Surveys and music

So, if you didn’t know, there are sites that reward you for taking surveys. I take them at Survey Monkey Contribute because they’ll donate to your choice of several charities. Recently, I took one that was basically asking “If <brand name> started making headphones, would you consider buying them?” I basically said “No,” but it’s not because I have a particular problem with <brand name>.

When I was in college, I studied electrical engineering. It ended up being a surprisingly broad topic: Power generation, digital circuit analysis, electromagnetic signal creation, propagation, and filtering, etc.. Humans have been incredibly creative with how we push electrons around.

Using them to create sounds is obviously a very popular usage, and the people who managed to this the “best” first quickly had their names popularized and, expectedly, they charge a premium for it. The problem for those companies is that their technology is almost impossible to keep secret. Even if you manage to make speakers more compact using new materials or discover a way to get a better frequency response from the amplifiers, eventually it’ll be found out and be accessible to any company smart enough to do it. At that point, you can only hope your reputation is more important to the consumer than your price point.

Where I’m going with this is that speakers, given how well we understand physics and materials and electricity, have mostly reached a peak in performance. Neodymium magnets were probably the last big breakthrough for headphones. Everything at this point is just adjusting equalizer settings. And that’s why I did my best to discourage <brand name> in their survey from entering the market. It’s saturated. Price point is now the only metric that matters for the average consumer. “Audiophiles” have probably already rage-quit this article anyway, muttering about the virtues of Monster™ cables.

But, being who I am, that wasn’t where the thoughts ended. I recognize that my knowledge of sound and speakers and filters hasn’t really expanded in about 8 years. It’s been a similar amount of time since I’ve played in a group setting, which I really enjoyed. I’m of the opinion that music is the greatest of the arts, and being a part of that was delightful. I liked blending. I liked being part of the harmony, of the texture of music. A feeling not just of knowing that there’s a place for you, but also of fulfilling a need. That’s a good feeling, in the context of music and in life. It’s probably why I feel the need to answer random surveys about headphones.

Thanks for reading.


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