The case for headphones

I feel like a pariah most days.

Walking around with rather ridiculous headphones, sauntering along as though life didn’t mean shit except the sounds I was listening to at that very moment. I’ve never had any qualms walking around with massive open back headphones with, smooth jazz and post rock bumping along, but I made sure the reason I ever wore them was because the audio quality on everything else was shit. But a great deal of the time it still is for most other headphones.

I mean, take for example your average pair of Beats by Dre headphones, it doesn’t matter which one, they all have the same level of balance built into all of them. Which is to say they all produced a mushy, bass-y overly overly high frequency noise, that has no sound stage in my experience.

I mean, sure, the reason most people have them, is not because they’re good headphones in anyway, but because nether regions of marketing personnel we’re sweaty with the prospect of the being able to sell a piece of shit product for an exorbitant amount of money, because well society doesn’t support whats good, they support what they think they’re supposed to. (Reminiscent much of past posts?)

So, clearly I should detest the massive headphone second coming that seems to have overtaken the idea of rich sound stage for tinny sound derived from the cheapest drivers on the market.

If I wasn’t about to answer the question myself, I would have said yes, but in reality, I don’t mind. People will listen to shit sound because they can’t tell the difference, and that’s fine by me. What I will attest to however, is that shit sounding headphones, and this includes the entire subsection that are known as ear buds, are fundamentally altering the ways in which we perceive sound and in turn are able to internalize brain function and perception.

Yep, finally got to the meat and potatoes. Earbud’s and bad sound stage have for a long time been a longstanding hindrance towards what I deem: being able to hear whats around you. By listening to the earbuds your attention is not focused on the nuances of the sound but rather on attempting to extrapolate from the sound what you believe will be the necessary feedback. The problem is it seems to, in my personal experience, put you in a bubble and lets you stay there. You’re not connected to everyone around you, you’re just silo’d off like guinea pigs trying to figure out how the next game of candy crush can be won.

Again, it comes down to they type of earbud of course, as with headphones, that their quality is very dependent upon the care of their design as well as hardware. Yet, as someone who’s used, dozens if not over a hundred different ear buds at this point, some I was told would give me what I was looking for. I always came away with this feeling of them sounding great, but me losing something in the process, an underlying space to the sound. They would immediately hit my cochlea and the vibrations would always feel so deliberate, it didn’t give me a chance to feel its sound.

Now I’m not knocking at all the convenience and portability of earbuds, but what I lose with convenience I lose to, is far worse than a massive pair of headphones on my head making me look like I stepped out of studio recording with the massive coil dragging behind me. I lose unconscious attention.

Alright, maybe I lost whoever read that, and its understandable, its a new one to me as well. But please, bear with this madness. (Inception tactics, remember?)

When I listen to anything with a sound stage, wherein the acoustics’s bounce and resonate, I feel the sound more then I hear it. Its something I don’t have to consciously process, while still retaining all the fun of listening to a sound. So when I listen to music, I’d rather have it out where the sound bounce, like a decent sound system (yes, even that has to be decent), or a great pair of headphones. The sound isn’t just hitting my inner ears, its spreading out, and being given room to live.

So, my problem with the shit headphones and well all ear buds?

When we don’t let the sound live on its own, and attempt to “hear” it more then we feel it, I feel as though we lose touch with anything we’d being doing at any give moment, we relegate conscious brain function to “listening” instead of feeling it. That’s why its so easy for most people to pop them in/on and just lose what they’re doing, because all their doing is listening instead of feeling as well.

When I speak of feeling, of course I speak to the idea that we pay attention with our bodies as well as our minds. I probably should have explained this earlier, but that’s job for people who edit.

In ridiculous conclusion, I’ve learned through an incredible amount of shitty trial and error, that I know how something affects me, at a fundamental level. That listening to something with shit, will make me feel and perceive everything as shit. Conversely if it sounds amazing but i still don’t feel the sound, my brain tends to go haywire because it thinks a conversation with itself is cool since it can’t pay attention to much else.

I should really write these more often, with more of a purpose in mind. Fuck it, Next time join me for a discussion on why Inception might actually be the best movie ever in the history of cinema of all time… or finding achieving zen in a server room. Ladder doesn’t sound promising at all.

Want good headphones? Go get these: Ma Babies…

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