Seeing through CDs

Rupert Neve is a name that people who read audio engineering magazines will have seen. He's responsible for developing some expensive electrical stuff that makes music sound pleasing.

The following quote is from an interview with Mr Neve in Audio Technology and it's interesting in light of the shift we've seen toward digital audio formats:

"The Japanese showed some time ago that the brain produces electric radiations in the presence of different emotions and emotional stimuli. If you listen to an analogue music signal that is good quality, with no crossover distortion and no digital sampling, in can be a very satisfying experience. And as you start listening to it, you do the the thing which us older ones have done for a long time -- you come home after a long, hard day, put a long playing record on, and put your feet up. Even if the record is a bit scratchy, you can listen to it and enjoy it and relax. But you can't do that any longer…[because of the distortions of CDs and cheap transistor circuitry.]

"The Japanese have shown, and in fact a lot of us are accepting quite happily, that these distortions -- first of all the lack of music-related frequencies above 20kHz, and secondly the presence of the switching transient noises above 20kHz -- actually produce a different form of brain radiation. They produce the kind associated with discomfort, frustration, even anger. I am wondering whether we can't blame the CD for some of our social problems."

This makes sense to me because I've grown up with CDs and find I rarely listen to them to relax. I mostly enjoy music to be energised but sometimes for background noise.

For a while I'd listen to music while falling asleep and chose laid-back albums but there were only a few where I could actually fall asleep while listening to them. One time I put one of these albums on repeat to play through the night and found myself awake in the early hours of the morning feeling really angry at this mellow sort of music and couldn't understand why.

And MP3s must be even worse as they have an even narrower frequency range and often more distortion.