Can subwoofers cause hearing loss and Tinnitus - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 36 Old 06-21-2013, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't know if there is a correlation or not but since I got a sub I have mild hearing loss and tinnitus at high frequencies. I am not sure if I had the loss before the sub but I had the sub for a year and the tinnitus started a month ago.
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post #2 of 36 Old 06-21-2013, 11:36 AM
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Any speaker driven at a high enough spl and for a sufficient length of time can do damage. You may be able to tolerate higher spl's of bass than higher frequencies, so maybe you can do more damage with bass without realizing it? Whether the sub is your culprit or genetics, who knows?

"I realize that somebody playing free music isn't as commercial as a hamburger stand. But is it because you can eat a hamburger and hold it in your hand and you can't do that with music? Is it too free to control?" - Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) discussing commercial success in the music biz


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post #3 of 36 Old 06-21-2013, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Any speaker driven at a high enough spl and for a sufficient length of time can do damage. You may be able to tolerate higher spl's of bass than higher frequencies, so maybe you can do more damage with bass without realizing it? Whether the sub is your culprit or genetics, who knows?

I used a test cd for the sub at 16hz and am wondering about the sub pressure if that was the culprit. I don't know what the spl was but the avr volume was around 25.
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I can’t really say but I have had some bad experiences after bass binges and still do experience a few symptoms even though I have scaled things way back. Thank goodness it’s not much worse.

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post #5 of 36 Old 06-21-2013, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by asere View Post

I don't know if there is a correlation or not but since I got a sub I have mild hearing loss and tinnitus at high frequencies. I am not sure if I had the loss before the sub but I had the sub for a year and the tinnitus started a month ago.
Deep bass isn't nearly as damaging as midrange. That's why OSHA and other noise exposure dB regulations specify 'A' weighting, which filters out bass.

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post #6 of 36 Old 06-21-2013, 12:23 PM
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FWIW my brother and sister have tinnitus but their exposure to high spl's don't compare to me and they keep wondering why my hearing doesn't suffer....my dad recently passed this article on:

In today's selection -- in most cases, when our hearing is impaired, it is damage to ear hair. Although that damage becomes evident when we are older, it often relates to damage incurred when we are young:


"By far the most common [condition that destroys hearing is] exposure to either long-term moderately loud noise or sudden very loud noise. ... What actually happens in the inner ear when it is exposed to ... loud noise?

"The inner ear is home to the cochlea, a bony spiral cavity about the size of a pea, which turns on itself two and a half times and looks like a snail shell ('cochlea' comes from the Latin term for 'snail'). Sound waves, or vibrations, enter the cochlea (having been given a boost by the middle ear's three interconnected bones, including the stapes, the smallest bone in the body). As this happens, fluid in the cochlea sets in motion the thousands of hair cells located in the organ of Corti, deep in the inner ear.

"The hair cells in the organ of Corti are organized into four rows. The three outer rows of cells pick up the movement and change it into a mechanical impulse, which amplifies the signal -- now traveling through the cochlear bath and thus dulled, as sound would be if you were underwater. The inner hair cells, in a single row, each respond to a particular frequency. They are activated to release a neurotransmitter to the auditory nerve fibers, which also number in the thousands and also each respond to a different frequency. The neurons transmit the sound via the auditory nerve to the brain, ultimately reaching the auditory cortex, which translates the sound into something that we recognize as speech or birdsong or a car passing on the road. The translation that occurs in the auditory cortex allows us to distinguish between similar speech sounds like 'ah' and 'eh,' 'b' and 'p,' 'ch' and 'sh.' How the cortex does this is beyond the scope of this book. Suffice it to say that you hear with your brain. The auditory system merely transmits the signals. But if the signals can't get to the brain, then the brain can't do its job.

