Becoming a good listener

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Becoming a good listener

When Stan and I first started PS Audio in 1974 he was a good listener and I was not. I struggled to hear differences between subtly nuanced sonic changes. Stan patiently pointed those changes out to me until I began to hear them too. It wasn't a quick process for me, as it isn't for others, but over time I finally got it through my thick skull.

Listening, whether it be to conversation or music, is a learned skill. Some, like me, take a longer time than others to attain those skills. The appreciation of art isn't a whole lot different. I can remember my time at New York's MOMA trying to fathom what others see in modern art. To me, the pieces on the wall were about as good as some of the works my children brought home. But then, slowly, I got coached by those very same children.

And let's not forgot one-on-one conversations. The art of listening to others is again a very difficult process for me. As soon as I feel I have grasped what the other is saying I want to jump in and speed up the interchange. But that's wrong and both parties lose because of my impatience. I've gotten better as a listener, though I have a long way to go.

I think the takeaway to today's missive is not to take listening for granted. It is a learned skill, especially when it comes to high-performance audio.

The next time someone suggests to you they cannot hear the differences in cables, fuses, or other more subtle tweaks—changes that seem huge to you—cut them a little slack.

Perhaps they're not as skilled as yourself.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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