I do most of my music listening on my phone in the car. That's where I have the most free time to pay attention to music. It's great when I have an opportunity to sit down and listen to an album all the way through on the HIFI but generally speaking, I'm jamming in the car.
I used to have an iPod but got rid of it when I got my android as it has expandable storage and is customizable and I can do all my things with one computer (that can call people). So I went looking for the best music player on Android. I found it. It is called GoneMAD Music Player, GMMP. It is easily the most customizable player on android and I have been able to make it look close enough to the ipod to ease the transition. The best thing about it though is smart playlists.
I have almost 8000 songs on my phone and mostly like to listen to albums but I do like to shuffle every once in a while and when I do, I don't want to hear and bunch of either intro tracks or 30 minute songs that take up the whole ride by themselves. So I made a smart playlist that only gives songs over 90 seconds, under 15 minutes and only greater than or equal to 3 star rating.
Having so much music there's bound to be stuff I come across on shuffle that I don't like. Smart playlists to the rescue. I set the default rating of all my music to 3 stars out of 5. I have swipe gestures where if I swipe up it increases rating, swipe down decreases rating, left skips track forward and right skips backwards. So when I hear a crap song, I swipe down and then left. This decreases the rating to less than 3 and skips it. Given that my smart playlists update automatically, I'll never hear that song on my shuffle playlist again since it has to be at least 3 stars based on the rule.
I just spent the past weekend re-tagging the genres on all my music. My music tagging system has gone through several variations over the years and something in my brain hasn't let me stick with one system for too long for one reason or another.
When I originally started tagging music I would put bands into what seems like the most appropriate genres. So I had genres like Hard Rock, Symphonic Power Metal, AOR, Funk, Film Noir Jazz, etc. Keep in mind I also used genres as my top level directory for folders at the time too. You can see early on how this is going to start sucking in the future.
That seemed okay but then I wanted all the top level genre tags by each other so I reversed the order of the tags so that Symphonic Power Metal became Metal - Power - Symphonic. By going from most broad to most explicit, all my top-level genres were organized and each style was right by each other, drilling down nicely in a list, for example:
Electronic - Trance
Electronic - Psytrance
Metal - Death
Metal - Death - Melodic
Metal - Power
Metal - Power - Symphonic
Rock - Alternative
Rock - AOR...
and so on.
This was okay for a while too but at this point I was really tired of using folders to organize so I just started putting everything under 1 directory using "artist\year - album" as the folder structure and use music library software to rearrange tags. It was also about that point that I started to get sick of tagging stuff as Gothic Folk Metal or whatever so I started consolidating tags into stuff like Gothic/Doom, Viking/Folk and Progressive/Power so I would only have a few major sub-genres. It sort of solved a problem I had wherein I didn't know what to classify bands that have crossover tendencies with say, Progressive Metal or Power Metal. It completely sidestepped a kind of philosophical problem as to what the top level genre should be for a band that you could call both Progressive or Power. I had 1 genre for both. But what about a band that has both Power and Thrash elements? Where do I put them? I had to make compromises for the sake of cleanliness.
Another problem I had was, what about bands that significantly changed their sound as they evolved? Would I just continue tagging them as what they originally sounded like or would I make the concession that bands do evolve and change (since there are really people making this music and people grow in uncountable ways as they live and create)? I have been just keeping all albums of a band under whatever genre they started out as for the sake of simplicity rather than accuracy.
Time for a new evolution.
I discovered that Foobar2000 (my current player/library management software) allows for multiple genres that you can separate with semicolons. This has opened up a new way of thinking about music classification. No longer do I have to put the band Prototype under Progressive/Power. I can put it under both Power and Thrash and it'll show up under either one when I select the genre. I have solved the problem of genre bending music. I can just give any album any tags that fit without having to conform to a rigid set of rules that I had previously established for classification. This applies also to the problem of bands with sounds that evolve. I don't have to put Nightwish under just Symphonic Power Metal anymore. I can put their early albums there but I can put their new stuff under Symphonic Metal as they've pretty much completely dropped all Power Metal elements from their music.
