Headphones – the thought of them brings to mind so many different varieties. In-ear, on-ear, over-ear, open-back, closed-back, planar drivers and electrostatics. The list is long and I don’t have the space to go through all the different types.
We recently brought in a new line of headphones from or long time speaker manufacturer Focal, in addition to our Grado line. Each has its own distinct design and also its own very different sound characteristics. Neither is better or worse, just different.
Now what is different is each of our customers, some like an on-ear, some like in-ear. Others like a more open sound, some like a bass heavy sound, that is where each headphone becomes tied to an individual, and the listener to each style of headphone.
I have 4 pairs of headphones myself, and which I use depends on what I am listening to and what the source is. If I am listening to my 2-channel system at home, I like my on-ear, closed-back headphone. If I am out for a walk with the dog, I like an in-ear design that works well with my portable device. I also have moments where I just want to pop on a pair of headphones and listen on my computer. At those times I like a more open design where I can hear what is going on around me, and so can everyone else. That too is a by-product of an open design. Others can hear what you are playing, and that can be a bit annoying if you are on a plane, or riding the ferry to work. Your traveling neighbor gets to hear everything that you hear, but we will leave that discussion for another time.
Back to headphone design and uses. We have a couple of customers that have as many as 10 or even 20 headphones. Some just like to collect them like you would any other collectible. Some want to experience all the different varieties for themselves, and enjoy switching between them.
I believe that the art of listening to music is making a bit of a comeback. Daily we get new and old customers coming into the store to buy headphones. Young people who are just starting out in the world of hi-fi and want to start with a great pair of headphones. Even if they are just using their mobile device, they are looking for great sound from a pair of headphones, and are willing to spend $300 or much more to satisfy the need for better sound. We also have customers who have been with us for years looking to update their headphones from an existing pair they may have had for many years, also looking to improve their sound and enjoyment. I guess that is the point of this hobby – always looking for better sound.
Recently a large company that rhymes with snapple bought a headphone manufacturer in hopes to integrate it into their line of products. I hope the point was to improve the design and make it better and more accessible to a wider audience and not to make it more expensive and harder to adapt to the customer’s needs. My point is that having so many designs and different types of headphones is a good thing. There are many types of listeners out there and each has his own needs as far as what he or she likes. My job as an audio salesman is to help them find the right headphone for them, its out there…I can help.