Huis 33 1/3: Album Listening sessions


The idea behind Huis 33 1/3 is as simple as can be: music lovers gathering to listen to a 'classic' album - uninterrupted and in the most ideal circumstances possible (technical equipment, surroundings,..) - always introduced by an adept of the album in question.


Since the arrival of the internet, the importance of individual songs has increased at the expense of the full album or CD. Listeners search for their favourite songs, download them and listen to them in shuffle-mode.
Thanks to new technology, the amount of music on offer has never been so great and pretty much every kind of music is only a few clicks away for anyone in the world. Gone are the days of searching in record crates for the album you always wanted, and we no longer have to fear that our local record store won't be able to get hold of that latest album by our favourite artist, who only pressed 2000 copies.


However, aside the many advantages offered, there is also a less positive aspect to this evolution: The (sound) quality of the music has been strongly reduced, often without us realising it.
Because the digital distribution of music has to take place quickly (what doesn't have to take place quickly these days?), a way was sought to make these files ‘smaller’ so that they were easier to circulate. By removing elements of the music that were 'inaudible' and compressing the songs, the music files (MP3s, amongst others) are reduced in size than thus faster to upload or download.


But it is due to this compression that a heap of information is lost. It's usually exactly these 'details' that give the music its unique character. The result is that the sound quality is reduced (depending on the level of compression) and sounds can be heard that were not present in the original recording. The most important of which are: a (metallic) bell-like sound, pre-echo, drop-outs, vibrations, the feeling of listening underwater, a hissing sound, grainy sound,…
In many cases though, the listener doesn't realise that the music doesn't sound as it was initially intended. Many are happy enough to listen to heavily compressed MP3s on their mobile phone, Iphone or MP3 player or to view YouTube video clips on a 8 X 5 cm screen with the sound that comes from their built-in (mono) speaker laptop speakers.


Many albums were created as an artwork in themselves and so deserve to be listened to in their entirety. A great deal of attention was often paid to obtaining the best possible sound quality, the artwork, the order of the songs, the mood of the songs and the ‘story’ the artist wanted to involve the listener in. In many cases, no effort was spared to record the albums in the best studios, in order to make use of the best sounding mixing tables, microphones, pre-amps, compressors, reverbs,  etc... All of this is completely destroyed in a few mouse-clicks.
In order to offer a counterweight to this manner of experiencing music, we came up with the idea of listening in group to an album in its entirety - without interruption and with the best possible technical means -and in this way experience the album as it was originally intended to be heard when it was recorded, mastered and released.

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