Playback: how to listen.

The biggest problem today is not getting music; in fact that has become almost too easy. If you’re buying through iTunes, Bandcamp, Beatport, JunoRecords, etc., or just downloading via “other” means, the music you want is easier to get than ever before.

The question today, is how to listen to music: what headphones should I have? What speakers are worth the money, and which ones are just a sponsor name cashing in?

The following articles are going to focus on the two forms of audio playback; the affordable product, and the top shelf product. There is a reason that reproduction of sound is still an exacting science and constantly being reinvented… we haven’t perfected it yet. First though, some ground rules:

1.) A subwoofer does not a better speaker system make.

2.) Total RMS (in watts) is often plastered throughout the boxing of a speaker, yet higher wattage does not mean a better speaker system. Don’t look at the advertisements on the box, look at the tech specs.

3.) Frequency response is the most important detail. Look for a total response of anywhere between 20hz to 25,000hz. If the lows or highs are drastically different from that number, the product is not adequate.

4.) Airplay… your speaker should have it now. It’s a standard, it works incredibly well and the best devices on the market support it.

5.) Bose, aside from their Quiet Comfort Headphone Series, offers very few products that are actually worth the cost.

Now for some product:

AudioEngine A2’s

These really have been a surprise, an out of nowhere kind of product that has become, very quickly a standard for desktop listening. If you want a devoted set of speakers for your computer and you want a quality product with a very solid warranty, check these out. $199 is the standard MSRP, but you can find them for less throughout the internet. Oh, they also come in black, or you can customize the color at Colorware.com for an unbelievable amount of money.

Pioneer HDJ-2000’s or HDJ-500’s

 

Skullcandy? Childish, Silly. Beats? Do not hold a candle.

Pioneer tends to have the best of the best of any product they make. And there are a lot of headphones out there, but more importantly, people are realizing just how good headphones can be. But once you get used to listening to these headphones, you really can’t go back. Pioneer has made two products for the avid music listener or DJ: The HDJ-2000’s, their flagship product, are probably the best headphones on the market for your money and they are markedly less expensive than a pair of Studio Beats, or the Beats Pro (which were patterned off of this pioneer product!). At anywhere from $199 to $250, these products are at least fifty dollars cheaper than the Beats by Dre lines, yet are vastly superior. Try a pair on, listen to your favorite track, you will be absolutely amazed at their stunning accuracy. Be you a music fan, amateur music maker, or style addict, these products can serve all three.

The HDJ-500’s have many of the same features, but they cost between $99 to $150, they also have smartphone compatibility and again, are amazingly comfortable to wear for extremely long periods of time. Are you a commuter in a large city or a student who has trouble focusing? Either set of cans will do the job extremely well, but the HDJ-500’s will be a bit more affordable for most people.

I do have one gripe with Pioneer concerning these products: Neither come with a case to protect your investment in their headphones. A lot of headphones do include cases, but unfortunately, Pioneer does not, on any of their product lines that I am aware. If you are intent on protecting your headphones, I recommend this product here.

UDG makes very high quality product for DJ’s, but a lot of their product can be equally useful for the city faring bloke, or the jet setting corporate type.

Do enjoy.

-Evan, Technically Simple.