Headphones have been around commercially since the early 1900’s. Headphones gained commercial success in the 1960’s with many people flooding into hi-fidelity electronics for music. Many people have enjoyed headphones because of the ability to listen to music without bothering anyone else around them. Some like the fact that headphones can provide a holographic image with the voices sounding as if they are in the center of your head. Some audiophiles like the fact that, unlike hi-end audio, they can get true hi fidelity on the cheap.
The Advent of Headphones
Headphones were invented in 1910 by Nathaniel Baldwin. Since then, we have seen thousands of headphone manufactures come and go. Many headphone companies which started in the 1960’s are still producing quality headphones today. Companies such as AKG, Koss, Grado and Sennheiser to name a few.
Headphones Have Changed
We saw a major change in headphones in the 1980’s with a shift from the larger “over the ear” headphones that were built to sound good to the much cheaper, lighter, smaller headphones that were built to accompany the famous Sony Walkman. For many headphone enthusiast, this was the “Dark Days” of headphones.
Although the mobility of being able to carry around something that made music was groundbreaking — the quality of the headphones generally used were terrible. During that time we also saw the shift from the more serious headphones, used in the home stereo, to the more portable headphones — which used an 1/8″ jack as opposed to a standard 1/4″ headphone jack.
The iPad Changed Everything
The next big change in headphones were the iPad. Similar to the Walkman, the iPad let music become even more portable. With better a little better sound, working in the digital domain, the user could carry hundreds or even thousands of songs on their new little device. This gave birth to the earplug or earbud type of headphone. These are the little things that go directly into your ear. As a general rule, these were so cheaply made they were even given away with a portable MP3 player. Today, we are starting to see a slightly higher quality of the earbud type of headphone, but they all still pale in comparison to the over the ear type.
Beats By Dre Brings Back the Quality Headphone
For headphone enthusiasts, the above headline will make them cringe. It is hard to deny that Beats by Dre was responsible to making an entirely new generation recognize that the little earbuds sounded terrible. The Beats by Dre headphones themselves still didn’t provide the quality of sound by other, lesser known manufactures of quality headphones. Most headphone enthusiasts will agree that there are many headphones better than Beats by Dre — many for much less money.
The newest “thing” in headphones today are the wireless headphones. Some of these are pretty good — most…not so much. From our perspective, a quality pair of headphones can be very revealing of the source content and the other electronics and what is needed to bring a set of headphones “wireless” adds quite a bit to the signal chain.
Quality Headphones are Back
Regardless if you like the Beats headphones by Dre (purchased by Apple, by the way) – its hard to argue that prior to their monstrous marketing campaign, you didn’t see many people with over the ear headphones in a portable situation. Beats by Dre changed that and brought back some resemblance of quality to the headphone world.
What is YOUR Favorite Set of Headphones?