I’ve finally killed my preferred earbuds (a pair of higher-end Sony earbuds, which were quite happy-making) and when I plugged in the backup earbuds I got with the iPod I couldn’t put up with them for more than a few seconds before putting them back in the box.
It’s not hard for me to believe in the widespread problems with hearing that the death of dynamic range is apparently causing, because the very nearly all of the headphones I’ve tried suck; they’re only marginally better than listening a novelty greeting card hidden in a burning paper bag.
That’s not an exaggeration, by the way – having a good pair of headphones is a profound and somewhat embarrassing revelation; it is finding out that you’ve only been listening to half your music all this time. You can immediately see what turns hardcore audiophiles into the gullible lunatics they are, and you might never listen to the radio again. I’m not going down all the way down that road, because I’m not a millionaire sucker, but I’m going to take a few tentative steps in that direction. So, people: what do I want here? I think the answer is this widget plus a certain set of in-ear earbuds, but I’m not sure where the sweet spot is between dollars and quality.