"In a lot of deafness, the first things you lose are the outer hair cells. The inner hair cells may be undamaged, but because you've lost the mechanical response of the outer cells, the cochlea is not as sensitive, not as fine-tuned in its response. The result is that some neurons respond to more frequencies than they should, sending a muddled signal to the brain. The primary damage is to speech recognition. 'Bet' sounds like 'pet,' 'church' sounds like 'shirts.' Brad May, of Johns Hopkins, calls this 'brain deafness.' ...

"[This] type of hearing loss [is] often referred to as nerve damage but [it is] not, technically, since [it doesn't] affect the acoustic nerve, only the hair cells that communicate with it. ...

"A person with mild to moderate hearing loss can still hear in a quiet room or other favorable environment. But when too many frequencies are destroyed, he or she may not understand speech, even under the best of conditions. The muddled transmissions also make it difficult for the auditory system to filter unwanted noise: the din and clatter of a restaurant, the engine of a bus, the hum of a fan or air conditioner. Intrusive noise may be simply two or three people talking at once, creating a background sound of indistinguishable voices, or it may be a large, resonant room echoing sound off the walls. ... Since hearing aids aren't as good as the human ear at screening out unwanted noise, using them can be frustrating, especially in noisy environments.

"Assuming my hair cells are damaged, they probably look flattened, like a field of wheat after a hailstorm. ... Each cell in those four rows of cells (the single inner row, which communicates with the brain, and three outer rows) is topped by a tiny standing hair, or stereocilium. The hair cells, she said, are 'connected to each other with fine little filaments, so that when sound comes in and they bend, it allows currents to flow through.' This movement triggers the release of the neurotransmitter substances. After intense noise exposure, the hair cells lie flat. If the noise is not too loud, they eventually right themselves. The threshold shift is temporary.

"But Kujawa and Liberman have found that even though the threshold reverts to normal, permanent damage may have occurred. ... [They] found that the damage occurs not in the hair cells themselves, which may recover, but in the spiral ganglion cells (SGCs -- the cells in the cochlear neurons). The hair cells communicate with SGCs in the process of passing information to the brain.

"Although hearing is restored, the damage is done almost instantaneously. ... Even though we think of this kind of hearing loss as related to aging, the truth is that ears are most vulnerable to noise damage when they're young. ... Teenagers -- with their ubiquitous iPods and MP3 players, not to mention noise exposure from video games, loud stadiums, and rock concerts -- are experiencing these loud noises at an especially vulnerable age. Another vulnerable population, newborn infants, might suffer damage from continuous noise in a neonatal ICU or from a white noise machines parents sometimes use to help fussy infants sleep."


Author: Katherine Bouton
Title: Shouting Won't Help
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Date: Copyright 2013 by Katheirne Bouton
Pages: 31-35





Shouting Won't Help: Why I--and 50 Million Other Americans--Can't Hear You
by Katherine Bouton by Sarah Crichton Books

Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2013-02-19


If you wish to read further Buy Now














If you use the above link to purchase a book

"I realize that somebody playing free music isn't as commercial as a hamburger stand. But is it because you can eat a hamburger and hold it in your hand and you can't do that with music? Is it too free to control?" - Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) discussing commercial success in the music biz


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post #7 of 36 Old 06-21-2013, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

FWIW my brother and sister have tinnitus but their exposure to high spl's don't compare to me and they keep wondering why my hearing doesn't suffer....my dad recently passed this article on:

In today's selection -- in most cases, when our hearing is impaired, it is damage to ear hair. Although that damage becomes evident when we are older, it often relates to damage incurred when we are young:


"By far the most common [condition that destroys hearing is] exposure to either long-term moderately loud noise or sudden very loud noise. ... What actually happens in the inner ear when it is exposed to ... loud noise?

"The inner ear is home to the cochlea, a bony spiral cavity about the size of a pea, which turns on itself two and a half times and looks like a snail shell ('cochlea' comes from the Latin term for 'snail'). Sound waves, or vibrations, enter the cochlea (having been given a boost by the middle ear's three interconnected bones, including the stapes, the smallest bone in the body). As this happens, fluid in the cochlea sets in motion the thousands of hair cells located in the organ of Corti, deep in the inner ear.

