3 Doors Down:
Why Bad Audio Is Bad for Music

Can mediocre audio gear hinder your relationship with music? The guys in 3 Doors Down say yes. Not that they aren't doing well--their CDs sell in the multi-platinum range. But they agree with the audiophile community that lack of exposure to good audio equipment hurts listeners and musicians alike. Three members of 3 Doors Down were kind enough to take questions from Home Theater, including lead singer Brad Arnold, guitarist Matt Roberts, and guitarist Chris Henderson.

Does a good audio system affect the way your music sounds to you? And to your fans?

Brad Arnold: I love to hear it when you're sitting in a room and it sounds like you're on stage with the band. It makes listening to music a whole new experience. It seems like people slack on sound these days. They'll go out and spend thousands on an HDTV and they're listening through the speakers on the TV set. That's not a high-definition experience in my opinion. If you're going to go all out, go out on your stereo because your ears are a lot more sensitive than your eyes. You'll be able to indulge yourself more on the audio end than you'll ever be able to on the visual end.

Matt Roberts: Listening to a 3 Doors Down record on great audio equipment really gives the listener the feel of what was going on when we were mixing the record. You just hear those intricacies and it makes it that much better. You'll have heard the song ten times and you go back and listen to it and you'll hear something you never even realized was there. We still do that sometimes. A lot of kids today are growing up listening to stuff on their MP3 players that doesn't really sound like it was meant to sound. It's a disadvantage for us as artists and for the listeners. We don't expect people to give up their iPods, but just to be more aware of the high-resolution formats and quality equipment that are out there today. Hearing is believing, and once you've heard your favorite music on a great audio system, you'll never want to listen any other way.

When did you first get into audio, and what impact did that have on your relationship with music?

Chris Henderson: When we started out, we recorded at local studios here in Biloxi. We would a get a product back, we would listen to it, and think it sounded great. But when first recorded at Ardent Studios [in Memphis], even the scratch tracks--the first thing that the band recorded--sounded a million times better than anything I'd ever heard in my entire life. I was blown away. That's when I made a decision to never settle. I decided then to try and make everything sound as great as it possibly could. For years I just never realized how good it could sound, and I felt like I was selling myself short as a fan of music.

What gear do you use to listen to music at home? Your favorite studio monitor?

Matt Roberts: When I come off the road there's definitely a couple of weeks of just sheer decompression, and that consists of me going through my DVD library, getting the new films that are out, or just listening to new music. I have the Pioneer Elite plasma TV so I can get the best picture, and the B&W 802 series audio system so I can get the best sound. I also have Aragon amps and Monster Cable interconnects. (We use the Yamaha NS 10 in the studio, but they've actually been phased out now, I think.)

Why should listeners pay more for good sound?

Chris Henderson: You know, you can't get a million-dollar sound on a two-dollar piece of gear. That's what we've learned throughout the years and what music fans should keep in mind, too. You really need to find some high-quality equipment and learn to use it to get the most out of your entertainment experience, whether it's just audio or total home theater. CEA's GreatAudio website has a place where people can go and find a retailer close by where they can go and get a demonstration and learn more about how to choose audio equipment that's right for them. More people should take advantage of that because once they hear it, they'll know what this is all about.

To find a high-end a/v dealer in your area, go to GreatAudio.com. The 3 Doors Down website is 3doorsdown.com.