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The role of volume in what you hear....


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One of the drawbacks of being a married man with a small child is that it somewhat limits the volume you do most of your listening at.

For me a huge proportion of my listening is done at the minimum possible volume (my pre-amp has volume controls that are stepped - it is a real pain in the *** for my wife as there is a genuine minimum level!!)

Anyway the point here is that whilst you certainly get more of the music as the volume goes up (to a point anyway) there are some aspects that suffer as a result.

Last night, for example, I was listening to DSOTM at the aforementioned minimum volume. I dont usually do this as I always felt this was one album that benefited most from higher volumes.

To my surprise there were hole parts of the sound I never really heard (or at least listened to before). As the first track, Breathe, comes in there is the heartbeat that usually resounds through me as the full force of the sub comes into play. This is a truely wonderful start to an album, possibly the best there is of any album in my book.

However, with the volume so low the bass is more subdued in relation to the other parts of the music and as I listened last night I found myself concentrating on other parts of the whole. There are a whole series of effects going on that I was essentially unaware of (typewriters, voices and so on). I am not saying that I hadnt recognised them to be there but merely thatthey were not the focus of my attention.

As the album played on I found more and more parts of each song bringing a whole new way to enjoy an album I have listened to countless times before.

Surprised I then replaced the album with the Wall. Guess what. Same story. I only heard the first side of the first record last night (it was getting late) but now I can hardly wait to get home to hear the rest of it as I did last night.

So whilst my volume choice in enforced for those of you with the luxury of choosing your volume I would heartily recommend giving some of your favorites a spin at lower than normal levels just to see if there is a whole other side to the music you didnt know about.

It certainly works for Pink Floyd...

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I live alone in a 2300 sf home and work out of the house during the days (I spend the evenings at my girlfriends house). This gives me ample opportunity to listen to music. When I am back in the office, I will generally have the volume anywhere from 80 to 105db. If I go out front to do some serious listening, it is normally around 90 to 100db. If I had to listen at anything less than 70db or so, I don't even think I would bother. That would be like background music to me.

What I love about my current setup, is how easy it is to just focus on one instrument (or voice) during a song. Regardless of the volume level, I find that I can do this with any instrument (guitar, bass, drums, piano, organ, effects, etc). I am amazed with the detail and clarity of my La Scala's...


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Im with u on this especially DSOTM. This is the first album I ever owned if my memory serves me, or was it Ted Nugent, Cat Scratch Fever, whatever. The point is that this albums sound affects will take on different characteristics depending on the volume u listen at. I have to say it is probably one of the best rock sound recordings I've heard to date, effects and instrumentals, a classic.

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Room acoustics plays less of a role at the lower volume levels. I think maybe we hear more of the speaker and less of the room when we do this, and it probably does let more of a recording's natural ambience through.

I went to near field listening several years ago primarily because of this very thing.

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funny just the opposite is true for me, i fully understand what you are saying, but most of my listening is done during the early morning hours, so my volume is always pretty low, i hear everything you are talking about, all the time, so when i can (neighbor gone) i crank, and to me this is my ahhhhhhh time, but it is very cool to listen at other than usual volumes because there is , or so it seems, different music at different levels12.gif

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