"The hair cells in the organ of Corti are organized into four rows. The three outer rows of cells pick up the movement and change it into a mechanical impulse, which amplifies the signal -- now traveling through the cochlear bath and thus dulled, as sound would be if you were underwater. The inner hair cells, in a single row, each respond to a particular frequency. They are activated to release a neurotransmitter to the auditory nerve fibers, which also number in the thousands and also each respond to a different frequency. The neurons transmit the sound via the auditory nerve to the brain, ultimately reaching the auditory cortex, which translates the sound into something that we recognize as speech or birdsong or a car passing on the road. The translation that occurs in the auditory cortex allows us to distinguish between similar speech sounds like 'ah' and 'eh,' 'b' and 'p,' 'ch' and 'sh.' How the cortex does this is beyond the scope of this book. Suffice it to say that you hear with your brain. The auditory system merely transmits the signals. But if the signals can't get to the brain, then the brain can't do its job.

"In a lot of deafness, the first things you lose are the outer hair cells. The inner hair cells may be undamaged, but because you've lost the mechanical response of the outer cells, the cochlea is not as sensitive, not as fine-tuned in its response. The result is that some neurons respond to more frequencies than they should, sending a muddled signal to the brain. The primary damage is to speech recognition. 'Bet' sounds like 'pet,' 'church' sounds like 'shirts.' Brad May, of Johns Hopkins, calls this 'brain deafness.' ...

"[This] type of hearing loss [is] often referred to as nerve damage but [it is] not, technically, since [it doesn't] affect the acoustic nerve, only the hair cells that communicate with it. ...

"A person with mild to moderate hearing loss can still hear in a quiet room or other favorable environment. But when too many frequencies are destroyed, he or she may not understand speech, even under the best of conditions. The muddled transmissions also make it difficult for the auditory system to filter unwanted noise: the din and clatter of a restaurant, the engine of a bus, the hum of a fan or air conditioner. Intrusive noise may be simply two or three people talking at once, creating a background sound of indistinguishable voices, or it may be a large, resonant room echoing sound off the walls. ... Since hearing aids aren't as good as the human ear at screening out unwanted noise, using them can be frustrating, especially in noisy environments.

"Assuming my hair cells are damaged, they probably look flattened, like a field of wheat after a hailstorm. ... Each cell in those four rows of cells (the single inner row, which communicates with the brain, and three outer rows) is topped by a tiny standing hair, or stereocilium. The hair cells, she said, are 'connected to each other with fine little filaments, so that when sound comes in and they bend, it allows currents to flow through.' This movement triggers the release of the neurotransmitter substances. After intense noise exposure, the hair cells lie flat. If the noise is not too loud, they eventually right themselves. The threshold shift is temporary.

"But Kujawa and Liberman have found that even though the threshold reverts to normal, permanent damage may have occurred. ... [They] found that the damage occurs not in the hair cells themselves, which may recover, but in the spiral ganglion cells (SGCs -- the cells in the cochlear neurons). The hair cells communicate with SGCs in the process of passing information to the brain.

"Although hearing is restored, the damage is done almost instantaneously. ... Even though we think of this kind of hearing loss as related to aging, the truth is that ears are most vulnerable to noise damage when they're young. ... Teenagers -- with their ubiquitous iPods and MP3 players, not to mention noise exposure from video games, loud stadiums, and rock concerts -- are experiencing these loud noises at an especially vulnerable age. Another vulnerable population, newborn infants, might suffer damage from continuous noise in a neonatal ICU or from a white noise machines parents sometimes use to help fussy infants sleep."


