Re: do you really need to have hard sounds?
I think it's an interesting question that's meritable.
In terms of room acoustics and noise and not bothering neighbors, it's relevant.
I'm gradually re-reading some ideas about equal loudness contours and monitor VST-based output EQing
to see if it's possible to quietly make music which doesn't sound too loud or too soft or muffled or anything when played back at normal levels.
I've done tests like that before and have mixed at different times of day and night but never really
got too scientific about it.
But sometimes ambient music is really nice for not having harsh sounds.
And some forms of downtempo idm don't necessarily have harsh percussion.
I think it's also a good consideration for ear fatigue.