My Study Of How People Listen To Music

Often I wonder how to most people listen to music. So I did random informal interviews with a large number of people under the age of 30 asking how do you listen to music. I had less access to ages over 30 but I did interview a few people in their 50s and 70s as well. The results, sadly, are exactly what I expected.

Literally everyone under the age of 30 gave me the exact same answer. 100% of people said “I listen to music on my phone with Pandora.” I asked, what do you listen with? They all told me a combination of headphones, a blu tooth speaker, out of the phone’s built in speaker or out of their car stereo connected to the phone. Then I asked, what type of headphones do you use? They gave me answers ranging from the free earbuds included with their phone to Beats and a few people named other Wal Mart/Best Buy low cost brands. Likewise for speakers they named Beats, JBL and other low cost brands I’ve never heard of.

Then I asked if they ever heard of various audiophile brands of headphones and speakers I listed. All of them said no except for Klipsch and Bose. A few people gave me negative feedback regarding these brands saying things like, “they are for people with more money than brains.” And “my stuff sounds just as good as those.”

Next I questioned how much they actually knew about audio. I asked, have you ever heard of Flac? DSD? 24 Bit/192? 16 bit/44.1? Do you know the difference between lossy and lossless audio? 100% said no to all questions. Curious I asked, do you care about the quality of your music? They all replied, “it’s free and sounds fine to me.” I asked, what if your music could sound better? Basically they all said, “I don’t care” or “not if I have to pay for it” or similar such answers.

While interviewing these people I noticed a disturbing pattern. Almost all of these people stared lost into their phone while I questioned them never making eye contact. What surprised me is that I expected them to say they listen to Spotify rather than Pandora. I asked if they ever listen to Spotify and they all said. “no or not too often.” Honestly I don’t understand why Pandora is so popular because it’s basically radio. As far as I know you cannot play entire albums on Pandora like on Spotify. So apparently these people do not listen to albums. I should have asked if you ever listen to albums but I forgot. Yet it appears they listen to random songs.

Besides people under 30 the limited number in their 50s and 70s also told me the same answer to my core question. When asked, how do you listen to music they all said “I do not listen to music.” I found that hard to believe so I pushed further and asked, never? Then some people said “sometimes I listen to Pandora” or “sometimes I listen to my car radio.”

I did these interviews at the local mall, college campus, and Wal Mart walking up to random people. Frankly I’m surprised that I got 100% answers regarding Pandora. The phones I expected. Also, I asked if they ever listen to music on their computer or download music files and they all said, “no” or “people don’t do that no more.”

Are we audiophiles oddballs or something? Are we a dying breed? Will companies like PS Audio go out of business in the next 10 or 20 years because these young people never even heard of them and they don’t care? It seems to me that the vast majority of people do not care about sound quality. They just want free convenience.

I have nearly bankrupted myself, quite seriously, buying stereo equipment these past few years. Every day I regret ever getting into this game. I wish that I had a time machine so that I could go back and never get into high end audio. Sometimes people tell me to sell my equipment but I paid tens of thousands of dollars for my gear and on the used market I’d get fractions. I feel like a fool having bought it but I’d be an even bigger fool to sell it for nothing. Hearing how “normal” people listen to music really makes me feel broken.

What do you guys think about this study? Let me know your feedback. My question to all of you is, are we a bunch of fools easily parted with our money like the rest of the world thinks?





‘Almost all of these people stared lost into their phone while I questioned them never making eye contact.’

This is a sign of a larger, more insidious problem. I believe our devices have eroded our ability to be alone, with ourselves, without distraction.

Sorry you’ve got yourself into the spot you’re in. I hope you didn’t finance any or much of it. Better to keep it and enjoy it than lose 50% although that’s what many do with stock purchases and sales. If you did finance it, figure out how much it will cost you at the end of the term, it may be better to sell it for 50% of what you paid vs. adding interest (salt) into the wound.

PS Audio and others like them will always be around. There will always be enough people with high/disposable income/wealth to support some number of boutique makers.

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Don’t be sad at your choices, unless you would be satisfied listening to Pandira on a phone. It is an interesting set of answers though…

$hit,…now i can’t claim that “i am young at heart” anymore…

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A bit depressing but not shocking. As to your own purchases, forget about what everybody else does. If you enjoy higher quality music and the equipment that you play it on, that’s all that matters.


I second ELK‘s post.

IMO that’s why PSA goes YouTube, Class D, Sprout, bookshelf speakers, maybe earbuds and Bluetooth speaker some time. And it’s why it doesn’t matter that much, in case Paul’s follow up won’t be a really dedicated and perfectionistic high end audiophile anymore. It will be more important to cooperate with various social media freaks and game platforms.

