Sometimes when I’m working, I want music playing, but I don’t really know what I want to listen to, and I don’t have the patience to think about it. In these situations, I have tried listening to classical music, jazz, and lo-fi (hip-hop/trip-hop, etc.). Over the past week, I gave Endel an honest try, too.
While I enjoy classical music in a live setting, I don’t like listening to it in my headphones. Its wide dynamic range makes it so that I can’t hear some sections of it, and other sections are too loud. That doesn’t work for me; I want something that is not too loud, but is completely audible, all the time.
Jazz (especially classic jazz) was what I listened to almost exclusively during my senior year of college. It got me through reading and writing hundreds and hundreds of pages of text. However, I find my engagement with jazz to be all over the map. I love some of it and I hate some of it, and the kind of jazz you can just have on, not listening to—smooth jazz, I suppose—is just bad. All in all, I find jazz too distracting to listen to while I work, unless I listen to a single album that I already know and love.
Lo-fi hip hop is my favorite background music at this point. I appreciate its nearly constant beat, somewhat consistent tempos, and there appears to be a never-ending supply of it. My wife hates when I play it in the house when I am doing chores or writing, though, which means I can only really listen to it via headphones when I’m around her. It works great on my headphones while I read on my iPad, or through my loudspeakers when I work.
Over the past two weeks, I tried to get into Endel, which offers an AI-based soundscape that constantly changes and continually evolves as you listen to it. I like the idea a lot more than the reality of it, though I think it has a lot to do with my tinnitus. Endel is extremely treble-heavy and bass-light (really, there is no bass at all), and only one of its scenarios, Focus, has a beat. I would not describe the sounds as shrill, but they aggravate my tinnitus instead of helping me ignore it. Last week, I listened to Endel exclusively through headphones (my B&O H9s and my AirPods) while I did chores like the dishes and laundry. This morning, now that I am back at work, I tried listening to the Focus soundscape for a few hours through my loudspeakers. It drove my wife and both my kids absolutely bananas. Each of them yelled at me to stop playing it, even though it was not playing loudly, and they were on a different level of the house. After that experience, I think I will not be buying an Endel lifetime subscription.
Tomorrow I plan to listen to Lofi Girl for much of my workday. That is the best bet for me, when I can’t make up my mind about music and need to focus on my work more than what I am listening to.