What kind of listener are you?

I'm an All-Arounder: Equal parts Analytical, Thrill, and Feeling. Push comes to shove feeling matters most, but they are all very close to equally important to me. 

This is a very useful breakdown of a very complex subject, listening. How we listen to and evaluate components and systems. 

What kind of listener are you?

Before auditioning a speaker at one of the dealers I visited in my search for a new pair of speakers, the salesman asked me if I preferred "analytic" or "musical" speakers.  For me the choice was "musical".

When I've auditioned some of those "analytic" speakers, they just don't seem to match up with my hearing, sound somewhat "harsh" to me.  Though these are very well engineered and crafted, I can't listen for long, before fatigue sets in.
What kind of listener are you? I'm an All-Arounder: Equal parts Analytical, Thrill, and Feeling  ... This is a very useful breakdown of a very complex subject, listening.
I don't think the subject is complex at all. On the contrary, I think the practice of listening is quite simple indeed. 
Before auditioning a speaker at one of the dealers I visited in my search for a new pair of speakers, the salesman asked me if I preferred "analytic" or "musical" speakers. For me the choice was "musical"

Dealers approaches are all over the map. Given those options I would probably make the same choice, even though musical to me is a movie with a lot of songs in it.

I don't judge components or systems on a Musical or Analytic scale.  To me, it's simply a question of what sounds more real.  In other words, everything matters.
my ex-wife said I was a terrible listener.  My audio system and record collection disagree ;-)
IMO,you absolutely must be a bit of everything until you get your system to a point where the gear transcends existence & only the music remains..Some people never get there,either by choice or pig headedness not sure which.

I started out as an analytical listener trying to find what sounded the best to me.

This went on for a while until I realized that I was adding more detail to my system through various equipment upgrades.

At some point in this process, I started to realize I was doing a lot more toe tapping and could hear emotion with certain vocals and recordings. I also realized that I could hear both hands playing by a pianist, which really upped the musicality for me.. 

And it was, oh, I am listening to music...I think!

Now, I am wondering if I need to completely change my approach from low efficient speakers and big amps to higher efficiency speakers with smaller tube amps striving for more transparency, which I think means, for me, a better "you are there" realism 


Thanks for listening,

Yes that sounds like a good idea to me. Inefficient speakers require more power, and amps that are powerful and involving are few and far between and tend to be very, very expensive. Low power amps on the other hand that are emotionally involving are common, and range from very affordable ones that sound quite good to expensive ones that are utterly captivating. So its no contest.

That said, the first component to make me realize the importance of Feeling was the 150 wpc McCormack DNA1. Back in those days I was very methodical in using my favored test CDs with tracks selected to help me run down my audiophile checklist, all of which was analytical. It was only when I caught myself lost in the music totally forgetting about the checklist that it dawned on me, this is what its all about. That was my first real high end component, and while it definitely passed the Analytical and Thrill requirements it was the Feeling (pleasure) that really reeled me in then, and has ever since.

Less analytical these days and more into does the music move me, tonality, check. Dynamics check. Emotion depends on the music, still get in the moment whether Greig or Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal. In the end, I am very happy with my current set up and it’s sound representation.   Using your Venn diagram, I would still be centered at CDT.
Yeah its Origin Live came up with this. One thing I find interesting is my Origin Live Conqueror arm does a better job of balancing these three pillars than most other components. Synergistic Research wire is a little more skewed to Clarity and Dynamics, my Herron is a little more Tonality and Detail, and so on. Not a lot, I just don't go for anything very far from optimizing all three. 

Its a small sample size. But it is interesting to note the one manufacturer who breaks it down this way is also the one to achieve the best balance across those criteria. Well maybe not so much interesting as expected: Plan your work, work your plan. 
I think the link you use is one leg of three things which affect what one hears.

Perhaps I miss your point?
That Origin Live document is itself pretty "analytical," but interesting nonetheless.
For me, accuracy of instrumental timbre is probably most important, followed by spatial realism (soundstage width and depth, instrumental placement, "air" around instruments). But that would be primarily for acoustic ensembles: chamber orchestras, string quartets, jazz groups. For rock, tight and accurate bass is obviously important at loud volumes. Someone on this site has mentioned somewhere that large orchestras don't come across well on any but the most uncompromising (and expensive) systems in acoustically benevolent spaces, and I think that's true. For me, small chamber orchestras that are well recorded are among the most satisfying, and exciting, to hear on my system. Any of the Orpheus recordings of Haydn symphonies, for example, fall into this category.
change to Shinkoh resistor if you want and more intimate, emotional sound, change to Audio Note if you what a little more open musical sound just not as emotional. It is not the speakers so much.

