From the original proposal, all of the questions with a score above 10 were about music itself: genres, artists, analysis, and the like (with the exception of How can I determine the lowest quality encoding a music file went through?). Now the we're in private beta, there are starting to be more questions about the act of listening to music rather than the music itself:

These are overall, pretty well-stated, specific questions, but do they belong here? I think they open the door to much poorer questions, like What are the best headphones for X genre? or What is the maximum dB volume of speaker X?

In my opinion, these questions are about audio instead of being about music, and should be off-topic.


Going through the original Area 51 example questions, I could only find three questions relating to audio/the act of listening to music out of the 94 questions. And only 2 of them had reasonable scores:

  • 4
    I can't think of one reason for not allowing them. Listening to music is what music fans do, it is as relevant as it gets, and a very important subject for that matter.
    – NPN328
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 22:27
  • This is also relevant to a question I asked today about headphones. Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 20:50

3 Answers 3


Is the act of listening to music on-topic?

Yes. You can't exactly be a fan of an auditory medium without listening.

these questions are about audio instead of being about music, and should be off-topic.

Music is audio, so you're never going to separate out concerns about audio from the scope of Music Fans. It's one thing if people are asking "What is sound?" or "What is the tympanic membrane made of?", but your example questions don't fit that mould.

I don't think the scope should be defined by "music". Per the name, it should be defined by "music fans". How equipment affects music is a prime concern for some fans. How music affects people is a prime concern for even more.

On the Music: Practice & Theory site, we get our fair share of "audio" questions. When they are clearly relevant to musicians and inform music making, they stay. I think the same approach should be taken here, allowing for questions that are relevant to fans.

Ultimately I think limiting the scope to a poor man's version of Wikipedia for facts about genres and artists would be unsuccessful and certainly not true to the Area 51 definition that people committed to.

  • ...certainly not true to the Area 51 definition that people committed to. I disagree with this. Of the 94 Area51 questions, only four were audio questions, and only two have scores above 0. Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 21:43
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    @DarrickHerwehe They committed to Music Fans, not People who don't listen to music. Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 6:00

As long as there is a strong component of music appreciation (or listening to music in general) motivating the question, it seems like a decent fit for this site. Let's see if a proliferation of this "edge case" causes problems with the scope of this site in actual practice. There may be a point where the "gear talk" or the biology/health issues become too far removed from the musical component of this site… but I don't think this is an actual problem needing resolution yet.

  • 3
    I think this question How do I make headphones more comfortable? is on the edge at least. In my opinion it is more about hearing or comfort related issues than about music. Nowadays I can't hear mid to high frequencies in one ear, but that would not be on-topic for Music Fans, though it does reduce my enjoyment of music.
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 0:39

I would consider

"What's the best speaker, ABC-123 or XYZ-321?"

to be definitely off-topic.

"How do I determine which speakers/headphones/stylus would suit xxx music"

The answer to this is "go & listen to some & pick the which you like best/can afford" & any further questions can be linked back to the first as dupes.

I think we need to stay well clear of - as do other SE sites - 'hardware & software recommendation' topics, which would only ever be of use to a small number of users.

We also need to stay away from, as has been mentioned, audio as distinct from music. Even though there is a close correlation between the two, one is 'science' & the other is 'art'

For me, a grey area which I would like to see remain on-topic, at least for now, are questions like What is the name for a track hidden before the CD content? or What does it mean for an album to be remastered? as, even though these require some technical explanation, the detail required of the answer is not going to be aimed at audio engineers, but at music fans; so will quickly gloss over the real detail that an audio forum would require, whilst providing sufficient 'inside knowledge' to give people an insight into 'how it's done'.

It certainly shouldn't need "It was compressed through an LA2 with a little LinMB to tidy up above 12k, then cut on a custom lathe with a left-handed flanging sprocket" as an answer.

  • I generally agree with you, but I disagree with the idea of trying to build a fence between “music” and “audio” as the two are not only related, but also both vitally important to music appreciation. Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 23:43
  • Not so much a fence between music & audio as one between music & hardware recommendation. I don't think we're ready to take on buying advice; leave that to avforums etc.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 7:55

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