Have you heard the term “Golden Ear”? No, not the ears of a Golden Retriever, I mean someone who claims to have exceptionally acute hearing. Someone who identifies as a Golden Ear wants to stand out as a person who hears subtle details of sound, of music quality and to recognize good production. Sometimes this distinction results in influence and persuasion. People looking to find great sounding music, the best speakers, the best amplifiers, even the best cables, sometimes will trust the word of a Golden Ear reviewer.
But I don’t have Golden Ears. Is there anything I can do?
I want you to take a test and get your score, then I’ll suggest some realistic, deliberate actions you can take to be a better music listener, and share something profound for you about recognizing good sounding music.
How To Appreciate Good Music Production
- Decide “I want to learn how to tell what music sounds good.” Nothing is going to work for you if you don’t decide this matters to you. You could join the ranks of people just like yourself who have reached out to ask “Where can I find high quality music?“. “Who has the best sounding albums?“
- Build your personal reference of music. You might have already done this for years! In my life I’ve spent years up close and personal with musical instruments, acoustic(not amplified) and amplified singers, and comparing different quality recordings of the same music.
- Build upon this with practice. A fast way to compare music of different production quality is to turn on the radio to a Top 40 Hits station. Pick one common thing to listen to, such as the bass, that most good music will have. Listen on the same sound system, or the same head phones or ear buds. Then find some recognized music with good production, or superior fidelity, and again focus on the bass. Try this list:
You Don’t Need “Golden Ears” to Recognize Good Production
…although tastes in music are demonstrably highly personal…we discover that recognizing the most common deficiencies in reproduced sounds is a surprisingly universal skill when listeners are given a chance to reveal their unbiased opinions. More good news is that most people can do it, even those who think they have “tin ears”. Inexperience listeners take more time, make more mistakes along the way, but in the end, their opinions generally agree with those of the experts. -Floyd Toole, Introduction to the Third Edition of ‘Sound Reproduction’