As they say, Enthusiasts: fifth time’s the charm. Fillmore South is finally rocking to the sound of brandy-new headphones, big ploofy ones with swooping wires and gold accents, and they say “Studio” right on them; headphones that have “Studio” written on them are like cars with racing stripes: better. Maybe I could record a masterpiece with these ‘phones; by buying them, I am 1/30,000th of the way to being Sam Phillips.
It has not been an easy road: I have been let down by the entire world, including Canada. Lied to, and tripped up by bureaucracy and my inability to remember passwords. This has, in a sense, been my Aleppo.
Half-a-million people are dead, man.
Right. We’re both suffering. Refugees had their homes destroyed and families killed; I was inconvenienced in the purchase of a consumer product.
So, have you not had headphones this whole time?
No, of course not. I have a perfectly good set, but I wanted a new one. Tell me how that doesn’t make me a survivor.
When Allfather Trump tanks the dollar in March and the supermarkets run out of food, you’re going to die first.
You think it’ll take until March? I put ten bucks on Valentine’s Day.
Yeah, but if you win…
We’re all gonna fucking die.
So: new headphones, and it’s been three days and my ears don’t hurt so apparently I bought the right ones.
A note for new readers: I have improperly-placed ears. I did not know this until recently; no one had ever brought it up, and between the ages of 13 and 19, I was a teenaged boy with other teenaged boy friends; none of them mentioned it, and teenaged boys enjoy pointing out each others’ flaws. They’re not big ears, nor do they stick out, but they must be in the wrong place or affixed at an incorrect angle, because three pairs of decent and well-reviewed headphones caused me agony within an hour.
I checked the reviews, both before and after buying all of these products; I did not see the phrase “my earlobes are on fire” anywhere, so I must assume that’s this is a personal problem.
The Sonys were first. This is where Canada let me down: I bought the suckers after seeing Dead Archivist David Lemieuxstafar wearing them in the commercial for the July ’78 box set. The man literally gets paid to listen to the Dead, I thought. How can he steer me wrong?
Into a moose. That is where David steered me, and I must assume he did it on purpose. Why else would you wear headphones in a video unless you wanted some lonely weirdo to buy them? I am owed an apology.
And then Sennheisers, and also a pair of Monoprice cheapies–you get what you pay for–and still my ears burned and would tolerate nothing but my shitty old Panasonics.
It must be a Christmas miracle, Enthusiasts.
Look at those shiny fuckers. That’s real gold-colored metal, and leather extracted from the cattle mines of Catalina. (That’s what they do on that island. You thought it was just a place where Angelenos went on day trips? Very naive.) “K240” is a very technical-sounding collection of letters and numbers, and–as I have mentioned–it says “Studio,” and not just on one side. Both cups, baby.
But, you ask, how does the Dead sound through them? (This is a blog about the Grateful Dead, if you’ll recall.) Excellent. Feel free to use whichever headphone-review-word you find most appetizing: ohms, balanced, soundscape, airy, impedance, range, whatever. You have to notch your EQ at 128K to get Phil to pop out, and then they sound wonderful, especially when you play this Charlie Miller transfer of 7/22/72 from the Paramount Theater in Seattle through ’em.
I got mine on sale, but they’re back up to $65 at Amazon. If that’s what you want to spend, then TotD heartily recommends the AKG K240’s.
BUT, the real endorsement must go to the pair that I’ve been wearing for almost a decade, on and off.
These are the Panasonic Bunch of Numbers and Letters, and I have been so far unable to kill them; I have had a pair for the better part of a decade, and every so often I upgrade to a “better” set, which breaks after a year, and then I go back to the Panasonics; they’re all dinged up and scratched, but the sound is exactly the same as ever, and the cord doesn’t crackle.
The AKGs are semi-closed, but as you can see the Panasonics have hard plastic cups that go around your ears, so even though they’re not noise-canceling, you can’t hear shit when you’re wearing them. If someone approaches you from behind, it will startle you into violence. What they are, though, is comfortable: you can wear ’em for six or seven hours at a time and not feel any pressure on your ears. (You will, however, be deaf. These ‘phones are deceptively loud.)
People waited all this time for that?
I never understood why anyone was interested, to be honest. But now I need a pair of earbuds.
Did you just light the fuse of an old-timey sperical bomb, which then blew up and killed you?
Yes, I did.