I fear for the future of high fidelity. With every passing month, we seem to be satisfied with sound that is merely good enough. Blame it on a decade of listening to squished MP3s through cheap ear buds.

In the Olden Days, my friends and I would descend upon stereo stores, pretending to be in the market for some new speakers. “Those JBLs look good. Could we hear them, my good man? And then let’s A-B them with those Cerwin-Vegas. No, no — the ones with the 15-inch woofers. ”

The salesperson would dutifully find the LP we suggested and place it on the turntable.

For the next 20 minutes, we’d be pummelled by sound, glorious sound. The sparkling highs. The chest-crushing bass. The sweet midrange. Once the side of the record ran out, we’d promise to think about it and leave the poor salesman commissionless.



One of the albums we’d always ask for was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon because it was one of the best-produced and most carefully recorded albums of the era.

There was an emotional and physical thrill of hearing it through speakers that could handle the thump of the heartbeat that leads into Breath, the deep bass stabs of Time and the definition of Clare Torry’s voice on The Great Gig in the Sky.

The music caused dopamine to flood our brains, which is literally the same neurochemical response a heroin addict has when he gets a fix.

Today, though, MP3s and cheap ear buds have taken much of the fidelity out of music.

Even modern CDs sound worse than CDs that were released in the 1980s thanks to overuse of compression. We’ve forgotten how good recorded music can sound. Worse yet, many people have never experienced it.

That’s why I urge everyone to go out and buy the new Pink Floyd remasters along with a very good set of headphones. Clear the credit card. I don’t care how.

Dark Side is the ultimate album for headphone music. Turn down the lights and turn up the music. Marvel at the subtleties of the arrangements, the texture of the production and brilliance of the musicianship.

Notice how you react physically and emotionally. This is how good music can sound.

This is what excited people about music once. Surrender to it.

You may never use ear buds again.

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