Article: How Are You Listening (Part 2)

Article: How Are You Listening (Part 2)

As hip hoppers (and music fanatics in general), we’ve all got headphones, and if you’re anything like me, those headphones are a part of your life. They go where you go and see what you see. They’ve been there for you through heartbreak, and they’re there when you’re on top of the world. Always there to compliment your mood, and in some cases, change it.

Part 1: The Death Of The Boombox

Part 2: Headphones, My Best Friend

As hip hoppers (and music fanatics in general), we’ve all got headphones, and if you’re anything like me, those headphones are a part of your life.  They go where you go and see what you see.  They’ve been there for you through heartbreak, and they’re there when you’re on top of the world.  Always there to compliment your mood, and in some cases, change it.  

When you put on your headphones, it fills your ears, mind, and basically your life at that moment with whatever accompaniment you choose.  They don’t say “hey, try this, it’s new hotness”.  They always agree with you’re choice for the soundtrack of your life. When you’re alone, this is an incredibly powerful thing.  When there’s people around, fond memories come easy.  Someone says something funny… Someone does something outlandish… Someone says something profound… there’s a thousand scenarios I could run through here.  But when you’re alone, these moments don’t come as easy and rarely have the same impact.  When you have your little friends with you though, being alone is much different.  

A couple of months ago, I was walking around the mall while waiting for Lensecrafters to finish my new glasses.  I was listening to The Flaming Lips cover of Pink Floyd’s opus Dark Side Of The Moon (really incredible album by the way).  I walked around the mall almost mindlessly, focusing more on listening than on the surrounding.  The song “Money” started playing and I internally giggled at the irony.  At that moment I realized I was literally standing in between Coach, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, and Burberry stores.  I stopped in my tracks and looked around for probably 3 minutes and laughed to myself.  

Headphones 1
The 909 hats and snares piercing my ears and the 808 kick seemingly shaking the ground beneath me and only me… along with the consumer orgy around me, it was absolutely beautiful (Hype Williams couldn’t have made a better video).  The real irony was that I loved the song and the meaning deeply, but I was at the mall listening to a $250 iPod Classic with $200 Bose headphones, while waiting on my Ralph Lauren Polo frames at Lensecrafters!  That’s a fond memory that I’ll always carry with me because of a song that my friend was playing while I was by myself.  See my point?  For music fanatics like us, headphones are taken seriously (and should be).  

As a youngster in the 80s, I was all about the early Sony “In Ear” headphones.  Then after finding hip hop and moving into the 90s I changed to the big over the ear jobs.  Then back to in ear buds after they became less treble-centric (you know those old in ear joints were EAR PIERCING with the treble!!).  I still stand behind in ear headphones.  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think you need big huge ear muffs to get proper bass response.  I’ve owned and used them all… Sony, Philips, V-Moda, Apple (not the standard iPod headphones, the good ones), Bose, Skull Candy, Altec Lansing, and even M-Audio/Ultimate Ears (AMAZING, try the IO10s!).  All of which produced just as much bass as the big ear muffs, but with a more even (or balanced) range.  Unfortunately, as we all know, the phones themselves rarely go bad.  It’s always the plug or the jack… AHHHHHH, THE JACK!!!!!  I curse you headphone jack!!!

Headphones 2
Recently, I’ve gone back to my roots.  Before Christmas I bought a pair of Bose “Over Ear” headphones, and am in love with them. For me, they’re perfect, decent volume level (on portable devices like mp3 players), quality balanced sound, they block almost all outside noise (despite being marketed as explicitly NOT noise canceling), and they have a REPLACEABLE cable (all praise the replaceable cable).  They’re incredible, and I’ll champion these headphones till the day I die.  I digress…

Do these headphones I love so much make me who I am?  Hell no!  I’m MartyMar, headphones or not.  However they are a part of me a lot of ways.  They’ve told me “hey everythings gonna be alright” when I’m in doubt.  They tell me to chill out when I’m stressed.  When I’m hype, they keep the party going for me.  When I can’t sleep, they sing me a lullaby.  When I’m tired, they give that little boost to get me through that last hour of work.  They’ve even been known to bring the otherwise obvious to my attention when I’m missing it (as evidenced above).  They truly are an extension of me.  I mean, I’ve had a lot of stereo gear in my day (36 years and counting), but no speakers I’ve ever owned in my life get the kind of play my headphones do.  If my headphones are my friend, my speakers are a good acquaintance at best.

What do you own?  How do feel about them?

Words by: Marty
Related: Hip Hop & Sound Quality

Danny

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.