Hear, buds

27 01 2009


After having received Apple’s most basic ipod ever made for Christmas, I immediately proceeded to do two things:

1.  Prepare the most embarrassing playlist known to man.

2.  Get my headphones ready for use.

The first is because, thanks to the greatest innovation the Jobster never made, no one but you or someone you entrust your listening device to (that’s somwhere between 2nd and 3rd base in my book) can tell what music is on your ipod.  Thus, I can stock it full of horrifically nostalgic stuff (ELO, Kenny Loggins, Geoff Moore, Iona…) without fear of immediate reprisal.  If someone starts to get suspicious of my foot-tapping in Starbucks as I read some presidential biography, I can simply unplug my ‘buds and plead the 5th.  Especially if they look like they have money.

The second, which is the main reason I wanted to talk about this, is because the little rubber/plastic dongles mysteriously labeled ‘headphones’ are about as much fun to use as someone else’s retainer.  Even knowing this, I still decided to try them out the other day while on a walk, simply to test their merit.  After all, I have no need to sweat profusely into my good ones (read: headphones) all the time, so perhaps a backup pair wouldn’t be so bad to have, right? Right?

Totally, utterly and completely wrong.

The first thing I noticed about the Dongle Twins (as we’ll call them) is that they immediately seek to escape from your ear canal at any opportunity.  Turning your head to check traffic?  Oops, out they go.  Bobbing your head to the incredible synthesizer beats of “Here’s the News” at any time in any weather?  Ha.  Breathing too easily?  Swallowing ever?  Holding your breath? Blinking?  Gone.  It’s as if they traumatize each pair by beating them senseless with some earwax-covered mallet so as to infuse a mortal fear of anything Otolaryngologist-related.

The next thing I noticed was how much pain they begin to inflict upon the ear in so short a time.  I used to think a too-tight batting helmet was the best way to extract revenge upon the ol’ sounders, but now I realize that Steve Jobs has been selling the most masochistically-inclined piece of ear-wear on the planet for more than my first car sold for in 2007.

If there’s a good thing to be said about the DTs, perhaps it has to do with the almost-legendary length of their cord.  Specifically, their lack of such.  I guess they included a clip in the final product because the designers all realized that nobody with a torso containing five ribs or more is going to be able to keep the player in their pocket and the earphones in their ears simultaneously.  I even compromised and tried to clip it on to the top of my waistband, but as soon as I tilted my head up slightly, all semblance of slack disappeared without a trace.  Charlie Crews is looking into it.

See, I really don’t hate Apple that much.  They’re an American company, and their CEO might not have completely Jobbed his partner out of the business.   It’s just the little things they do that constantly prevent me from entrusting anything more than a small portion of my playlist to them at a time.  If you own an iphone, have you ever been thrilled about the deep-set 2.5mm jack that prevent you from using virtually any sort of output without buying their adapter?  Honestly, for a company that makes some of the best computers and MP3 players on the planet, you’d think they could actually try to design earphones that were at least usable for some period of time.  Every other company in the kingdom gets it, Apple.  You include some cheap replica of good earphones with the player that will at least work for a short period of time before breaking, leaving the consumer no choice but to purchase a higher-end set later on.  Apple, however, has somehow managed to seduce millions of people (many of them willing to pay exorbitant price for their computers) into sticking with these headphones even when Apple themselves sell better ones.  Somehow, Apple has reached the business Nirvana of convincing consumers that ownership of their goods creates such total happiness that even the most reasonable and minimal efforts to upgrade from admittedly-terrible hardware are forsaken.  Is it a status thing, or is it just apathy?

Personally, I suspect that the average ipod owner just listens to such terrible music in the first place that the agony of this earphone-wearing experience simply pales in comparison to the everyday rigors of enduring their ABBA/Gwen Stefani playlists on repeat.  Crank it, honey.  Crank it good.




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