Author: Katherine Bouton
Title: Shouting Won't Help
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Date: Copyright 2013 by Katheirne Bouton
Pages: 31-35





Shouting Won't Help: Why I--and 50 Million Other Americans--Can't Hear You
by Katherine Bouton by Sarah Crichton Books

Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2013-02-19


If you wish to read further Buy Now














If you use the above link to purchase a book

Thanks for the link. Very informative!
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post #8 of 36 Old 06-21-2013, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I can calibrate with Audyssey to reference level but I worry that the sub will spike way beyond 80db and cause damage to hearing.
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The bottom line is to use your system at a reasonable level. I watch movies, DVD, BD and -10 to -20 even though my system can do beyond Reference level. That is not saying that for short periods or at parties that you can't turn up the system. But, we have all been to parties and have had to get away from the noise after a while.

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post #10 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 02:09 AM
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Originally Posted by asere View Post

I don't know if there is a correlation or not but since I got a sub I have mild hearing loss and tinnitus at high frequencies. I am not sure if I had the loss before the sub but I had the sub for a year and the tinnitus started a month ago.
No! Low FRS won't cause tinitus .

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post #11 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 02:11 AM
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Originally Posted by asere View Post

I used a test cd for the sub at 16hz and am wondering about the sub pressure if that was the culprit. I don't know what the spl was but the avr volume was around 25.
If that would be the case half the people on the DIY forum would be deaf. They aren't.

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post #12 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

Deep bass isn't nearly as damaging as midrange. That's why OSHA and other noise exposure dB regulations specify 'A' weighting, which filters out bass.
Exactly, A weighting is from 400 hz and up.

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post #13 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 02:16 AM
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Thanks for the link. Very informative!
Right, it has no info on the subject at hand: bass and hearing loss.

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post #14 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by asere View Post

I don't know if there is a correlation or not but since I got a sub I have mild hearing loss and tinnitus at high frequencies. I am not sure if I had the loss before the sub but I had the sub for a year and the tinnitus started a month ago.

The ear is very much significantly more tolerant of low frequencies than high frequencies. For example people ride in cars, particularly convertibles and on motorcycles with the windows open and thereby subject themselves to intense low frequency and subsonic noises without any lasting effects.

At the very least the ear follows the Fletcher Munson curves which again allow very much more intense sounds at low frequencies than middle frequencies:



The ear's threshold of hearing is 80 dB or more different between 3 KHz and 20 Hz. You can reasonably extrapolate even greater differences at frequencies below that.
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post #15 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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That you guys for the information. I am baffled by this tinnitus since I don't listen at reference level. My avr volume for movies and music is usually at 40+. I really do not know how I got this. Yes I have been to a few concerts years back and clubs and loud noises from living in a noisy world but I cannot sit here and pin point what did it.
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post #16 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 07:58 AM
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I really do not know how I got this. .
How old are you? Tinnitus often accompanies middle age, for no apparent reason.

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post #17 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
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How old are you? Tinnitus often accompanies middle age, for no apparent reason.

I just turned 40 in March. Audiology test showed mild hearing loss.
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If that would be the case half the people on the DIY forum would be deaf. They aren't.

Are you sure about that? tongue.gif

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post #19 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 08:22 AM
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I just turned 40 in March. Audiology test showed mild hearing loss.
Next comes bi-focals, ear hair and leg cramps. Getting old isn't for the faint of heart. rolleyes.gif

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post #20 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 08:23 AM
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I just turned 40 in March.
40 is when things start degrading or falling apart. (I'm 45.) Happy belated birthday, and welcome to the club. biggrin.gif
Quote:
Next comes bi-focals, ear hair and leg cramps.
Bi-focals: Check!
Leg cramps / mysterious aches and pains: Check!
Ear hair: So far, so good... smile.gif
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post #21 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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40 is when things start degrading or falling apart. Happy belated birthday, and welcome to the club. biggrin.gif
Bi-focals: Check!
Leg cramps / mysterious aches and pains: Check!
Ear hair: So far (almost 46), so good... smile.gif

Thank you for the belated BDay! I wish I was in a different club. I worry about having more hearing issues and the T getting worse. Can that happen or does it get better?
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AFAIK - and every case is different - although it never goes away, it can wax and wane in severity. So you may have days when it's not as bad...but you may not. Hard to know.

