I have a dedicated two-channel listening room. My passion is for vacuum tubes and this set up consists of a KT88 based tube amp, tube preamp, tubed CD player, tubed digital-to-analog converter that is partnered with an iMac for digital files and wonderful pair of very efficient speakers. Power to the room is on dedicated lines.
Listening to music used to be a plop-down, stay-still event. Now it’s something people do while doing something else, like eating while driving or chatting on a phone while walking. The experience of listening to music these days, says Timothy Doyle of the Consumer Electronics Association, is “not unlike personal computing: It’s a 24/7 multilocation proposition; people are taking their music with them, and as a whole, the world has changed so that there are simply fewer and fewer ‘old school’ proponents of sitting down and listening to music.”
When sound equipment moved from tubes and records to iPods and mp3/AAC we not only lost fidelity, we lost the need to single task listening to music. Portability led to using music as background noise rather than foreground signal.
To this day I cannot hold a serious conversation over music, even in the lo-fi car. I have ADD but I think there’s something else going on here: I listen to music actively and when I’m listening I’m listening, not talking. I would never consider myself an audiophile but I am a single tasker in many domains.