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August 22, 2007

Headphones are important!! (inner ear for the win)

Filed under: Uncategorized — espeed @ 2:30 pm — Tags:

This post has nothing to do with Japan, in essence.  Go figure.

When people consider there sound listening preferences, most of the time the emphasis is placed on the device.   I don’t want to downplay that.  Picking out the right walkingman or ipod or whatever is important.  You have to make sure the device matches your preferences and what you do and all that.  However, an almost equally important decision is what you use to get the sound from your nifty little device to your ears.

I know a lot of people who still use the head phones that came with the devices they own, and still others who try to get away with a cheap 5 to 10 dollar pair at walmart.  I can think of about a dozen reasons why this is bad.

The first type that is used a lot are common outer ear ear-buds which account for what most mp3 players come with standard.   There are 2 really obvious problems with these:

  1. They fall out incredibly easily.  If you try to even lean back in an airplane the wrong way.  Out they come.
  2. They do a horrible job of getting the sound from the device to your ear.  Sure it may seem like an ear-bud is really close but to see the difference in sound just try pressing one deeper into your ear, the difference is astounding.  The big impact of this is that you’ll have to probably turn your devices up to around 2/3 to 5/6 max volume in order to here what you want to hear if there is even mild noise around you.

The other commonly used type of headphones are those classic radio head type that fit over the top or behind your skull and have big (compared to ear-buds) speakers that fit snug next you your ear.  I think because of the pressure these have against your ears they have better audio quality, and you can of course get noise canceling things which will make these probably fine (although make sure you shop around for one that will be comfortable for you.  Those things pressing into your head can start to hurt for long periods.)

Another big problem I have with these is that I like to listen to my mp3 player while I’m sleeping or maybe just leaning my head up against a window while on a long trip.  And the large physical footprint of conventional headphones make it hard to sleep with your ear to a pillow or anything else.

Also, you can get noise canceling functionality in both conventional headphones and ear buds, but these are really only good for airplane rides and stuff like that, wear that shit while jogging and you will get hit by a car.

Anyway, the solution, recently discovered by me is inner ear headphones.  These are essentially ear buds with ear plugs on the ends of them that you stick into your ears.  It’s a little odd at first, but I find that after 10 seconds I don’t even notice they’re in.  It’s sort of like wearing glasses or anything else that you become accustomed to after a short period of time.

My max volume on my clix2 is I think 30 or 40.  I normally have my volume set (using inner ear headphones) at 5.  If I’m in a slightly louder setting, maybe up to 8.

The best part is I can hear sufficiently loud things perfectly fine (horns of cars) because the volume is low.  Having a low volume also means you get better sound quality.  Of course good hardware would have high sound quality at all volume levels, but not everybody is a spendy audiophile.

Another significant benefit to this is that you use less battery and can listen to however many gigerbytes of music you have for a longer period of time.

Of course, I probably hadn’t noticed these things before because I seldom used my mp3 player for listening to music.  Traveling in Japan has changed this (amazing for sleeping with snorers), and I’d probably use this type of ear-bud for any sort of traveling purpose.

As far as I know, they conventional, radio head type, have better sound quality for lower cost, so for sitting at a computer or something fairly stationary, I’d guess they’d be better, especially, since you have more control over your environment in essentially every way.

That’s all for now.


  1. Also they prevent all the air from escaping from your head, oh MIT Jedi! D.

    Comment by Darrel — August 23, 2007 @ 11:05 am

  2. Now if only I could do anything about the ringing in my ear…

    Comment by Manny — August 24, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  3. How did your parents decide on the spelling of your first name “EREK”?

    Comment by Karen Slater — September 21, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

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