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EDM Headphones: Better Beats or Marketing Myth?

Girl wearing Headphones

EDM headphones will claim to be the best way to hear the music you love. Although the technology has remained mostly unchanged since the early days of radio, we see brands exploiting popular culture to make a quick buck. These earbuds by MEE audio feature EDM-inspired sound tuning and promise to recreate the EDM experience. They wrote “PLUR” on the wires. They get us… Or do they?

Experiencing music through headphones is deeply intimate and will ultimately matter only to you. While their claims could be accurate, thinking critically about how you listen to your music can be very rewarding and, fair warning; may change how you listen to it forever. In fact, science has shown us that music makes us happy. If you are here, you are probably interested in purchasing headphones with the intention of listening to electronic dance music. We understand. We have been there before and we are here to help.

Where do you start?

Headphones are designed to appeal to a wide variety of listeners’ preferences but are often vulnerable to the effects of their place of use. Price can often be a factor to the consumer as well. This guide from Head-Fi.org provides technical data for a wide variety of devices; the perfect place to start if you don’t know what is out there.

Next, you need to decide how and where you intend to listen. This is the first step in purchasing headphones of any kind and is not limited to EDM. For example, if your plan is to get lost in sound in your living room this weekend with a crate of records, headphones designed for use in a recording studio or other indoor, small room environment will be the best place to start. [pullquote align=”right”]”Headphones encounter a wider spectrum of listening environments because of their portability. This must be considered if you want the highest quality sound reproduction”[/pullquote]Alternatively, if you are looking to amp up your workout, Monster makes some really stellar sounding ear-buds in both wired and wireless format. The iSport series has been intentionally designed to stay in your ears during intense physical activity and consistently deliver high quality sound. All of this while purposely allowing some ambient sound to reach the user so you can stay safely connected to your surroundings.

Digging Deeper

Listening is a communication process that is much more than simply hearing sounds from speakers. Consider this: One company currently sells a personal audio output device that employs the user’s bones with a vibration that create the “sound” as opposed to a conventional loudspeaker. When listening, it is important to consider internal factors like physiology (will these fit in my ears), psychological (how do these sound to me), or external factors such as noise, medium/method of playback, and sometimes the style of music to make an informed decision.

A dance club’s acoustic design is much different than an opera house for a reason: We don’t hear epic build-ups and bass drops in The Marriage of Figaro and there is not yet (that we know of) an EDM likeness to The Who’s Tommy. Headphones encounter a wider spectrum of listening environments because of their portability. This must be considered if you want the highest quality sound reproduction. A product may suit a user in one environment and be completely useless or even dangerous if used in another.

The Most Important Factor

Try before you buy! Check the return policies of the seller. Manufacturers have learned that a majority of headphone buyers are not so selective and have adjusted their business strategies accordingly. Once you wade through what does not meet your needs, it will be much easier to target the products that do. Every human processes input (stimulus) in different ways. This contributes to one of the hardest parts of a DJ’s job: understanding and using the listening environment to shape, change, and move the energy within a space as the vehicle for expression and/or entertainment using multi-sensory stimuli.

With headphones, the feedback loop remains within the user. While soliciting advice from other like-minded individuals may be helpful, you are ultimately responsible for choosing something that meets your needs and impacts your experience in a positive way. For bike rides or working out we suggest Monster’s iSport. Everywhere else? We rock these cans by V-MODA. With an incredible sound quality (5-30k Hz frequency response) from a dual-diaphragm, 50 mm driver and supreme durability, the Crossfade LP2 creates an immersive and three-dimensional experience. However, if you want to stand out at your next silent disco, pre-order these cat ear headphones by Axent Wear right meow.

What headphones fulfill your listening needs?

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Written By

Colin is an electronic musician and writer in Seattle. Passionate about rave safety, music production, dark techno, and orange juice.

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