Happy Listening.
As a classical piano student, and newly returning to this hobby, I unknowingly started out as an analytical listener.  Trying to catch the intonations, delicacy of touch, etc. as the performer expressed dynamics.

I realized this when a few songs of different kinds of music played for a while.  Wasn't focusing on anything.

Just sitting there listening.  Enjoying.  Not "critical" listening.  Musical listening.
No urges to get up and tweak the toe in, mess with knobs (except volume).

I am not knocking analytical listening which is enjoyable in its own right.
But "musical, feel, thrill" listening, ... when caught in it, everything disappears.  Time, the room, just about everything.

Guess I'm guilty for often overlooking these qualities when caught up analytically listening.

I found that I had to first be an analytic listener; this enabled me to understand the mysterious terms my friends were tossing around.  Such an approach lead to my being able to both discern and appreciate soundstage width, height and depth, along with image placement.  Ever since receiving my first AM transistor radio, I have wanted to hear “everything” within a song.  I just knew that there was more to “Riders on the Storm”, “Cecilia”, and so many other great songs than what my little radio passed on.  My ongoing quest is the attainment of a system that is both revealing and musically involving.  I believe that I am there (at least until the next IC, fuse, or whatever comes along to take me further on this wonderful journey).
mc wrote " Back in those days I was very methodical in using my favored test CDs with tracks selected to help me run down my audiophile checklist, all of which was analytical. It was only when I caught myself lost in the music totally forgetting about the checklist that it dawned on me, this is what its all about."

I have the sneaking suspicion that all these pieces of the puzzle are actually there and occur at different intervals different times and use different areas of the brain.  Wondering if anyone has done a fMRI to see how mood as well as the type of music playing light up different areas.

A new piece of equipment makes me totally analytical, which I don't find as pleasurable.  After tweaking/break-in I fall back to "normal" position of being musical and typically remain there until the next tweak.

Interestingly, but not surprising, my wife can tell my mood simply by the music flowing out of the music room. 
Wife to me " Let me get this straight. You spend $2000 on speaker cables (actually it was 5k but don't tell her) because you can "hear the difference" but you can't hear me calling you from the kitchen"?
rsf507....MSA....Male Selective Attention....;)

I've noticed that the females of the species have a tendency to continue talking, even when one's left the room and is generally 'out of earshot'.

Then you get groused at, as you've noted.

The reversed condition gets 'blown off' as well.

If you point this out, you get a 'different earfull', generally negative.

Blame it on DNA...it doesn't help much, but everything finds a scapegoat eventually.....;)
@barts, I completely agree that a new piece of equipment or added tweak causes more analytical listening. But, perhaps we should substitute the adjective "scientific" for "analytical" listening, as we are obviously trying to prove to ourselves that some kind of "change" has taken place (hopefully for the better!).

Personally, I don't mind the occasional analytical listening sessions, as they provide some variety of perspective and it keeps me from getting too complacent.  
I'm definitely an AF listener because I will analyze a song for why I think it brings pleasure. Very rarely will I get a chill from a song, but when I do, it's from just a few songs and always at the same point in the song, so I wouldn't call myself a thrill listener.

While the The 3 Pillars of Great Sound Quality is good because it categorizes and formalizes sound quality and listener types, it needs to be combined with a "What makes this song great" analysis. Having a system that matches the sound quality that a listener likes means nothing if the music sucks. Of course there are differing opinions on what makes a song good or bad, but there are some songs or albums that have generally attained consensuses of great and there should be some detailed analyses of why they are regarded as great (maybe this has been done already so it would just be a matter of compiling the analyses).

For my own personal tastes of what makes a song great, obviously melody is incredibly important. But what I've come to find out is that I get pleasure from music recorded with the wall of sound concept. I want to hear horns, backup singers, strings, etc. I think this is what today's popular music is missing. It's not that the melodies of today's popular music are necessarily bad, it's that it sounds so sparse and uninteresting.

