A reminder to enjoy the Music

Stumbled over this read on head-fi.org and thought I’d share it here. Just a reminder to enjoy the music, even though the chase after SQ can be a lot of fun:

The Clock Radio Rule

When I was just barely a teen, about 13 years old, I had this precise GE Alarm Clock/Radio. AM/FM plus a little dial on the left to set the time that your alarm would go off and shock you out of a deep slumber. It was my “Hi Fi” until I was 14 – when my folks bought me a Sony all-in-one receiver (with record player, cassette, and speakers). I would listen to that clock radio every night. Stealing a cigarette or two from either one of my parents and grabbing a “Stroh’s” beer can from my beer-can collection for an ashtray, I’d listen to WSHE (“She’s ONLY Rock and Roll”) and K-102 (WCKO – “South Florida’s Hottest Rock”) and I’d blow smoke out of my bedroom window and think about my latest crush or flip through Creem magazine.

South Florida in the late 1970’s was in a strange population transition, moving from a mostly “native” Floridian (not aboriginal, mind you) to mostly imports from the north. My family were emigres from NY, but we had arrived in 1972 – not long after Ponce de León, it seems – and so we got to watch the transition happen as more and more people from above the Mason Dixon line and (very) East of the Mississippi filtered into the little Westinghgouse-built community called Coral Springs. By the time I was ashing into Stroh’s cans, Coral Springs was more or less a carbon copy of the environment my parents left behind: all Italians and Jews from NY, NJ, and PA – with a smattering from CT. We fell into the former ethnic category, though it’s hardly as if our communities were segregated. In fact, it was at about the period I’m referencing that all of the bar and bat mitzvahs were happening – my social calendar runneth over.

It was also a very cool time for radio. Led Zeppelin, Lynrd Skynrd and/or Rossington-Collins, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Linda Ronstadt, Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Blondie, Pink Floyd, Pat Benatar, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Rush, Queen, J. Geils band, .38 Special, AC/DC, Heart, The Kinks, Cheap Trick, B-52’s, Steely Dan, Aerosmith, The Pretenders, Devo, Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads, Molly Hatchet … etc. Just like the immigration of families like mine from the north to the South, non-Southern Rock was starting to overtake the airwaves. Come 1982, South Florida radio would be in the grips of “New Wave” and my record collection would change in response.

The radio was my musical beacon, and because of that horrid little box I fell in love with bands and artists and lots and lots of music. I didn’t require tens of thousands of dollars of stereo kit to make music listenable, nor did anyone I know think in those terms. We just listened to the radio, and we bought records based on what they were playing over the airwaves.

Not much has really changed in my world as far as that goes, to be frank. Instead of a clock radio I now have one of those little Bluetooth boxes in my workshop and I’ve got Pandora. I stream Pandora through the box and let the service do the DJ work for me. It’s a cool service, and I’ve bought many a record based on tunes that I’ve heard come over the squacky little box. And it’s infinitely more satisfying to hear that music over the “big rig” than over the little black box, but that doesn’t mean I’m not jammin’ to tunes while I work and loving every minute of it. I’m tuned to a “station” based on Joe Pass and Django Reinhardt right now since I’ve taken up guitar again and want to hear a lot of great guitar playing … and I catch myself softly scatting improvised melodies over the chord changes as I’m doing my work. That’s a pretty cool connection to the music, and it’s why I thought of The Clock Radio Rule recently and decided to put it down here:

If you can’t listen to your music over a clock radio (or some such other very-not-Hi-Fi device) then you probably don’t even like the music – you probably got it to show off your stereo. Get rid of it and find music that you actually connect with.

Simple, but effective. If you need a super-tricked-out stereo rig to make your music listenable, then you’re probably not interested in music – you’re interested in the performance of your stereo and the tricks it plays on your ears (soundstaging, imaging, dynamic, PRAT, impact, liquidity, blah blah blah), and you’re buying music to show off the tricks. This leads to Audiophile Nervosa: a neurotic condition that focuses on gear performance over music, and compels you into an endless spiral of upgrade-fever until you eventually wind up exhausted, out of money, and still jealous of someone else’s rig.

The cure is The Clock Radio Rule.

