So this week I needed to get some new headphones for the gym. I thrive on music at the gym, as it really sets the tone for the workout. My LG Infinims (old faithful-ish) are not sounding as good and the battery is not lasting as well. On top of all that, the neckband keeps hitting my collarbone in what can only be described as the worst passive aggressive measure from headphones. I looked around at the gym to see what other people are using, and it is overwhelmingly representative of the almighty Beats headphones. Is it the name? I have owned three different pairs from them, but all for short periods. Why? Because they really are not that great. Now I am no audiophile, and I’m lucky that I even know what bitrate on audio files means. When you switch from MP3’s to FLAC files or DSD, I get lost. That’s a nice digital audio pun, right there for you. (FLAC is a lossless format while MP3 is lossy.) What do I do then when I have to admit that I don’t know everything? RESEARCH TIME!!!
I scoured the web to find reviews on a multitude of headsets across different kinds of music. It taught me that spending $150-$200 on headphones is nothing compared to some of the stuff that is out there. There were three different in-ear headphones that cost over $900! While Beats headphones, both the cans and buds are considered to be expensive, they are by no means considered “high-end”. Instead of looking at the same devices everyone else is using, I am looking at brands like Shure, Bowers & Wilkins, Sennheiser, and several others. At this point, however, it becomes clear that a lot of these headphones are not meant for use in active settings. Additionally, I sweat at the gym, and I don’t want these things shorting out ever, let alone while in my ears.
The struggle became very real when I started searching for articles on the best sound at the gym. This led to discussions on safety (due to noise isolation) as well as environmental concerns when active outside. Safety tip: If you run outside on the street or a bike path, please use open-back cans, or earphones. This allows you to still hear the cars or bikes around you without compromising much sound. The next surprising thing, though, came when I reached an article talking about music sources rather than headphones. Did you know there is still a booming MP3 player industry? Any audiophiles that may read that just cringed, and I’m sorry. The correct term is a Digital Audio Player (DAP) because no one in their right mind would put paltry MP3’s on these devices.
I learned of this when I clicked on an article for best portable music players, and found that all but one of the devices were DAPs. One of them was the iphone, which I admit has been my MP3 player for a while. I thought it was a typo when I came across this brand name Astell&Kern. Seriously, check out that link. It’ll take you to an amazon page. After you buy one of those bad boys, make sure you pick up some sweet headphones, too.
Seriously, I just wanted new headphones for the gym. Thankfully, there aren’t any places around me that allow you to try such high-end niche electronics. At least, not that I am aware of. The closest here is the Magnolia section at Best Buy. At least the headphones there allow you to hook up your own source so you can get a good feel for the headphones. Biggest ticket headphones I’ve seen there, though, was around $400. I’m not in that budget range, but I don’t feel guilty listening on those because I don’t think I’ll hear some magic and get spoiled.
The search continues…