Silence is unbearable, but the sound of our fellow human beings is perhaps even worse. This might account for the success of the Walkman and the billion-dollar industry that followed it offering a wide array of products and services aimed at rattling eardrums and shutting out the world. And the industry is still innovating.
Charles Darwin proposed that music developed as an instrument of courtship and mating, whilst others saw in it a medium for early cultures to socially organise and communicate. Indeed, in the late-eighteenth century, during the era of Sturm und Drang, one could find walking canes that doubled as very narrow violins or flutes, so the hiker could quasi-spontaneously play an air for his own soul’s elation or a potential paramour. By the same token, during the battle of the Somme in 1916, kilted bagpipers on the English side encouraged row after row of soldiers to go over the top to be mowed down by German machine guns so they could lie, shoulder to shoulder, nose in the muck and dead as doornails.
It’s no different in our permanently rushing western world. We also need to move through daily life to some beat, some tune, nothing terribly elevating. Step into any tram, train or bus, and you will find any number of people nodding to some barely audible thumping and screeching, or chattering away, smartphone held in front of them like a Geiger counter, sharing their private lives freely with the non-earphoned public around them.
Earbuds or headphones, both permit us to clip off the outside world and yet avoid turning inward to maybe take a quick tour of the great realm of the soul. It says a lot about our society, none of it terribly uplifting, and it has spawned some off partnerships. How, otherwise, would Adidas, maker of sports shoes ever team up with Sennheiser, maker of high-end audio equipment. The two companies spotted a gap in the market created by the active types, those hardcore joggers, power-walkers and gymgoers, who were not so well served with the somewhat flimsy equipment on the market. Now they can put on a headset that synchronises sound quality with a sport-friendly, fashionable design.
The helmet 25 HD Originals – a redux of an earlier bestseller model – features terrific sound, with crystal clear highs and powerful basses guaranteed to reduce outside noise. This makes them ideal for the rattling, sighing, hectic atmosphere at fitness clubs or even work at times. The HD 220 model concentrates on producing comfort and a bass-driven, stereo sound. Completing the set, the in-ear CX 310 model is adjustable for personalised fit, has excellent attenuation of ambient noise and offers clarity in treble and bass. These three models were designed to account for vigorous human motion. Wait till the military gets wind of these products…
Article by Marton Radkai