What’s, uh, the DEAL with headphones? (finding a nice pair)
Remember the good old days when you could try headphones before you buy them? All that sticky earwax stuck to the cushions, the gigantic padded ear cups, the thundering bass provided by the drivers that could fit in them? How about that slightly wet sensation you felt after putting them on, indicating a recent test by a maybe less-washed consumer before you? I guess there were upsides and downsides to the process. But at least you knew what you were getting before you shelled out the cash for them. Having personally spent a decent chunk of cash for a pair in the not too distant past, only to find out when I got home that they had horrible bass without pressing them so hard into your head manually that it often lead to a headache, I feel for you. Even high-end manufacturers are guilty of delivering huge technical promises and delivering what sounds like old am radio speakers glued into tiny cardboard boxes. Enough is enough!! Not only that, but I’ve found the consumer reviews of particular pairs to be about as reliable as the claims on packaging! One pair I purchased got multiple rave reviews on Amazon, but when I got them they sounded like absolute garbage, were uncomfortable and stopped working after about 3 weeks. (one ear just stopped working, and I’m NOT unusually rough on headphones) Typically, the ones that truly sound good are either huge and really goofy looking OR tiny but in the price range of about 200 dollars or MORE! And one pair I actually got a chance to try from a really well-known brand (it was about 89 bucks) sounded like crap warmed over with a towel wrapped around the drivers. NOT GOOD!
So what’s a music lover to do?? Well, at home I tend to stick with closed-cup, studio monitor headphones I’ve grabbed at a discount at actual music stores. Places like Guitar Center or your local, mom and pop source for musician’s equipment. Why? Because they usually sound about twice as good as the headphones you get at the bigger stores that claim all kinds of premium quality and features. And they typically range in price from..
$HOLY CRAP HOW ARE THESE SO CHEAP??.99
$way too much for something that’s going to get tangled and screwed up way too soon for the price of an average car payment.99.
Take your pick, but I choose the former. Those things are shockingly good. And the prices can be fantastic if you catch them during a sale. As you know, however, they are usually huge and not pleasant for away-from-home listening.
But for iPod or Zune use? That’s where things get tricky. The ear-buds that came with my Zune were horrible. But I expected that in advance so I grabbed a random pair of under-20 dollar headphones off the rack and took them home. JVC, slightly over the ear, padded cups. I believe THESE are the ones. For once, I got lucky and they sound damned fine for a pair under 20. They are not a miracle, or outstanding by any means. But they sound really good and are very comfortable on my abnormally large, hard-to-buy-a-hat-for head. At Fry’s I grabbed them for about 14 or 15 dollars. Do any of you fine readers have suggestions for a nice pair? Any unbelievable deals under 30 bucks? How about stories of expensive pieces of crap? Did you try the same over-priced ear-buds that I did? Were they priced at about 200 bucks and sounded about as good as the ones you see in discount bins? Do you know of any sites where decent , trustworthy reviews can be found? Please share and I hope my suggestions helped you.
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