Earspeakers

So, I wanted a new pair of headphones.

I had a number of random headphones laying around the house, the best being the Apple EarPods that came with my iPhone. While they were actually fairly high quality and had gotten some pretty good reviews, they were still on the lower end of the headphone spectrum. I wanted to step up to “over-ear” headphones, which most audiophiles claim produce the highest quality sound. So I began my search.

The thing about me is I have to heavily research a product before I take the dive and buy a certain model. For the type of research addict I am, the internet provides the drug I crave. Forums, review sites, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc. A person can go down some very deep rabbit holes trying to find the absolute best version of whatever product category they are seeking. For headphones, it’s a very deep hole, as there are literally hundreds of models out there and no shortage of opinions on what are the best.

I began my search where I almost always begin – Wirecutter.com. I find them to be one of the most valuable resources on buying the “best” version of something, and they are very highly respected. They had two categories for “over-ear” headphones – $150 and $300 ranges. I had a budget and didn’t want to go over $150, so stuck with that category. Their top pick were the Sony MDR-7506 headphones, which are considered a classic model. They’ve been around for over 20 years, are fairly widely praised by audio engineers, are durable, and overall produce a supposedly very balanced and high quality sound. They also were going for only $85 on Amazon. Perfect, this seemed like a can’t lose headphone, and I should have just bought them then and there.

That’s not how I do things though.

Instead, I continued the search and looked at competing models, dug through endless Amazon reviews, scoured audiophile sites, and even started asking around on Twitter for advice. My mind kept going in circles as everyone had an opinion and many times the advice was conflicting. I’d read a review stating the Sonys had too little bass, then one that said they had too much bass. I’d read someone claim Audio-Technica’s were the superior brand, then another state they sounded loose and boomy. I’d get recommended a lower cost model of something, than someone would say the higher cost model was what I really wanted. The information soon started to become an overload and making the right choice seemed close to impossible. I wasn’t going to find perfection.

After an entire weekend of research, I pretty much realized I just needed to make a decision and end my indecision. So I came back to the Wirecutter article and decided to just go with the Sony MDR-7506s. I bit the bullet and ordered them on Amazon. Two days later they came in the mail.

I was slightly nervous putting them on for the first time and queuing up a song on my iPhone. What if they sounded like crap and I made a horrible choice? What if I should have gone with the pricier brand? What if they didn’t sound any better than my EarPods? But I pressed play and my fears vanished. They were amazing – crystal clear sound, great bass, great balance on all levels. They were simply the best pair of headphones I’ve ever listened to.

So basically I could have spent five minutes reading the Wirecutter article to find what I wanted instead of two days of endless internet research. However, I don’t really see it as wasted time. While I came back to the place I started, along the way I learned a tremendous amount about headphones, and I kind of enjoyed the search. It was fun, and the minute it started to not seem as fun is when I gave in and bought the headphones. I think it’s fine to geek out on researching products, as long as you know it’s not all that necessary. You are mainly doing it for yourself, not as a way to find perfection.

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