Sunday, February 12, 2012

Audiophilia is not for Music Lovers!

Once again Steve Guttenberg has put up a post on his The Audiophiliac blog on CNET News that reminds me that “audiophilia” has absolutely nothing to do with listening to music (at least within Igor Stravinsky’s semantics for the verb “listen”).  Here is the opening of Guttenberg’s post:

For me a great hi-fi doesn't necessarily have to be the best sounding one.

It's more about a sound that draws me in. One CD or LP leads to the next, and I don't want to stop to eat, read, go to bed, or watch TV. A great hi-fi is one that lets the music cut loose.

My guess is that the last sentence has more to do with “good vibrations” than music.  Indeed, as the post rambles on, I realized that Guttenberg was more interested on those vibrations from Jimi Hendrix and the Doors (the examples he cites) than with the fact that those guys were performing music.  In other words what draws one into Hendrix is not the sound but rather his whole approach to performing that yields the sound as a byproduct.

It would not surprise me if, within a decade, neuroscience will know enough about the pathway from the inner ear to the cerebral cortex to model how we respond to different kinds of sounds.  This may even lead to a new “listening device” that will be able to tweak all of the right neurons without ever having to worry about the physical demands of bandwidth.  Should this happen, I suspect that such a device will keep Guttenberg happy for the rest of his life.  Those of us who are more serious about listening as a significant factor in our bodily behavior will probably be happy to have him out of the way!

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