Friday, 23 January 2009

Ode to Headphones

There's something majestic about the total immediate connection with the music headphones give you. Contrasted with the pure submersion provided by a stack of amped up speakers, it is of course a very different thing. A closed, rather than open, listening experience. Totally antisocial. It's just you and your tracks; their acoustics juggling the air between your ears and phones. It's intimate. In a club you can get close but can you get this close? No interference. No chit chat. No bar queue. No brutal interject for a cigarette.

A track cuts in that wants to make you clasp your cups to your ears; the experience is like nothing else. This is of course assuming you've invested. This ain't no ting ting earbud thing. Only cans can give you serious sound-orama. Without synesthesia, sounds can emerge which are unrecognised from the reproduction of your home audio set up. It's an escape far better than trivial television, downloaded memories, youtube nostalgia or anything.

I find great pleasure in the fact the space around you is so comparatively quiet. It doesn't matter. It's just you and the music. The connection is a mantra. The rhythm is encompassing.

The notion of headphone club nights is a bizarre one as Transpontine points out. In a club, it's what happens between and during the sounds which validate your presence. At home, or in transit, it's your surroundings, if anything, which provide the context and even then you can shut them out in favour of you selection.
But right now, as i type, i'm listening to music in the dead of night. Flat mates asleep. I'm alone, truly with the tunes. In front of me i see my speakers, dead and redundant. And it's quite satisfying to bypass them. It feels as though the connection between the music is stronger. From source to ear; something has been eliminated, the sound is closer.

Headphone space is quintessential to the appreciation of music. Setting that time aside to connect, away from distraction is important. The difference between hearing you favourite tune in a club, blaring out of a passing car and on headphones in your own space is massive.

It's Friday night. I didn't venture into nightlife. I didn't saddle myself up next to the speaker stack. Instead i've had an intimate evening with some of my favourite records. And i think it's important to have that space. Like someone else talking about your favourite book, music in the social can mutate what it means to you.

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