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Why do music sound better when it's louder? - Page 2

post #16 of 22
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ANSWER

There is actually a scientific/biological reason as to why people enjoy loud music.
It is actually quite simple.

When music gets to a certain db level, it starts to affect the semicircular canals of your ears (the utricle and the saccule). These canals are filled with a liquid and the purpose of these canals is to provide you with information regarding your orientation/position (balance). So, if your on a roller coaster, or in a speeding car, the liquid within these canals start to move around. That information is sent to the brain, giving you the sensations respective to those experiences. Coupled with the element of fear, these sensations trigger endorphins (cause feelings of pleasure) in the brain. So, therefore, loud music can also get that liquid in the semicrcular canals moving, resulting in a roller-coaster-like experience. And that is why people like loud music!




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post #17 of 22
When I was in high school - in the 80s - I had a SoundDesign stereo (Kmart under a different name). I was wowed by the bells and whistles. I used to crank it as loud as I could get it. I never could understand why a friend of mine, a pharmacist, had a stereo with so much better bass and so much better sizzle in the treble. The answer turned out to be pretty simple: the tweeters were paper cones and the "woofers" were actually just wide-range speakers in a big box. I cranked that bad boy so I could hear the bass.

Today, I've got a system I put together one part at a time. I don't have anything fancy as far as the receiver is concerned but I've got Morel 33s and 55s for my tweeters and midrange, Aurum Cantus aluminum ribbons for my supertweeters, a couple of 15" woofers and a couple of 15" subwoofers, a 500-watt subwoofer amp and eight planar ribbon speakers as surrounds. It's not the most expensive system by any stretch of the imagination but I stopped when I did because, with the crossover I built, it's as clear as anything I've ever heard and has so much bass I intentionally tone it down. With both my tweeters dialed down with L-Pads and my bass at a fraction of what it could be, I've come to that point in loudspeaker audio where it's no longer about more, more, more.

This morning, my four-year-old daughter and I were watching Alvin and the Chipmunks (condolences freely accepted) and the bass was so pounding that I had to pull it back a little more. When I was a teenager, I never could have imagined such a scene. If anything, I'd have cranked the whole system up as loud as I could take it so I might hear more of what I craved. Now, it's there and I find myself turning things down.

Loud is fine. I like it louder than my wife, who is always worried about the neighbors. But sometimes, when people are cranking their headphones up, I think they're just repeating a behavior learned by using mediocre equipment. When things are "just right," you don't need to compensate with more, more, more.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilavideo View Post
When I was in high school - in the 80s - I had a SoundDesign stereo (Kmart under a different name). I was wowed by the bells and whistles. I used to crank it as loud as I could get it. I never could understand why a friend of mine, a pharmacist, had a stereo with so much better bass and so much better sizzle in the treble. The answer turned out to be pretty simple: the tweeters were paper cones and the "woofers" were actually just wide-range speakers in a big box. I cranked that bad boy so I could hear the bass.

Today, I've got a system I put together one part at a time. I don't have anything fancy as far as the receiver is concerned but I've got Morel 33s and 55s for my tweeters and midrange, Aurum Cantus aluminum ribbons for my supertweeters, a couple of 15" woofers and a couple of 15" subwoofers, a 500-watt subwoofer amp and eight planar ribbon speakers as surrounds. It's not the most expensive system by any stretch of the imagination but I stopped when I did because, with the crossover I built, it's as clear as anything I've ever heard and has so much bass I intentionally tone it down. With both my tweeters dialed down with L-Pads and my bass at a fraction of what it could be, I've come to that point in loudspeaker audio where it's no longer about more, more, more.

This morning, my four-year-old daughter and I were watching Alvin and the Chipmunks (condolences freely accepted) and the bass was so pounding that I had to pull it back a little more. When I was a teenager, I never could have imagined such a scene. If anything, I'd have cranked the whole system up as loud as I could take it so I might hear more of what I craved. Now, it's there and I find myself turning things down.

Loud is fine. I like it louder than my wife, who is always worried about the neighbors. But sometimes, when people are cranking their headphones up, I think they're just repeating a behavior learned by using mediocre equipment. When things are "just right," you don't need to compensate with more, more, more.
If you pump up the volume on a mediocre system, then it doesn't technically sound better. People perceive it to be better. The question is, why do they perceive better sound quality. And that is for a completely biological reason.
post #19 of 22
Real life music volume is often deafening, I think that's why I often itch to raise the volume on my higher fidelity gear while I never raise the volume on my mp3 player.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by The-One View Post
There's something else as well. When I turn the music up loud on my speaker and subwoofer system, the soundstage seems to improve. It's kind of like a wall of sound, completely enveloping you and blocking out everything else. It just sounds and feels more immersive.

However, I am nearly never tempted to turn up my custom iems very loud. Make of that what you will.
That's because integrated/powered speaker systems are made to be played louder. Sound systems have ideal ranges. For instance on my set-up with my A900s with my favorite dance track I'll have my volume knob at about 25%. But with my HD25s, since they have more bass, I can turn them up to like 30% and they sound better because of the sound stage. But with my favorite ambient track, my A900s sound a little better at 27%.

I can't get that booming sound with my A900s, but I can almost move my organs with my HD25s and my studio monitors.

Live rock/disco shows almost always sound better loud because you want that music to move you. Especially concerning guitar amplifiers that totally change sound when turned up.
post #21 of 22
It's not the equipment and it's not biology. It's the visceral nature of the music and the public's cheap tastes - sort of the sonic equivalent of eating at McDonald's where salt and fat are flavors.

Go to a classical concert. The music has to be heard but it's not like it's cranked up to ear-splitting levels. Loud is the fat and salt of the music world. When you're selling excitement to people Who just want to have a good time, trough rules apply. Groups like Rush and ELO were known for more contemplative concerts where the audience was doing more listening. I've been to other concerts where the volume was made to compensate for a lack of other qualities, just sheer volume to shock and thrill where the instrumentation and arrangements were otherwise lacking. As a general rule, the louder the music, the less respected and expected of both. The band and the audience. It's like drowning your dinner in hot sauce. If you have to do that, how good could it be?
post #22 of 22
Orchestras are really loud at close proximity, louder than rock bands if you discount the loudspeakers. Damage to the ears is not uncommon to orchestra musicians, they would do well to heed your warning against hot sauce.
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