Over the past decade, there has been a monumental shift in listeners’ expectations for headphones. From being a mundane tool for listening on the go, they have simultaneously become an overt fashion statement as well as a device that can enhance your music beyond recognition.
The advantage of this is we have an enormous choice of headphones at every possible price point. The byproduct is that it has given rise to entire subcultures of listeners, each with their own quirks and characteristics.
In today’s post, I want to talk about a few of the archetypes that I’ve encountered since working in the audio industry. How many have you spotted yourself? Are you a member of any of these? What have I missed?
For the audiophile, there is more pleasure to be gained from looking at a frequency response curve than actually listening to the headphones themselves. Instead of listening to music that they actually enjoy, Audiophiles have a carefully curated playlist of famously well-mastered tracks to show off a headphone’s incredible audio presentation.
If the Audiophile is listening at home, they’ll have a desk full of mini tube amps and a monitor with the Tidal interface burned onto the screen. On the go, they’ll need a dedicated audio player, a portable amplifier, and of course, a set of wired headphones so large that regular people would deem them impractical to travel with.
In the immortal (yet somewhat repetitive) words of Meghan Trainor: “I’m all about that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble. I’m all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble. I’m all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble. I’m all 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass.”
Just like Meghan, Bass Heads are only happy when their skull is being pummelled by a relentless low-pitch onslaught. They’re easy to spot on the streets thanks to their heads being blurred by the beat of a kick drum in an EDM or hip-hop classic. This visual cue is a convenient warning that getting any closer will result in internal bleeding or a lifelong addiction to big, brain-mashing bass.
Before 2008, headphone design was pretty one-dimensional. If you insisted on anything more adventurous than a combination of black, white, and silver then you were commuting in silence.
Because of a medically trained rap artist, things are different now. So different, in fact, that people actually prioritize the branding and looks of headphones over their sound quality. What good is listening to your favorite tunes if you can’t do it while peacocking with some candy red and gold adorning your head? Or maybe even just draped around your neck without listening to music at all.
The day after going to a gig or club, our ears are liable to have their own little hangover. Symptoms include high-pitched ringing and muffled hearing and can last up to 24 hours. So, why do we do this to our precious little ears?
That’s easy. Music is better louder, at least, that’s what a Louder Lout will tell you. This is why their smartphone volume is always at max, and any attempts by manufacturers to limit the volume on an audio player will incite apoplectic frustration.
Perhaps the Louder Louts had no response when DJ Snake asked: “Turn Down for What?” Fortunately, the rest of us all knew the answer was: to avoid irreparable hearing loss, duh.
Despite the absolute plethora of choices of headphones at every possible price, some listeners just aren’t interested in making another purchase. Phones already come with headphones, so why bother?
Careful spending and not being wasteful are certainly admirable traits. But when you’ve been using the same headphones for years, the cable is yellowed and fraying, and the left earpiece only works when you hold it in a certain position and face north it might be time to consider investing in a new pair.
The Unwanted DJ
Imagine being at a club where you don’t like the music. Now, imagine you were in that club at 8 am. If you’re struggling to imagine it, simply commute on a bus or subway in a big city. Chances are you’ll encounter a teenager or two taking the initiative to provide a banging soundtrack, whether you want it or not.
For the Unwanted DJ, their music is so good that headphones would be an insult to the artist; songs of this quality deserve to be heard by everyone!
The Unwanted DJ is possibly an unexpected choice for this list because they don’t use headphones at all. They earn their mention thanks to them being the group that should definitely, 100% buy some headphones. Please.
Finally, as promised, it’s time to announce the winner of Liberty 2 Pro. Turn up your headphones (not too loud!) for the drumroll………… Congratulations to @Arnold_White! Please send a DM to @Loz with your email and delivery address then get ready for some awesome audio.
And stay tuned to The Collective, we’ve got a lot in store over the next few weeks!
Vote For Your Own Audio Profile
- Bass Head
- Style Sucker
- Louder Lout
- Lazy Listener
- The Unwanted DJ