All I wanted was a pair of headphones

Monday, July 11th, 2005 at 12:41 pm | 1,818 views | trackback url

My daughter has taken to “exploring” her environment by picking up, touching, and walking around with anything she can. Its great to see her combine things in her environment, learn how to put things together, and where things go.

Unfortunately, she walked off with my Sony earphone buds, and nobody can find them… I’m sure she put them down somewhere, but I’ve searched every crevace in the house and I can’t find them. They were a bit old anyway, so I decided it was time to replace them.

My other headphones were a pair of BOSE QuietComfort noise-cancelling units, but over the last couple of years, the headphone cups deteriorated, leaving little rubber pieces of “goo” on my head when I would take them off. Too bad that BOSE can’t make a good pair of headphones for $300 that do NOT deteriorate. Ironically, their warrantee covers everything except the exact kind of deterioration that I suffered. Obviously they knew about it ahead of time.


So I went out in search of a replacement set. I have simple requirements:

  1. Must be ergonomic to fit in my ear
  2. Must NOT be white, I don’t want that iPod “cool” look, period.
  3. The cord must be symmetrical. I don’t want the cord running down one side of my chest, and I certainly don’t want to have the cord running down the back of my neck and around my arm.
  4. They must be able to handle 10-20k Hz, minimum. A lot of the music I listen to is bassy and has lots of highs (ambient, electronica)

That’s it. Simple… Nothing magical, ergonomic ear buds with a symmetrical cable, in black, that can reproduce a decent range of frequencies.

I went to about a dozen different stores to find some earphones. I went to OfficeMax, Staples, FHM, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Target, WAL*MART, and some other local no-chain stores. The one with the widest selection was FHM in the local mall here. Note to self: Do not go to the mall on a Friday night when school is out. It felt like a high-school hallway in every store.

FHM had about 20 pairs of headphones, none of which I could take out and try. Most of them had these wacky wrap-around-the-back-of-the-head earbands with huge earcups. Their buds were big, round, and non-ergo, and the others had white cords, for the trendy iPod crowd. I don’t want to look like I have silver dollars in my ears. They should be unobtrusive, black, and ergonomic, so they fit in my ears without any gaps to let sound (i.e. bass) escape.

Best Buy had a good selection also, but their headphones had that cord-down-one-side thing that I hate (because my laptop’s input is on my left and the cord went down on the right, I’d have to have the cord draped over or under my arms as I type. No thank you. There was a set of KOSS buds there, non-white cord, symmetric, but went from 70Hz to 20k Hz.

simple earbuds
These are NOT ergonomic headphones, people…

slightly better earbuds
What the heck is this? Quark from Star Trek?

ugly earbuds
For the last time, NO NO NO NO NO!

Come on vendors, just make some useful headphones, and don’t make them out of recycled milk cartons, and people will buy them. People who care about reproducing their music at more than 128k… you know, REAL audiophiles? Remember them?

Somewhere there is a design team who thinks their customer base is actually ASKING for this kind of garbage. Do some research, talk to your customers, stop calling them “consumers”, and treat them like people. You’ll find your products are not even remotely close to hitting the target market you’re trying to penetrate.


All I wanted was a set of earphones. I ended up coming home with NOTHING. Its depressing. The whole world’s products are turning to disposable garbage, mass-produced, without a hint of quality. The 5-year old headphones I had were ten times better than what you can find today, and today’s headphones are almost twice as expensive.

Last Modified: Saturday, March 5th, 2016 @ 20:56

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