I Need Some Space

I bow at the feet of Jonathan Ive and the almighty iPod. It has changed the way I listen to music, mostly for the better. And as a New Yorker, I get to take my film music with me wherever I go while it blocks out most of the incessant hustle and bustle of the city. But there are times when I don’t want my music pouring directly into my cerebral cortex.

As a child of the 70s (ugh), I grew up with these things called vinyl and turntables. My first soundtracks got stacked one on top of the other on the turntable spindle, and I would proceed to listen to a single side of one score after another, flip, and repeat with the other side of the stack. I had these mammoth speakers, 2-3 feet tall, that sat on the floor and shook my bedroom walls. My present speakers have shrunk significantly in size and are now mounted on the wall, but nothing compares to the power of my favorite scores belching forth from a good stereo system and an awesome pair of speakers.

A few weeks ago, in a fit of rage, I “accidentally” slammed shut the CD tray on my hand-me-down Bose system, effectively ruining my most powerful tool to listen to CDs in comfort, away from the laptop, which is used more for work than play these days, and the iPod, which mostly functions as background music as I travel from place to place.

That was a bad day.

Occasionally I just want to sit on the couch and have the music pour over me from a distance. I may not hear as many of the details, especially with a fan and the air conditioner running, but the distance gives me some perspective on the music. The air that comes between myself and the sound waves creates depth and life, giving my brain (which I’ll admit seems to be moving slower and slower with each passing day) a chance to process the music on a different level.

Now, I’m not knocking any of the above venues for listening to music. My ability to hear new music would be severely compromised with the demise of even one of them, as demonstrated when I flipped out (over what, who can remember? probably something really insignificant) and broke the Bose CD tray.

A couple of days ago, I decided to give the CDs a spin on my new DVD player, which is also hooked up to the Bose system. DVD players, no matter what the manufacturer tells you, were not meant for playing CDs. I’ve had a lot of problems in the past with old DVD players pausing or skipping while playing a CD.

It’s still not an ideal situation. Some CDs still have problems. But the sound pouring forth from those speakers is once again bringing light to my dark sarcophagus of an apartment. And I can sit or lie on my comfortable couch, close my eyes, and feel the music is once again a part of my home, and not just my workspace or personal headspace.

I’ve only tried a couple of CDs so far. I think it’s time to give John Powell’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (to pick a new score I can’t seem to get enough of) a spin and give those speakers the workout they deserve.

My poor neighbors.

Do you have a preferred listening platform?

  1. The only time I listen to a score without some headphones on are at the cinema. I fear that my ears will disintegrate any days now but I hope science will save me at some point. I really love having the music penetrate my soul and the only way I can really do that is when I have the music literally in my head without interruption. It has to be real headphones though, not those pesky earbuds which never seem to fit my ear canal and the sound is not that great either.

    Would you believe that I have never owned a sound system for 32 years? Quite astonishing and I think no one believe me when I tell them. Headphones all the way for me, it’s a way of life ;)
    .-= Jørn´s last blog ..Soundtrack Review: Iron Man 2 (2010) =-.

    1. I understand your preference for headphones. The earbuds are only because it’s a drag to cart around real headphones through the NYC streets, though plenty of people do. When I’m at home and I want in depth listening, I have real headphones for that. But even then, it almost becomes too close. (And my hearing is probably very damaged as well.) Still, there’s nothing better for hearing the nuances in music than headphones. Can’t use them all the time because they make my ears sweat. (TMI? Probably) I do like a mixup of everything: stereo, laptop, ear buds, headphones.

      You’re not the first person I know who has never owned a sound system. Bizarre. Can’t imagine my life without one. But that’s just me. :)

      1. because you get to listen to How to train your Dragon on BOSE speakers! thats just massive power booming.

  2. My preferred listening platform is my stereo system. It changed a few times over the years, but at least my speakers are still in great shape. In my opinion, speakers are the key component that can alter the most how the music sound, and mine offer amazing imaging and clarity.

    Of course, I also log many hours listening through headphones, mainly earbuds plugged to my office computer (I have a more proper pair of headphones at home but seldom use them). It helps me concentrate and it isolates myself from the various ambiant noises (my work station is a cubicle). It also helps expand my otherwise very limited “horizon”, like right now thanks to Bear McCreary’s excellent music for Battlestar Galactica (Season 3).

    Now, from all the comments I keep reading, and being an avid fan of John Powell music in general, I really got to get How to Train Your Dragon too! :)

    1. Mathieu, when I used to work in an office cubicle, I too kept my earbuds plugged in all day to cut out the ambient noises and the ridiculous office chatter about pop culture crap like Dancing With the Stars, Gossip Girl, and Idol from my colleagues. Those earbuds were the only thing that kept me sane and kept me from killing my co-workers. :)

  3. Oh how sad…no phones or bourgeoise Bose speakers can do justice to EL CID, THE BIG COUNTRY or HOW THE WEST WAS WON. You need reasonably sized boxes with a horn-loaded driver – Klipsch or Cerwin Vega speakers are generally within reach of any budget. The bigger and uglier the speakers, the better they tend to sound with film music…hahahahahahaha….let the neighbors eat cake!

    1. When you live in NYC, space is at a premium. I’d love some of those big honking speakers. Alas, I’ll have to make do with my bourgeoisie speakers. LOL I don’t know if my neighbors ate cake the other day, but I sure hope they enjoyed DRAGON blasting through the hallways. I know I did. :)

  4. I can’t believe how low I’ve sunk as far as my stereo system is concerned. I went from a tube Mac, Klipsch corner speakers, a beautiful converted AR turntable to a NAD amp with PSB speakers. If I want to turn up the volume as I am now listening to bassoon work in the film Alone, a soundtrack from Shostakovich I use Grado headphones. I went down for sure


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