I resent my analytical "half" it takes away from my enjoyment of any music.  In my case it's simple; if I analyse and look for something wrong, I inevitably find it.  If I take the "just relax and listen to some music" route, I'm always more satisfied.

With respect I think that if you break listening down into categories you need to rethink your approach. It is either organic or it isnt. So I guess it is pure feeling for me. The experience is either immersive or it is not. Of course 
Once upon a time in my distant bell-bottomed past, I actually got on the Rate A Record segment of the Dick Clark show. Before me and my two fellow record raters went on, either Dick Clark himself or an underling told us to try and do more than simply say, "It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it." When my turn came I mumbled something about the piece having a great arrangement. Dick actually complimented me afterwards. For doing the segment I got a fistful of pre-recorded cassette tapes.
I am generally a "musical" listener.  But I can be analytical.  Both musical and reproduction wise.  I enjoy the oem Bose in my car just fine. 
One night while preparing dinner, my girlfriend asked why does the piano sound so "Stereoy"   Beethoven piano sonatas.  I went to get a good listen.  They placed the microphones Inside the piano.  Very close mic'ed.  Like what you would hear sitting playing the piano.
I can turn it off and on.  Being a trumpet and french horn player, violins
are ALWAYS to my right.  Not so when listening on the other side or at home.
I discovered after many years that by comparison with many others, I am a skilled listener...

Not because my hearing abilities are better at all... Without being deaf, I am old...

Not because I am a musician, not at all, Alas!...

I enjoy listening music through a good room and with a good audio system, which I learn how to create with my homemade experiments...

It takes me some times to realize why I can sense ,very swiftly, some minute differences with these ordinary hearing capabilities...

The answer is simple:
Each musical sound convey an emotional charge, positive or negative, and if the direct memory of the sound itself is very short lived, the indirect impact on the emotion is long lived in the memory.... Then when I recognized a sound , I dont keep the memory of a past sound pattern to compare it to a new one, because they are already gone and forgotten; I recognize inside me a satisfaction or a dissatifaction that goes on with the increase or a decrease of the S.Q. and his capacity to convey the rightful musicality and timbre...I can compare my past emotions to the new emotion, not a past sound to a new one at all....It is my brain- body which remember his feeling or the effect of the sound on itself, not the sound itself, then he enjoy an increase of S.Q. or not ....

Emotion is the thinking creative memory of music...

Without this unconscious emotional computer inside me it would had been impossible for me to experiment with my ears only and give to myself the conditions to create my audio system at all...

« My emotions are like numbers and my unconscious is the calculator» Groucho Marx
« I had 2 ears because 2 engineers are better than one» Groucho Marx

« If your ears are not very accurate why do you trust them so much? Because it is all that I have» Groucho Marx
While I have finally developed an ability to discern I also have lost a lot of my snobby ways and love listening to all kinds of systems. I have five set up now. 
Also listen to all kinds of music now. Pretty much the full gambit although a lot of new music I haven’t figured out yet. 
I would say I am one quarter analytical but I let that part pass quickly and just enjoy the glorious waves. 
Situation listener. I am capable of being more tonal, dynamic or analytical based on the environment, my state and my familiarity with the actual music. 
And there are characteristics of systems that can influence the type of listener I am.  
While I have finally developed an ability to discern I also have lost a lot of my snobby ways and love listening to all kinds of systems. 

I've always enjoyed listening. One time in Costco the JBL system they had set up playing sounded so good I bought one just for the guys at work. Well the endo cases last an hour, you're sitting there doing x-ray nothing to do the whole time but listen to music, and it was only $100! But those JBL engineers were smart. Can't make detailed for $100 but you can make warm and if you get the balance right it can sound pretty good. And it did. They were so thrilled they reimbursed me, even though I said consider it a gift. 

That's the cheapest system I ever did. Only I can't take credit because the speakers, amp, wires and power cord, everything was JBL. All I did was listen. Which in the end is all that matters.

