My favourite headphones were my first ones, the ones I got with my first Sony walkman. Very simple black in-ear headphones with asymmetric cabling that were comfortable in my ears. The walkman broke and I got a nice sleek Panasonic walkman later on – as well as a Panasonic discman which still works to this day playing music while I’m having breakfast. Just the headphones that came with those were quite uncomfortable. Which sucked – particularly after my Sony headphones suffered a terminal damage from a collision with my desk chair’s wheels.
Thus I was happy to have new headphones when I got my iPod. I thought they had a bit too much bass and they were unnecessarily trading in usability for ‘style’ by having symmetric cabling as well as the white colour, but they were all right, and while not being perfect much more comfortable than the Panasonic ones. So I kept using the iPod’s headphones, but – as many iPod users will be able to tell you – iPod headphones are of rather low durability. After just two years of constant but careful usage (no desk chair accidents!) the cables starting tearing apart at the ‘Y’ junction. And after a period of fixing this by the time-proven method of ‘taping’, things just broke for bad.
So I had to get new headphones. And while there are all kinds of fancypants headphones these days with ambient noise filtering or for plugging all the way into your ear, I didn’t want to go for one of those. Because those tend to be quite expensive and I am not going to spend €40 or even €100 on something of which I don’t know that I’ll feel comfortable using it (you can’t ‘try on’ headphones… for obvious reasons) and which I may accidentally break after a week.
Thus I went for a pair of cheap headphones. And there are plenty of those around. All of which look pretty much the same. And all of which seem to come with Apple-inspired symmetric cabling these days. Remembering my old Sony ones, I opted for Sony as they still looked pretty much the same. But in the end the new pair sucks ass in comparison to the old one. Not only does the plastic seem to be cheaper – I’d say slightly thicker and with actual edges – on them, they also sound pretty dull and – most daftly! – their cable is made of matte rather than shiny plastic. As those headphones have symmetric cabling as well, I’m likely to wear the ugly cable beneath my shirt which means the cable should be able to move smoothly when touching fabrics. And that’s something which shiny plastics are much better at.
So that wasn’t a particularly good buy. While I’ve escaped the fashion-victimness of the iPod headphones, the usability isn’t as good and Sony should just have damn tested those headphones to learn to inconvenience of the plastic they use. Grumble…
Sven — buy a pair of Sennheisers. They don’t cost much more, and they sound great.
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