facing the back wall of the room on the left side about 3 feet out from the back wall. All 3 subs have different characteristics which I believe with bass is better than having all the same subs which would have all the same benefits and shortcomings amplified. They complement each other. Everything just seems to fill in with the 3 different subs. Bass is the same anywhere in my 17 x 12 foot room. And yes, if I want I can have skeleton shaking bass all the time but for music I adjust the volumes so that the bass sounds like a bass guitar or whatever is creating the bass. The volumes on the subs range from 1/4 on the volume knob to 1/2 depending on the sub. That's the other benefit, you don't have to overdrive the subs. Anyway, just what I have found.
I had 2 PSW300's before. I blew one of them out and gave the other to my stepdad. Now I have 3 subs all with 12" drivers. They are all different. The linchpin is the SVS SB12-NSD which has an STA-400D Bash amp in it. This thing does all bass well and resides in the front left position. For movies this sub rattles everything in the house and really is the only thing necessary, but it is not quite as good for music. The other cheaper units are a BIC PL-200 and a Velodyne CHT12. These are both great for music, not so much for movies. They are side by side facing the back wall of the room on the left side about 3 feet out from the back wall. All 3 subs have different characteristics which I believe with bass is better than having all the same subs which would have all the same benefits and shortcomings amplified. They complement each other. Everything just seems to fill in with the 3 different subs. Bass is the same anywhere in my 17 x 12 foot room. And yes, if I want I can have skeleton shaking bass all the time but for music I adjust the volumes so that the bass sounds like a bass guitar or whatever is creating the bass. The volumes on the subs range from 1/4 on the volume knob to 1/2 depending on the sub. That's the other benefit, you don't have to overdrive the subs. Anyway, just what I have found.
I can completely relate to the room being full of sub frequency. When I added my 2nd sub, that was I will never go back to one sub again moment.

I would like to experience different sub manufacturers models because I think you are onto something, with reference to the different characteristics. Having three different MFG / models to supplement for each other, sounds legit.

When I step up from Stereo to QUAD, that is when the 3rd and 4th sub was intergrated into the system. I'm listening to analog QUAD and each sub suppliments a channel. (I'm not an analog snob, I do have an DAC AVR for movies, SACD, etc..) The Polk SDA-1C and Monitor 10 only have passive subs, adding the powered subs to each enables discreet volume and crossover control (just like you are doing) that supplements the passive Polk's.

The title "Why is music so much better LOUD?" and your 99% got me all AMPPED up and believing that possiblity I might be in the 1%, so I mention SPL and skeleton rattle, I knew your SPL is right up there too.

I typically only Rock Arena (100-110db) one or two songs a day, otherwise I'm listening at moderate 80-90db SPL.

Ken
 

Guy Robinson

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I like the approach of different sub models, to introduce variation between the fadelity



I can completely relate to the room being full of sub frequency. When I added my 2nd sub, that was I will never go back to one sub again moment.

I would like to experience different sub manufacturers models because I think you are onto something, with reference to the different characteristics. Having three different MFG / models to supplement for each other, sounds legit.

When I step up from Stereo to QUAD, that is when the 3rd and 4th sub was intergrated into the system. I'm listening to analog QUAD and each sub suppliments a channel. (I'm not an analog snob, I do have an DAC AVR for movies, SACD, etc..) The Polk SDA-1C and Monitor 10 only have passive subs, adding the powered subs to each enables discreet volume and crossover control (just like you are doing) that supplements the passive Polk's.

The title "Why is music so much better LOUD?" and your 99% got me all AMPPED up and believing that possiblity I might be in the 1%, so I mention SPL and skeleton rattle, I knew your SPL is right up there too.

I typically only Rock Arena (100-110db) one or two songs a day, otherwise I'm listening at moderate 80-90db SPL.

Ken
My usual is 80db but I do as you have those moments of crank it to 11.
 

LetsRecapVintageHIFI

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dB means relative to another level. It is like saying that driving a car at 70%. 70% of what? So, in this case 60 dB relative to what?
SPL (Sound Pressure Level)
dB is in reference to sound pressure levels.

I'm using 4 different SPL measurement devices.
My original 1994 Radio Shack SPL meter, tired and true. Plus my samsung notepad & cell phone with SPL APPs and modern era MINIDSP UMK-1 Measurement Microphone sourced into MACBOOK Pro with REW Software. All devices reporting ~equivalant SPL.

This picture is not of my personal QUAD system. It's a vintage Kenwood Receiver that I most recently repaired the AMP. I'm testing the performance after repairing the AMP. Prior to repair the receiver would go into Protection mode, shutting off the AMP and speakers output at low SPL levels. Now it is Rock and Rolling again at 90+dB SPL!
 

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Soundfield

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SPL (Sound Pressure Level)
dB is in reference to sound pressure levels.
Sort of.
You need to specify what your 0dB reference (p0) is.
For SPL measurements this is usually 20uPa (approximately the threshold of hearing).
SPL is then given by : 20 log10 p1/p0
Of course you must also specify the weighting curve you have used.
 