What if I want to listen to music from a certain era? Or a certain country? Or a combination of eras, countries, top level genres and sub-genres? I can do all of that. As I said at the beginning of the thread, I spent all day yesterday re-tagging my files. My genre tag for songs now looks like this:
-era-; Genre; [sub-genre]; [sub-genre]; (Country) for example:
-1980s-; Rock; [Pop Rock]; [AOR]; (USA) for Toto IV
This way that album will show up under a filter for any of those tags. It makes it much more intuitive for me to find music I want to listen to at any given moment. It's much less rigid. It flows better.
The way I classify my music is an ongoing evolution that is much like the evolution of the music I listen to itself. As I change my mind about things and I see how musicians change their minds about how they make music it becomes clear that musical classification and identification is not something static. It is a moving, changing entity itself.
This is our purpose. We are here to build and lift each other. If the world comes to us, it's because they need us. They need what we have. And what we have is knowledge and experience. We can use these to build and lift the world. Can you imagine it?
What if the audiophile community decided that the "prime directive" so to speak was to build and lift up people around us by educating them about how to make the music they love sound better to them for a price they can afford. What if we left the chasing of the last 1-5% in SQ to a niche of a niche and focused more on making it easy for music lovers to get to the 95% and then advise that everything from there up falls under diminishing returns, letting them choose if they want to go further down the road or not? Really, for the price of a current video game console that the population at large has no problems buying by the millions, they could get a set of speakers that could increase the amount of pleasure they derive from their music by untold amounts.
People love music. People love great sounding music. The problem is the hifi stigma. People are put off when they start reading about megabuck stereo components that cost more than cars and houses. People are put off when they come to our forums and see nothing but bickering, infighting, overanalyzing minutae and engaging in inane listening tests. Seems like more trouble than it's worth just to listen to music. And I don't blame them. That's crazy. It's hard to see the value in hifi when we give that kind of first impression.
If we could redirect our passion for the hobby from an inward, self-serving group outwards by helping other people with their tunes I suspect a lot of joy would result. I suspect a vastly different perception of the audiophile community would result. There's room for 1-percenters and their six figure components. It's a very diverse hobby and there is a stereo for every walk of life. But in order for the hobby to grow and flourish, the spotlight doesn't need to be on those kinds of things. It needs to be on high-value, low cost gear that's attainable by the masses.
That's how we can build and lift the world.
We can never hear all the gear.
No stereo can ever be the ultimate as next year's entry level model will blow away this year's reference model (as is always the case).
We can never know if any recording is accurate to any given benchmark.
Measurements are sometimes useful but ultimately incomplete.
We can never know what someone else hears or for that matter, why they hear it, too many personal and environmental factors to take into account.
The pursuit of greater audio can only be driven by individual experience, much like spirituality.
Fear Of Missing Out is a condition instilled into audio customer through clever marketing.
This leads to a situation (in circumstances where loaners are unavailable, an increasingly common scenario) wherein the customer begins evaluating a hypothetical system which they compare with their real system, also hypothetically. This is folly as the data is incomplete.
The above points have led me to the following conclusion:
It is easier and cheaper for me to enjoy the stereo I have rather than believe that further purchases are justifiable (and that said purchases will have a definite positive impact on my enjoyment of the music it produces).
I don't think I qualify as a typical audiophile or if I do, it stops short of most of the expected characteristics people associate with audiophiles. I have an especially hard time using the lingo to describe the sound of my components. I think it deals with what Michael Lavorgna of Audiostream commonly refers to "listening to music on the hi-fi".
I don't really listen to the hifi itself so its hard to tell you what it sounds like. I listen to the music. The stereo is just a delivery method. I have good components. Music sounds like music when I listen to it. I get caught up in it. I don't do DBT or ABX or anything like that. I just bought what sounded good to me.
I have my stereo in the living room. No room correction, no dsp, no special fine tuning of speaker placement, no fancy EQ. I listen to FLAC and sometimes mp3. I spent a reasonable amount on my system and the only real tweak I have is the regen which I got here for free.
I think most audiophiles have a condition called FOMO. Fear of missing out. So they are constantly upgrading to make it better. I think I managed to sidestep that by not listening to my hifi. I listen to music, on the hifi.