I've noticed that nowadays we mostly listen to music with terrible speakers. Laptops aren't that great, and mobile devices are also pretty bad in that neither have a decent bass range. Music has become background to life, and in the process it's lost some of its original artistry, both in terms of range of expression and in terms of how we treat it. It's more like food now than like visual art hung on a wall.
I usually don't like to listen to music while I work since I find it distracting, but there are certain more mundane tasks that it helps speed along. I was working from home today and hooked up music to our little Bose speaker, and songs that had just played idly before suddenly commanded my attention with their richness.
Even with quality over-ear headphones, the sound just isn't the same for me—it feels restricted. And when I do use headphones, I almost always only use one ear at a time, switching to let each ear "breathe" in turn.
There seems to be something off about music consumption habits, but I can't put my finger on it. Part of it is the isolation: we're regularly giving up the abundance of the physical world for the confines of digital one with its poor audio and tiny screens. Even on subways with their abhorrent screeching, there's an incredible amount to be seen and heard.
Isolation aside, there's also the monster of indulgent consumption. In stuffing ourselves with whatever we fancy at the moment, we whittle away our patience and attention to detail. In some sense, we lose the ability to hear the bass in the first place.
I can't make overarching conclusions about what we as a society should do, or if this should even be viewed as a problem. For me personally, however, I don't like being surprised by the bass in a familiar song.
All this talk of bass makes me want to squirrel up in a basement coffee shop with a live jazz band.