Headphones: The Worst Gadget to Shop For

Shopping for headphones is a real pain in the ass. If you care about sound quality, or have an ear for music finding headphones that meet your needs is difficult for a number of reasons.

I’m currently on the hunt for a pair of in-ear headphones to plug into my iPod when I go into NYC. I have a great pair of on-ear headphones, but they aren’t any good for travel, and those white fashion statement iPod headphones really sound like junk.

Here’s the dilemma:

No In-Store Testing

Want a TV? Just walk into Best Buy and look at the pictures. You may have to reset the image settings, but you can physically look at the device.

Want a computer? Look at the specs, read a few reviews, go into the store and make sure that the keyboard and trackpad are comfortable, and make your decision.

If you want headphones you can only read very subjective reviews, that are probably written by people who have no concept of sound quality, nor do they tell you the type of music they are listening to, and that matters a lot.

Headphones you use for rap are not the kind you want for blues rock or classical music.

There aren’t any in-store tests for most headphones, so your purchase is blind.

Too Many Options

There are so many models and variations of models out there that it’s hard to keep track of what’s available, let alone what’s good.

A search for headphones on Amazon results in a paralyzing array of options where the only significant differences seem to be price. Good luck sorting through that mess.

No Clear Standards

Most gadgets have specs that are pretty easy to decipher with minimal training. That’s not the case with headphones.

The Big Brands Suck

Bose blows. Their devices have poor mid ranges, and that’s where the soul lives in music. Listening to a guitar through Bose equipment is like ripping the heart out it.

The brands that are supposed to be “the best” only sound good to people because they’ve been told that they sound good.

Good marketing ≠ Good sound quality

Search Method

My search has taken me to a number of headphone blogs, and the only method I’m finding even remotely useful is finding multiple reviews of the same products by many people who care about sound quality.

When I make a purchase, I’ll let you know how it goes.

There is a lot of potential to make money in revolutionizing headphone sales.

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