Guy Robinson

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Thanks I have some research to do, expand my knowledge on this unit of measure and report out at an Engineer level. Thank you, ken
Good. Too much work for me. I just listen and go for a reference level. That is 80 on the SPM that I use. All things being equal I always got that 80 as a peak. It could be 75 or 78 or 85 but who cares. It's the volume I like it at.
 

LetsRecapVintageHIFI

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Yes good to gain knowledge. Within my bubble, I have my original SPL meter, that I have used as my gold standard. Fast forward several decades, it is nice to see more modern SPL results equal. Measure results remaining align over decades it always.a good thing. And my methods, without all the Engineer baseline standards, are in accordance with layman's directions afforded by Receiver sales user manuals. Example, set up you SPL at your favorite seating location, play your pink noise each channel, adjust SPL to 70, etc...

Ken
 

Guy Robinson

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Yes good to gain knowledge. Within my bubble, I have my original SPL meter, that I have used as my gold standard. Fast forward several decades, it is nice to see more modern SPL results equal. Measure results remaining align over decades it always.a good thing. And my methods, without all the Engineer baseline standards, are in accordance with layman's directions afforded by Receiver sales user manuals. Example, set up you SPL at your favorite seating location, play your pink noise each channel, adjust SPL to 70, etc...

Ken
I have always set my systems up by ear.
 

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Quite simply, the closer to live listening levels, the better. I mean, Led Zeppelin never played at 60 dB and actually, no live performance is ever that quiet. Heck that's just normal conversation level.

Doug
Yes. While I was playing Dunkirk in the theater, wifey opened the door and shouted "You are shaking the HOUSE!"
Had to explain to her that there was a war on and I was trying to be realistic! Now if I could just figure out how to waft a little gunpowder smoke in there? My two 18 inch Gauss subs needed a little exercise!
 

LetsRecapVintageHIFI

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As a drummer, I am used to repeated exposure to a wide range of SPLs, not only from my drums, but also the amplified instruments in close proximity. I believe that the two best ways to enjoy listening to music are either to be in a good seat at a live performance, or to be in the practice room or recording studio with the band.

I don’t know the science or psychology of it, but there’s got to be a big difference in any lasting physiological impact between prolonged exposure to loud chaotic industrial noise vs listening to ones’ favorite music, even if at the same SPLs. The brain pleasurably anticipates each next note in music as reassuringly as an unborn baby experiences it’s mother’s next heartbeat inches away in the womb.

For as long as I can remember, I've been immersed in dangerously loud shop environments, or at the race track, from air impact tools, compressed air blow-guns, 20Lb sledgehammers knocking pivot pins in or out of radius rod beams etc., so I must wear passive noise isolation cups or active noise canceling ear protection to save my hearing.

Since elevated music playback volume is the central topic here, let’s take a step back to the live performance, having been recorded and saved somehow to be enjoyed later, presumably and faithfully duplicating the artist/s intended musical product back to the listener, hopefully, in very close to its original form regarding sound quality and volume.
A HiFi system is just a “sound reproducer”, better ones do a more perfect job of it.
Acoustic guitar with a vocal accompaniment suggests an appropriate volume setting on your HiFi, whereas Led Zeppelin might be a LOT louder, but how much louder?

I went to see Lenny White (Chick Corea’s drummer) with Twennynine, who opened for Tower Of Power, LW was amazing in concert, but after a few minutes of T.O.P. with speakers stacked floor to ceiling and across the entire width of the stage, I had to walk out, it was far too brutally loud! I always love their music and it hurt my heart to leave, but I knew I might have permanent ear damage if I stayed. I was pressing those little fleshy flaps over my ear canal with my thumbs and still couldn’t bear the ludicrous SPLs.
My main system can accurately reproduce those same T.O.P. concert sound pressure levels, but I never ever crank it up that loud, all this ‘overkill’ is only here to provide ample headroom for the odd transient spike, so none of my expensive stuff gets hurt or produces painful distortion caused by low power amps, line level source delivery deficiencies or from inadequate speakers.

I’ve never been much of a ‘rocker’ more of a ‘jazzer’, but I also love Bossa, Latin, Fusion, World, Funk, Soul, NeoSoul, Acid Jazz, R&B, Blue Grass, Classical, Lounge/Chill/Electronica, Blues, etc., but any of it has to be played back at it’s full original performance SPLs for my to really and truly enjoy it. Listening at very quiet levels is a very different experience for me, and when quiet levels are required, I still enjoy the hell out of it, but still,,, it is a different experience than when listening at full original volume.
It is axiomatic that music played at much lower volume can not have the same dynamic range as when played louder.