As with arthritis, degrading eyesight and other such joys of aging, it's likely one of those things you'll just have to find a way of coping with. frown.gif
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OP, while I think it's not likely your home system did this to you, I did some looking around on the subject you brought up and ran across something like this a few times so maybe if anything the low frequency stuff can help http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070214221229.htm

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post #24 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 08:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

OP, while I think it's not likely your home system did this to you, I did some looking around on the subject you brought up and ran across something like this a few times so maybe if anything the low frequency stuff can help http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070214221229.htm

Thank you for taking the tome to look up information for me. I am confused about LFE. I know there is low,mid and upper bass. In watching movies/music the sub will produce anyone of those frequencies. What you are saying the low frequency will most likely not cause damage but how about mid and upper bass?
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post #25 of 36 Old 06-24-2013, 10:48 AM
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Seems LFE is less likely to cause issues, at least with the sub woofage most of us have. Someone cited the 400Hz mark, which is a higher frequency than what is usually referred to as upper bass.

Now, some of these guys with sealed rooms and massive amounts of sub woofage and speakers to get up above reference levels....I gotta wonder how they're doing long term. I can't think it's much worse than what I've done in a car for quite a long time (altho I never got into super levels of woofage in a car).

What with the hearing problems with my dad, brother and sister, I worry about me joining their club. That article about the inner ear hair was new to me but I've never really looked into the subject much either. I've listened to music at loud levels for a long time, in my car, at loud rock concerts and clubs etc over the last 40 years. While I know I've got reduced hearing, for my age I think it's still better than many. No tinnitus for me so far to speak of (some very minor and brief ringing occasionally is the closest I come). One of my friends can be knocked out for hours at a time, but he led a rock band for years, too.

Good luck with getting some relief!

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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Seems LFE is less likely to cause issues, at least with the sub woofage most of us have. Someone cited the 400Hz mark, which is a higher frequency than what is usually referred to as upper bass.

Now, some of these guys with sealed rooms and massive amounts of sub woofage and speakers to get up above reference levels....I gotta wonder how they're doing long term. I can't think it's much worse than what I've done in a car for quite a long time (altho I never got into super levels of woofage in a car).

What with the hearing problems with my dad, brother and sister, I worry about me joining their club. That article about the inner ear hair was new to me but I've never really looked into the subject much either. I've listened to music at loud levels for a long time, in my car, at loud rock concerts and clubs etc over the last 40 years. While I know I've got reduced hearing, for my age I think it's still better than many. No tinnitus for me so far to speak of (some very minor and brief ringing occasionally is the closest I come). One of my friends can be knocked out for hours at a time, but he led a rock band for years, too.

Good luck with getting some relief!

Thank you
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post #27 of 36 Old 06-25-2013, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Is mid and upper bass the same as saying high frequencies?
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post #28 of 36 Old 06-25-2013, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asere View Post

Is mid and upper bass the same as saying high frequencies?
Nope, in the same way that upper-lower class isn't the same as upper class - it's still just part of the lower class. wink.gif

The bass part of the spectrum is sub-divided and includes mid-bass and upper-bass. High frequencies are a different part of the spectrum. This diagram gives you a rough idea (scroll to the bottom of the pic to see the ranges).
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post #29 of 36 Old 06-25-2013, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asere View Post

Is mid and upper bass the same as saying high frequencies?

No. Try this for visualization http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_display.htm

"I realize that somebody playing free music isn't as commercial as a hamburger stand. But is it because you can eat a hamburger and hold it in your hand and you can't do that with music? Is it too free to control?" - Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) discussing commercial success in the music biz


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post #30 of 36 Old 06-25-2013, 01:07 PM
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Shouldn't have taken that phone call....smile.gif

"I realize that somebody playing free music isn't as commercial as a hamburger stand. But is it because you can eat a hamburger and hold it in your hand and you can't do that with music? Is it too free to control?" - Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) discussing commercial success in the music biz


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