English Reading Tests

English reading for Japanese high school students: the Common Test for University Admissions in 2014 DAY 1

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Part 6

Read the following sentences and answer the questions (A and B) below. The numbers (1) to (6) on the left side of the text indicate the numbers of the paragraphs.

Listening Convenience and Sound Quality: Is There Another Priority?

(1) In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, a new device that could record and play back sound. For the first time, people could enjoy the musical performance of a full orchestra in the convenience of their own homes. A few years later, Bell Laboratories developed a new phonograph that offered better sound quality; voices and instruments sounded clearer and more true-to-life. These early products represent two major focuses in the development of audio technology making listening easier and improving the sound quality of the music we hear. The advances over the years have been significant in both areas, but it is important not to let the music itself get lost in all the technology.

(2) Although the phonograph made listening to music much more convenient, it was just the beginning. The introduction of the car radio in the 1920s meant that music could be enjoyed on the road as well. Interest in portable audio really started to take off in the 1980s with the development of personal music players that allowed listeners to enjoy music through headphones while walking outside. These days, we are able to carry around hundreds of albums on small digital players and listen to them with tiny earphones.

(3) Another factor affecting our enjoyment of music is its sound quality. In the 1950s, the term “high fidelity,” or “hi-fi” for short, was commonly used by companies to advertise recordings and audio equipment providing the highest possible quality of sound reproduction. Fidelity, meaning truthfulness, refers to recording and reproducing music that is as close as possible to the original performance. Ideally, if we listen to a recorded symphony with our eyes closed, we feel as if we were in a concert hall. Technological advances since the 1950s have resulted in modern recording techniques and playback equipment that allow listeners to come very close to the goals of high fidelity.

(4) Walking into an electronics store today, consumers are faced with an amazing variety of audio technology. Someone looking for a portable system can choose from hundreds of different earphones, headphones, and digital players that come in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes. For audiophiles ― music fans who see high fidelity as a priority ― a different section of the store features a range of large speakers and heavy components, such as CD players and amplifiers, that often come at high prices. Faced with all this technology and so many choices, music fans often spend a great deal of time researching and making decisions about the right equipment for their listening needs.

(5) Even after the equipment is bought, the advances in audio technology sometimes continue to take consumers’ attention away from the music itself. The convenience of portable systems lets people listen to music while doing something else, like jogging in the park or commuting to work. In these settings, music may be partly lost in background noise, making it hard for the listener to concentrate on it. In another case, audiophiles may spend a considerable amount of time and energy testing and adjusting their combination of components to achieve the highest standard of fidelity.

(6) With so much technology available, actually listening to music can sometimes feel like a secondary issue. We are lucky to be able to take our favorite recordings with us on the train to work, but if we listen to music while our attention is focused elsewhere, we miss much of its power. Likewise, although it is good to have access to high-quality equipment, if we worry too much about achieving perfect fidelity, technology itself comes between us and the music. Music is an amazing and powerful art form, and perhaps what is most important is to make time to sit and appreciate what we hear. Thanks to the genius of Edison and other inventors, the beauty of music is now more accessible than ever. It’s up to us to stop and truly listen.


A Choose the most appropriate answer from (1) to (4) below for each of the following [47] to [51] questions (Questions 1 to 5).

Question 1: According to paragraph (1), Bell Laboratories’ phonograph could [47] than Thomas Edison’s.

(1) be built more quickly and cheaply
(2) be operated with less difficulty
(3) play more musical instruments
(4) reproduce sound more realistically

Question 2: In paragraph (3), the author suggests that today’s best audio equipment [48].

(1) almost recreates the sound quality of a live concert
(2) is used to play live music in the best concert halls
(3) makes recordings sound better than original performances
(4) reproduces great performances from the 1950s

Question 3: According to paragraph (4), audiophiles are people who [49].

(1) care deeply about the quality of music reproduction
(2) perform in symphonies in good concert halls
(3) prefer live concerts to recorded performances
(4) work at shops that sell the best audio equipment

Question 4: Based on paragraph (5), which of the following is true? [50]

(1) Background noise often helps people concentrate on music.
(2) Portable audio systems tend to create background noise.
(3) Setting up a hi-fi system can take a great amount of effort.
(4) The busier people are, the more they appreciate music.

Question 5: The author’s main point in paragraph (6) is that [51].

(1) audiophiles tend to enjoy listening to music on portable devices
(2) convenience is an important factor in buying audio equipment
(3) music is the primary consideration, regardless of technology
(4) portable equipment will likely replace high-fidelity equipment

B The following table shows the paragraph structure and content of the text. choose the most appropriate one from (1) to (4) below to complete the table. However, do not choose the same one repeatedly.

Paragraph Content
(1) Two goals of audio technology
(2)[52]
(3) The idea of high fidelity
(4)[53]
(5)[54]
(6)[55]

(1) Advances in music listening convenience
(2) Concerns about the focus of music listeners
(3) The value of giving music your full attention
(4) The wide selection of audio products for sale

Anawer

A

Question 1 [47] (4)
Question 2 [48] (1)
Question 3 [49] (1)
Question 4 [50] (3)
Question 5 [51] (3)

B

[52] (1)
[53] (4)
[54] (2)
[55] (3)

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