Off Listening Nights: Is it One's Ear, the Beer or the Gear?

Last night I had one of my musical “off-nights.” I don’t have them frequently, but neither are they rare, and I’d like to know if anyone else has them. To explain, I have evenings when the music is sublime and it’s like I’m sitting in a concert hall, a jazz club or other such acoustic venue. Then other nights the music feels lifeless and doesn’t engage me. I’m almost bored and my mind wanders. In respect to the beer in this thread title, I’m referring to the ability for a glass of wine or other drink to be a “musical lubricant,” in the same way it can be a social one. But I’ve had both of the aforementioned music experiences when imbibing and when not, so that doesn’t explain things.

So, is it my ears that are off or on at different times? And by ears I’m referring to the brain they’re connected to. Is that part of the cerebrum that interprets music just not working some nights, in the same way someone isn’t in the mood for reading or watching TV? But, again, I’ve gone to live concerts where it’s taken me time to get into the music groove, but on these off-listening nights that usually doesn’t happen. That leaves my gear. I have a dedicated mains; I live in an urban area where the electrical grid is pretty stable, and I leave my gear on 24/7 unless I’m going away. But, can audio equipment be fickle? I can’t see how? I mean, they’re machines!

Anyway, as I said, I’d like to know whether others have or have had this experience. I suspect many have, and it would be interesting to hear some other perspectives on this.

I would say what you are experiencing is completely normal. Some days everything is spot on and other days it’s not. If it is happening every day then further investigation would be needed with the system or perhaps with you. Joy, stress and changes in our day to day life can have an impact on how we interpert our surroundings.



Yes, somedays we’re happier or more upbeat than others, for example.

By the way, Sea Kayaker, I ordered and received my NDX2 the other day. Out of the box I’m happy and will let you know how it improves as it burns in. Thanks for your advice on the other thread.


It is called ‘not being in the mood for’ even if you are not aware of your own state of mind.

Most of the times when I drive by myself I will have music playing on my Alpine but there are instances that I choose just to hear the engine, the road and the wind noises.

Three weeks ago the nurse adjusting the earphones on my head before sliding me into a torpedo tube for an MRI had asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to. My answer was ‘none’. I clearly preferred to hear the banging of the machine and my own body.


It’s a fascinating topic and one that I’ve wondered myself having had the same experience. Gear, ears, mains, other…? I’ve wondered especially about mains electricity noise at such times.

In the end, @seakayaker hits the nail on the head in my opinion - I think it simply comes down to a state of mind and has nothing to do with anything else [most of the time].

If I simply can’t engage then I usually admit that I’m not in the right space and switch off and come back the next day. Thankfully, such occasions are fairly rare.

@Haim - hope all ok with you - best wishes.


I think that sums it up pretty well.

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Sorry, I’ve never experienced an off night /session.

This is an interesting one. It happens to me occasionally, and although I feel mood may be a contributor, I feel there is something going on with the mains and maybe the combination of both equates to an off night. I find Saturday mornings to be when I never have an off session, so is it because its the weekend and I am well rested or because the grid has less strain on it? I think naim may be aware of it as their designers also have systems at home and live with them day to day. I wonder if a naim product addressing poor mains has ever been considered? Balanced transformers and that sort of thing. Bryston have one in their range but I think its just a rebadged Torus one. If naim did such a device, they would be leading the way into making their systems consistently good in all installations, and maybe even attack the humming transformer issue that has been around for ever. Consistency has always been a big part of naim’s production, maybe the next step is to create that same consistency in all installations.

I’d mostly agree with this. Except my second system (non Naim) never has these “off nights”. So while I’d attribute a lot to mood and sleep deprivation (kids!), it seems some systems are sensitive to some environmental factor I can’t define.

Too many kettles on in the neighborhood at the same time? Who knows.

There has been reports of new large holes in the ozone layer. Also reports of the sun going into a much more stormy phase.
Potentially a cause for debilitating our faculties and gear, certainly will affect the internet.

off-listening nights is it ones ear the beer or the gear

Might be all 3, but I know I don’t generally enjoy listening if I’ve had too much to drink.

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This also happens to me quite frequently. I put it down to mood.

I just switch off, come back another time, and it’s usually back on song.

Have also wondered about external factors though including mains and other devices in use around the house.

If i’m not in a very good mood (like feeling tired, cranky, and just down right irritable) my system often perks me up, cools me down, and i can breath… If however i’m feeling reasonably upbeat and in a positive mood then my system goes up way too loud on the volume dial, often resulting in some sort of guilt trip, and realising then that i may actually be mentally unwell. I haven’t managed to work out yet what the cause of this maybe. I tend agree with Pete here in that it maybe all three.:thinking::laughing::beers:

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Interesting in the context of my not experiencing “off nights”, also non-Naim. Too small a sample to be meaningful, but does make me wonder if it is a matter of the gear being less sensitive to electricity supply related factors than may be Naim gear.

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