As arrogant and snobbish as your post surely comes for more than a few…I guess we all suffer a bit of your „disease“ :wink:

It’s just important that there’s also something else. In my case it’s sports …more than equally essential for me. Can’t be done as frequently and easily all the time, but each of those hobbies makes the other one obsolete at times and gives a very different kind of satisfaction.


I find non-audiophiles get as much enjoyment from listening to music as any dedicated hobbyist.

Fundamentally, equipment does not matter.

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My $10 Logitech speakers at work are capable of giving me goosebumps just like my decent car system and my home “audiophile” system. Sure do enjoy my home system though!!

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You clearly understand.

Any consumer driven activity,pass time or hobby needs to have some type of a perceived value in today’s world…especially in this day and age when money only stretches so far and new techno gadgets and activities for the masses are a never ending condition.Generally people will spend money on what makes them happy…high end audio for most people is not even on their radar…it has no perceived value,hence,for most, DOA.

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No I don’t think we are oddballs. Someone mentioned in another thread about a certain demographic making up the majority of what might be considered audiophiles and it was met with mixed feelings, but I think it’s more true than not. Obviously there are enough of us to support a huge market but I don’t think you can conduct an interview in a general population environment and find that many.


Add honey and a good dill pickle to that peanut butter sandwich and now you have something! Won’t cost much more either. Same thing with audio, some work and a little more money can really elevate the experience.

Which obviously isn’t important in the least to most people :^ /

I’m pretty sure no one here is laughing. I’m saddened to read that you’re going through a rough time and sincerely hope you can find your way through it.

I won’t go into great detail but suffice to say I also suffer from depression. The main thing that helps me is my love of music and listening to it rendered as well as I can afford.

I also love my golf and look forward to catching up with the guys for our weekly game and lunch afterwards.

I walk about 5km most other days. I find the exercise psychologically helpful.

FWIW, I try to ignore what other people may think about my audiophilia. I think we make up a comparatively small percentage of the population. Amongst my friends and other people with whom I come into contact I rarely find anyone with a similar love for music. The results of your informal poll don’t really surprise me.

When it really comes down to it, it’s what keeps you well that’s really important.



Hmmnm. Not sure what exactly has changed in some respects. If I step into the WayBack Machine, I recall that I first discovered music as a youngster through the advent of the portable AM transistor radio circa 1960. The status symbol among us youth at the time was to have the Motorola 2-transistor radio (not the crappy 1 transistor models :wink: ) that was roughly the size of today’s smartphone, We listened, in mono of course, over lo-fi and noisy AM wavelengths to random playlists of singles (as “random” as a top 40 playlist could be back in the good old days of payola) via the cheap plug-in single earphone supplied with the radios. There were much better sounding tube gear and “hi-fi” speakers readily available then, too, but who could afford them?

I would say that maybe 1 in a 100, or even fewer, of us became “hooked” and trod down the audiophile path.

For some reason, certain kinds of music “clicked.” For others it was sports, cars, dance, the visual arts, etc. All of those passions and pursuits require some sort of dedication, commitment and infrastructure. You get the idea. Smarter people than me who study human wetware might be able to tell us why this happens, but I doubt even they know for sure.

I sure my rig looks like complete lunacy to others who don’t share my love of music. But, from my POV, I look at the plethora of $80,000 GMC and Ford 150 monster pickups I dodge every day on the freeway out here in Colorado and think “geez. for that kind of dough you could have some killer speakers.”


The music moves me. The components are a means to that end. Pick the right music and I am happy.


goodness, what medication?

I’ve always been a music/stereo geek. It rubbed off on one kid, but not the other.

My high-school senior is similar to the group polled. Spotify more than pandora, but is happy to listen however the music comes out. High fidelity is lost on him. No interest in putting any stereo equipment in his room, and just uses a little BT speaker. The funniest thing is I have a nice AV receiver in our rec room, and a couple pairs of B&W’s, and it sounds great, and has a bluetooth dock so the kids can connect with their phones and play through the stereo. I even have an Amazon Echo hooked up so they could play that through the stereo. But what does he do? He sits his bluetooth speaker on top of it all and plays through that. :roll_eyes:

My high-school freshman is a music guy. He plays guitar and mixes music and has my old Rotel receiver and a vintage Technics turntable in his room. We love going to record stores together, and purchasing music on vinyl. Sound quality, lost on my other kid, is important to him.

I don’t know if it’s a social thing, but I think for the most part these kids grew up with free music on demand and immediate gratification. (Yeah, we had radio and cheap speakers, too, but we lived in a culture where you had to buy an album if you wanted any control over what you heard.) Cleaning the album and the stylus was a ritual. It was an event. It took patience and dedication. Even CDs. Even the stereo equipment itself. Cables, wires, speaker placement, settings. You grew up with it, you get it. You didn’t, well, it takes a special individual to care about it with all the convenient digital options.