Reconnect to the music and you’ll find out that the gear you’ve already got is pretty awesome already – and putting another $10k into your cabling system isn’t going to make your Sheffield Labs collection any more palatable. But putting another $10k into your record collection will make your stereo (and your life) WAY more enjoyable. Haunt some record stores, spend an hour or two a week flipping through the crates and bins, talk to the shop owner and the other folks in the store – they’ll turn you on to new music to get excited about.

from this thread on head-hi.org


That’s all well and good but large scale symphonic works don’t sound all that good on a clock radio.

And sometimes while listening to jazz I actually like to hear the bass player :laughing:

But the general idea is pretty much on the mark - it’s about the music, after all.


Agreed. It’s not like a certain level of sound quality isn’t necessary. Maybe this text takes the clock radio analogy a little too far after all. I merely liked the general idea and thought it was something to share elsewhere :slight_smile:

I tell my kids to be quiet when there is bass solo, to be able to listen… Haha. They hate it. But my stereo is not the best, and I used to play the bass… So they understand.
„Shhhhh, it’s a bass solo…“ I love it.

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One of the many things that I enjoy about listening to music on my main audio system is just how much music there is to many of the those old AM radio hits from the 1960s and 1970s. Horns, strings, background singers, etc. Sure one can get the general idea of the song - melody and rhythm - on almost any playback device but there is so much more to be heard, discovered and enjoyed when the music is played on good sounding equipment. Why else would all the ads for smart phones feature music being played by anything BUT the tiny smart phone speakers.

So if there is a clock radio rule then there should also be a smart phone rule: nothing sounds good on a smart phone.


Clock radio, luxury. Crystal set and a mono earpiece.

Four Yorkshiremen https://g.co/kgs/D1b2nJ


LOL :rofl: LOL

That made my day! Thanks! And the thanks for the link. Brought back memories of the old days when we had to listen to that crystal set and earpiece.

Brilliant post…Thankyou

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This is actually the first thing that made me fall in love with good sound: being able to hear those details. With the first big steps towards quality it was like lifting a blanket off of the music.

You’re starting to sound like a high end audio reviewer :rofl:

Although veils and windows are the usual objects that get lifted or opened.

When I was a kid in the late 50s/early 60s I listened on a little AM transistor radio. At night when I was supposed to be asleep I’d put it under my pillow and press my head and ear down hard so I could hear it. Hi-fi “Satisfaction!”

(In the daytime I lsometimes listened to my Mom and Dad’s Elvis, Perry Como, Nat King Cole and Reader’s Digest monthly pop/classical subscription compilations on their console stereo record player with a nickle on the tonearm to prevent skipping on some of the badly beat up records. Good times!)

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In keeping with Monty Python video:

A nickle! We could barely find a penny!

Anyway, thanks for the memories! Same for me but with some Jerry Vale thrown in as well.

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Really, Thanks! that is how you catch the soul of our love for the music😊 Get back to the roots and pick up the feelings/enjoyment/dreams/airguitar playing et al! Example, My son do not want a full stereo system, of course proposed by daddy…, But he and his community loves the music and live for going to concerts/ live performances and he does not care at all what gear you play through at home, he can listen to all his music through a multiple different channels…it is just the feeling & love of the music that matters, great yes???

As a Daddy and as a hififreak I do try to implement some “know how” to my son, and he is catching up😉.
Anyway, great reminder of why we embrace this hifi-hobby in the first place,
the MUSIC and the feelings we are searching for, really?
Best regards; airguitarplaying Toby

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When I was about 12 or 13 years old in the early 1960’s, my friend and I each had a crystal radio. We would climb our favorite tree in my front yard and listen to the one local radio station (WLON) we could pick up. We strung a long piece of bare wire all around and up and down that tree and connected our crystal radios to our “huge antenna.” to improve reception, barely. And, of course, we had a single, in the ear, earpiece. That was before stereo, so that’s all we needed.

A couple years later, I was in tall cotton when I got my first transistor radio. I fell asleep every night with that radio laying on the side of my head listening to WLS radio. Then, of course, in February 1964 the Beatles hit town and the world as we know it changed forever. Or, was it because I started “going steady” with my future (and still) wife on 2/14/64?

Yes, enjoy the music.