Goosebumps

March 20, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

When it's cold, tiny muscles stand our body hairs on end creating a sort of blanket to trap and warm air.

We call them goosebumps.

When awe strikes, those same tiny muscles bristle in response to strong emotions—emotions sometimes invoked by music.

It doesn't happen often but when a crescendo lifts us out of our seat or a sweet interlude tears at our heartstrings, those goosebump muscles stand at attention and we know we're in the zone.

The better our systems get the more our awe meters respond.

If what you have for a music system gives you goosebumps you know you've arrived.

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22 comments on “Goosebumps”

      1. Standing on Olympus Mons on Mars gave me goosebumps.

        Oops, I wasn't supposed to say that. Forget I ever said it.

        One day men will travel to Mars but probably not for a very long time.

    1. I'm doing some final adjustments to my dedicated listening room right now. The other day I was sitting there listening and realized tears were streaming down my face in response to the music. I know I must be close to proper setup.

  1. There are tracks I can use to make goosebumps repeatable for me. But again others can’t use those tracks, they probably have to take different ones. The quality of the gear certainly helps a lot, but music plays the major role.

  2. It happens so randomly, and when it’s intense, it is a VERY intense moment. It’s repeatable to a point, but if it was always repeatable, you’d never do anything else. It’s a high like a drug. It can occur when I’m listening to music, performing live music, or even just thinking about the right thing at the right time. I think different people get it at different times, and I’ve actualky met people who have no idea what I’m talking about! That’s just sad! I think a good system can absolutely help, but I don’t believe it’s all about top notch gear, but the actual music. It’s happened most intensely, especially at live music events, and seeing and listening to a band you love. I think live music can bring it on most intensely, for sure!

  3. What gives me goosebumps isn't just great sounding systems that throw a wide soundstage. When I hear instruments delineated and unattached from the soundstage with plenty of air around each instrument emerging uncolored out of thin air I'm in awe of the system and the recording expertise. It's almost a spiritual event for me to see these ghosts in my room. I can almost touch them because they have so much substance. There are a few songs I know of on Led Zeppelin II the Lemon song comes to mind when played back over a great turntable and cartridge that does that to me. The entire Album is greatly recorded. The Same with Led Zeppelin I there first album release. Great stuff to listen to over a great system that has synergy. You're not getting that from an Ipod or phone connected to a blue tooth speaker.

  4. The quality of the audio system has nothing to do with goosebumps.
    Listening to music you don't like on a $100,000 system doesn't give anyone goosebumps.
    Listening to music we like on a $1,000 system can give us goosebumps.
    Listening to live music on a crappy sound system can give us goosebumps (assuming we like the artist).
    It's the music, and nothing else, that does the trick. Music can make us happy, or make us cry.
    Maybe the (PS Audio-) sales director gets goosebumps when sales are good.
    Today's post is a fairytale manufacturers of audio devices try to "sell". With every 2 or 3 year new, "better" and, above all, more expensive models...
    PSAudio is no better in this regard than most other companies; just look at how soon some (expensive) models are discontinued, only to be replaced by more expensive models.

    1. Respectfully, that is not my experience.
      A great system cannot help banal or poorly recorded music.
      A poor system cannot fully reveal great, wonderfully recorded music.
      And I have been to live concerts where a bad sound system destroyed the experience.
      I have spent decades searching out great music and great playback systems. My current system is considerably above average - it elicits emotions that lesser systems I have owned never did. I hope you continue to explore.

      1. Don't worry Tom Richard.
        I also spent decades searching out great music and great playback systems.
        And I'll probably continue doing that until I'm 85 or so (still a long way to go),
        And now I have a wonderful audio system that makes it so much more FUN to listen.
        But at the end of the day, for me only the music can elicit emotions, not the soundquality.

    2. It is Music.
      Priority One is Good Music--for each of us to decide.
      It is a system we can afford, and it is the enjoyment of the system we built that gives me goosebumps.
      Or a poorly insulated apartment during an infrequent cold snap.
      To realize the potential of my Music, I needed to hear headphones. Then a tube buffer, then a tube headphone amplifier, because with my listening room.
      I wasn't hearing Music, I was hearing the reflections of sound waves off many surfaces.

      Headphones, with a tube amp, gives me goosebumps on a warm afternoon.

  5. True story. When I auditioned new Kef 104/2 about 30 years ago, my girlfriend told me the new speakers made her nipples hard. I decided to keep the speakers. I still have them in my upstairs secondary system, and the now ex-girlfriend is still a Facebook friend.

    1. Better true story, Red Rocks concert, girlfriend & i dancing away, she wraps her arms around me and shivers from head to toes and everywhere in between 🙂

      PS -> she loved her pair of Kef Corelli’s in the late 70s, everything gave her goosebumps ...

  6. The only time I get goose bumps is when I realize the room is too cold trying to keep 750W of class A amps heat at bay.

    Music and great sound systems move me, but not to the point of goosebumps.

    Too pragmatic?

  7. Always particular pieces of music for me, irrespective of quality of reproduction. Doesn't happen so often nowadays. Reliable tunes for the effect were Bach's 'Air on a G String', and the traditional songs 'She Walks Through the Fair' and 'Star of the County Down'. The latter can sometimes bring me to tears, and I am not a crying sort of person, I think because my mother used to sing it before things got strange for her.

  8. Gee. I am not getting the best from my system as I am not getting Goosebumps but then I don't get Goosebumps also in attending life concerts.

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