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A Surprising Fact About Evaluation of a Music Performance

USAF photo by Roland Balik. Dover AFB's AMC Icon finals were held at The Landings on Wednesday, August 13, 2008. Photo taken for the Airlifter. Base Multimedia Center, DSN 445-6569 or 302-677-6569.

Do you do things as part of your job or hobby a certain way, a way that just seems right and comfortable? Have you ever studied your craft and found something that seemed wrong, darn wrong in fact, yet the evidence suggests otherwise? Evaluation of a music performance might be far from what you were thinking, and I want to tie this new concept into your development of a person who has a deep understanding of great sound.

Definition of evaluation:

the act or result of evaluating – a situation that requires careful evaluation : determination of the value, nature, character, or quality of something or someone
What’s your evaluation of her writing ability?
a patient undergoing psychiatric evaluation [1]

We make our own evaluations every day, quickly, at the speed of electricity. As a person who has a very high value of music in your life, you evaluate whether a new song deserves to make your playlist. When you have decided it’s time to do something about your sound system you have evaluated the current state of things and decided “Enough is enough, it’s time to fix this!”. 

What Makes a Great Sounding Car Audio System?

“So what is Sound Quality? SQ … encompasses all of the performance factors which give the system the ability to reproduce an accurate and life-like rendition of the original recording as perfectly as possible. It includes factors such as tonality, ambiance, subtle nuance, system gain structure, dynamics, transient response, and the list goes on and on…

When a system is said to have perfect SQ, it generates the most accurate sound possible, with a sense of musical realism that gives the listener the impression that they “hear” a live performance right in front of them, as if the listener was in the audience watching the actual performers on an actual stage.” [2](emphasis added – BS

As you think about “SQ” as described by the staff writer for Team Audio Nutz, focus on “a live performance right in front of them“.

You Must See Music Performances Up Close and Personal

How can you imagine a recreation of a live performance, in front of you in a car, if you haven’t seen any live performances? You’ll miss out on a DOMINATING factor to judging a great music performance! It’s not the sound!

When you get in front of music performers, unless your vision is impaired, you’re going to get bombarded with interesting eye-catching things. Costumes. The light show. The audience around you. The venue. The stage. 

What Can Be More Important Than Sound? SIGHT

This was very surprising to learn while reading a paper about a series of experiments conducted to “examine the impact of visual information on expert judgment and its predictive validity for performance outcomes.” [3] To summarize, even if you expect the sound to be the most important factor in judging music performances, the visual part of the brain does a much better job in predicting excellence

I want to know what you think. I want to know what questions this might have raised for you.


  • You need to get out there and see live musicians! It’s not hard to find them.
  • Whatever happens, enjoy the experience and take in the sights.
  • In the car audio realm, yes it does matter if the speakers and other equipment are visible. We can’t help but judge the experience with our eyes as much or even more than our hearing.

Barry Schanz


[1] Evaluation: Definition Merriam-Webster dictionary

[2] What is Sound Quality and How is it Judged?

[3] Sight over sound in the judgment of music performance  Tsay