Doug Schneider - DAS
Seven Darn Fine Reasons for a Headphone System Too!
Note that in the title I said too. Although some people
use headphones exclusively, I'm addressing this to those who have
a full home system - like me. Why? Because a supplementary
headphone system can add enjoyment to the music listening
experience and take you places your home system won't allow.
Now first let me get something straight, my home headphone
system is nothing grand. We're simply talking about a Denon DCP-
70 portable cd-player (can't handle any bump and grinds
whatsoever, but is one of the rare players that sports a digital
output) and some Grado SR-60 headphones. That's it, that's all,
and for now that's just what I need. But it's now a valuable part
of my life and here are some of the reasons why:
- First and foremost we all don't keep the same hours.
I'm not talking about you and me. I'm talking about the
person sleeping in the next room at this very moment. And
no, this isn't some sick fantasy about a neighbour - it's
her, the person sharing my rent, food, and life! Although
I rise (and am expected to rise) when my unofficial
spousal unit does - late night hours reading and browsing
the 'net, as well as writing stuff such as this usually
means I'm awake much later than she is (or most other
people are). My neighbours don't care if I play my stereo
after 10, but SHE certainly does. Without my phones I'd
be screwed. I'd never get to listen to half the disks I
do. Well, "up yours I say!" With 'phones you've
got your own hours and can at least reclaim and live
out a valuable part of your life.
- Apartments, or other such small dwellings, usually
equals a cramped life. My listening room also serves
duty as a living room, TV room, computer room, beer room,
hanging out room, etc. I can certainly see the purpose of
a fifteen room mansion since single-room multi-tasking
just isn't all that practical. So when someone else
calls room dibs and is watching the tube, reading,
drinking, sleeping, or whatever, music is usually out for
the Douger......until... now yer gettin' the picture.
- Movies sound better thru your headphones than thru
crappy TV speakers. You guys with home-theatre can
ignore this, but for others like me.....well, this
discovery happened quite by accident when Doug's Other
pulled the usual 'call it quits early' again. It looked
as though I just wasn't going to be able to watch Leaving
Las Vegas with any appreciable volume. But I plugged
the Grados into my VCR's headphone jack and presto,
wayyyy better full-stereo sound than the Sony box can
crank on its own.
- Long distance travelling becomes a breeze. Endless
hours jiggling in a car or airplane seat, being forced to
listen to someone else's choice of tunes becomes a thing
of the past. Just stock up on batteries and get ahold of Headroom
so you can get yourself a full-fledged, full-function
travelling pack to haul your portable music center around
the world with the least frustration possible.
- Sometimes you just need your own space. Nothing
can piss off an avid audiophile more than someone talking
to you while you're trying to enjoy some music.
Headphones give you an excuse to ignore them. Whether you
can hear them or not, they don't know it and they can't
tell. If you can hear - who cares - just pretend you
don't and smile whenever they talk. After a bit they'll
get the subtlely of your hints and you'll have all the
time you need.
- A headphone system doesn't cost that much. I did
it for less than $250 bucks. It could even be a lot
cheaper, or certainly a lot more. I say start cheap
but keep expansion in mind. I can't think of better
reasonably priced phones than the Grado SR- 60s. Other
people dig some of the low-price Shack models. Your
expansion will come thru your player - if you need one.
Heck, if you have a headphone jack on some of the gear
you're off to the races (although the portability factor
is gone). But remember, in time you may want to add an
external headphone amp like those from Headroom. If you
don't know why you would want one, just give one a listen
to and you'll understand. Almost all their models
absolutely kill a portable player's headphone
output, or even the jack on your cd-player or preamp. And
if you're lucky to have a digital output, like me, you
can add an Audio Alchemy Dac-Man or something similar to
signficantly improve your player's sound. Ahhhhh,
separates for headphone listening.
- And finally, headphones can sound darn good.
That's right, sometimes music is better served through
headphones. And you need something on hand just in case
music like that comes along.
So there you have it. I can't think of a better present for
your listening room this week. If you are really serious about
putting together a great system, at any price, Headroom are the
guys to definitely talk to. Although they only manufacture amps,
they have a fine knowledge of headphones, portables, and all the
doo-dads you may need. Besides, the Headroom Prez, Tyll Herstens
is a heckuva friendly guy. He'll be able to give you shirt
shopping advice as well. Best of all you won't be out of pocket a
bit since their number is 1-800-828-8184.
If you do go ahead and do something along the headphone route,
don't forget to drop me a line to tell me how you made out.