Recently I found myself reliving a much different time in my life, from the past, while I was at my mothers house, and digging around in the garage. I went over to move around some belongings I had left in her garage years ago, and found shelves and shelves of records, amplifiers, speakers, endless cables and connectors, along with multiple turntables, mixers and a plethora of manufacturer’s cartridges, each with their own stylus to match; I like audio and love the experience it provides. The experience is great, but the music is what moves you, try to enjoy it more throughout your days and nights.
Music is a universal language that speaks to everyone, and everyone understands all that music says; Okay, not everyone’s brain is wired in the same manor, nor do we all have the ability to hear. We can’t all necessarily hear it, but we can all feel it. It provides an emotional connection between it and us, and when you go back to some music that you haven’t heard in a while, you can be transported to another place and time to where you first heard it, or to an important event in your life where it was playing as well; it’s like a good vibration time machine. Music can also make you feel happy, sad, angry, and much more; as I mentioned, music provides an emotional connection.
I encourage you, reader, to take advantage of what music has to offer. What I mean by that is really listen, open yourself up to a band, artist, or someone’s music, that you can connect with or relate to. Set yourself up in a place where you can relax, get comfortable, close your eyes, and block out the world (the internet included) while you play your favorite album, and listen to the band sing into their microphones, strum and pick the strings on their guitars, hear the vibrations from the drums & snares. As you do this, you’ll start to notice more details that you may not have heard as clearly, or at all. I’m not saying they weren’t there before, but rather you may not have been fully listening because of distraction. While you start to discover new sounds, let your mind take you to where this group is performing, really allow the willing suspension of disbelief, and this band could potentially be performing right in front of your mind’s eye. Once you get to this point, enjoy the show, but more importantly, enjoy the music.
Everyone has a different taste, a different preference, a different blend of genres that moves them, and in this day & age, there’s more options than there’s ever been available to us; you just need to spend the time to search, peruse, browse, & listen, indulge, and enjoy.
Record stores still exist; well, at least where I live they do, albeit not many are left. As I mentioned, I have a lot of vinyl. For me the whole experience of going to the store, speaking with the staff about new music arrivals, staff favorites, upcoming shows, digging through the crates, finding some special presses or hard to find tracks, bringing it home and giving them a spin in my home is a huge part of the music for me. To others, it sounds unnecessary and tiresome. Living in the digital age really eliminates my whole process, but I still do it today in store, & online.
Streaming Media is the rocket ship of modern music; it’s taken the listener to a place, where new options for songs, artists, bands, genres, & music services, are easily discoverable & shareable, whereas in the past, limited options were available, leaving the listener either spending more time searching, or just left out of the potential experience from others music. Today, our phones, computers, tablets, TVs, & media players can all provide access to multiple music services, so music is everywhere you have a connection to the cloud, and/or stored locally on the previously mentioned devices (not all streaming services are created equal).
Headphones come in so many shapes, sizes, styles, and are made for many different applications, like in-ear, on-ear, over-ear (open and/or closed back), that range from low-to-high-end audio; they all have there own sounds, and are made by a plethora of manufacturers who have voiced them each different from the next brand. Given this information, how do you know what’s “the best headphone” to choose? A better question is “What’s the best set of headphones for my listening experience, within my price range”? To answer this question, we should examine other areas of audio components often paired with your new potential headphones.
Headphone Amplifiers can either be for mobile, or stationary listening. Stationary listening would provide for a less distracted listening session, and both options offer tube amps for the audio purists out there. Digital Audio Players, or DAPs, are typically seen more in the HiFi communities, but are gathering traction with the newer generations thanks to companies like Astell & Kern, Questyle, HiFiMan, Sony, Pioneer, FiiO, Onkyo, & Neill Young’s former popular HiFi company, Pono; may they rest in peace. Cables can range in price based on performance, materials (copper or silver pureness, diameter, number of strands), and more. Some say “copper is copper, & I can’t hear the difference”, while others swear by a favorite brand and series of cable because they can hear the details.
Now that you know more about the accessories that pair with “the best set of headphones”, and know that everyone has a different preference, and each of the above items carry a different sound, you should understand that finding “the best sound” is something that can easily be a never-ending search, and that’s perfectly okay. If you dedicate more time listening, you will focus more on the music, and less on the environment; enjoy the music.
Live shows and performances is something you should try to at least do once a year, if not to support the artists, then do it for your soul. Live performances are nearly the clarity of what you’d get in a controlled studio environment, but it will either open your eyes to the music you’ve been listening to, or make you think twice about your current music selection. Obviously as you get older, your ears take the abuse of loud music, so please protect you hearing whenever possible; concerts included. There are plenty of earplugs made for protecting your hearing, but also allowing for an enjoyable live performance, so grab a pair on your way to the next show, and don’t forte to enjoy the music.