Hence the thread.
I have watched my listening change dramatically over the decades. When I was very young, equipment of any value was not to be found, yet I listened to music with awe, wanting better equipment. That came along in time, and the spirit of the music was still there. I listened often and to a wide variety of music. Maybe I was 40 years old, and before that point had started to turn into the analytical listener. It inspired me to appreciate the equipment that I was able to afford, and there are no regrets for that. Now that I am in my early 60’s, I listen less often, but when I do, it is a mix, depending on the quality of the recording, the mood that I am in, and of course, how the music moves me. I wish that I were young again.
I'm classically trained singer. I listen to music and not only sound. The music has to be able to move me.
It depends on the system. When I build a good system (which I have) I'm a fantastic listener of all kinds of music.
Has anyone out there read Aaron Copland’ s What To Listen For In Music?

I had to read it decades ago, back in high school music class. A really good read with the composer shedding some insights that are memorable.

He broke down listening into different qualities: I recall the Sensuous Plane, the Expressive Plane, and the Purely Musical Plane. I will have to give it another read, as well as pull out the score to Appalachian Spring, signed by the composer for me when I was 13 years old. Highly recommended reading about this subject.

Here’s the link to a free PDF, if anyone is interested. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.e...

Thanks for the questions, and starting this thread!

@fusian   An interesting read -- thanks for passing it on.  Having read it, I now feel like a much poorer listener than before, which is quite an accomplishment.  I guess that's why Copland was considered a genius!  As they say, the more I know, the dumber I get...
I’m kind of like an experienced heroin user. You can’t fool me with the phony junk. 
The more one knows, the more one knows there's more to know.

Not 'dumber', cheeg....'enlightened'....;)
fusian -- Thanks for the article.  And yeah, it seems that dude knew what he was talking about....
For thrill and feeling, there are many songs that will never sound better, to me, than they did when we heard them the first time on the radio in our cars or at the beach or wherever.  Most rock music I grew up with fits into this category.   I became an “amateur audiophile” - emphasis on amateur - as my tastes evolved to classical and jazz music.
Our ancestors beating on a log only cared if their Gods listened. Well maybe it got the blood flowing, scared off the gnarly beasts, and meant a good night's sleep. 

@mahgister I recognize inside me a satisfaction or a dissatifaction that goes on with the increase or a decrease of the S.Q. and his capacity to convey the rightful musicality and timbre...I can compare my past emotions to the new emotion, not a past sound to a new one

@mahgister +1

To me, culling out sonic cues can be fun and interesting, but really is only looking at a tiny part of the whole picture. I look to my feelings and emotions to evaluate SQ as a Whole. Being immersed is a state of emotion and being, and I want to be immersed.

How you listen probably depends on what your ultimate goal is. For me, it's a happy toe tapping head nodding live music experience. For others, hearing a mis hit  rim shot or singers inhale in a studio recording showing perfect microphonic resolution makes their day.

Great post, Millercarbon.

Not to distract but wondering whether  your values and the way you listen have changed and is influenced by  length of time being in the audiophile hobby, age, technical vs non tech vs musical background.

I'm older (not sure if wiser) and over the decades, my values have changed from technical thrills to emotional contentment. Or maybe I just don't want to think as much🤔

ENJOY the music, no matter how you listen.
Over the years, I came to the conclusion that the one thing that all, or near all, live performances have in common is a fullness and a richness in the music that is sometimes not captured in our home systems. It's a tight rope act to get that sweet spot between dry and analytical and jaded and blurred.
One of my first experiences at hearing a system that approached the fullness and richness of a live performance, without sacrificing detail and nuance, or having to be mind numbingly loud, was back in the late 80s, when auditioning a pr. of Apogee Duetta Sigs. Not sure about the electronics, as I was primarily auditioning the speakers, but it must have been some very nice gear of the time.
It is this fullness and richness of sound, combined with an accuracy of timber, space and detail, that can be enjoyed at a volume considerably less than a concert, that I try to attain.
Also, I've found that my eyes and ears work together to create an imaginary stage, when auditioning speakers and equipment. If I close my eyes, in a short time, the stage and placement of vocals and instruments seems to diminish. Regardless of price, I like to assess, in addition to tone and timber, how well a system can create a stage and keep things where they belong. For some reason, I can not do this with my eyes closed, as I need some kind of visual reference...Jim
Listening carefully comes naturally especially if I'm spending big bucks. Must have a reasonable system to get me in the mood to hear my favorite music. Like a drug, must hear my music every so often so I can continue to function as a productive human being. Other then that everything is A-OK.