In a playback setup I like a functionally silent noise floor, with an accurate and killer dynamic range which is faithful to the actual live performance much more so than listening to an audiophile’s polite vinyl / tube amp / playback rig in a perfect room, and carefully positioned in the magical sweet spot chair. If they are the same sonically, I am equally happy with both!!!

Note: the ONLY thing I’ve EVER experienced as loud as that T.O.P. concert was during my years at the race track working around top fuel dragsters, standing at the starting line just a few feet behind two top fuel race cars when they launch .... YIKES!!!!! That sound instantly and violently transforms your time space continuum, even if it only lasts 3 seconds! Wow!, I’m starting to think of all the damage I must’ve done to myself, because while these two T/F cars stage at the tree, the air becomes saturated with nitromethane to the point your eyes are burning and it’s hard to breath without coughing and choking.
I completely agree with "to be in practice room or recording studio."

And to put this agreement into perspective... Reflecting on my first person QUAD learning experience. I have a copy of Tres Hombres QUAD 8-track. I enjoyed listening to this release in QUAD, but just like all my other QUAD listen experience, my subconscious or cognitive perspective of the QUAD sound stage was strange, I couldn't comprehend my location as it relates to the physical stage. For comparison, when listening in Stereo, we can all envision an image, sitting center stage, front row looking forward into center band stage performance. But with QUAD that life long Stereo learned experience corrolation between the listener and the performance is completely broken down and reconstructed, for example the placement of guitar in Rear Left channel only(???). I couldn't comprehend what was going on in the Engineers mind, when the QUAD mastered was being developed. I just sat and listen to QUAD and could not develop a construct of what was in front of me.

Then I watched a documentary, ZZ TOP That Little Ol Band From Texas. The band jams during the documentary in GRUENE HALL.
I could then see their "practice room" setting and that was the moment it all came together.

I listened to Tres Hombres after the documentary. I was now "sitting" inside the center of ZZ Top durimg a jam session, in their practice room environment vs. Stereo at a concert environment. This QUAD experience was as if I had personal invitation to visit ZZ TOP during their practice session of master perfected performance level. I felt special on the planet earth that day. I have a lot of old QUAD to go back through now, with this new personal placement realization. Ken
 

Titch

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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
Oh for goodness sake people, 114 responses and not one which brings up neural transmitters? The louder and more pleasurable, the more dopamine flows. But it has to be stuff you dig. Can't put on Motörhead for Granny and expect her to get the same eargasm as when she listens to Pavarotti.

Further reading for anyone remotely interested:
 

ar surround

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Doug G.

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Oh for goodness sake people, 114 responses and not one which brings up neural transmitters? The louder and more pleasurable, the more dopamine flows. But it has to be stuff you dig. Can't put on Motörhead for Granny and expect her to get the same eargasm as when she listens to Pavarotti.

Further reading for anyone remotely interested:
And, that reminds me of an article I read many years ago in some science magazine. At the dawn of super loud rock, it was assumed that all the purveyors of said rock would suffer major hearing loss. There were/are undoubtedly cases like that but there hasn't been wholesale devastation as was predicted.

The article author proposed that it all has to do with how agreeable a loud sound is to the listener as to whether his/her receptors in the ear are damaged or not. Listening to loud music is NOT the same as, say, listening to a jackhammer or a jet engine at close range. Irritating noises cause muscles around the receptors to contract, damaging tissues. Agreeable or pleasurable sounds do not cause that.

I agree.

Doug
 

Titch

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And, that reminds me of an article I read many years ago in some science magazine. At the dawn of super loud rock, it was assumed that all the purveyors of said rock would suffer major hearing loss. There were/are undoubtedly cases like that but there hasn't been wholesale devastation as was predicted.

The article author proposed that it all has to do with how agreeable a loud sound is to the listener as to whether his/her receptors in the ear are damaged or not. Listening to loud music is NOT the same as, say, listening to a jackhammer or a jet engine at close range. Irritating noises cause muscles around the receptors to contract, damaging tissues. Agreeable or pleasurable sounds do not cause that.

I agree.

Doug
Dr Titch back here again - the stereocilia in the cochlea in the inner ear break off at prolonged exposure to certain decibel levels. I promise you, it makes no difference whatsoever how agreeable the sound is. You'll fry your eardrums blasting AC/DC at 110 decibels, just ask Brian Johnson, Pete Townsound, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Ozzy, Phil Collins, Brian Wilson and every other musician whose ears are shot. Also applies to classical musicians.

Further reading
 

Soundfield

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And, that reminds me of an article I read many years ago in some science magazine.
The article author proposed that it all has to do with how agreeable a loud sound is to the listener as to whether his/her receptors in the ear are damaged or not. Listening to loud music is NOT the same as, say, listening to a jackhammer or a jet engine at close range. Irritating noises cause muscles around the receptors to contract, damaging tissues. Agreeable or pleasurable sounds do not cause that.
I hope the 'science' magazine was sued for irresponsible reporting.
 
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