On Headphones:

There are music nerds, and there are audiophiles. While there is often an overlap, this is not always the case.

There are plenty of music dorks out there who listen to their tunes through shitty computer speakers or bargain basement earbuds - I know, because I used to be one of them. Life was simpler then, but also sadder, because there was absolutely no colour in my life. Everything was in those old-timey sepia tones, and all I could hear was some guy playing ragtimey piano.

And there are audiophiles out there who really don't seem to care too much about music - I know, because I used to sell speakers to them so they could listen to Nickelback. Which I'm pretty sure should be a war crime.

I'm pretty sure those "audiophiles" were actually "people engaged in pyschological warfare with their neighbours". Because if there's one way to get Mr. and Mrs. Johnson to move, it's playing "This is How You Remind Me" on full volume with crystal clarity at around 11 am.

I'd change time zones. Just to be safe. At least until the U.N. makes Nickelback against the Geneva Conventions.

But I digress.

When I was working at Future Shop, I had a pretty good discount - I could buy every product at cost. Unfortunately, I was generally frugal with my money, spending it on christmas presents and, you know, food. I'd look at the expensive TVs, Blu Ray players, and the like, and sigh wistfully - to say nothing of the guitars. However, after a good six weeks of selling high-end headphones while knowing next to nothing about headphones ("Who would buy a two hundred dollar pair of headphones? They all sound the same!"), I finally caved and bought myself "a present".

I justified it as homework - if I knew a bit about the product, I'd sell more of them, right? Also, everyone was mocking me for my JVC GUMY earbuds, and I'm a slave to peer pressure.

I got a pair of Shure 750 Headphones, a beautiful gray and black combo that cost me around seventy bucks - with a list price of around $170. I felt like I was getting a huge deal - and this was verified when I got home and started listening to Mother Mother on damn fine speakers. I had one of those moments faithful people describe as "transcendant". I think if you gave all those uber religious people some good headphones and Dark Side of the Moon, they'd stop blowing up abortion clinics and heeding the words of Glenn Beck.

Good music could lead to world peace. Imagine the possibilities!

Here's the thing, people. Good headphones will change how you listen to music, because you'll hear things you've never heard before, even on songs you know forwards and backwards. After my expensive headphones, I went from always skipping The Beatles' "Sun King" to finding myself enjoying the crossfades in the latter half of the song. I started smiling when I could hear the slight fret buzz on most of the Dodos' acoustic songs. And I would grin ear from ear when I could hear a slight squeak from the drum's kick pedal on Mother Mother's "Sleep Awake".

I also found myself wide awake at 3 am a lot more often, but that's a small price to pay for musical bliss.

There's nothing quite like the range that expensive headphones give you. When you can hear the breathing of your vocalist, the full range of the guitars, the clarity of the bass line, and the snap of the drums, you're hearing the song the way the artist wanted you to hear it. And that's amazing.

Great headphones don't just let you listen to the music, though - they let you hear the space between the instruments, which sounds like some mystical jedi shit, but it's true, and you'll know exactly what I mean once you hear it for yourself.

Moral of the story? Suck it up, and buy yourself a pair of decent headphones. Sennheiser has some great ones in the $70-90 range that have some great clarity of sound and decent bass. And the Shure 750s and 840s are absolutely AMAZING, and I think even the 840s are still lower than $220 after taxes. You could really go nuts and get yourself a pair of Monster headphones, but they're just overpriced and really no better than the Shures. And then, of course, there are BOSE headphones, which are pretty amazing, too.

Trust me, it's worth it. If you like music, it's worth becoming an audiophile.

Unless you like Nickleback.

In which case, the U.N. is coming for you.

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