Sound Decision

July 13, 2013

tony-headphonesA while ago I borrowed a friend’s Beats Audio headphones to listen to the vinyl transfer of Sign o’ The Times another friend of mine made for me. The CD of the album is horribly mastered for some reason, and I had a dream about finding a vinyl copy at a flea market. Trusting my dream, I drove down the road to the local flea market (fortunately it was Sunday morning so it was open) and within five minutes found the record for $10 (a bargain, but I negotiated it down to $6 for the fun of it).

Anyway, while listening to that and all the other music I’ve been into lately I became spoiled by the quality of the sound coming out of those Beats. The clarity of the sound was way beyond what I experience from my trusty white Apple earbuds. With the seed planted I knew I had to start my research into that state of over-the-ear headphones. I didn’t want to buy a pair of Beats because they are far too trendy for me and way more than I wanted to pay ($250 for the model I sampled). After spending a few hours reading reviews (both professional and Amazon user) I decided on the Sony MDR-V6, which list for $100. Amazon had them a bit cheaper but I wanted an even better bargain so I added them to my wish list and waited. A few weeks later they came down briefly to $60 and I ordered straight away.

I couldn’t be happier with them. They sound a bit different than the Beats. Not better or worse, just different. The Beats boost the bass (naturally, considering their hip-hop origins), and I prefer a more neutral sound for my broad musical tastes. The sound field is a bit more “airy” on the Sony phones, almost as if it was on a wider stage or something, and the Sony matches the sound clarity that allows each note to be heard distinctly. The Beats are a bit louder, but that’s not a problem since I don’t turn the sound up all the way on the V6s anyway.

So why are Sony headphones such a bargain? After all, they’re not exactly known for undercutting the competition. Well, it turns out that Sony has been making these headphones for decades. They are used widely in professional audio and video circles (where the neutral sound is appreciated) and haven’t changed much in all this time. I remember over-the-ear headphones being popular during my childhood, but they went out of favor with the advent of Sony’s Walkman (ironically) and then the iPod craze.

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fallingI’m reading a lot of books at the moment. I’m reading Flowers for Algernon and The Great Gastby (again) as part of my summer school ELA teaching experience. I’m also reading Flip Your Classroom in preparation for the next school year. Most importantly, I’m re-reading When You’re Falling, Dive which was given to me by a dear friend a few years ago and has been quite influential on me.

When You’re Falling is basically about acceptance of life as it really is, and about counteracting the conditioning that we’ve learned over the years. Here are a few quotes for the first section followed by my current thoughts on each:

“It’s not that we gain the power to change circumstances; we develop the skill to determine our experience of those circumstances.” (page 4)

This is one I really picked up on the first time I read it. Now, when I’m feeling blue (for a reason or just because I’m having an “off” day) I let myself experience it. I don’t try to fight it; I accept that being sad at times is part of life.

“I’ve stopped trying to make myself better, and I’m happier.” (page 43)

This one is particularly interesting. When you think about it, self-help books in general are feeding the conditioning that says “I am not good enough as I am” under the guise of helping you.

“…dissatisfaction is at the root of our addiction to distraction.” (page 52)

How much of life is about distraction?  Entertainment or work or even love can be a way to distract ourselves from the reality of life. What are we afraid to face?