Maybe 10 years ago I noticed that when I cleaned house my stereo started to sound better. Audiophiles have known for years that with dim lights or no lights on that the hearing perception is increased. If you know anyone that is deaf you will realize they have an increase in sight details. The human mind will overcompensate for a lost sense.
Manufactures know people see value in the fit and finish of a component. There is also the ongoing debate about how people believe their systems sound better when they can see the change of components, weather there is a sound quality increase or not. With all the testing and inventing it seems the study of vision in relationship to audio gear is unimportant at Head-Fi.
You always read about subtle improvements as being substantial changes when we start to really tweak our gear. We are always critical about the placebo effect smearing our understanding of audiophile truth. So for a moment let’s all agree that our listening environment plays a factor in our perception of sound. Let’s not argue that the percentage is this or that. We all know a clean desk can help some people get their work done easier. We all know a quite environment with fewer distractions can create a better level of concentration for some. Why is it that some work better with a messy desk? How is it that some folks perform better in a loud confusing environment?
Could it be that some folks may have a better understanding of audio information in a light blue room but not in total darkness? I feel that other than gear, the visual listening environment holds the key to audio perception. We find little if any technology on the subject anywhere. Why?
So maybe much of it is common sense. If your listening area is special then your life experience with recorded music is going to be special. So the facts are it really doesn’t have to be in a listening room at all. With the advances in portable audio we now have members listening to musical passages at the top of mountains with much of the sonic quality of the best home headphone rigs. Could a special place with a marginal headphone rig out perform a better rig in a bad environment? I choose to guess so!
Most of Head-Fi would agree with the above statements even though we are now talking about a territory very hard to test or prove. There is an area here which is not scientific in ways and yet has been studied by science and is a valid concept in the area of music perception.
Could something as simple as cable organization and the visual ramifications of the look have a major improvement in a system sound? Could a simple glass of beer have the same effect on listeners? The study of these parameters has been used ad infinitum by marketing companies. Somehow we at Head-Fi would rather see a small graph curve change as proof in better sound but disregard the roll of visual components as improvements in the perception of music.
The importance of this field is under played at Head-Fi. Yes, we have threads like……. post a photo of your listening area, but have you ever read a thread called……….. Increase the enjoyment of music through your listening areas? For many this will end up being the final frontier, the final tweak to getting the perfect system together. The lucky part is if we are strictly dealing with headphones we really need not worry about room treatments. If we are only dealing with headphones we need not build a superior sonic room structure to get to our goals. Could repainting a room do more for our system than a new DAC? Much of this information could be common sense. I feel it is an area of need in research and development. I guess after tests the manufactures found that a certain look seemed to improve the public’s reception to amps in a certain price point. What do we really know about room arrangement, lighting and color as an improvement in headphone music reproduction? Then again maybe this is too wide a field, now we are seeing culture, personal style and trends come into the equation.
Still I wonder if a headphone rig in the center of a light orange room with dim lighting could be better sounding than the same rig at the corner of a light blue room with different lighting. I feel that even after the personal differences between listeners that there will be profound physiological factors affecting the listener on both conscious and unconscious levels. Our understanding of the interaction of these factors can revolutionize the power in which we hold over the headphone listening environment enjoyment and the final listening enjoyment we receive from this hobby.
Edited by Redcarmoose - 7/30/11 at 6:47am