Your Health: The Benefits of Music

Your Health is a six-part series of short articles that explores various aspects of personal well-being, written by NEW JERSEY BUSINESS magazine.

Live, unamplified musical productions can be among the most glorious personal experiences, yet they are obviously difficult to experience in one’s home environment unless family members play instruments or sing.

Recorded music, therefore, is often the businessperson’s conduit to what some studies say yields improved mood and cognition – and reduced stress.

Billions of people enjoy an infinite array of music, yet for more standard fare, classical music is at times revered, and need not be intimidating.  Books such as The Vintage Guide to Classical Music: An Indispensable Guide for Understanding and Enjoying Classical Music and The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection can help any listener effortlessly build a music collection.

Both the Morris County Library (free public library) and the Princeton Public Library (a fee for non-residents) house vast recorded music collections, allowing patrons to explore the music they love and later purchase the albums they desire from an online or bricks-and-mortar retail store. A few high-quality retail stores still exist in New Jersey, stocking both vinyl and compact discs; they can be discovered via simple internet searches.

Listening, of course, is the ultimate joy, and music can unwind any person from a long day of work or prepare them to face the challenges of another.

Hi-Fi Equipment

Enormous listening pleasure may be derived from mediocre equipment, but high-fidelity sound reproduction arguably is more enjoyable; the music may become more life-like and seemingly three dimensional. It begins with the source material: the quality of the original musical performance’s recording and, many would say, its format (mp3, compact disc, vinyl record, etc.).

Additionally important is the equipment used to ultimately convert the recording into the bursts of air that comprise sound.

Turntables (otherwise known as record players), can cost thousands of dollars, with prices and quality generally increasing in tandem with the extent to which the turntable’s platter (where the record is placed) accurately and consistently spins at either 33.3, 45 or 78 revolutions per minute – and also (among other quality-level aspects) the degree to which the turntable’s motor is completely isolated (away from) the stylus, otherwise known as the record needle.

The latter point is important because any turntable motor noise can otherwise be transmitted to the needle and ultimately degrade the reproduction of a sound recording through one’s hi-fi system.

The long-playing record (LP) is the most common vinyl record format, and these must be turned, again, at precisely 33.3 rpm on a level turntable which is also isolated from external vibrations.

Quality turntables may be obtained online or by telephone by such firms as musicdirect.com, or needledoctor.com.  Both firms at least historically have had trained salespeople who can help guide a prospective listener through the equipment selection process and also sell him or her a phono pre-amp, amplifier and loudspeakers, which can cost thousands of dollars combined, but don’t necessarily have to if one has a more limited budget.

Some hi-fi enthusiasts calculate the cost of the equipment and divide that by the amount of time they listen to recordings over a 10-year period, thus determining a cost-per-hour of music listening.

One budget route is purchasing high-quality headphones and a headphone amplifier, the latter which is not used for high decibel levels, but instead to ensure the milliwatts necessary for sonic fidelity.

Compact discs, mp3s and other digital formats are all available, and of course have their own types of associated playback equipment.

Whether a person spends $100,000 or $500 and borrows library music, reaping the health benefits of music is available to people from a wide range of earning statuses.

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